Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren Faces Challenging Web of Contracts

By Andrew Fitzgerald
Eric Hartline – USA TODAY Sports

In just over two months, the 2013-14 season will be underway. 82 games and (hopefully) a Stanley Cup parade later, the Philadelphia Flyers and general manager Paul Holmgren will work their magic throughout the 2014 offseason. Although it is nearly a year away, it’s poised to be a daunting one.

At 38 years old, it is widely believed that veteran defender Kimmo Timonen will retire at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 season. The Finnish defenseman has played in 1,015 NHL games, missing just 16 games in his six season with the Flyers. His durability and foresight will be sorely missed, and finding a replacement for Timonen will be difficult. If there is any consolation to his departure, his retirement will free up $6 million in cap space, a sum that will be much needed.

Right winger Matt Read enjoyed a strong rookie outing in 2012, notching 24 goals and 23 games. Read was 26 years old at the time of his rookie season when signed a three-year, $2.7 million contract, earning him $900,000 per year. If his level of play continues to rise, he’ll be due for a significant pay increase at the conclusion of the 2014 season.

21-year-old forward Brayden Schenn has been a promising player since his WHL premiere in 2006. Drafted fifth overall in the 2009 NHL Draft by the Los Angeles KingsSchenn was a key player in the 2011 blockbuster trade that sent Flyers captain Mike Richards to the Kings. He has yet to emerge as a true star, but he has tremendous potential.

Like Read, Schenn’s contract is set to expire at the conclusion of the 2014 season, at which point he will become a restricted free agent. With a cap hit of $3.11 million, he could be poised to earn far more that if he sees success this upcoming season.

A Flyers season would not be complete without some form of goaltending issue, and the 2014 offseason will likely have one as well. Ray Emery will become an unrestricted free agent next offseason, after earning $1.65 million throughout the 2013-14 season. Fellow goaltender Steve Mason is set to become a restricted free agent after earning $1.5 million throughout the 2013-14 season. The No. 1 goalie at the conclusion of the season will likely be signed to a new, more profitable contract. The other will either be left to walk, or given an extension to serve as a backup.

Holmgren is attempting to stem the flow of free agency that will eventually plague the Flyers. On July 5, 2013, Claude Giroux inked a massive eight-year, $66.2 million contract with the team. Forward Sean Couturier was recently given a two-year, $3.5 million contract extension. He too was poised to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2014 season.

The 2014 offseason is far away. It is imperative that these issues are dealt with well before the free agency frenzy begins next summer so Holmgren and the Flyers can plan accordingly. Despite the 11-month wait until the 2014 offseason, its already poised to be an exciting — albeit it stressful — four months.

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