Flyers’ Jeff Carter agrees to 11-year, $58 million contract extension

Last week, Flyers fans had a chance to rejoice after the team signed rising star forward Claude Giroux to a three-year extension. Today, TSN’s Bob McKenzie brings news that the Flyers have taken care of their other big potential future free agent Jeff Carter. McKenzie reports that the Flyers have signed Carter to an 11-year extension worth $58 million. That deal comes with a cap hit of $5.27 million per season. Here’s to hoping that Carter can still get it done in 11 years and worth the cap hit.

At 26 years-old, Carter is sometimes the focus of frustrations by Flyers faithful, but his ability to score goals and rack up points is there. Two seasons ago, Carter scored 46 goals on his way to an 84 point season. Last year he tossed in 33 goals on his way to a 61 point season. When he’s healthy and mentally on his game, he’s a dynamic scorer. With the possibility of making Team Canada’s Olympic team last year, Carter seemed distracted at times after being the last guy left off the team. It’s not that we’re making excuses for the guy here, but it was noticeable to see that missing out on that opportunity bothered him.

The fact that the Flyers are ponying up this big now for Carter does seem a bit surprising and it’s clear their hand is being forced by the possibility of seeing Carter becoming a free agent at the end of the year. To get a deal done before a player hits free agency, sometimes you need to pony up in a big way and guarantee the guy’s future. Clearly, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren felt that was the right course of action with Carter.

The money here isn’t the issue with the contract. If you can keep a guy who scores anywhere from 30-45 goals in a season for just a bit over $5 million a year, you do it and you do it right away. Carter’s talent is obvious, despite the complaints of some fans. He’s a damn good player and getting such a cap-friendly hit on him is great. The length of the deal, however seems a bit wonky to us, but that’s more than likely due to trying to keep said cap hit down and manageable. That doesn’t mean we’re expecting cap-lowering shenanigans going on with this contract, that’s just how teams have to do things to make it work. Not everyone is going to be forking over Kovalchuk money, but with Giroux and Richards locked up, the Flyers don’t have a whole lot to worry about for some time.

 

The West’s next round is now set (and wide-open)

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Saturday was a great day for fans of brevity and revenge.

Three of a possible three series ended on this day, with the Rangers dispatching the Canadiens, the Blues eliminating the “better” Wild, and the Oilers knocking off the Sharks in six.

The Rangers await either the Bruins or Senators and the Penguins face the winner of the Leafs – Capitals series out East, but we now know how the West shakes out.

St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Both teams provided some of the upsets of this young postseason. Each features a red-hot goalie in Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. Interesting.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

There will be a lot of orange. We may also see a ton of goals with Ryan Getzlaf on fire, Oscar Klefbom headlining the list of unhealthy players and Connor McDavid possibly able to really take off against a Ducks defense that is beat up in its own right.

It’s already been a strange season out West, with the Kings missing the playoffs and first-round exits for the Sharks and Blackhawks. Get ready – and giddy – for things to get even weirder as the postseason goes along.

Oilers win first series since 2006 after Sharks fall crossbar short of overtime

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After making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Edmonton Oilers weren’t just “happy to be there.” They confirmed as much by eliminating the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 victory in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.

Yes, those young Oilers just eliminated the team that represented the West in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Wow.

Ultimately, winning the breakaway battle in the second period indeed made the difference. Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored on their chances in the middle frame while Patrick Marleau could not; Slepyshev’s 2-0 goal ultimately became the series-clincher.

Now, that’s not to say that Marleau was a drag on San Jose. If this is it for one of the faces of the franchise, he had a great 2016-17, including generating the Sharks’ final goal of the postseason.

The Shark Tank was alive after Marleau reduced the Oilers’ lead to 2-1, and more than a few blood pressures rose – both in Edmonton and San Jose – after the Sharks got this close to tying things up.

Wow.

With this result, the West is set. The St. Louis Blues will take on the Nashville Predators while the Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks.

As much as people try to put the training wheels on Connor McDavid & Co., the West is wide-open enough that it’s not so outrageous to imagine a big run for Edmonton.

Beating the Sharks is a pretty nice way of adding an exclamation point to that statement win. And hey … they beat the Sharks last time around, too.

Canadiens sound a lot like Wild after playoff exit (without ‘better team’ talk)

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Much like the Minnesota Wild earlier on Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens are stunned to approach the golf courses so rapidly.

Many of the responses after the New York Rangers eliminated them in Game 6 sound a lot like what the Wild uttered, though there’s no potential bulletin board material like Bruce Boudreau’s line about the better team failing to win four games.

Max Pacioretty viewed this early exit as a “missed opportunity” and never really believed that an elimination was coming.

Claude Julien provided parallel comments to Bruce Boudreau, believing that Montreal generated chances but lacked “finish.”

Brendan Gallagher? He worries that this might have been the Canadiens’ best chance, something the Wild must also worry about with a difficult offseason ahead.

Now, it’s likely that most teams speak about being shocked and expecting better after being booted from the postseason.

Still, these reactions do shine a light on the staggering nature of some of these exits. Will the likes of the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Wild struggle to be in such prime positions in the future? With the Sharks needing a comeback against the Oilers, could the trend continue on Saturday?

The bottom line is that, instead of preparing for a Game 7 after winning the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens are packing up their stuff and worrying about re-signing Carey Price. That’s a pretty stunning turnaround, regardless of the soundbytes available.

Video: Draisaitl, Slepyshev score on breakaways, Talbot spurns Marleau

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Some playoff games or even series come down to something as stupidly simple as one team taking advantage of their opportunities while the other fails to capitalize on chances.

If Game 6 of the Oilers – Sharks series follows the story of the second period, then San Jose may join Saturday’s stream of eliminated teams.

It’s not fair to boil it down to three breakaways, but some might feel that way.

Leon Draisaitl looked like a gritty, strong veteran during his first career playoff goal, bulling his way to the net for 1-0 breakaway tally. About a minute later, Anton Slepyshev was even more alone against Martin Jones, and he scored his first postseason goal to make it 2-0.

That stings for the Sharks, and it doesn’t help that they had a similar chance not long after. This time around, Patrick Marleau couldn’t beat Cam Talbot, so it remained 2-0 for Edmonton.

That’s the same score as the game enters the third period, even with some dangerous late chances for the Sharks.

If the Sharks don’t score at least two goals in the third, their push to return to the Stanley Cup Final could end in the first round.