The Flyers announced today that they had agreed on a 6-year contract extension with LW Scott Hartnell that will take place after this season, preventing him from becoming an unrestricted free agent. Two figures have been going around for the contract’s worth: one saying it’s for $33M, an average annual value (AAV) and cap hit of $5.5M per season. The other, which has been reported by CSN’s Tim Panaccio, is $28.5, which would give him a cap hit and AAV of $4.75M per season. With Hartnell coming off a career year, the Flyers did very well to keep his cap hit under the $5M level. The length of the contract is a bit of a turn-off for me, as he’s already 30 years old with another season to play before the extension takes effect. It’s probably not a coincidence that both Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds received 6-year extensions: negotiations for the new CBA have begun and the owners are calling for a 5-year limit on contracts. This leaves the Flyers with approximately $12.7M of cap space (under the current salary cap of $70.2M, which is likely to change in the new CBA) for next offseason, not including their ability to put Chris Pronger’s $4.92M salary on long-term injured reserve. There really isn’t too much else for the Flyers to take care of right now, contract-wise. I’m sure they’re working on an extension with Claude Giroux, who becomes a restricted free agent in 2014, but the core of this team (Giroux, Briere, Voracek, Simmonds, Hartnell, B. Schenn, Talbot, L. Schenn, Couturier, Read, Coburn, Meszaros, Grossmann, Bourdon, Gervais, and Bryzgalov) are all under contract through the next two seasons. That’s 16 of the 20 active skaters that suit up on game day, including their top-9 forwards and 3 of their top 4 defensemen. The only part of the future that remains uncertain is the defense, with Kimmo Timonen’s contract expiring (and perhaps his career ending) after the season. The list of 2013 UFAs that the Flyers could pursue with their bevy of cap space includes Anaheim forwards Corey Perry (RW) and Ryan Getzlaf (C), Vancouver D Alexander Edler, Calgary RW Jarome Iginla, Dallas LW Brendan Morrow, and C Valtteri Filppula. You’ll notice the lack of top-level defensemen in that group of players. Aside from Edler (who is already negotiating an extension with Vancouver), the class of defensive free agents next season is quite thin. The Flyers will likely have to pursue an upgrade to their defensive corps via trade, both for the upcoming season and in the future. Scott Hartnell’s contract extension helps clear what is becoming an increasingly less murky future for the team and will allow them to know where to focus their resources for the future: defense.