Predicting Cam York’s Extension

The Philadelphia Flyers and their fans are gearing up for a critical offseason with dreams of major blockbuster trades and signings to ignite the roster and carry them to a playoff spot during the 2023-24 campaign. Though before the offseason comes around, the front office has to take care of their internal affairs first. That comes in the form of a handful of restricted free agents getting new deals, with the biggest being 22-year-old defenseman Cam York.

Cam York was finally let out the of the doghouse in early December and has once again established himself as a top defenseman for the Flyers. By season’s end, York will have 87 NHL games under his belt total from his rookie and sophomore seasons and so far has four goals and 23 points through 68 contests.

He’s averaging 19:09 of ice time per game, though has regularly creeped above the 20-minute mark as John Tortorella has thrown the defensive pairs into a blender in search of consistency from the players around York.

York’s lack of experience could work in the Flyers’ favor and lead to a cheap couple year bridge deal as he continues to adapt to the NHL, but what if the Flyers opted for a bit of a longer term contract at a lower cap hit?

Getting team friendly deals in this day and age seems less and less likely, but it’s also not impossible.

You’re essentially betting on a young player long term. They get a slightly higher AAV in the short term in exchange for a longer deal that works in the team’s favor as the years go on and his play remains high.

Mikey Anderson in LA, who currently serves as their top left-handed defenseman, just recently re-signed with the Kings for eight years and $33 million ($4.1 million aav). He’s 23 years old with 175 NHL games under his belt. Now, he did sign a one-year, $1 million deal after his entry-level contract expired in 2022 which led to that extension.

It’s always interesting when a player of that caliber accepts a deal that theoretically limits him financially for a long time. Though for the team, having a top pair player under a cost controlled deal for the foreseeable future is exactly the kind of thing Cup contenders do, especially in the prolonged flat cap era that has stifled the ability to throw money around.

Though signings like this aren’t quite the unicorn they appear to be.

Buffalo Sabres left-handed defenseman Mattias Samuelsson signed a seven-year, $30 million ($4.2 aav) in October. His entry level deal expires at the end of this season. His situation in Buffalo is slightly different; Samuelsson is currently stuck behind both Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power on the left side of the defense. While all three players have played on both sides of the defense to make up for injuries and other roster shakeups, they’re all left shot players who will stack on top of each other when their roster is built.

Elsewhere in the league Boston’s RHD Brandon Carlo (six year, $4.1 million aav signed in 2021) and Colorado’s LHD Samuel Girard (seven years, $5 million aav signed in 2019) highlight other comparable deals.

It’s been a minute since the Flyers have had a truly good contract on the books. Sean Couturier winning the Selke on a $4.3 million salary was great, but his new extension was a disaster. Wayne Simmonds putting up 30 goals at $3.9 million was a steal but the age caught up to him and there hasn’t been a notable good deal since.

If York is on pace for, say, a $1.5 million aav bridge for two years, committing $4 right now is a rather large bump for a team that doesn’t have a ton of money available to them during the summer. After re-signing Travis Sanheim, the Flyers only had about $5 million of naturally occurring cap space before… if?… they make any moves and they’ve also got Noah Cates and potentially Morgan Frost to re-sign as well. Do they take the short term problem for a possible long term bargain?

Chances are, York gets a short term cheap bridge deal this summer and they punt a real contract a few years down the line until the cap ceiling starts to rise again, but getting a player under a respectable AAV contract for a long time could be more beneficial than a cheap bridge for a year or two followed by a six, seven, eight or even nine million extension a couple years from now. If York remains their top defenseman for the foreseeable future, he should be a target to get under contract for as long and cheap as possible.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: Getty Images


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