By Nick Tricome
Getting pending restricted free agents under contract has been a top priority for the Flyers this season.
They already signed defensemen Erik Gustafsson and Oliver Lauridsen, who already hit restricted free agency, to deals and signed their captain Claude Giroux, who would have become a restricted free agent after the 2013-14 season, to an eight-year contract extension.
Now the Flyers have signed forward Sean Couturier to a two-year contract extension.
The deal is worth $3.5 million with a cap hit of $1.75 million per, according to Flyers' inside reporter Anthony SanFilippo.
Couturier was set to become a restricted free agent next summer, with the 2013-14 season being the last in his three-year entry level deal.
The contract extension won't kick in until the 2014-15 season.
The lockout-shortened 2013 season was a bit of a disappointing one for Couturier.
The 20-year old forward scored just four goals and 11 assists for 15 points in 46 games last season, after a great rookie year in the 2011-12 campaign, when he scored 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points in 77 games.
Couturier played for the Flyers' AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, during the lockout, putting up 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points in 31 games.
The Flyers picked Couturier eighth overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, after they acquired the pick, Jakub Voracek and another pick in the third round from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jeff Carter.
Couturier had an immediate impact on the Flyers in his rookie year, especially on the penalty kill.
In the first round playoff series against the Penguins in 2012, Couturier was matched up with NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin and shut him down for most of the series.
Couturier also scored a hat-trick in game two of that series.
Hopefully, the disappointing 2013 season was nothing more than a sophomore slump for Couturier and he'll have a much better year this season.
Couturier does seem to be highly coveted around the league, as a lot of trade rumors the Flyers have been involved in for players like Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle and now former Anaheim forward Bobby Ryan have involved the teams asking for Couturier in return.
So here's hoping that a highly touted prospect like Couturier has a lot more in store for the Flyers.
Extra Note: Brayden Schenn, who put up 26 points for the Flyers last year, is set become a restricted free agent after the 2013-14 season. The 21-year old forward is another young player that teams around the league have been placing a lot of value on, so with Couturier now under contract, it seems that Schenn will likely be the next player the Flyers address.
(Image from Broad Street Hockey)
(YouTube video from Phnatasy Phils)