Philadelphia Flyers: Carter Hart’s contract is just right

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

About a month ago, I took a look at Carter Hart‘s impending restricted free agency negotiations with the Philadelphia Flyers.

In the piece, which you can read here if you’d like – even if most of the speculation is now moot – I surmised that a viable extension of the young netminder should fall in line with the one his counterpart in New Jersey, MacKenzie Blackwood, signed with the Devils just prior to the start of the 2020-21 NHL season; a contract worth roughly $8.4 million spread out over three years.

Welp, as it turns out, I was half right. Hart did accept a deal that spans over three years, allowing the Flyers another bite at the RFA apple before he accrues seven NHL seasons, but my monetary assumptions were a tad low.

Carter Hart is now the proud owner of a three-year contract worth $11.9 million, and frankly, it’s just the right deal in a “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” sort of way.

For Carter Hart and the Philadelphia Flyers, the real hard work begins now.

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How much does a single season dictate a player’s worth?

Should turning in one of the most statistically anomalous seasons ever recorded by a 21-year-old in NHL history be enough to garner a long-term deal?

Or how about following it up with an absolute stinker? Should that wipe away the previous year’s success, especially in a very weird, pandemic-altered season?

These were the questions the Philadelphia Flyers had to think long and hard about when approaching a Carter Hart extension, with his agent surely falling more on the former point than the latter.

Ultimately, they made the right choice.

Now armed with a contract with an AAV of $3.98 million, Hart is now the 27th highest paid goaltender in the NHL annually, sandwiched between Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins and Petr Mrazek of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’ll make more than fellow Metropolitan Division netminders like Igor Shesterkin, Tristan Jarry, and MacKenzie Blackwood – though, funny enough, not more than his backup, ex-Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier – but remains a fairly good bargain for a team that only had a little over $4 million to play with heading into the month of August.

If Travis Senhaim’s contract doesn’t turn out to cost an arm and a leg in arbitration, the Flyers may still come out of this free agency period an improved team yet; one with clear upgrades at top-line left defenseman, top-six right-wing, and deeper down their depth chart.

But none of those additions, upgrades, and shuffled around deck chairs amount to a hill of beans if Hart doesn’t return to his 2019-20 form, or at the very least level out to being a top-30 goaltender as his contract suggests he’s being paid to be.

Remember, the Flyers didn’t go out and secure a Linus Ullmark-level player to platoon with Hart this fall. Their backup is Martin Jones, who was a disaster over the past three seasons in San Jose and should by no means be counted on to do anything other than be a 25-30 game change of pace behind Hart. If Hart turns in 2021 2.0, it’s hard to see a world where the Flyers even made the playoffs, let alone make the sort of run trading form players like Ryan Ellis would suggest they’re gearing up for.

dark. Next. Is Martin Jones really an upgrade over Brian Elliott?

So Carter Hart, good luck this fall. You got your money, you’re stuck with the Philadelphia Flyers for the next three seasons at least – barring a trade – and could define your long-term NHL career trajectory depending on how well you can rebound from a disastrous 2021 campaign. The fate of the franchise largely rests on your shoulders; no pressure, right?