Philadelphia Flyers To Sign Evgeni Nabokov? Who WIll Need To Move On?

Mark RitterSenior Writer IJune 27, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 02:  Jeff Carter #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on during warm-ups against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Three of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Wachovia Center on June 2, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

With news hitting various sources around the internet that the Philadelphia Flyers have acquired former San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov’s negotiating rights one has to think that, in order to do so, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren will need to slash some salary.

Clearly, given Nabokov’s three successive 40 plus win seasons and his overall pedigree I think the Flyers will be looking to sign Nabokov for as much as $5 million per season.

At this point, it doesn’t matter how long the term of the contract is, it’s how a potential Nabokov contract will impact the Flyers 2010-11 salary cap.

As it sits right now, the Flyers have a total of $49,409,762 ( committed to 17 roster players. Of those players, Daniel Briere, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen and Chris Pronger (35+) all have no trade clauses, which makes it very difficult for Holmgren to trade any of these guys.

Briere ($6.5 million), Richards ($5.75 million), Gagne ($5.25 million), Hartnell ($4.2 million), Timonen ($6.33 million) and Pronger ($4.9+ million), represents a total of nearly  $33 million in cap room, which, to say the least, is an enormous amount against the $59.4 million salary cap for 2010-11.

Needless to say, if not one of these big six, someone will need to be traded if the Flyers are expected to sign Nabokov for $5 million.

The clear and obvious choice is prolific scorer Jeff Carter, who does not own a no-trade clause, but does have a hefty $5 million coming to him for the 2010-11 season.

If Holmgren was to try to keep both Carter and Nabokov the Flyers would have approximately $5.6 million with which to sign four players.

As it stands right now, the Flyers employ a total of four defensemen, one goaltender (Nabokov would make it two goalies) and 11 forwards.

As such, if the Flyers do manage to sign Nabokov, the Flyers will need to sign at least two defensemen and two forwards to bring them up to a 22-man roster.

The Flyers have prospect Marc-Andre Bourdon in the system and may be willing to give him a shot at making the Flyers opening day lineup. That said, the jury is still out on Bourdon as many feel he is not ready to be a full-time NHL defenseman at this stage of the game.

Stephan Legien, Eric Wellwood, Patrick Maroon, Dave Labreque and David Laberte are thought to be the Flyers best prospects up front, all of whom will need to work hard over the summer and in training camp in order to impress the Flyers brass enough to crack the lineup.

The reality is, despite hopes to the contrary, there really isn’t much talent there for the Flyers to consider bringing into the fold, which means Holmgren will need to make trades and/or sign unrestricted free agents in order to fill the holes he has in his roster.

Complicating matters further is the fact that promising forward Calude Giroux will be an RFA in 2011-12. Does Holmgren really want to take a chance on Giroux tendering an offer sheet next summer, or will he need to get Giroux signed long-term this summer?

And what to do with restricted free agents Daniel Carcillo, Braydon Coburn and Darroll Powe? Do any of them deserve a raise? Can the Flyers afford to sign one, two or all three of them?

Likewise, the Flyers must also make a decision on unrestricted free agents Michael Leighton (who would likely be let go if Nabokov is brought in), Lukas Krajicek, Danny Syvret and Arron Asham, amongst others.

Needless to say, If Holmgren can get Nabokov signed he will have a lot of work to do. The decision making process will not be easy, with Carter’s future with the Orange and Black being front and centre.

While every single Flyers fan will tell you the clubs biggest need is in between the pipes I will caution them all that the price tag for Nabokov, like it or not, may indeed be parting ways with Jeff Carter—and how do you replace the 35-40 he would score in 2010-11?

At this point, signing Nabokov is a wait and see scenario. If Holmgren pulls this off, expect the Flyers to be very busy this summer scrambling to get under the salary cap.

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Until next time,