Last week, the Philadelphia Flyers made a few roster moves that combined to make June 23, 2011 one of the most significant days in franchise history.
With two core forwards moving elsewhere and the signing of the team's most promising goaltender since Ron Hextall, the Flyers have a new look.
Also acquired from the Kings was young, physical forward Wayne Simmonds. A ferocious player that Broad Street will be proud of, Simmonds has averaged 30 or more points over his first three seasons.
Acquired in the Carter trade was Jakub Voracek, who has played three seasons in the NHL. Voracek already averages more than 40 points per season at the age of 21 and will likely play for one of Philadelphia's top two lines.
With the 8th overall pick in the draft acquired from Columbus, general manager Paul Holmgren selected big Sean Couturier. Couturier will take time to develop and will likely not be seen in Philadelphia next season. However, he is a strong two-way forward that should certainly make a serious impact at the NHL level.
Last year, the Flyers ranked 11th in goals against rookie Sergei Bobrovsky and veteran backup Brian Boucher splitting time in the net.
Meanwhile, with Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Andrej Meszaros, Braydon Coburn, and Matt Carle, the Flyers have one of the best defenses in the entire NHL.
With a former Vezina trophy nominee behind that strong defense, scoring on Philadelphia will be a very difficult task next season.
Richards and Carter's combined cap hit was $11.02 million, while Ilya Bryzgalov's cap hit will be $5.67 million. Thus, the trades cleared $5.35 million from Philadelphia's annual payroll. Add this to the $5 million league-wide raise in salary cap and Holmgren still has some space to work with.
The sixth man for that defensive squad could come through re-signing free agent Sean O'Donnell, or using a player already under contract, such as Oskars Bartulis, Matt Walker, or Erik Gustafsson, all of whom received playing time in the NHL this past season.
On the offensive side, many questions remain. Simmonds and Voracek will need contracts, as both are restricted free agents. The total price for the two of them could be anywhere in the range of $3-5 million per season.
A healthy scratch for one-third of the season, free agent Nikolay Zherdev will likely play elsewhere in 2011-2012. Holmgren is unlikely to bring back this selfish third-liner, especially with his $2 million salary.
Restricted free agent Darroll Powe has been traded to the Minnesota Wild for a third round draft pick.
Restricted free agents Andreas Nodl and Tom Sestito have been re-signed.
With the acquisition of Simmonds, the re-signing of Sestito, and the emergence of Zac Rinaldo, restricted free agent Dan Carcillo may have seen his last days in Philadelphia.
Carcillo is a tough player and a useful forechecker. Sestito and Simmonds can replace that toughness, and as well as tying for the second most fights in the AHL this past season, Rinaldo is arguably the hardest-hitting forechecker in the entire organization (see Drop Your Gloves for more videos).
Carcillo was a fan favorite for many die-hards in Philadelphia. Anyone supporting the Broad Street Bullies loved his aggressive style that earned him the nickname "Carbomb."
However, his reputation also results in referees calling him for soft penalties. His positives are easily replaceable by players who do not also carry Carcillo's burden.
Free agent Brian Boucher's only option in Philadelphia is to return as a third-string goalie to be used in case of injury, unless Sergei Bobrovsky is traded.
Bobrovsky is a talented, young, promising goaltender. With Bryzgalov set to be the starter for the next several seasons, Bobrovsky may not find a chance to be the No. 1 until he is midway through his career.
If any team is interested, it may not be a bad idea for Holmgren to deal the young netminder, especially since his cap hit is large for a backup at a sizable $1.75 million.
Michael Leighton is still under contract, but with a $1.55 million cap hit, the futile goaltender would be better positioned in the AHL.
Ian Laperriere missed all of last season with post-concussion syndrome. If the NHL's most recent winner of the Bill Masterton trophy is not ready to play as of next season, expect him to be placed on the long-term injury reserve again, allowing the Flyers to use the $1.17 million in cap room on a different player.
The most expensive and notable free agent is none other than Ville Leino. Whether or not he is signed depends on how much is spent on Voracek and Simmonds.
With the following lineup, there is roughly $7 million to spread around the three of them (All lineups and salary cap information courtesy of CapGeek.com).
Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Daniel Briere ($6.500m) / Ville Leino ($0.000m)
James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Claude Giroux ($3.750m) / Jakub Voracek ($0.000m)
Kris Versteeg ($3.083m) / Brayden Schenn ($3.110m) / Wayne Simmonds ($0.000m)
Jody Shelley ($1.100m) / Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Andreas Nodl ($0.845m)
/ Ben Holmstrom ($0.750m) / Zac Rinaldo ($0.544m)
Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)
Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m) / Matt Carle ($3.437m)
Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Sean O'Donnell ($1.300m)
/ Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m)
Ilya Bryzgalov ($5.666m) / Sergei Bobrovsky ($1.750m)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $57,445,872; BONUSES: $3,940,000
CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $6,854,128
Bobrovsky's trade would clear an additional $1 million, assuming a Boucher-priced backup replaces him.
Another option for clearing space that might end up necessary is the trade of Kris Versteeg, a player less valuable than Leino, Voracek, and Simmonds.
After Paul Holmgren's blockbuster day on June 23rd, there has been some speculation as to whether or not another huge roster movement awaits Philadelphia. With Ville Leino still unsigned, these rumors may come true.
Top free agent Brad Richards is one of the discussed possibilities, as is still-unsigned restricted free agent Steven Stamkos.
In order to land an impact player of that magnitude, the Flyers would have to take the following steps:
1. Free Agents
Don't resign Leino, Zherdev or Carcillo.
Sign Voracek with a $2.5 million cap hit or less, and Simmonds with a $2 million cap hit or less.
2. Roster Movements
Keep Matt Walker in the AHL, send Michael Leighton to Adirondack, put Ian Laperriere on the LTIR (obviously, only if he still unable to play).
Trade Matt Carle, Kris Versteeg and Sergei Bobrovsky.
4. Sign (or trade for) the Superstar
With this lineup, the Flyers would have up to $8.2 million in cap space, plenty to sign or acquire essentially any available player in the NHL.
Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Daniel Briere ($6.500m) / Wayne Simmonds ($2.000m)
James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Claude Giroux ($3.750m) / Jakub Voracek ($2.500m)
Ben Holmstrom ($0.750m) / Brayden Schenn ($3.110m) / Andreas Nodl ($0.845m)
Jody Shelley ($1.100m) / Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Zac Rinaldo ($0.544m)
/ Tom Sestito ($0.577m)
Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)
Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m) / Sean O'Donnell ($1.300m)
Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m)
/ Erik Gustafsson ($0.900m)
Ilya Bryzgalov ($5.666m) / Brian Boucher ($0.925m)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $56,077,539; BONUSES: $3,090,000
CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $8,222,461
If the Flyers look to land top free agent Brad Richards, the deal would be as good as done at this point.
If they have their eyes on a restricted free agent such as Stamkos, Shea Weber, or Drew Doughty, it will cost more than cap space.
Signing a restricted free agent for a contract worth more than $7.8 million per year also requires giving four first-round draft picks to the player's previous team. A player between $6.2 and $7.8 million (which is a more realistic estimate) costs two first-round picks, a second-round draft pick, and third-round pick as well (full compensation chart here).
One long-shot possibility could be Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames. If Calgary looks to rebuild after consecutive non-playoff seasons, Iginla would be a very valuable trade asset.
Carle, Versteeg, and Bobrovsky are all relatively young players. Add in a first-round draft pick and that might be enough to bring him to Philadelphia. Iginla plays the exact style of hockey that is admired on Broad Street.
During an interview shortly following the conclusion of this past season, Paul Holmgren said he believed that the longer a group of players is kept together, the better chance they have at being successful.
A month later, the team's captain and leading goal scorer were traded and the core of the team was significantly altered.
While it may seem ridiculous to imagine Steven Stamkos or Jarome Iginla playing in a Philadelphia Flyers uniform next season, Holmgren's recent moves have shown that anything is possible.
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