Flyers give assault victim Mark Smith memorable day at Skate Zone

Flyers give assault victim Mark Smith memorable day at Skate Zone

The Flyers truly are terrific within the community and that continued Wednesday.

Mark Smith, a man with a mental disability who was assaulted in late May on camera by a group of teenagers in Philadelphia, enjoyed a day with the Flyers.

Shayne Gostisbehere and Anthony Stolarz welcomed Smith to Flyers Skate Zone, where he was shown around the facility, hung out in the locker room and was given some Flyers gifts, including his own personalized jersey.

"It was awesome," Gostisbehere said of Smith's visit. "It was good to have in him here, smiling ear to ear. … He really loves his jersey."

Gostisbehere admired Smith.

"Great to see his attitude about it," the Flyers' defenseman said of the incident. "He's just brushing it off and getting back out there, having fun and going on with his life."

And Smith has plans to share his Flyers gear with little kids back home.

He more than deserved this day and is already paying it back to others — incredible.

To see his day with the Flyers, watch the video above. Here are some pictures, courtesy of Flyers PR guru Zack Hill.

End to End: Breaking down Shayne Gostisbehere's contract extension

End to End: Breaking down Shayne Gostisbehere's contract extension

Throughout the offseason, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End today are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.

The topic: Breaking down Shayne Gostisbehere's contract extension.

Dougherty
Well, this isn't six years, $30 million. Or nine years, $51 million. Or 14 years, $110 million.

The Flyers on Friday re-signed Gostisbehere to a six-year, $27 million contract with a $4.5 million AAV before the 24-year-old hit restricted free agency.

First thoughts on the deal? Yeah, it's a really team-friendly contract.

The defenseman endured some ups and downs in his second year in the NHL this past season and dealt with a few benchings by head coach Dave Hakstol. His offensive output decreased from his eye-popping rookie campaign and he had some defensive hiccups.

There were some growing pains with Gostisbehere in Year 2, but realistically, we should have expected that. Broad Street Hockey's Charlie O'Connor did an excellent job breaking down Gostisbehere's sophomore season through the lens of advanced stats, but let's take a look at the Year 1 and 2 barebone numbers:

Year 1: 17 goals, 29 assists, 46 points, 22 power-play points.

Year 2: 7 goals, 32 assists, 39 points, 23 power-play points. 

We can compare Gostisbehere's contract to similar extensions — Stars defenseman John Klingberg is a good example — but for me, the Flyers are paying Gostisbehere as a second-pair defenseman, which I believe is a realistic endgame for "Ghost."

The cap hit is manageable and the term takes Gostisbehere to 30 years old. It's a clear message that general manager Ron Hextall views him as a core piece going forward, but it's also a sign that Hextall doesn't overvalue Gostisbehere based on his rookie season.

It's a safe bet on a young defenseman who's working hard to improve his defensive deficiencies and has already proven he can be a 40-plus point producer from the blue line.

At $4.5 million for six years, sign me up.

Hall
Job well done, Ron Hextall.

Like the GM said Friday, Gostisbehere fits the organization's vision moving forward. He is undoubtedly a major piece of the Flyers' future and the deal cements that.

The six years and $4.5 million a season are just fine for me. In fact, those figures could be bargains down the road when you look at other offensive defensemen.

Gostisbehere's mobility and playmaking at the point are game-changers in the NHL. His sophomore slump was more of an aberration and a product of a few things. Although he wouldn't make any excuses at the end of the season, I believe Gostisbehere's offseason hip/abdominal surgeries plagued him early and, as a result, his confidence suffered. That, along with being benched five times and the pressure to produce, forced him into overthinking.

"I know you guys want me to admit it's my surgeries, my injuries, but it's honestly not," Gostisbehere said in April on cleanout day. "You can tell who doesn't have confidence on the ice when they have the puck — you can tell. If it's a guy who's bringing it up and he's looking everywhere and he doesn't have confidence, then you can tell it's confidence. 

"I make plays on the blue line, there are plays that I have to do quick, I have to react and I have to have the confidence to do them. I can't do them if I'm thinking like, 'Oh, what if his stick goes there,' I can't. You just have to have a free mind and you have to go out there and play and let your abilities take over. That's what I was learning more and more as the season went on, realizing I had the skills, I just have to trust my abilities."

Once Gostisbehere was himself, his game showed. A play that really stuck out to me was in the season finale when he set up a Wayne Simmonds goal. You can watch it here. This was a confident, free-playing Gostisbehere the Flyers should see in the future — if they allow him to play to his strengths — now that he's locked up for six years.

Paone
The new deal between Gostisbehere and the Flyers is a win-win for all parties involved. 

"Ghost" not only gets a hefty raise from the $925,000 he was making, but he now has the ever-important long-term security every player wants.

The Flyers, meanwhile, lock up a 24-year-old blue-line cornerstone for the next six years at a very fair price. 

Since the start of the 2016 calendar year, Pittsburgh's Olli Maatta, Buffalo's Rasmus Ristolainen, Anaheim's Hampus Lindholm, Toronto's Morgan Reilly and Nikita Zaitsev, Detroit's Danny DeKeyser and Edmonton's Adam Larsson (then with New Jersey) have all signed similar deals as RFAs. And you can make a legitimate argument that Gostisbehere is more valuable to the Flyers than any of those players are to their respective teams. And that's no disrespect to any of those players.

Gostisbehere, with his mobility, puck-moving skills, shifty finesse and laser beam of a shot from the point, is such a key part of the Flyers' offensive engine. He's not a shutdown pair player, and that's perfectly fine. That's not what his skill set is and he shouldn't be forced to play that way. He's an offensive firecracker for a team that desperately needs scoring punch. And as Gostisbehere's recovery from offseason hip surgery lingered last season, the Flyers' offense sputtered more often than not. Sure, there were other factors involved with that, but Gostisbehere's struggles were a major reason.

Now, with a full summer of rest and training and a year of tough-to-swallow experience under his belt, there are very few reasons not to believe "Ghost" will find that familiar form from his Calder-nominee rookie season. Heck, he clearly found it toward the end of last season when he was the dynamic player we all recalled.

And if he stays healthy, he can be that familiar "Ghost" for the Flyers for the next six years.

Flyers sign Shayne Gostisbehere to 6-year deal

Flyers sign Shayne Gostisbehere to 6-year deal

The Flyers avoided a potentially messy situation with defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere by re-signing him Friday to a multi-year contract.

It's a six-year, $27 million deal for an AAV of $4.5 million a season, according to a source.

"It's a dream come true to be part of one of the best organizations in hockey," Gostisbehere said of his new contract.

"With everything that's going on here — we've got some young guys coming up and we've already got some key pieces — it's nice to know you're part of the future and part of the plans.

"There are many more steps to come and hopefully it leads to some great things. It's a tremendous honor to realize you're part of the future."

His $4.5 million cap hit is second only to Andrew MacDonald ($5 million) on the Flyers' blue line.

Although Gostisbehere would have been on the Flyers' protected list, because he was a restricted free agent, he could have been signed to the Vegas Golden Knights 48 hours prior to the expansion draft, but the Flyers would have had a chance to match.

"It's important to us to get some cost certainty," general manager Ron Hextall said. "Shayne has a very bright future and certainly fits in with our vision moving forward and we're real excited to have him under contract long term here."

The 24-year-old defenseman was a Calder Trophy finalist two years ago with 17 goals and 46 points.

He had a very disappointing season last year — seven goals, 39 points and minus-21 — but in his defense, just like Claude Giroux, he did not recover quickly enough from offseason hip and abdominal surgery. He lacked speed and recovery ability right into the second half of the 2016-17 season before he started to resemble his former self on the ice.

Coach Dave Hakstol benched him five games. Hextall said he did not feel this had a negative impact on Gostisbehere mentally or caused a lack of confidence in his play.

"Shayne and I'll throw Travis (Konecny) in there as well, there are lessons to be learned when you are a young player," Hextall said. "Sometimes, at the time, you don't understand them.

"But I assure you this year, next year, the year after, Shayne will look back on those experiences and [say], 'I learned a lot from that.'

"That whole nurturing and this and that, sometimes there is a little tough love and Shayne got a little tough love last year and I'm sure if you asked him, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

"Every player gets disappointed at some point in their career. You need to learn to deal with it. He'll be a better player and person as a result."

Expectations soared last season after the Union College grad won the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the Flyers' top defenseman in 2015-16. Gostisbehere set a Flyers and NHL record for rookie defensemen with a 15-game scoring streak and made the league's all-rookie team. His point total led all rookie blueliners while his 17 goals established a new Flyers benchmark for rookie defensemen.

Despite this past season's poor showing, Gostisbehere refused to use his injuries as an excuse and vowed he would come back as a better player this fall.

He said he accepted his benchings and had moved on. Hextall said Friday he was not concerned with how Hakstol handled the delicate situation.

"He does have a good rapport with young players," Hextall said of Hakstol. "The most important thing here is to have the respect from your players.

"Sometimes you're doing things that you think are best for the team short term and long term. And what's best for the team is making every individual player better.

"We're not going to nurture young players here. Our young players have to earn it. Players who deserve to be in the lineup 82 games, are going to be in the lineup."

The Flyers expect two roster openings on defense this fall with the departures of Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz, both of whom won't be re-signed.

Sam Morin and Robert Hagg could grab those spots. Gostisbehere has played with Morin, a stay-at-home defenseman, in previous training camps. Morin's NHL debut last April in New Jersey saw him paired with Gostisbehere.

"I have no idea," Hextall said of a possible permanent pairing. "Those are things you have to see. Ghost is one of those players that can play with different guys. We've got a few guys in the organization that you view.

"You want a stay-at-home defenseman with Ghost because he's going to be up ice. We've got three or four of those guys, as well as the young kids coming. There's a multitude of players that Ghost could play with."

As for timing of the contract, Hextall said he only would have gotten concerned had negotiations dragged deep into the summer.

Weal update
Hextall did not sound optimistic about progress in re-signing winger Jordan Weal, who is unrestricted.

"I have no idea," he said of negotiations, adding there has not been any talks with Weal's camp since last week's NHL Scouting Combine. "I don't have a prediction or anything else."