The Philadelphia Flyers have always been a high-spending team, signing players to obnoxiously large contracts for huge amounts of cash. Even when they signed ex-captain Mike Richards and sniper Jeff Carter to 15 and 11-year deals, respectively, fans were stoked to cough up that money if it ensured a Stanley Cup. It did not, so those guys are now gone and now the team has $6.5 million invested in playoff wizard Danny Briere, $5.6 million in Russian netminder Ilya Bryzgalov and over $10 million in Kimmo Timonen and Chris Pronger. That’s more than $20 million that couldn’t get the team into the playoffs and will need to be slashed in order to stay competitive next season.
Even with 25 signed players for the upcoming 2013-14 season, the team is still over the cap by quite a bit. That’s down from the 36 the team had signed for this past season, meaning cuts will have to come before any RFA or UFAs get signed. First up will be the unneeded goon Jody Shelley and resident journeyman Mike Knuble. As much as this may pain long-time Flyers fans, cutting Simon Gagne from the roster is going to have to happen, unless he wants to take a major pay cut, although plenty of teams will want the veteran presence of Gags before his career is done. Expect some future UFAs to be moved, such as Andrej Meszaros and Bruno Gervais, allowing the Flyers a little room to grow before waiting until the last minute.
On defense, it may be a little black-hearted to say such a thing, but recently concussed Kent Huskins will not make the cut if the entire defensive core is healthy. Same goes for Erik Gustafsson and Kurtis Foster, but these are just players that are restricted free agents and are not counting against the over-spent cap. Which means Flyers fans need to be prepared for plenty of trades in the offseason without a lot of talent coming back.
Much like a few years ago, the Flyers will rely on young (and cheap) call-ups to fill out a roster for 2013-14, while the team finds ways to pay the huge stars for the subsequent seasons. They will also have one more year to buyout Bryzgalov’s elephantine contract next offseason, if they choose to do so. Either way, it looks to be another rough season for the Flyers, this time caused by the NHL’s restructured salary cap system and not by season-ending injuries and poor defensive play. Not being able to spend cash on top players is going to keep the Flyers from being competitive for at least one full season.
Jesse Seilhan is a Philadelphia Flyers writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Anonymousbeard and add him to your network on Google.