The Seattle expansion draft is on the horizon and it has many fans puckering their butts as to what the outcome will be. To make a very long story short, the Flyers will probably protect seven forwards, three defenseman, and one goaltender. By that standard, they will probably protect Claude Giroux, Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek, Nolan Patrick, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Phil Myers, and Carter Hart.
It gives Flyers a chance to shed the contract of James Van Riemsdyk, who, by next summer, will have two years left with a seven million dollar cap hit. With some of the brightest young stars in the organization in need of a contract in the not-so-distant future, and still plenty of building to do from outside the organization, that reallocation of that seven million dollars will go a long way elsewhere, but how much will it help?
The onslaught of ending contracts won’t end for the Flyers for the foreseeable future, as Carter Hart, Travis Sanheim, and Nolan Patrick will be their three big restricted players next season, as well as UFAs Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl. The following summer in 2022, Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier are up, as well as Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost, who will see their entry-level deals expire. That’s not including Tanner Laczynski, Wade Allison, Felix Sandstrom, Kirill Ustimenko, Mark Friedman, and a flurry of other prospects that could potentially break out over the next couple seasons.
The Flyers have a little over $12.6 million naturally coming off the books for the summer of 2021. Most of those funds will be recycled into re-signing Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim. Sanheim will probably see a nice raise from his current $3.25 million cap hit, and Hart will be signing his first contract coming off his ELC. For arguments sake, let’s say Sanheim gets 5x$5 and Harts gets 3x$3.5. That already eats up $8.5 of their $12.6 budget. That would leave $4.1 million to re-sign Nolan Patrick, whose next deal will be determined by how many games he plays next season, as well as re-signing Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl if they so choose.
But here’s the fun part, that’s just the money from expiring contracts. That doesn’t figure in JVR’s $7 million coming off the books, as well as the $2.5 million currently being paid to Andrew MacDonald and David Schlemko from previous buyouts.
Say they give Patrick 2x$2 if he returns for the back half of the 2020-21 season and let Raffl and Laughton walk, filling those holes internally. That’s $11.6 million in play money next season for trades and free agency.
While predicting cap beyond next offseason is tricky, It’s important to remember that a no-doubt massive Sean Couturier extension is looming. With his current cap hit clocking in at just $4.33 million, it wouldn’t be surprising if his new cap hit is at least double that. Giroux’s $8.27 will be coming off the books, and if his play continues to decline, they may be able to lock him up in the $3-$4 million range, so most of Couturier’s new deal will come from Giroux’s current space.
Hopefully the pressure to win forces the Flyers to make a move or two to push them into the promised land in the near future. Even though the cap will be tricky as long as it stays flat at $81.5 million, there should be plenty of wiggle room for the Flyers to take a serious run next offseason’s crop of free agents or a big trade. The moral of the story is making sure Seattle takes James Van Riemsdyk off the books, whatever the cost of doing so may be.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: @ForzaInter215’s fiancee