Most in Flyerland (including myself) are pretty happy these days. With an already solid nucleus, the Flyers acquired the stud defenseman they sorely needed, added a rock solid defensive forward and a talented goalie with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.
With young players like Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, Braydon Coburn and Ryan Parent the Flyers seem able to contend for many years to come.
Or do they?
We all are aware of the Flyers salary cap struggles under GM Paul Holmgren. I, for one, am of the belief that someone on the current roster is going to be moved before training camp.
As of now the Flyers are about $2.5 million below the cap. This would be a perfect number for Holmer, being that he needs that cushion (see Briere and Giroux last season) to deal with injuries and calling up replacements throughout the season. Unfortunately, I believe we still need a defensive center and would need to dip into that.
But let's look beyond the 2009-10 season.
For the 2010-11 season, assuming the cap doesn't change, the Flyers currently have roughly $44.8 million committed, leaving around $13.2 million in available space.
Darrol Powe and Daniel Carcillo are slated to become Restricted free agents (RFA) and Aaron Asham an Unrestricted free agent (UFA). Superstar players they are not, but all are regular players on the teams top 12 forward lines.
On the blue line Randy Jones is scheduled to become a UFA while Braydon Coburn and Ryan Parent will be RFAs. Not considering any future changes that would leave Timonen, Pronger and Carle as the only NHL defenseman currently under contract for the 2010-11 season.
Coburn and Parent surely are in line for substantial raises from their $1.4 million and $765,000 salaries respectively.
It would be in Holmer's best interest to not let the 23-year-old Parent and 25-year-old Coburn hit free agency as surely someone will be willing to overpay for both.
The 2011-2012 season is just as dicey.
Given there is alot of hockey business to be taken care of between now and then but as of right now there are only seven NHL players under contract for that season. Mike Richards, Danny Briere, Ian LaPerriere, Scott Hartnell, Timonen, Pronger and Carle.
Granted players like JVR and Kevin Marshall are expected to be regular NHLers at that point but there are still many voids to be filled.
Among the names set to hit the open market: Simon Gagne UFA, dont be surprised to see him moved before he reaches free agency. Set to become RFAs are Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux. SCARY!
To the aforementioned seven players under contract for the 2011-12 there is $32.3 million comitted.
Let's play the hypothetical game and say Holmer resigns Parent at a fair $2.5 million and Coburn at, say $4 million.
Carter and Giroux? Let's say Carter at $6.5 million and Giroux at $4 million.
Again, these are all just guesses based on what these players currently make and what their expected raises might look like. Keep in mind I am not taking into account offers that other teams will make that may or may not drive these numbers up.
With these hypothetical resignings, 2011-12 payroll would stand at $49.3 million comitted for just 11 players.
With the leagues financial situation pretty clear, it's obvious that the salary cap will not be increased for some time. It's expected to fall to $55 million for this upcoming season. I do not forsee it continuing to drop, as it would force teams to hold fire sales and fall further into financial ruin.
So, let's do a hypothetical recap. In just two short years from now, the Flyers could easily have a payroll just north of $49 million with a little less than $6 million to spend on six forwards, one defenseman and two goaltenders. Presumably, the Flyers only depth would be coming from the American League.
Has Holmer done as great a job as everyone seems to think?
The Flyers only had one terrible season in 2006-07. Richards and Carter were just kids and Forsberg was a swedish soap opera.
Did Holmer overreact?
The Hartnell/Timonen sign and trade was a great move as was the Coburn trade. Both undeniably so.
But has the contracts he has given out put us in a predicament?
Has his mismanagement of the salary cap doomed this franchise?
I know he transformed this team from worst in the league to a trip to the conference finals, but at what expense?
The Flyers salary cap situation is downright scary when you look just two years ahead.
How would this town react to losing players like Carter, Giroux or Coburn to salary cap reasons?
Holmer, this isn't the good old days when there was no salary cap and we all enjoyed the fruits of Ed Snider's deep pockets.
This team is young and talented, unfortunately if Holmer doesn't make some good decisions their window of opportunity is going to be shut in two years.