Mike Knuble won’t be on the Philadelphia Flyers‘ team next season, but his name is easy to pick off the current roster when considering how the 2013-14 team might look. Beyond the obvious, general manager Paul Holmgren is surely considering many creative options to improve his squad.
Danny Briere represents the highest per year cap hit ($6.5 million) through the 2014-15 season. How can a franchise that has among the lowest point totals in the entire National Hockey League and has bumped its head against the salary cap ceiling make meaningful changes without trading high-cost players? It can’t.
“Homer” will move at least one money man by the trade deadline and then at least one more during the off-season. A high-salaried defenseman could go at either time. Doing so will enable needed payroll flexibility to address two defensive holes, a more cohesive offensive scheme and possibly the goal crease.
The new collective bargaining agreement includes an amnesty clause. This allows every NHL team to exercise a compliance buyout on any one, or two player’s contracts. Two-thirds of the balance of their salaries must be paid, but their cap hits are removed from the NHL’s equation. (Players who are listed on Long Term Injured Reserved aren’t eligible to be discarded.)
So, the Flyers are stuck with Chris Pronger’s $4.93 million per season cap hit through 2016-17. But, they aren’t bound to the remainder of Ilya Bryzgalov’s nine-year fractional calculation.
Removing all emotion that is tied to that goaltender, it can be clearly stated that he was inconsistent last season and has been relatively good this year. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement, or a justification to keep his $5.66 million per year cap hit on the books through the 2019-20 season. However, he might remain on the team through next season, because a team can wait to exercise one, or both, of its buyouts until the summer of 2014.
When we realize that the NHL’s salary cap will shrink to $64.3 million next season, it’s obvious that some well-heeled Flyers will disappear by this summer.