Forwards like Owen Tippett, extended for 8 years, ‘tough to find,’ GM Daniel Briere says

PHILADELPHIA — Just before kicking off a weekend in which the Philadelphia Flyers are honoring their past, they locked up a couple of players they hope will be a part of their future success.

Owen Tippett agreed to an eight-year, $49.6 million contract extension Friday, while depth forward Ryan Poehling inked a two-year, $3.8 million deal, per a team source. Both players were pending restricted free agents.

General manager Daniel Briere spoke about the two extensions Friday evening at Wells Fargo Center, during the second intermission of the Flyers-Boston Bruins alumni game. On Saturday afternoon, prior to the NHL game between the Flyers and Bruins, the club will induct Mark Recchi into its Hall of Fame.

The team has announced Tippett’s deal, while Briere termed Poehling’s as “an agreement” that isn’t officially signed yet.

Tippett has taken significant strides in recent weeks, leading the Flyers with 11 goals — 10 at even strength — since the beginning of December. But it hasn’t been just his goal scoring — a few of which have been spectacular — that’s impressed the team brass.

“It feels at times he’s just starting to realize how good he can be,” Briere said. “Power forwards like him, they’re tough to find. Power forwards that can score and create on their own, even tougher. We think there’s more there. We think he’s going to keep improving. He works hard. But the combination of power, scoring ability, leadership, the way he carries himself — all of that was just what made us feel like it was something we were willing and ready to commit to.”

Still, Tippett, acquired from Florida on March 19, 2022, as part of the trade for Claude Giroux, has yet to record a 30-goal season in his career, and coach John Tortorella has indicated that he’s still learning the defensive aspects of the game. He’s a late bloomer, too, scoring just 10 goals in 63 games with the Flyers and Panthers in 2021-22 during the season he was traded.

The Flyers are forecasting the 24-year-old Tippett to develop into a core piece anyway, as the first player signed through 2031-32. According to a team source, his contract also carries a 10-team no-trade list in years 3-6 of the deal.

“Personally, I kind of like the fact that he had to go through some tough times,” Briere said. “It made him realize that he can fight through. I think that’s something good that he has on his side. We believe there’s more upside there. That makes me really excited.”

Tippett, the 10th pick in the 2017 draft, will miss his fourth straight game Saturday with a lower-body injury. The Flyers won’t play again until Feb. 6 in Florida.

“It gives him an extra (10 days) to hopefully completely heal as much as possible and not have a nagging injury for the last 30 games of the season coming down the stretch,” Briere said.

Poehling made no secret of his desire to stay in Philadelphia after he wasn’t qualified as a restricted free agent by the Pittsburgh Penguins last offseason before landing with the Flyers on a one-year, $1.4 million deal. He has five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 44 games.

The 25-year-old has played mostly on the fourth line but has been elevated in the lineup on occasion. That versatility made the 6-foot-2, 196-pounder a prime candidate for an extension, Briere said.

“He can help us in many different facets,” Briere said. “The age group obviously, that was part of the reason for signing him in the summertime. We felt we had a chance to add a bigger body in the age group that we’re looking for, that can maybe come together with us, with our young guys.

“He’s been a great fit. (Tortorella) has really enjoyed him. Likes that he can use him on the (penalty kill), for faceoffs, his speed and size combination helps us having a few smaller sized wingers.”

Poehling, the 25th pick in the first round in 2017 by Montreal (15 spots after Tippett), will be an unrestricted free agent when the deal expires in 2026.

“It’s a contract that’s fair for both sides,” Briere said. “It’s not super long. Gives him the chance to maybe even solidify himself and achieve a bigger contract if he performs well down the road. For us, it gives us a couple years to see him and let him grow with our young core.”

The signings leave the Flyers with about $73.7 million committed to 18 players (including dead money) in 2024-25, according to CapFriendly. The salary cap is projected to be $87.7 million in 2024-25.

Among the other pending restricted free agents are Egor Zamula, Bobby Brink and Carter Hart. Pending unrestricted free agents on the NHL roster include Sean Walker, Nick Seeler and Marc Staal.

When asked about any negotiations with players not signed beyond this season, Briere was mum.

“That’s something we’re, on a daily basis, discussing, looking at,” he said. “I’m not going to dive into it. I’d rather not tell where we’re at when it comes to negotiating with certain guys. Just for the process, I think it’s the right thing to do. I’d rather not use the media to negotiate with players.”

(Photo: Eric Hartline / USA Today)

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