Has Sean Walker Played Himself into a New Contract with Flyers?

Nov 3, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Sean Walker (26) takes a shot on goal during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 3, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Sean Walker (26) takes a shot on goal during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

The difficulty of a team making a transition to a more youthful squad is what do you when you have some older players who are playing really well? This stuff can really screw up a rebuilding team’s plans. It can delay the calling up of prospects that you are really high on. The Flyers are facing this right now.

While they want to get younger up front, veterans like Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Cam Atkinson, and Sean Couturier are scoring the vast majority of the points on the team. Likewise, there are lot of good players who are young and up and coming on defense, but there are some vets who are playing well. One of those guys is Sean Walker.

Walker came over to Philly in the Ivan Provorov deal. Walker played for the Los Angeles Kings for five seasons with one season, 2021-22, missed due to injuries to his right knee. He had a bounce back season last year, scoring three goals with 10 assists while playing 14 minutes of ice team per game. At the time, it looked like a salary dump deal as the Kings tried to get younger, although Walker only was costing LA just $2,650,000.

Walker will turn 29 on November 13. So far this season, he’s scored two goals with two assists, is a +2 and is averaging 20 minutes of ice time. There is something about him that John Tortorella sees and likes. With a defense in transition, he’s playing a lot better than anyone expected. He is also under contract for just this season. This begs the question: has he played well enough for the Flyers to re-sign him?

If you look at the Flyers defensive corps, this is what they are signed up for:

  • Travis Sanheim for $6,250,000 until 2030-31
  • Rasmus Ristolainen for $5,100,000 until 2026-27
  • Cam York for $1,600,000 until 2024-25
  • Marc Staal for $1,100,000 until the end of this season
  • Louis Belpedio for $775,000 until 2024-25
  • Nick Seeler, Yegor Zamula, and Victor Mete for $775,000 until the end of this season

With the exception of Sanheim and Ristolainen, most of these guys aren’t signed up for much longer. I think we can expect York to be re-signed depending on how this season and next season go. The same probably goes for Zamula. This also needs to take into considering that the Flyers have Emil Andrae, Oliver Bonk, Ronnie Attard, Helge Grans, Adam Ginning, and Will Zmolek all waiting in the minors and juniors ready to take their rightful place in the NHL.

Staal is signed on for just this season and was signed to be more of a mentor to the younger players. Belpedio and Mete were injury call ups, but Belpedio has been playing well. Tortorella likes Seeler’s effort and attitude. Which leaves us with Walker.

Walker, just like Seeler, could make a great trade deadline rental for someone looking to go deep in this year’s playoffs. Both are reliable defenders, but not all-stars. Both can play well without making too many mistakes. Most importantly, both are inexpensive. However, what if the Flyers are one of those teams that are playoff bound? Would and should the Flyers hold onto Walker.  In a recent article with the LA Times, Tortorella said this about Walker:

"“He’s been really good. He’s been noticeable in that he’s probably one of our most aggressive defensemen in surfing, taking a chance as far as getting your gap very early, not waiting for them to cross the red line to get your gap.”"

Likewise, Walker said this about playing in Philly for Torts:

"“Everybody knows what Torts is expecting out of you and that feeds into the way that I want to play.  I pride myself as being someone who is going to show up every day and work my very hardest, and, at the very least, that’s what he expects.”"

Perhaps the two have found a comradery with each other. Tortorella has been very loyal to players who give him their all. There are a lot of players who have this sort of relationship with Tortorella, like Atkinson. Those relationships are important. To be honest, it’s clear that the Flyers are moving younger, but you do need some veteran players who can guide the younger players and help them get better. Walker has been rock solid this season. Daniel Briere should strongly consider giving him a two-three year deal worth, maybe $3-$3.5 million a season. It’s a good deal for a player who has played well here.

Sometimes when you show gratitude to a player who’s played hard for you, you get rewarded with great play in return. Other players can see that and understand what it takes to get a good contract for services rendered. Walker has shown he likes playing here and is giving Tortorella and the team everything he has. He has proven himself to be invaluable. It’d be well worth it to lock him up.

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