If you’re a longtime reader here at Brotherly Puck, you know we’ve talked a lot about making additions this summer, whether it be Johnny Gaudreau or Matthew Tkachuk, Mitch Marner, Alex DeBrincat, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Dumba or others. But what if they… don’t? What if they just take a year to sit back and figure things out. With a stacked 2023 draft class in front of them, it may not be the worst time to recalculate their next steps, even though sitting through another season of on-ice atrocities would be awful.
It’d be a time to clear some salary, which would be much needed for a team who is stupidly close to the cap ceiling with little on-ice success to show for it. While trading everyone on long-term, big money deals would be nice, there’s only so much money they could clear in reality, and it comes down to three players- James Van Riemsdyk, Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom.
Realistically, there are three options with JVR, buy him out, trade him and retain half his salary, or give him the Shayne Gostisbehere treatment and pay someone to take his full salary off your hands.
Buying him out is hands down the worst option. He’d count against the cap for two more seasons instead of just one, and he’d cost $4.3 million in dead space next season and $1.3 million in dead space during 2023-24. Hurting themselves in 2023-24 for less than $3 million in saving next season doesn’t make any sense.
Trading half his salary, which would be $3.5 million, may be the most realistic option. Most teams would more than likely have interest in a 20-goal scoring net-front veteran. For the Flyers, retaining $3.5 million isn’t ideal, but it’s not nothing either. That’s the price of a pretty solid depth addition or maybe two fourth liners.
Though if they are looking to clear as much cap as possible for a big ticket free agent, juts dealing his contract to a team like Arizona may be the way to go.
It’s not a sexy way to go about it, in fact, after dealing Shayne Gostisbehere and a second round pick last summer to ditch his contract in full, it’s fresh on the minds of the fans. But clearing $7 million is a substantial number, and he doesn’t exactly possess the upside Ghost did.
In fairness to the Flyers, it may not be quite as ugly as everyone thinks. JVR has a $7 million cap hit, but is actually only owed $4 million in real dollars next season. That means he’d be ideal for a team like Arizona, who could reach the cap floor, but not actually pay him his full contract. With only one year left on his contract, they should be able to move that money without giving up a top prospect or first round pick.
If they clear his $7 million in full and use it to cover the bulk of a contract to Johnny Gaudreau, it’d be a huge upgrade from an on-ice production stand point, and worth just about any price they’d pay, even if it is their extra 2024 first rounder at this point.
Having too many wingers on the team who could potentially be NHL ready within the next year means moving on from some of your underwhelming current roster players. Travis Konecny didn’t have a terrible season per say, but the fact that he’s six seasons into his career and seems to be nothing more than a 50-point winger who may or may not hit 20 goals a season, it’s getting harder and harder to give him the benefit of the doubt that superstardom is still in front of him anymore. With guys like Bobby Brink, Wade Allison, Joel Farabee and Noah Cates all likely making the main roster at the start of the season, there isn’t much need for Konecny any more. A trade dealing Teeks would probably be a “hockey trade” looking for a center in return, though they could just flat out deal him for a draft pick or two if they are hell bent on the kids playing in the NHL.
Then there’s Oskar Lindblom, who has seemingly lost his place in the constant shuffle of the roster. He really hasn’t been a bad player, but he has failed to secure any kind of role on the team, which undoubtedly stems from his continued physical struggles since his return from cancer in 2020. Bouncing around the bottom three lines, even finding himself scratched from time to time, it’s hard to justify his $3 million cap hit for one more season for what’s essentially a depth winger. It’s possible a new coach would want to take him on as a rehab project, but Fletcher may have no choice but to shed that $3 million if he makes moves elsewhere during the offseason.
Anything beyond those three really seems like a pipe dream. There are options like dealing Kevin Hayes, but with a $7.1 million cap hit for three more seasons, there’s a very shallow market for his services. The defense has been a hot talking point early in the offseason, but for the time being, it seems safe to say the Flyers will at least start the season with all three of Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen on the roster. There’s really not much they can do with Ryan Ellis and his $6.25 million cap hit until he actually plays in a few games, and even then he may be damaged goods until he can prove longevity in his play.
Couturier’s brand new $7.7 aav deal kicks in this season and nobody in the league would voluntarily take that contract on. They’re basically stuck with that deal for years until becomes more palatable for a buyout.
Maybe dealing Cam Atkinson is an option, but they’d essentially be undoing the Jake Voracek trade. Meaning, they’d more than likely trade Atkinson’s three remaining years of $5.8 million for a similarly-aged forward who has a higher cap hit at less seasons. Trading a 33-year-old with three years left on his contract at a net positive is almost impossible. At best they can hope he has a good season this year and can be flipped at the trade deadline for a draft pick if they are really hellbent on clearing his cap.
It’s certianly not ideal to be so close to the salary cap ceiling, not be very good on the ice, yet have practically no way of clearing meaningful money without taking a big hit to do so. That being said, if they really want to part ways with players, Van Riemsdyk’s $7 million, Konency’s $5.5 million and Lindblom’s $3 million for a grand total of $15.5 million is meaningful money. Utilizing the entry-level contracts of Noah Cates, Bobby Brink, and the cheap new deals for guys like Wade Allison and Tanner Laczynski would mean they could use that newly-freed cap space to bring in an impact player or two.
It all comes down to just how serious Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers are for actual change.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)