The Philadelphia Flyers currently sit at 52 contracts, four of which slide, which leaves them at 48 contracts towards the 50 contract limit.
For the three or four people that may actually regularly read my articles, this topic may seem familiar. I wrote pretty much this exact same article back in July of 2012.
Recently on Twitter, this topic came up in conversation among Josh Janet of gcobb.com and jsaquella of The Hockey Guys. We were all lamenting the Flyers seeming frivolity in handing out contracts. It prompted me to want to take another look this season.
Note: for the slide contracts I did not dig further to determine if the player has already or will soon slide. For the sake of this exercise I just took it at face value.
The Flyers are tied for the second most contracts at 48. In all there are seven teams with either 49 or 48 contracts. Then there are another seven teams right below them at 47 contracts. In fact, the average for the league is 46 contracts (compared to just over 44 last year).
Frankly, I’m a bit surprised to see the Flyers are pretty much right there with the rest of the league. As a whole, the entire league seems to have more players under contract as compared to when I looked at this last year.
I decided to take it one step further. It’s fine to look at overall contract numbers but the real problem is making sure the contracts aren’t “wasted” on players that have little to no chance of ever making the NHL.
From my article last year:
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.
So I decided to take a quick look at the players under contract for the Flyers and for four other franchises I believe are exceptionally run franchises. I’m not intimate enough with other team’s low level prospects to know their entire backstory, so I was really just looking for players that spent significant time in the ECHL. I also was only looking at players on entry-level contracts. It’s entirely possible there are “veteran” minor leaguers that would qualify, but I had to draw the line somewhere or this would take me forever!
For the Flyers, we have Tyler Hostetter, Andrew Johnston, and Cullen Eddy (who was actually more of an ECHL player early in his career than later). Of course we had players like Jason Akeson and Marcel Noebels who spent time in the ECHL, but they were short stays.
I took a look at Detroit, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.
I was quite shocked to see Detroit with five – Gleason Fournier, Max Nicastro, Andrej Nestrasil, Trevor Parkes, Willie Coatzee.
Boston has two- Tommy Cross, Tyler Randell.
Pittsburgh just one - Reid McNeill.
Chicago with three - Terry Broadhurst, Byron Froese, David Gilbert.
Again, I’m slightly surprised. Maybe I’m overly hard on Paul Holmgren at times, but I didn’t think I’d see many “Andrew Johnston” types on other teams; but at this surface level look…they are there. In fact, Detroit has five such players.
For what it’s worth, I think it’s less of a big deal for someone like Chicago to have three players in that “longshot” category when they are only at 43 contracts anyway. But if you are Detroit or Philadelphia at 49 and 48 contracts respectively, it’s harder to swallow having five and three players (respectively) that some people may deem as wasted contracts.
All told, the Flyers are actually not as far outside of the norm in the NHL as I would have expected they would be. As a whole, the entire league seems to have more players under contract as compared to last year. I’d still much prefer if the Flyers would keep that contract wiggle room however.