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Jeff Carter, Flyers Agree to 11-Year Extension

Jan 13, 2010, 3:34 PM EDT

TSN's Bob McKenzie is reporting that the Jeff Carter has agreed to a contract extension with the Flyers for the next 11 seasons. The deal is said to be worth $58 million, with an average of $5.27 million per season. Jeff Carter Flyers

The two sides had been reportedly working on a long-term extension this season with an eye on getting it done soon and a deal in this ballpark anticipated. The 25-year-old forward is currently making $5 million per season on a contract that would expire with his becoming a restricted free agent this summer. 

Carter has become something of a polarizing figure among Flyers fans, with some hoping he'd be traded this season for one reason or another. The reasoning vacillates between considerable depth at his natural center position and the need to free up cap room for other spots, to a genuine desire to just see him moved. However, outside of that vocal group, Carter has a great many fans in Philadelphia because he's been a producer as a Flyer, and he is still just 25 years old. 

After nearly dealing Carter along with a first-round pick a few seasons ago for veteran Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle, the Flyers were probably understandably gun-shy about trading him anywhere or losing him at all. Kaberle reportedly nixed that deal by refusing to waive his no-trade clause, and Carter went on to score 46 goals in the next season while Kaberle struggled with a variety of issues. Bullet dodged. Sometimes I wonder if the same people wishing Carter away today would be the same voices crucifying Homer for trading him for Kaberle, but that's a different story. Imagine the ensuing course of history had that trade gone down though. 

Carter can go off the radar here and there, but overall, he's an above-average producer who can at times be dominant. He reminded us of that with his quiet hat trick in the Flyers' last game, a feat that's tough to pull off but somewhat illustrative of Carter's presence on the ice and on the team. 

The cap hit is relatively manageable for a player of Carter's age and production within the league. However, it's a big hit considering how many other contracts are on the Flyers' books, and the years are simply jaw-dropping. Of course, without the length of the deal, the relatively manageable annual cap hit wouldn't be possible. 

With Mike Richards firmly in place as the team's captain and a high-line center with a long-term deal ($5.75 million through 2020), Danny Briere as another high-line center with an even bigger cap hit ($6.5 million through 2015) [numbers via CapGeek], and Claude Giroux—still another center—now stepping up among the team's elite and getting a contract extension of his own this week, the biggest question here is how well Carter will produce as a winger. 

With the deal, the Flyers lock up a considerable amount of young talent at the forward positions. However, depending on what happens with the league's salary cap over the next several seasons, they also bind themselves in terms of what they do elsewhere, which will provide the major point of contention among a Flyers fanbase that has at times been at odds with the team's relationship with the salary cap. As Tim Panaccio pointed out yesterday, attrition needs to be part of the planning process everywhere, and subtractions like the Simon Gagne trade this season are increasingly the norm. We'll get further into the implications this has on other mid- and long-term needs at other positions in future posts. 

Other fans will simply be excited to have Carter locked up as a Flyer for the next decade. Many teams in the league would salivate at the opportunity. 

The Flyers are also planning to retain Ville Leino, and considering they've already made good on the Carter and Giroux deals this season, I think we can expect that any time now. 

It is impossible to try to concretely project the situation at the end of this deal. Because Carter is still relatively young, it's not scary to think of a 36-year-old player of his caliber being under contract. But he must continue to produce at a favorable level and have the cap continue to expand rather than contract in order to have the end-years of this deal be a positive. Thinking about the changes a league and a franchise endure over the course of a decade, any deal of this length is bound to give you at least a pause. As much as we may love Lavvy, it's somewhat to insane to assume he'll be the coach then, and a another big stretch to assume Paul Holmgren will still be the team's GM. 

But especially given the current trend of the team, which only seems to have improved since making the Stanley Cup Finals last post-season, we're happy to see moves toward keeping some of the key components in place long-term, and the cap hit is relatively appropriate as previously mentioned.

However, we imagine the Carter situation will continue to be a hotly debated topic among Flyers fans for the foreseeable future, and it will no doubt impact future personnel decisions. Another season of upper-echelon production should serve to make all fans pretty happy though.  

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)