In fact, of all the names that get tossed into the rumor mill on a daily basis. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the only Flyer who will leave Philadelphia between today and July 1 will be Randy Jones.
When you consider the Flyers salary cap woes and their desperation to be active in this summer’s free agency market are not exactly state secrets, the Flyers will be negotiating from a position of weakness when trying to move any of their high-salaried players.
Taking that fact into consideration, it’s easy enough to assume many of the offers Philadelphia will receive for players such as Daniel Briere (not going anywhere anyway, thanks to the NTC), Joffery Lupul, or Matt Carle are going to be low ball offers.
In the case of players such as Lupul and Carle, it’s only natural that the Flyers wouldn’t want to just give them away, no matter how problematic each has become to the Flyers salary cap predicament.
The bottom line is that since there were significant costs involved in the acquisition of each player in the form of high draft picks, players, and prospects, the Flyers aren’t going to hold a fire sale any time soon.
Which brings us back to Randy Jones.
Simply put, of all the Flyers players rumored to be on the trading block, Randy Jones is the only one that really makes any sense.
While I can’t tell you which of the 28 NHL cities Jones will soon call a new home (what, you think Boston would want him for anything other than firewood?), I can say for certain the return the Flyers will receive for Jones will not be a significant one.
What makes Jones an attractive trading piece is that he is a player in the final year of a contract that will pay him $2.75 million; an affordable salary that many teams looking for a serviceable top six defenseman could easily absorb, providing the deal is sweetened with the addition of a second or third round pick, or a prospect with some upside.
The Flyers made a similar move as last year’s free agency market opened for business, shipping Denis Gauthier and the Flyers 2010 second round draft selection to the Los Angeles Kings for Patrik Hersley and Ned Lukacevic.
For those keeping score at home, the Flyers sent a hard-hitting, serviceable defenseman and a second round draft selection to the Kings for two players who have spent most of their careers playing for the Reading Royals of the ECHL.
It’s as if the Flyers didn’t want to have to pay for airfare as well, and took the two closest scrubs they could find to complete the deal so they could purge Gauthier’s $2.2 million from their payroll.
Since Jones came to Philadelphia in 2003 as an undrafted free agent, the Flyers have spent no hockey capital in the form of draft picks, prospects, or players to acquire the Quispamsis native. In fact, the only investment the Flyers have put into Jones is the money spent paying him over the last six seasons.
While it would be nice to see an equal return for a player developed in the Flyers system, the reality of the situation is the Flyers are trying to maneuver the same exact salary cap obstacles which prevented them from being serious players in last year’s sweepstakes for Brian Campbell.
As last season’s darling of the 2008 UFA class, Campbell commanded a deal that awarded him a seven year, $50 million contract averaging $7,142,875 per season.
Campbell’s big payday will likely be the starting point of negotiations for Bouwmeester’s services, and since the Flyers current cap number sits, according to GM Paul Holmgren, “somewhere North of $4 million,” the removal of Jones’ $2.75 million cap number would allow the Flyers to take a seat at the adult’s table on July 1.
The Flyers currently have no second round pick in the 2009 or 2010 entry draft, but they do have two third round selections (no. 81 and no. 87) in this year’s draft. Or, the Flyers could continue their habit of using second round picks as trade currency, and package their 2011 selection with Jones to any team willing to take his salary cap hit.
Another option could be to package a prospect with a combination of upside and question marks in the deal.
Andreas Nodl would seem to fit that description. While the Flyers have been high on their 2006 selection, Nodl looked outmatched at the NHL level last season, and produced just six goals and 14 assists in 39 games with the Phantoms of the AHL last season.
Another such player would be Danny Syvret. Despite being one of the AHL’s best defensemen last season, it doesn’t look like Syvret is in the plans for the big team.
Syvret is also in the last year of a contract that will pay him $550,000 before qualifying for restricted free agency in 2010.
Of course, this is all purely speculation on my part. But based on some of the outrageous contracts the Flyers find themselves burdened with, the facts on the ground suggest that the Flyers can free up enough salary cap space by making one, reasonably painless roster move of a player that would probably leave the team via next year’s free agency market, anyway.
Providing they don't expect much back in return.
At least that’s what my colon is telling me.
For Ronny Little’s daily hockey thoughts, visit the official Ronnybrook blog.
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