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July 28, 2015

Flyers and Sean Couturier agree on six-year, $26 million contract extension

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Even if the threat was only restricted free agency, the Flyers didn’t let their young center hit the market. The team agreed to a six-year contract extension with 22-year-old Sean Couturier that will kick in for the 2016-17 season. He’ll play the final year of his current deal for $1.75 million this upcoming season.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston was first with the contract details: Coots’ deal will count $4.33 million against the salary cap per year (AAV).

Couturier is coming off an up-and-down year. Everyone already knows about how solid he is defensively, with his strong work against the Pittsburgh Penguins already practically the stuff of legend (maybe not, but he’s pretty damn good against the Pens). On the other hand, his offensive production (37 points in 82 games) was still lagging behind in his fourth offensive season.

The $4.33 million question is how much former head coach Craig Berube’s deployment of the young center — Couturier played on the third line with an ineffective R.J. Umberger and an injured Matt Read, while also frequently being buried in the defensive zone to start shifts — affected his offensive output.

"It's a nice boost of confidence, for sure," Couturier told reporters. "I'm really looking forward to coming to camp and [trying] to take another step forward. I'm not going to change as a player, as a person. I'm going to be the same type of player, just try to definitely produce a little more offensively. That would be great."

With this deal, the Flyers are essentially betting that Couturier makes at least a mini-leap offensively. If that happens, this contract could look very good in a couple of years after considering Couturier’s age. If not, well, we’ll just have to see.

In getting this deal done early, it’s now very clear that the Flyers’ front office highly values their defensive-minded center. Now they get the opportunity to see up close if he develops into a true two-way threat. 

"It means the Flyers organization [believes] in me, and I'm really happy to be there for the next six years," Couturier told reporters. "I love the organization, the city, and I think the future is bright in Philly. Hopefully, we can do some good things during those six years."

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann