Philadelphia Flyers: Breaking Down Flyers Signing Sean Couturier to Extension

Dan AdamsCorrespondent IIIJuly 23, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 25: Sean Couturier #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates in an NHL Hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Wells Fargo Center on February 25, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers announced Saturday that they had signed center Sean Couturier to an extension that will keep him under contract through the next three seasons.

The two-year extension, which carries a cap hit of $1.75 million per season, will take effect following the end of the 2013-14 NHL season. It should also help keep Couturier's name out of any trade rumors, at least for the foreseeable future.

Couturier has been one of the most prized young players in the Flyers organization since it drafted him eighth overall with one of the draft picks it received in the trade that sent Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue jackets.

The past two trade deadlines, Couturier has been linked in almost every trade rumor regarding the Flyers, and many fans feared that once again the team was going to trade away a talented young player before his prime.

Signing an extension with Philadelphia hardly guarantees Couturier is untouchable, especially after seeing guys like Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and James van Riemsdyk get dealt after signing lengthy contracts to stay here, but it's a good start.

Couturier's deal is fair compensation if he fails to progress any further and could prove to be very cap-friendly if he keeps developing. Right now, he's set to be the third-line center and be matched up against one of the top lines of the opposing teams.

Through his first two seasons, Couturier has been a little inconsistent offensively, with just 42 points in his first 123 games, but his typically solid play in the defensive zone has been enough to make up for it.

Last year, he had a bit of a rough season plus/minus-wise, posting a rating of minus-eight, but so did the rest of the team. You only have to look at his games against Evgeni Malkin in the playoffs his rookie year, where he locked down one of the best players in the world, to see his potential as a lockdown center.

But if Couturier can develop an offensive game, he could turn into a player very much like Mike Richards. 

The circumstances are different, as Couturier's second season was shortened by a lockout while Richards missed time due to injury, but the similarities are there. They're both defensive-minded centers who lacked a strong shot but possessed solid puck-handling skills and showed flashes of excellent passing skills.

Both players struggled to put up points their first two seasons, but in his third season, Richards broke out for 75 points and became one of the best two-way centers in the league. If Couturier could come close to that, the Flyers, and their fans, would be ecstatic. 

Couturier is bigger than Richards by about four inches, but he hasn't filled out yet, which could give him a higher ceiling as a two-way power forward. If Couturier adds strength and gets more confident in his offensive game, this contract will look like a steal.

Given how close Philadelphia is to the salary-cap ceiling, it could use a few contracts under market value. Right now, this looks like a good signing, and it can only get better from here.