The list of players who have spent their entire careers with the Flyers is a very short one.
Hall of Famers Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber are the first two who quickly come to mind.
Based on Thursday’s announcement by the team, there could be another addition to that elite group someday.
Center Sean Couturier was signed to an eight-year, $62-million contract extension which will go into effect beginning with the 2022-23 season.
The deal is worth an average of $7.75 million per season.
“We are excited to announce Sean’s long-term extension with the Flyers today,” Fletcher said. “As one of the premier two-way centers in the NHL, Sean has the rare talent to shut down opposing team’s top players while also contributing at a high offensive level. Throughout his 10-year career with the Flyers, he has proven to be the ultimate teammate. He carries an enormous presence inside our dressing room due to his preparation, determination and drive to win.”
Dave Scott, governor of the Flyers, was excited by the signing.
“Sean is a cornerstone of this team, and we are thrilled that he’ll be in Orange and Black for years to come,” said Scott. “With his leadership, grit, and ability on both ends of the ice, Sean is essential to the future of this team, and we couldn’t be happier to keep him in Philadelphia for the long term.”
With this contract, the 28-year-old Couturier could be playing in Philadelphia until age 37.
“To be part of the Flyers organization for another eight years following next year is extremely exciting,” Couturier said. “I like the way the team is built and the mix of players that we have. I’m really looking forward to it but especially this year. We’ve made a lot of changes, but it’s all positive and very exciting.”
Couturier will be entering his 11th NHL season this fall, all of which have been with the Flyers. He made the team out of training camp in 2011 after being selected by the club in the first round (eighth overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and has since appeared in 692 games over 10 seasons. He won the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward in 2020 and was the runner-up for the award in 2018; he has finished in the top 10 in voting for the award on three other occasions. Couturier has also won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as Flyers MVP in each of the last three seasons, becoming only the third Flyer to win the award three straight times since its inception in 1984-85 and the first since Eric Lindros (1993-94 – 1995-96).
Couturier had a breakout season in 2017-18 when he appeared in all 82 games and posted 31 goals and 45 assists for 76 points and a plus-34 rating, all of which were career highs at the time and eclipsed previous single-season bests of 15 goals, 28 assists and 39 points. He again reached the 76-point mark in 2018-19 (33G, 43A), doing so in two fewer games.
In 2019-20, he was on pace for a 70-point season and had appeared in all 69 games when the COVID-19 stoppage hit in March. At the time of the stoppage, Couturier led the Flyers with a plus-21 rating and led the entire NHL with a 59.6 faceoff win percentage. Last season, Couturier had 18 goals and 23 assists for 41 points in 45 games, again putting him on a scoring pace for over 70 points in a full year. He recorded four scoring streaks of five consecutive games or longer, including an eight-game streak from Feb. 7 – March 4. Couturier has averaged 0.91 points per game over the past four campaigns, which is second-best of any Flyer in that timeframe behind only Claude Giroux’s 0.99 PPG.
Couturier was born in Phoenix, Arizona but later made Bathurst, New Brunswick his hometown. He represents Canada in international play, having participated in the World Junior Championships in 2011 and the World Championships in 2015, 2017 and 2019. He also played for Team North America in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
How important was it to get this done now before the start of the season?
“I think it was really important,’’ Fletcher said. “Last year was a difficult season as everybody saw. Going into this season, the goal is to improve the talent level of our team, also to come to camp and get everyone on the same page.
“Certainly if this contract extension was hanging over Sean’s head and the organization’s head, it would have been difficult. It could have become a distraction. Our goal was to find a fair deal and get it done this summer so we can all focus on next season.’’
Fletcher said the contract includes a no-movement clause.
“He’s a premier player,’’ Fletcher said. “It’s a premier contract.’’