[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was written for The Broad Street Bully, a blog and podcast my friend Drew and I started based off of our mutual interest in the Philadelphia Flyers. See it on http://broadstreetbully.net. This was also posted on http://wildfireradiosports.com in the current way it’s posted here.]
Now that the 2016-2017 season is past the All-Star break, let’s take a look at what this off season is going to look like for the Flyers.
Read on after the jump.
|FLYERS 2017-2018 ROSTER
Claude Giroux C $8,275,000
Jakub Voracek RW $8,250,063
Brayden Schenn LW $5,125,000
Andrew MacDonald D $5,000,000
Sean Couturier C $4,333,333
Wayne Simmonds RW $3,975,000
Matt Read RW $3,625,000
Radko Gudas D $3,350,000
Dale Weise RW $2,350,000
Michael Raffl LW $2,350,000
Brandon Manning D $975,000
Ivan Provorov D $894,167
Travis Konecny C $894,167
Mark Streit D UFA
Steve Mason G UFA
Michael Del Zotto D UFA
Nick Schultz D UFA
Michal Neuvirth G UFA
Roman Lyubimov C RFA
Shayne Gostisbehere D RFA
Nick Cousins C RFA
Chris Vandevelde LW UFA
P.E. Bellemare C UFA
Boyd Gordon C UFA
|CURRENT PHANTOMS IN 2017-2018
Cole Bardreau RW RFA
Alex Lyon G RFA
Robert Hagg D $894,166
Scott Laughton C RFA
Samuel Morin D $863,333
Travis Sanheim D $863,333
Pascal Laberge C $842,500
Carter Hart G $792,500
Taylor Leier LW RFA
Anthony Stolarz G RFA
Danick Martel LW $680,000
Tyrell Goulbourne LW $677,500
Radel Fazleev C $675,000
Nicolas Aube-Kubel RW $672,500
Jordan Weal C RFA
Jesper Pettersson D RFA
Colin McDonald RW $637,500
T.J. Brennan D $625,000
Mark Alt D RFA
Philippe Myers D $623,333
Will O’Neill D $612,500
Andy Miele C UFA
Chris Conner C UFA
Greg Carey LW RFA
Currently, as it stands, going into 2017-2018, the Flyers have already committed $49,396,730 in salary cap dollars. If the salary cap stays close to $73,000,000 then the Flyers have $23,603,270 in disposable income to spend on filling out the roster.
Paying Current Flyers Eligible for Free Agency
I have three scenarios and they vary mostly by how the Flyers deal with their current goalie situation.
Steve Mason (Scenario 1) G $5,000,000
Anthony Stolarz (Scenario 2) G $2,000,000
Shayne Gostisbehere D $4,500,000
Roman Lyubimov C $1,500,000
Nick Cousins C $1,500,000
In Scenario 1, Neuvirth walks and the Flyers don’t offer him anything. Steve Mason likely gets some kind of bridge deal to hold the Flyers over until backup arrives from the minors in Stolarz, Lyon, Hart, Tomek, or even Sandstrom. An average around $5 million a year for between one to three more years for Mason seems reasonable based off previous play. If Mason chooses to accept it, this all works out. If he makes a demand for more money then Hextall could let him go. In Scenario 2, Hextall says goodbye to both Mason and Neuvirth and just signs Stolarz. His limited NHL experience makes $2 million seem like a lot but he’s under contract, the Flyers are good in the expansion draft, and he most likely won’t get snatched by Las Vegas.
Shayne is having a sophomore slump but his current play is also being hampered by being paired with MacDonald and Streit. Look for Hextall to try to hammer out a bridge deal between four to five million for three to four years. Let’s split the difference and say he signs for $4.5 million. That respects his past play and shows Hextall has faith in what he can accomplish when two anchors aren’t dragging him down.
Lyubimov is a fourth line guy and the team likes him. I assume the contract will be somewhere between the NHL minimum and $1.5 million. I rounded up for the sake of the numbers game. Same goes for Cousins. Do I think he’ll get $1.5 million? Probably not but it’s easier to roundup.
Scenario 1 adds an additional $11.5 million to the payroll, which brings the total money spent on players to $60,896,730. Scenario 2 shaves off $2 million and brings the total payroll down to $58,896.730. Realistically, Scenario 2 is the longshot as Hextall probably won’t go into the season trusting Stolarz to be their starting goalie.
All of these calculations also assume that Streit, Del Zotto, Schultz, Neuvirth, Vandevelde, Bellemare, and Gordon are politely told their work was appreciated but that the Flyers have decided to move in a different direction. Some of these choices are more obvious than others. Del Zotto’s play this year truly hasn’t warranted the money that he probably expects to make.
With a defense corps of MacDonald, Gostisbehere, Gudas, and Provorv already slated for 2017-2018, there’s no need to pay Del Zotto when the Phantoms have three defensemen ready to prove themselves at the NHL level, all at one third of the expected cost. There’s also a case to keep Vandevelde and Bellemare for their solid defensive play but, for what they do, they can be replaced by youth.
And, let’s be honest. Gordon never had a chance.
Figuring Out What The Flyers Do With The Rest
So then, if the Flyers have $63,896,730 invested in the lineup after including Mason, Gostisbehere, Lyubimov, and Cousins, and the cap sits around $73,000,000, then there’s $9,103,270 to spend on adding the remaining talent to fill out the lineup.
But, there’s a good possibility the Flyers won’t have to spend that much. Robert Hagg can be called up at a cap hit of $894,166. Morin and Sanheim both come with cap hits of $863,333. Even Philipe Myers, if he’s matured enough since his World Juniors performance, can be called up for $623,333. The defense, in that regard, is pretty stacked.
Where does the offense shake out, then? Scott Laughton is a restricted free agent. Based off his NHL experience, you can expect he’ll be offered a max 2 way deal, if he settles for one. But, it’s probably safe to assume he’ll want NHL money and ask for something between $1-2 million, with it potentially being more.
Taylor Leier is also a restricted free agent and could most likely grab the max two way deal or a contract similar to the $1.5 million estimated for Lyubimov and Cousins.
Same goes for Jordan Weal, who will probably ask for more than $1.5 million now that he’s finally out of the awkward “I can’t be called up and risk being claimed on waivers” fiasco that he’s been stuck in since the Flyers got him from Los Angeles last season. His play in the AHL has certainly warranted more money since he was an AHL all-star this year.
Pascal Laberge ($842,000), Tyrell Goulbourne ($677,500), Radel Fazleev ($675,000), and Nicolas Aube-Kubel ($672,5000) are also outside shots to make the team. I’m leaving off guys like Rubstov and Allison because Spotrac doesn’t even have them on entry level deals yet. It could happen but odds are against it.
Upcoming NHL Free Agents
Spotrac has a list of the upcoming 2017 free agents and it’s underwhelming to say the least.
The problem is there’s a lack of young, big name players. Thornton and Marleau are set to hit the market and that’s only exciting if it was seven years ago. Here are the players I think the Flyers could have interest in if they are available and their price and year requests are right. This current year’s salary is included for reference.
Alexander Radulov $5,750,000
Ben Bishop $5,950,000
Kevin Shattenkirk $4,250,000
TJ Oshie $4,175,000
Jonathan Bernier $4,150,000
Ales Hemsky $4,000,000
Patrik Berglund $3,500,000
Martin Hanzal $3,100,000
Sam Gagner $650,000
Devin Setoguchi $575,000
Not blown away by the list? Neither am I.
Radulov is 30 and only getting older. He also doesn’t worry too much about defense. He’s bringing some offense to Montreal but for his age and amount he’ll as for, Hextall is probably better suited avoiding it.
Odds are Bishop will be traded before he hits free agency or, when he does hit free agency, his asking price will be too high for the Flyers. Same with Shattenkirk, although ending up with the Rangers appears to be a real viable possibility.
TJ Oshie is an American Hero and could be an attractive winger to play along side Giroux and Voracek but the pay raise he could demand might be too much for Hextall to stomach assuming Washington let’s it get that far. He’s doing ok there, which can only raise his free agency value.
Bernier is a solution to the needing a goalie for the expansion draft problem if the Flyers don’t want to sign Mason or Neuvirth to a contract. His time in Toronto has been less than impressive and he might be willing to accept a one to two year deal with the knowledge he’d be floated in the expansion draft as the exposed goalie.
As for the rest of the list, Hemsky, Berglund, and Hanzal are nice fillers but won’t help the offense how the Flyers would need a big free agent too. Gagner and Setoguchi are both reclamation stories but Gagner probably won’t want to come back and Setoguchi could be a nice, cheap signing if he doesn’t think he can demand money after proving he’s made an NHL comeback.
None of these players jump out at you enough to risk signing them for big money contracts. Especially if the Flyers have their defensive prospects pan out and Hextall has to find the money to pay guys like Sanheim and Morin if they prove they can excel at the NHL level.
The Flyers are either going to have to hope offense comes through the Phantoms or they’re going to have swing some kind of blockbuster trade and give up some defensive talent to get some offensive talent back.
Landeskog and Duchene are still currently available from Colorado and, with their outrageous asking prices, they’ll probably be available after the season comes to an end. It all depends what Sakic is trying to get from the Flyers. You might have to trade a player like Sanheim to bring back the scorer that the Flyers desperately need. Hextall has to gauge how much they’d bring to lineup versus what he’d have to give up.
The Flyers also walk a fine line of potentially trading a player before they get to see what their true value is. For every Patrick Sharp, there’s a Luca Sbisa. Sometimes a team trades a player and they go onto great things. And sometimes they trade a player and they manage to make it as a lower pairing on the Canucks this year. It’s a game of chance and Hextall has to hope he guesses right.
Judging by his past moves, Hextall will probably look to stay cap conservative and might be reluctant to hand out big money in long term deals when free agency opens. It makes sense because there’s not a big name in the list that can step in and create an immediate change on the offensive side of the puck. But, then again, he did sign Dale Weise for multiple years, so it’s hard to guess exactly what he plans to do.
Every fan should understand that the Flyers have a lot of prospects coming down the pipeline and if the Flyers burn all their free money now to sign a player in free agency like in past Flyers regimes, then there could be real disappointment when they can’t afford to resign Sam Morin in two years and he gets traded to the western conference.
Or the Flyers could have a miserable February and Hextall could dismantle the team with multiple trades.
**http://www.spotrac.com/ was used to pull salary numbers and pending free agents