When the Philadelphia Flyers signed restricted free agent Travis Sanheim to his new contract last Saturday, it looked like general manager Chuck Fletcher’s heavy lifting for this summer was complete.
But in what has already been a busy offseason, Fletcher is still at work.
On Wednesday, the club announced that it has signed veteran forward Derick Brassard to a one-year contract. Thursday, the Flyers put pen to paper with Sean Couturier, locking up their Selke Trophy-winning center on an eight-year deal.
The deal carries a cap hit of $7.75 million per season. It will take effect in the 2022-23 season as Couturier, 28, was one year away from unrestricted free agency.
“As one of the premier two-way centers in the NHL, Sean has the rare talent to shut down opposing teams’ top players while also contributing at a high offensive level,” said Fletcher in a statement. “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.”
Drafted eighth overall by the Flyers in 2011, Couturier has played 692 games in a Philadelphia uniform, amassing 174 goals and 443 points. He finished second in Selke Trophy voting in the 2017-18 season, then won the trophy in 2020.
“To be part of the Flyers organization for another eight years following next year is extremely exciting,” said Couturier. “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.”
Currently 12th all-time in games played with Philadelphia, Couturier needs just 62 more games to move into the top five. Following Jakub Voracek‘s offseason trade to Columbus, Couturier is now second among active Flyers in games, goals, assists and points, behind captain Claude Giroux.
Couturier is entering the final season of a six-year deal which has provided tremendous value for the Flyers, at a cap hit of just $4.33 million per season. Though injuries limited him to just 45 games last season, he finished second on the Flyers in goals (18) and fourth in points (41).
Brassard Adds Depth
On Wednesday, Fletcher also announced that the Flyers have signed forward Derick Brassard to a one-year contract with a cap hit of $825,000.
A versatile forward with a strong defensive component to his game, Brassard can play all three positions is best known as a center. Drafted sixth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2006, he’ll turn 34 in September.
Brassard played 309 games with the Blue Jackets, where he flirted with the 50-point plateau. In his last two years, he was teammates with new Flyer Cam Atkinson.
At the 2013 trade deadline, the Blue Jackets dealt Brassard to the New York Rangers, a key part of the blockbuster deal that saw Marian Gaborik go to Columbus.
Under John Tortorella, Brassard had an immediate impact. He put up 11 points in the Rangers’ final 13 regular-season games, then added another 12 in 12 playoff games. After the Rangers fell to the Boston Bruins in five games in the second round of the 2013 playoffs, Tortorella was replaced by Alain Vigneault behind the Rangers bench.
The next year, Brassard put up 45 points in the regular season and added another 12 in the playoffs as the Rangers reached the Stanley Cup Final. In 2014-15, Kevin Hayes joined the club after completing his four years at Boston College, and Keith Yandle was acquired at the trade deadline. Brassard hit his career-high of 60 points, and the Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy with 113 points before falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015 Eastern Conference Final.
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Man On The Move
The following year, Brassard his goal-scoring high, with 27 in 80 games. After the Rangers flamed out in the playoffs with a first-round loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, he joined Team Canada in Russia for the 2016 World Championship, where he led the star-studded roster with 11 points in 10 games and won a gold medal.
After their disappointing postseason, the Rangers shook up their roster. Brassard was traded to the Ottawa Senators on July 18, 2016. He was the key player in the deal that brought Mika Zibanejad to Broadway.
That spring, Brassard went on another solid playoff run, with 11 points in 19 games. The Senators reached the Eastern Conference Final, ousting the Rangers in six games along the way. As the Senators embarked on their rebuild, he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2018 trade deadline. Since then, he has also spent time with the Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, and Arizona Coyotes.
All told, Brassard now has 194 goals and 503 points in 906 career NHL games.
His addition should give the Flyers solid center depth next season. Couturier, Hayes, and Nate Thompson are also projected to play in the middle. Morgan Frost should also get a long look at the pivot position. Brassard will provide Vigneault with a trusted option in tough defensive situations.