The Philadelphia Flyers have re-signed Brayden Schenn to a four-year, $20.5 million contract extension, the team announced Monday.
The deal, which holds a $5.125 million average annual value, allows both sides to avoid arbitration. An arbitration hearing was scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Monday morning, but the two sides began negotiating on the way into the hearing; a deal was reached at approximately 9:45 a.m., according to Flyers general manager Ron Hextall.
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Schenn is coming off a stellar campaign in which he set career highs in goals (26), assists (33), points (59), power-play goals (11) and power-play points (22). The second half of his season was especially strong, as he tallied 44 points in 44 games and led the Flyers in scoring since January 1. Schenn has 84 goals and 193 points in 354 career regular-season games with the Flyers and Kings, as well as three goals and 14 points in 24 career playoff games, all with the Flyers.
Schenn is confident he can continue to elevate his game.
“I feel like I’m getting better year by year and I expect nothing else next year,” Schenn said. “… I expect to come in and continue to prove my game in all areas of the ice. When you get the chance to play with good players they make you better as well. We got some good pieces that are part of the Flyers. We have a good team moving forward here. You want to get better individually, but I think the team as a whole will be better this year as well.”
Hextall is also optimistic about Schenn’s continued growth as a player.
“The good thing for us and Brayden is he’s gotten better every year,” Hextall said. “He’s a hard worker and he’s starting to figure out some of the little intricacies of the game. He had his best year to this point this past season so hopefully he continues to build on that. I believe he will.”
It was reported at the end of last week that Schenn and the Flyers were a little over $1 million apart in negotiations. Schenn was seeking a contract with an average annual value of $5.5 million, whereas the Flyers made an offer that would have carried a $4.3 million cap charge. The final contract is more in line with Schenn’s original asking price, and it is comparable to several other contracts that have been handed out this offseason.
For example, the Blues signed forward Jaden Schwartz to a five-year deal with a $5.35 million cap hit, and the Panthers extended forward Reilly Smith on a five-year deal with a $5 million cap hit.
Though Schwartz missed more than half of the 2015-2016 season with a fractured ankle, he had already put together two solid campaigns, scoring 25 goals and 56 points in 2013-2014 and 28 goals and 63 points in 2014-2015. Schwartz also had a very strong postseason performance, scoring four goals and 14 points in 20 playoff games. His continued success over the past three seasons and his impressive run in the playoffs led to his generous $26.75 million deal.
Smith has transitioned into the Panthers’ system seamlessly ever since being acquired last offseason in a trade for Jimmy Hayes. Smith finished the year with 25 goals and 50 points, including a dominant stretch in early April in which he scored nine points in four games. He maintained his production in the postseason, scoring four goals and eight points in six playoff games. Like Schenn and Schwartz, Smith has had several strong seasons in a row, scoring 50, 41 and 50 points in the past three years.
Many believed Kyle Palmieri’s extension, a five-year deal with a $4.65 cap hit, could be a starting point for the Schenn negotiations.
Palmieri had a breakout season this past year, scoring 30 goals and 57 points and playing a huge role in his first year with the Devils. Prior to last season, though, Palmieri played a much smaller role on a top-heavy Ducks roster. He scored 31 points in 2013-2014 and 29 points in 2014-2015. The Devils traded for Palmieri with the belief that he could play a much larger offensive role in New Jersey, giving him a permanent top-six role and often top-line duties. Palmieri’s contract is a reflection of both the Devils’ belief in him as well as Palmieri’s impressive season in his first year with New Jersey.
However, at the end of the day, Schenn is a more proven player than Palmieri, with three consecutive 40-point seasons under his belt. He has scored at least 18 goals and 40 points in each of the past three seasons. It makes sense that his contract is on par with Schwartz’s and Smith’s rather than Palmieri’s.
This new contract will allow Schenn to further prove himself as he works to become a more consistent and productive member of the Flyers’ core.
“I have to be counted on each night, and I feel like I’m part of the core group,” Schenn said. “There’s a bunch of us that have been there for a while now, and to be signed on for another four years, it obviously shows their confidence in me as a player. Now it’s for me to me to go out there and continue to prove myself and try to grow my game.”
Photo: Jillian Wagner