Time to make your shopping list! A look at the Flyers’ cap space

Image courtsey of letsgodu.blogspot.com

After what many would deem a successful season, and perhaps even more that might declare it a disappointment, the Flyers head into what should be a very interesting off-season.

With multiple free agents (both Restricted and Unrestricted), some deficiencies to address, some injury concerns, a little money to spend, and some intriguing free agent options, it should prove to be an eventful Summer once more.

Before we can dive into the Flyers’ current cap situation, we first need to determine what the upper limit of the salary cap will be. There is actually some uncertainty on this issue. The NHL will, of course, set an Upper Limit which the league will abide by throughout the off-season. However, on September 15 the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires and there is the possibility that that salary cap number could be reduced. That would put NHL general managers in a difficult position as they’d be operating through almost the entire off-season with one Upper Limit number, and they could then be forced to adhere to a new one. Although, it is believed that teams would not be penalized for spending to the previously set number.

It’s impossible to predict that, however, so for the sake of discussion, we’ll proceed with what we know.

The NHL reportedly made $3.3 billion in revenue this year, which projects to a salary cap of roughly $70.3 million. We will use this number moving forward with our projections. It is also worth pointing out that teams are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the summer, which would put the number at $77.33 million.

Additionally, unlike this past season, I would assume the NHL would reinstate the “Bonus Cushion” which allows teams to roll potential bonuses into the following year should they be achieved. That did not exist this past season due to the expiring CBA.

Now that we know what we’re working with, let’s start looking at the roster. The Flyers’ free agents are as follows:

Jagr Voracek
Laperriere Zolnierczyk
Betts Sestito
Kubina Bourdon
Carle Holmstrom
Leighton Testuide
Backlund Rowe

Now some of these are no-brainers. Lappy, Betts, Kubina, Leighton, Backlund, Jancevski, and Bacashihua will not be back (or at the very least, will not sniff the 23-man roster). Testwuide and Rowe could potentially be brought back, but I would not expect them to contend for a spot on the 23-man roster.

So that means, the real decisions will be regarding those you see in orange: Jagr, Carle, Voracek, Zolnierczyk, Sestito, Bourdon and Holmstrom.

I would expect Harry Z, Sestitio, and Holmstrom to be retained for not much more than their qualifying offers. Even Bourdon, who had a pretty successful rookie season, shouldn’t see an overly substantial raise above his qualifying offer.

Voracek is the interesting Restricted Free Agent. I would expect a fairly significant raise over last season’s $2.25 million, but for the sake of this demonstration, we will just proceed with his qualifying offer of $2.25 million.

My Custom Lineup
Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Claude Giroux ($3.750m) / Jakub Voracek ($2.250m)
James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Danny Briere ($6.500m) / Matt Read ($0.900m)
Eric Wellwood ($0.580m) / Brayden Schenn ($3.110m) / Wayne Simmonds ($1.750m)
Zac Rinaldo ($0.544m) / Sean Couturier ($1.375m) / Maxime Talbot ($1.750m)
Harry Zolnierczyk ($0.719m) / Jody Shelley ($1.100m) / 
Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Marc-Andre Bourdon ($0.709m) 
Braydon Coburn ($4.500m) / Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m)
Nicklas Grossmann ($3.500m) / Andreas Lilja ($0.738m)
Chris Pronger ($4.921m) / Erik Gustafsson ($0.900m) 
Ilya Bryzgalov ($5.667m)
Sergei Bobrovsky ($1.750m)
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
SALARY CAP: $70,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $65,796,373; BONUSES: $3,555,000
CAP SPACE (24-man roster): $8,058,627

As they currently stand, with a full roster including Wellwood, Rinaldo, Shelley, Harry Z, Bourdon, Gustafsson and Pronger on a 24-man roster (of course Pronger would be on Long-Term Injured Reserve, resulting in a 23-man roster), they would have $8.058 million in cap space. And this is without utilizing a penny of the $4.921 million they could use to replace Pronger’s salary. That would result in potentially $12.98 million of available space.

I’ve labeled Wellwood, Rinaldo, Harry Z, Shelley, Bourdon, and Gustafsson in orange, as I would say they will be competing for spots on the roster (among others I’m sure).

Now of course, this is a full roster, so any player that may be signed via free agency would only consume the cap space above and beyond the player he is replacing. If Jagr were to return at the same $3.3 million price, and replace Rinaldo, that would consume $2.756M of available cap space.

The Flyers have some money to spend, the question is merely a matter of where will they spend it. Which, if any, of their key UFAs will they re-sign (Carle and Jagr)? How much will they get if they are re-signed? How much more than the $2.25 million qualifying offer will it take to retain Voracek?

For the sake of an illustration, if Jagr was brought back at a slight discount of $3 million, Carle was kept at the modest cost of $4.5 (same as Coburn), and Voracek receives a moderate raise to $3 million, the Flyers would be left with only $1.427 million in cap space (again, without having to use Pronger’s LTIR exception). That money can go quickly.

As always, there are moves that could be made to create even more space, if it were deemed necessary. If Sestito were to replace Shelley, that would net almost $500k (depending upon what Sestito signs for). Bobrovsky’s cap hit is actually a modest $900k if there is a bonus cushion, so there isn’t much room for savings there. And of course, there is always the possibility of a trade. James van Riemsdyk is a popular target as his new contract with a cap hit of $4.25 million takes effect this season.

There is certainly some flexibility for the Flyers this summer. They have a fairly significant amount of money to spend, and it is expected they will make a strong push to acquire some help on the blue-line. However, one important thing to note is that…everyone has quite a bit of money to spend. In fact, CapGeek has the Flyers as having the third least amount of available cap space. I don’t expect that to stop Holmgren from at least trying to make a splash.

  • http://twitter.com/Mitchman88 Mitchell Green

    Good stuff. There is something really fun about playing the GM role in the summer.

    You are definitely correct about how that $8 mil in cap space is going to go fast. But I think it’s going to go faster than you project. I think the Flyers are going to need to seriously consider giving Matt Carle somewhere in the $5-5.5mil a year if he is to stay in Philly. He has a ton of leverage being one of the best UFA defensemen on the market and, unlike here in Philly, is beginning to be recognized as the top defensemen that he is by teams around the league.

    Honestly though, I don’t think Matt Carle returns as a Flyer next season. I think he’ll be able to get a more lucrative contract (and more appreciation) from another NHL team, leaving the Flyers with two huge holes to fill on the blue line.

    The Flyers will have their work cut out for them this offseason, that’s for sure.

  • wheineman

    You constantly mention not having to dig into Pronger’s LTIR money, but I don’t quite understand why they would not? Is there a penalty for spending LTIR money?

    • Tomahawkey

      LTIR cap space can’t absorb bonuses, so if the Flyers dip into it too early, they risk a cap penalty for overage in the following season if the entry-level and 35+ crowd achieve bonuses that push the team over the upper limit (see 2010-11).

      Also, LTIR cap space isn’t “bankable”, resulting in less pro-rated cap space to bring in help later in the season — that has really hurt the Flyers at the trade deadline the past few years — while other teams can afford to bring in millions in pro-rated contracts, the Flyers have had only a piddling amount to work with.

      • Gazoo

        Can you point to where in the CBA this clause about pro-rated contracts is?    I have heard about this LTIR issue for years, but can’t find anything in writing to verify.  


  • Tomahawkey

    I like what you’ve done…

    Only thing left to do is swap JvR for Erik Johnson, add a bottom-six forward that can keep up with Lavi’s system (Moss, Burish, etc) and you’ve got a pretty good looking lineup on paper w/o having to dip into LTIR.

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  • Dagr8cornholio48

    I belive there is also a million in cushion due to a flaw with Schenn’s contract thay if he spends 9 games in the minors his cap hit is severly dropped.