Philadelphia Flyers Contract Negotiation Updates

Apr 9, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas (3) looks on during the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas (3) looks on during the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Brief hints about contract negotiations to re-sign a few Philadelphia Flyers players were noted yesterday, slipping most people’s notice.

With all the things Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was discussing yesterday in the press conference regarding the buyout of RJ Umberger, some items slipped under the radar of most people.

Recall that before even getting to acquiring new plays by trade or free agency this summer, the Flyers have several players they would like to re-sign. Nick Cousins, Brayden Schenn, Radko Gudas, and Brandon Manning are all restricted free agents in need of a new contract. Ryan White is an unrestricted free agent, also needing a new contract.

Yesterday, we got very brief updates on negotiations for 3 of those players. Tucked in at the bottom of Dave Isaac’s piece on Umberger, he noted:

"Hextall said he has an offer out to pending free agent Ryan White and is waiting for a response. Negotiations with restricted free agent defenseman Radko Gudas are not going well. Hextall continues to work on a deal with RFA forward Brayden Schenn."

Looking at each player individually, the Ryan White situation should be pretty straightforward. White is coming off a 1-year contract that paid him only $800,000. After the season, White expressed an interest in staying, probably because this is the first time he’s been a lineup fixture in the NHL. One would expect a modest raise would satisfy both sides. We’ll have to wait and see, but this is not a high stakes negotiation.

Second, we’ll jump down to Brayden Schenn. This is an interesting point in Schenn’s career, I could see there being some differences between the sides on what he deserves. Schenn is now 24, and many would say he had a breakout season this year. In our review, we noticed that Schenn was having a mediocre season through the first half but then caught fire in the second half and led the Flyers in scoring after January 1. This breakout needs to be regarded with caution however, as it was at least partially driven by a very high shooting percentage.

Related Story: Brayden Schenn Season Review

Schenn’s value can be benchmarked against Nazem Kadri and Evander Kane, as they were the forwards taken before and after Schenn early in the 2009 NHL draft. None of the 3 has broken through into rock solid first line players, but each have shown their merits in different ways. Kadri is one of the most creative players on the Leafs, and scored 44 points in 48 games during the lockout season. Kane had a 30 goal season at only 20 years old, but hasn’t hit that mark again and has been criticized for his off-ice habits.

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For what it’s worth, Kane has 2 years left on a contract that carries a cap hit of $5.25 million, which he probably hasn’t lived up to. Kadri has freshly signed a new, 6-year contract at a cap hit of $4.5 million. Schenn wasn’t making much last year ($2.5 million), but I suspect so long as he requests something near or below Kadri’s number, the Flyers would be okay with it. Also, presumably Schenn’s initial request was higher than that, whether or not he actually expects to get it. It sounds like the sides are just going through the process to find a fair number.

Lastly, we’ll turn to Gudas. Isaac described this contract negotiation rather ominously. Gudas is a personal favorite of mine, and he defied expectations to be an impact player for the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That said, he has some limitations to his game, and is more a role player than a cornerstone, all-around defenseman.

Related Story: Radko Gudas Season Review

Last we heard, Hextall said he wanted to sign Gudas “more long-term than short term.” Gudas was another player making peanuts last year (~$992,000), so he certainly warrants a big raise. The difficulty of this negotiation is how much can one rely upon one good season from a player? This leaves lots of room for differences of opinion, particularly when the Flyers are thinking a long-term commitment.

At the moment, one can only speculate if the “not well” part of negotiations refers to disagreement over term, money, or both. At least the Philadelphia Flyers have all offseason to figure this one out, and it may get easier once the Flyers have a firm NHL cap number, have nailed down cap hits for other free agents, or made other offseason moves.

Next: Rumors Connect Flyers and Yakupov. Again.