Carter Hart will earn nearly $4 million a year over the next three seasons after signing his new contract with the Flyers on Monday.
“It’s a clean slate. Fresh start for everybody.”
That’s how goaltender Carter Hart is looking at the 2021-22 season. On Monday, the restricted free agent signed a new three-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.
After performing well in his first two NHL campaigns and in the 2020 playoffs in the Toronto bubble, the Flyers’ second-round draft pick from 2016 and presumptive goalie of the future saw his game fall apart during the Covid-shortened 2021 campaign.
Called up midway through the 2018-19 campaign, when he was just 20 years old, Hart went 40-24-6 in his first two NHL seasons. His goals-against average of 2.59 ranked him 13th in the league during that timeframe, and his .915 save percentage placed him within the top 20.
But last year was a different story. In January, Hart started with a 4-2-1 record and a .900 save percentage. His personal numbers then spiraled downward as the Flyers’ season fell apart.
Hart hit rock bottom in March, with a record of 2-6-0 in 10 starts, a goals-against average of 5.04 and a save percentage of just .815. After being given some time off, he rebounded in April before he was eventually shut down for the season as the Flyers’ slim playoff hopes evaporated.
What an awkward time to become a restricted free agent, coming out of your entry-level contract.
Carter Hart Signs A Three-Year, $11.937 Million Contract
On Monday, the Flyers proved that they still believe in their young netminder, who turns 23 this Friday.
Hart’s new bridge contract covers the next three seasons, with an average annual value of $3.979 million a year. Thanks to the commitment of some young fans during his junior hockey days, Hart has worn No. 79 since his first Flyers development camp. Now, he’s following in the footsteps of players like Sidney Crosby (No. 87 – cap hit $8.7 million) and Roman Josi (No. 59 – cap hit $9.059 million) by incorporating that number into his wage.
How It Compares
Despite his challenges last season, Hart’s deal looked rich for a hot minute on Monday. It topped the three-year, $3.5 million AAV extension that Andrei Vasilevskiy signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning for his second contract, which started in the 2017-18 season, and the three-year extension with a $3.75 million AAV that Matt Murray signed after winning the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016.
In recent memory, only Sergei Bobrovsky had done better. Barely a week after he won the 2013 Vezina Trophy, he inked a two-year deal with a cap hit of $5.625 million with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
But it’s an understatement to say the market moves quickly at this time of year. Ilya Samsonov was drafted in the first round, a year earlier than Hart, but has only 48 NHL games on his resume compared to 101 for Hart. On Monday, Samsonov re-upped with the Washington Capitals on a one-year ‘prove it’ deal with a cap hit of $2 million.
Meanwhile, Igor Shesterkin has played just 47 games with the New York Rangers. But with his 26-16-3 record, 2.59 career goals-against average and .921 save percentage, new general manager Chris Drury felt that he had seen enough to make a long-term commitment.
Already 25, Shesterkin was set to reach unrestricted free agency in just two seasons. So the Rangers opened the vault on Monday, buying two of those free-agent years as they inked their goalie of the future to a four-year contract with a cap hit of $5.67 million per season.
With all three of Monday’s goalie signings plying their trade in the Metropolitan Division, fans will have plenty of opportunity to argue about how these contracts compare as time goes on.
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Hart’s Offseason Re-set
Speaking to the media on Monday, Hart said he took about a month off at the end of the season. Now back in his hometown of Edmonton, working on his game with his goalie coach Dustin Schwartz and tackling his fitness goals with trainer Phil Daly, he said “I’m feeling really good right now.”
Perhaps most importantly, he has been able to enjoy some quality downtime after a season where, living alone, the isolation may have been part of what impacted his on-ice performance.
“Can pretty much do everything without any restrictions now, so that’s good,” he said.
“It’s been awesome to see all my family and friends, just kind of hang out.
“I got a lot of golf in. My golf game has improved — I know some of the boys might say otherwise. Playing a lot of tennis and just been outdoors quite a bit. It’s been a good summer. The weather’s been great here and it’s been great so far.”
The Road Ahead
As for the Flyers’ offseason changes, Hart’s encouraged by the prospect of competing for starts with his new partner in net, Martin Jones.
“You want to have a good competition between the two tendys,” he said. “Me and Jonesy will push each other to be better in practice and off the ice. I think that’s only healthy. You want to have two boys that compete hard to play games. I think in the long run it will only be better off for the team and ourselves.”
“I’ve talked to some of those guys already and they seem like beauties,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun this year and we’re going to have a great locker room. Just looking forward to getting started.”