The Philadelphia Flyers have lost out on a lot of opportunities this offseason. Of course, Flyers fans like myself have to think a lot about what we lost, since Shea Weber didn't come here and the likes of Jaromir Jagr and Matt Carle are gone. But Philadelphia still feels confident that its long-term future is secure, especially with Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds a part of it for the next six years.
The Flyers kept Simmonds by giving him a six-year deal on Aug. 16. Four days later they matched it with Hartnell, as he got his own six-year, $28.5 million contract on Aug. 20. Both players got rewarded for having career seasons last year, although matching it for the next several seasons will be the hard part.
Hartnell's new deal is more overdue, after he truly broke out in his fifth year with the Flyers. He gave Philadelphia a career-high 37 goals in 2011-12, so it was very important to keep him in town. With the loss of offensive options like Carle, Jagr and James van Riemsdyk, the team truly needs weapons like Hartnell and Claude Giroux to keep lighting up the lamp.
Simmonds is more of a risk, since he is being so richly rewarded on the strength of one good year. Yet he was among the most pleasant surprises of last season, after being just another piece in last summer's Mike Richards trade. While the Flyers endured the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup with Richards anyway, Simmonds' emergence still made them confident that they made the right choice, as this contract reflects.
Of course, both Richards and Jeff Carter got expensive contracts of their own before they were both traded away last summer. Just because Hartnell and Simmonds are both scheduled to stay in Philadelphia until 2018, it doesn't mean they'll stay for that long. For that matter, it doesn't mean we will always want them to stay that long.
Can Hartnell continue to become a real star and a real second option behind Giroux, or was last year a fluke? Was Simmonds also a one-year wonder as well? If that isn't the case for either player, then the next few years can go down a lot easier for the Flyers.
With Giroux and several young stars in place, and with Hartnell and Simmonds also all in, Philadelphia's current core has the potential for long-term greatness. At the least, the Flyers are giving them a lot of years and money to prove it, so a lot depends on them having made the right call.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
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