Flyers once again operating near 50 contract limit


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With the signings of Bruno Gervais and Ruslan Fedotenko, the Flyers now sit at 50 contracts, with two that slide, resulting in 48 of their allowed 50 contracts.

It seems like every year the Flyers operate at or near the 50-contract limit. It is the reason why people, myself included, sometimes question what may appear to be frivolous, long-shot signings, such as with a total unknown like Andrew Johnston out of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

It isn’t that I distrust the Flyers scouts; afterall they’ve recently hit on players like Matt Read, Harry Zolnierczyk, and Erik Gustafsson. Even someone like Ben Holmstrom, should be considered a very good signing. I just tend to prefer a more cautious approach overall, and if the Flyers only have precious few contracts remaining, I’d rather they not use it on someone from the SJHL.

It is this slight disregard for space on the reserve list that often leads to the Flyers having to make a maneuver or two to stay compliant. Last year in the Pavel Kubina trade (hindsight says “yuck”), the Flyers had to send Jon Kalinski the other way because they were at the reserve limit. Just two weeks ago the Flyers bought out Oskars Bartulis at the cost of $100k in dead cap space. The only logical explanation for doing so is to either A) give him a shot elsewhere B) gain a contract or C) both (I’d argue C). It certainly wasn’t the one remaining year or $600k cap hit that was a burden; he was going to spend the year in the American Hockey League anyway (unless he were to be claimed on waivers). I also doubt it was the extra $500k in summer cap space when they currently sit with almost $15 million under the summer cap (temporarily increased by 10% in the summer).

So all of this got me thinking, are the Flyers alone in operating so close to the limit, or is it the norm? I decided to take a look at the reserve list for every team (note: I pulled these numbers late last week so they could have slightly changed since).

Team Contracts Slide Contracts Net
Flyers 50 2 48
Ducks 43 2 41
Bruins 46 2 44
Sabres 47 2 45
Flames 48 1 47
Hurricanes 47 2 45
Blackhawks 48 3 45
Avalanche 42 1 41
Blue Jackets 45 1 44
Stars 48 3 45
Red Wings 48 3 45
Oilers 47 3 44
Panthers 46 2 44
Kings 45 1 44
Wild 51 2 49
Canadiens 48 0 48
Predators 49 0 49
Devils 41 0 41
Islanders 44 1 43
Rangers 45 1 44
Senators 49 3 46
Coyotes 45 1 44
Penguins 49 2 47
Sharks 45 1 44
Blues 46 2 44
Lightning 45 1 44
Maple Leafs 50 2 48
Canucks 43 2 41
Capitals 40 0 40
Jets 40 1 39

As you can see, there are only two teams that have more contracts than the Flyers in Minnesota and Nashville, and two teams that match them with 48 in Toronto and Montreal. So it certainly appears as if the Flyers are in the minority in being so close to the contract limit. In fact, the NHL average at this point in the offseason is 44.3.

Now as we progress through the offseason and the remaining attractive free agent options  find teams, it becomes more and more likely that the Flyers stick with what they have. So I’m probably fussing over nothing; but chances are they will add another contract or two throughout the course of the season and then they’ll once again be back in the position of having to worry about contract space. Perhaps I’m overreacting to having to find takers for the Jon Kalinskis of the world, but I’d just rather not limit myself unless absolutely necessary.

  • SilverKnee

    Do these numbers include the qualifing offers made to the RFA?? Or should Harry Z and Jake sign does that put us at 50 ?? or if they do not sign do we have more space,…

    • Kevin Christmann

      Sorry I didn’t see this sooner. I had actually engaged in some Twitter conversation on this topic and I should have clarified, so my apologies. My numbers do include all RFAs who were given Qualifying Offers. So it does include Bourdon, Testwuide, Harry Z, Sestito, and Voracek even though they haven’t officially signed contracts (although it’s been reported some have already agreed and just have to put pen to paper). So if one of them were to not sign for whatever reason, it would open up a spot.

      Thanks for the comment, and for pointing out the necessary clarification.

      • SilverKnee

        Thanks for the reply… Looking forward to the, hopefully on time, season…

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