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Scott Hartnell’s 6-year deal with Flyers: Shrewd pre-CBA move or bad business?

Getty ImagesIn signing Scott Hartnell to a 6-year, $28.5-million contract extension, I suppose there's a bit of astonishment and/or ridicule expected for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Here's Ed Snider, Big Voice on the owners' side of collective bargaining, signing yet another player to a long-term deal that sneaks their salary in under the CBA wire. You know, because the system is so inadequate that it was imperative to get Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds locked into 6-year deals before it expires …

But that scorn shouldn't be transferred to Hartnell, who has earned every bit of that $4.75 million he'll earn annually beginning in 2013-14 and continuing through his 37th birthday.

Now, $4.75 million annually for a player that's broken 30 goals twice (including last year's 37) and 60 points the same number of times might be viewed as overpayment.

I don't see it that way. He gets that and more as an unrestricted free-agent next summer, salary rollback be damned; hell, if P-A Parenteau is a $4 million a year player after being John Tavares's wingman, what does Hartnell deserve for having meshed well with both Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux with the Flyers?

Part of the wager here with Hartnell is that he's going to be a top-line player with Giroux for a good portion of that contract; which, conversely, is a wager that Jaromir Jagr wasn't more of an engine for that line's success than he's often given credit.

Well, save for Hartnell himself, to Dave Isaac of the Courier Post:

Although he started out the year on the fourth line, he quickly found his way to the top unit with Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr, where they all flourished.

"I have a lot left in the tank," said Hartnell, who will be 37 when the deal expires in 2019. "Last year was a good example. I give Jaromir Jagr a lot of credit for my success last year.

"I was more in-tune practicing with him than I was at any point in my career."

But projecting Hartnell's offensive numbers, which should wane anyway as he reaches his mid-30s, misses a more significant number when it comes to this contract: 147.

As in 147 PIMs on average over the last five seasons. That's enforcement, agitation and tone-setting from a vital forward on some very successful Flyers teams. That's the ability be as effective running his yap as he is running opponents:

From the Hartnell Down thing to the unbridled enthusiasm at the All-Star Game and the Winter Classic, who he is and what he does is infectious for the Flyers. (Granted, for some opponents it's like Ebola …)

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