Keeping the Core and Signing a Goalie Should Be a Bryz

So Ilya Bryzgalov’s rights are acquired by the Philadelphia Flyers and now everybody and their mother has Jeff Carter shipped out, Ville Leino walking away, and nothing at all can be done.

But what if you actually analyze the market and the way that deals are structured/can be structured in the NHL, and in particular how the Flyers GM goes about signing free agents. Paul Holmgren is crafty. He may not always make the best decisions when getting free agents or have the best luck when it comes to them or even know how to manage the farm system at all, yet somehow the Flyers have remained competitive and have gotten out of the first round in every year they have made the playoffs but one since he was named full-time GM.

If we take a look at how Holmgren signs free agents and listen to what he’s been saying just a little closer than most people want to bother to do in the media, then this whole matter of paying Bryzgalov, keeping Carter, re-signing Leino, and getting their RFAs done for next year is pretty easy to do.

First off, just take that contract everyone keeps throwing out there (about $30.0 million for five years) and change the term of the contract.

One thing people forget about Holmgren is he’s not unwilling to sign guys for long periods of time to reduce a cap number. While everyone keeps harping on these two numbers ($5-6 million a year, five years) they forget who Holmgren is, why he has the job that he has, and most importantly what he does to retain that job.

Holmgren has gotten Jeff Carter, a guy who has scored 29 or more goals in four straight seasons (one over 40), racked up 264 points, and obtained a olus-minus rating of plus-58 in those same years, to sign a contract with a cap hit just south of $5.3 million. He also has gotten a future Hall of Fame defenseman by the name of Chris Pronger to sign a contract with a cap hit under $5.0 million and perennial playoff performer in Danny Briere (in a market where he was due at least $10 million a year if signed in the short term) to agree to a contract with a cap hit of a measly $6.5 million.

Sure, you can say that Pronger might not play too long or anywhere near as effectively considering his back is in serious question, and Briere has had his injury issues and was largely ineffective on the wing, and Carter doesn’t show up in the playoffs or is always hurt after game 82, but you’re missing the bigger picture here, which most assuredly has not escaped Holmgren. Here’s where a case that hasn’t been made yet, should be made:

“We’ll see what we can do,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. “He’s certainly not an old goaltender. We feel like he’s got a lot of good years left in him. We’ll see how it goes. When you get into a negotiation like this, you’re dealing with a salary cap and you try and get a number you can live with.”

Since Bryzgalov’s “certainly not an old goaltender” say instead of signing what the market is calling for, five years and $5-6 million, he signs a $32.0 million deal for eight years. The cap hit is $4.0 million then. You can break up the numbers any way you like, but that means Bryzgalov gets his money, the Flyers get their goalie, and probably get to keep their core together.

If you give Bryzgalov a high number for the first two years like say $7.0 million, then reduce it every year thereafter by about $1-1.5 million, you get down to $1.0 million as his salary at the end of the contract for the last two years, which is a good number for a backup guy at the end of his rope. OK, so Bryzgalov won’t be playing 60 or 70 games at age 38 most likely, and for a backup a $4.0 million cap hit is high, but you then have a guy to backup and ease young Sergei Bobrovsky into the starting role, or if things get dicey you can trade Bobrovsky and/or go back to Bryzgalov without batting an eye.

Not to mention if you look at what the cap numbers are and what they could end up going up to, it makes perfect sense. If the Flyers trade a mid-level salary guy like Kris Versteeg ($3.083 million cap hit) instead of Carter, add in the rise in the overall cap that is expected ($2.5-4 million), put Michael Leighton ($1.55 million) in the minors and Ian Lapperiere ($1.167 million) on LTIR, then suddenly you have  between $9.3 million (if the cap goes to $62 million) and $10.8 million (if the cap goes to $64 million) to sign Bryzgalov, sign your notable RFAs in Andreas Nodl and Darroll Powe, re-sign your only notable UFA forward in Ville Leino, and probably even add a third pairing defenseman or re-sign Sean O’Donnell.

This is one scenario that has not been thrown out there as an alternative to the safe and simple numbers that are being tossed about as if they were cinder blocks and not just cardboard boxes, and it’s perplexing to think that nobody has put this on the table. But if you follow Holmgren’s short career as the Flyers’ GM, it’s the way he does things and more than likely, that’s how this will get done if it does at all.

Pre-signing (15 player roster, $64 million cap ceiling):

CAPGEEK.COM CAP CALCULATOR
FORWARDSDaniel Briere ($6.500m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Jeff Carter ($5.272m) Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Claude Giroux ($3.750m) / Jody Shelley ($1.100m) James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / / Blair Betts ($0.700m)

DEFENSEMENKimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m) Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m) / Matt Carle ($3.437m) Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m)
GOALTENDERSSergei Bobrovsky ($1.750m)
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)SALARY CAP: $64,000,000; CAP PAYROLL: $53,169,155; BONU

Post-signing (21-man roster with 12 forwards, 7 defensemen, and 2 goalies, $64 million cap ceiling):

CAPGEEK.COM CAP CALCULATOR
FORWARDSDaniel Briere ($6.500m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Jeff Carter ($5.272m) Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Claude Giroux ($3.750m) / Jody Shelley ($1.100m) James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Ville Leino ($2.800m) / Andreas Nodl ($0.935m) Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Darroll Powe ($0.797m) / Ben Holmstrom ($0.750m)
DEFENSEMENKimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m) Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m) / Matt Carle ($3.437m) Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m) Erik Gustafsson ($0.900m)
GOALTENDERSSergei Bobrovsky ($1.750m) / Ilya Bryzgalov ($4.000m)

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)SALARY CAP: $64,000,000; CAP PAYROLL: $63,351,655; BONUSES: $1,825,000CAP SPACE (21-man roster): $648,345

Post-signing (21 man roster, 12 Forwards, 7 defensemen, and 2 goalies, $63 million dollar cap ceiling)

CAPGEEK.COM CAP CALCULATOR
FORWARDSDaniel Briere ($6.500m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Jeff Carter ($5.272m) Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Claude Giroux ($3.750m) / Jody Shelley ($1.100m) James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Darroll Powe ($0.797m) / Andreas Nodl ($0.935m) Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Ville Leino ($2.800m) / Tom Sestito ($0.577m)
DEFENSEMENKimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m) Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m) / Matt Carle ($3.437m) Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m) Danny Syvret ($0.660m)
GOALTENDERSSergei Bobrovsky ($1.750m) / Ilya Bryzgalov ($4.000m)
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)SALARY CAP: $63,000,000; CAP PAYROLL: $62,939,155; BONUSES: $1,700,000CAP SPACE (21-man roster): $60,845

(N.B.: Please feel free to check out Broad Street Hockey’s post on Bryzgalov and the comments that follow the article. You’re welcome too, richrath.)

  • richrath

    Didn’t I post the same type of contract Wednesday on BSH, in their “Before 2005″ thread (whatever the title was) where they argue the Flyers have a pre-cap mentality? Granted I didn’t do the rest of the math, just Breezy…

    You’re welcome!

  • richrath

    Didn’t I post the same type of contract Wednesday on BSH, in their “Before 2005″ thread (whatever the title was) where they argue the Flyers have a pre-cap mentality? Granted I didn’t do the rest of the math, just Breezy…

    You’re welcome!

  • richrath

    Also, if Versteeg was tradeable, it’d be useful to get a pick or two back, seeing as we gave up 2 picks to get him. It’s just that other GMs know Homer is up a tree again, long-term contract for Breezy or not.

  • richrath

    Also, if Versteeg was tradeable, it’d be useful to get a pick or two back, seeing as we gave up 2 picks to get him. It’s just that other GMs know Homer is up a tree again, long-term contract for Breezy or not.

  • Dave

    I like what he is saying, but it doesn’t help us long term. Keeping Carter past 01 July, means you can’t move him or any other players in the core for 4 years. While I agree he will probably do something similar with Bryz, that doesn’t get us better on the wing, or tougher on wing. That doesn’t mean Jeff Carter shows up every night, and plays with his heart. I’ll take one playoff series with a meaningful goal. Versteeg is 24, freaking 24! And he has registered three straight 20+ goal seasons since coming to the NHL, and oh yeah, won a cup! Not to mention he signed for two more years. Getting a high d prospect, and bringing in a natural winger simply makes more sense. In 4 years you can blow up the core, and not be stuck in salary concerns. Not even to begin to mention the salary problems with JVR , Carle, and Coburn next season! Let’s do what makes sense to win a cup next year, and keep us competitive in 4 years. Carter has to go!

  • Dave

    I like what he is saying, but it doesn’t help us long term. Keeping Carter past 01 July, means you can’t move him or any other players in the core for 4 years. While I agree he will probably do something similar with Bryz, that doesn’t get us better on the wing, or tougher on wing. That doesn’t mean Jeff Carter shows up every night, and plays with his heart. I’ll take one playoff series with a meaningful goal. Versteeg is 24, freaking 24! And he has registered three straight 20+ goal seasons since coming to the NHL, and oh yeah, won a cup! Not to mention he signed for two more years. Getting a high d prospect, and bringing in a natural winger simply makes more sense. In 4 years you can blow up the core, and not be stuck in salary concerns. Not even to begin to mention the salary problems with JVR , Carle, and Coburn next season! Let’s do what makes sense to win a cup next year, and keep us competitive in 4 years. Carter has to go!