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Looking at the 2011 Salary Cap Hell

 Flyers GM Paul Holmgren may have to answer a lot of tough questions over next year's cap situation.

 The offseason is slowly slowing down, but the discussions at BSH are raging like usual. One of the points that has come up often is the situation for next year's cap. While some are content, perhaps understandibly, to do a Chicago and go for the cup this year while worrying about next year next year, others are a bit more tentative about this team's capacity to maintain it's strong performance over multiple years. I count myself as one of the latter group. So after the jump, I will analyse the situation we will find us in for next year's cap.

The Backstory

Obviously for me to make any sort of prediction about next season, I have to first make some presumptions about the events of the rest of the offseason and part of next offseason. I'm going to lay out these assumptions in numbered format below, and describe my rationale in making each of these assumptions. Feel free to challenge them, but note that as my argument is to highlight the potential problems we're going to have with the cap, I'm going to make certain assumptions that are best-case and very cap friendly. So here they are:

  1. Simon Gagne will be traded - this is what it looks like the team is going to do to get us under the cap this year
  2. Simon Gagne's trade will net us a high profile entry-level winger who can play on the top line, has a contract of 1 million dollars per year and does not have a contract that expires in 2011. The trade also returns us a pick. This is an ideal scenario, and I haven't thought of who might fit this category. Certainly not someone like Simmonds, whose contract ends in 2011 and will need a raise
  3. We use the remaining cap space from the Gagne trade to sign Marty Turco for 1.75 million per year, which is very cheap
  4. At the end of the 2010-11 season, O'Donnell is let go, as is Carcillo, as is Boucher. Backlund is traded for picks/prospects, as he can't be expected to accept playing in the AHL beyond one more season. Also, we would rather give Bobrovsky and Riopel a chance.

Now, ignoring the need to re-sign Zherdev, Leino, Giroux and Carter. Here's what I've created:

FORWARDS

Return For Gagne ($1.000m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Jeff Carter ($5.000m)

Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Daniel Briere ($6.500m) / Ville Leino ($0.800m)

James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Claude Giroux ($0.821m) / Nikolai Zherdev ($2.000m)

Ian Laperriere ($1.166m) / Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Jody Shelley ($1.100m)

 

DEFENSEMEN

Matt Carle ($3.437m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)

Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m)

Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m)

 

GOALTENDERS

Marty Turco ($1.750m) /Michael Leighton ($1.550m)

 

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)

(these totals are compiled using the bonus cushion)

SALARY CAP: $59,400,000; CAP PAYROLL: $56,484,763; BONUSES: $637,500

CAP SPACE (20-man roster): $3,552,737

Now let's go through the players we need to re-sign:

Facts about the players that are free agents in 2011

Jeff Carter - Carter is one of the top snipers in the league, he has netted 46 goals in one season, and if the Flyers have a statistically strong season, he could do it again. In this contract, Carter will probably be looking at his biggest payday, or at least his second biggest payday. He's entering his prime and ideally, in a non-cap world, would be a part of the Flyers' future in years to come.

Nikolai Zherdev - Zherdev with the Flyers is an unknown quantity. All we know about him is from his time before the KHL, where he was accused of being lazy and not playing defense, but was still a 20 goal scorer who could be prolific at his best and definitely has great skill. The Rangers offered him around 3.25 million, the arbitrator decided he was worth 3.9 million, so the Rangers let him go and he went to the KHL. His 2 million contract with the Flyers is essentially an Emery-esque 'entry-to-the-NHL' deal. To expect him to want anything less than 3 million after his 1 year contract is up is wishful.

Claude Giroux - it's hard to say anything bad about this guy. He's been building his game in any way and looks like he's going to be a star for the future. With more developed linemates (sophomore JVR and Nik Zherdev as opposed to rookie-wall JVR and Arron Asham) he should become even more prolific. He's the type of guy that makes his linemates better. The Flyers absolutely need to keep him. But to do so they probably require 3.5 million plus.

Ville Leino - it is my view that Ville Leino was overrated in Detroit, and is criminally underrated in Philadelphia. Let's go through the fact. In his last year in Finland, Leino was the league MVP. Detroit brought him over to North America, and he was prolific in the AHL. Detroit used him in their cup finals run, and he did a decent job. At this stage, he was Detroit's most prized prospect, a player some considerd a serious Calder Trophy candidate, and in some Red Wings fanatic circles a possible future superstar to follow on from guys like Datsyuk and Zetterberg. 09-10 started terribly for him, he publicly said he was struggling to play in the role and the system Detroit wanted him to play in (screaming "change of scenery") and the only reason the Wings traded him was because of their own salary cap problems, not because they wanted to get rid of him. After that he scored at over a point per game with us in the playoffs. He could be very very good. If he has another good season, and he is capable of doing so, the Flyers would hate to lose him and he would be demanding at least 3 million plus. Even if he has an average season, 2.5 million would probably be a fair contract for him.

Going Through Cap Scenarios

I'll begin with the best/worst case scenario. Best in that the Flyers win the President's Trophy, go deep in the playoffs, and are statistically dominant. Worst only in terms of the cap issues (just to clarify, if we win the cup, I don't care what happens to the cap, but the fact is the playoffs are a crapshoot and no-one knows what will happen).

In this scenario, Carter is signed for 6.5, Giroux for 4, Zherdev for 3.25, and Leino for 3.

FORWARDS

Return For Gagne ($1.000m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Jeff Carter ($6.500m)

Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Daniel Briere ($6.500m) / Nikolai Zherdev ($3.250m)

James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Claude Giroux ($4.000m) / Ville Leino ($3.000m)

Ian Laperriere ($1.166m) / Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Jody Shelley ($1.100m)

 

DEFENSEMEN

Matt Carle ($3.437m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)

Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m)

Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m)

 

GOALTENDERS

Marty Turco ($1.750m) /Michael Leighton ($1.550m)

 

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)

(these totals are compiled using the bonus cushion)

SALARY CAP: $59,400,000; CAP PAYROLL: $64,613,096; BONUSES: $637,500

CAP SPACE (20-man roster): -$4,575,596

We're almost 4.5 above the cap. Considering we need at least 1 million in space to work with in case of injury, we need to clear 5.5 of cap space. It seems almost impossible. Let's look at a perhaps more reasonable scenario:

Carter for 6 (3-4 years), Giroux for 3.5 (2-3 years), Leino for 2.5 (2-3 years), Zherdev for 3 (2-3 years)

FORWARDS

Return For Gagne ($1.000m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Jeff Carter ($6.000m)

Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Daniel Briere ($6.500m) / Nikolai Zherdev ($3.000m)

James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Claude Giroux ($3.500m) / Ville Leino ($2.500m)

Ian Laperriere ($1.166m) / Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Jody Shelley ($1.100m)

 

DEFENSEMEN

Matt Carle ($3.437m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)

Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m)

Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m)

 

GOALTENDERS

Marty Turco ($1.750m) /Michael Leighton ($1.550m)

 

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)

(these totals are compiled using the bonus cushion)

SALARY CAP: $59,400,000; CAP PAYROLL: $62,863,096; BONUSES: $637,500

CAP SPACE (20-man roster): -$2,825,596

Note that this is all with the bonus cushion, eliminating the bonus cushion gives us:

FORWARDS

Return For Gagne ($1.000m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Jeff Carter ($6.000m)

Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Daniel Briere ($6.500m) / Nikolai Zherdev ($3.000m)

James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Claude Giroux ($3.500m) / Ville Leino ($2.500m)

Ian Laperriere ($1.166m) / Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Jody Shelley ($1.100m)

 

DEFENSEMEN

Matt Carle ($3.437m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)

Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m)

Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m)

 

GOALTENDERS

Marty Turco ($1.750m) /Michael Leighton ($1.550m)

 

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)

(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)

SALARY CAP: $59,400,000; CAP PAYROLL: $62,863,096; BONUSES: $637,500

CAP SPACE (20-man roster): -$3,463,096

Nup, ain't helping. Let's say we let go of Zherdev and sign a third line winger for about 1.5 million. Note that Leino being paid 2.5 million means he's probably not ready to be a top 6 player (otherwise he would demand more than 2.5), but we'll have to push him into that role. Now we've got:

FORWARDS

Return For Gagne ($1.000m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Jeff Carter ($6.000m)

Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Daniel Briere ($6.500m) / Ville Leino ($2.500m)

James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Claude Giroux ($3.500m) / Zherdev's Replacement ($1.500m)

Ian Laperriere ($1.166m) / Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Jody Shelley ($1.100m)

 

DEFENSEMEN

Matt Carle ($3.437m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)

Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m)

Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m)

 

GOALTENDERS

Marty Turco ($1.750m) /Michael Leighton ($1.550m)

 

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)

(these totals are compiled using the bonus cushion)

SALARY CAP: $59,400,000; CAP PAYROLL: $61,363,096; BONUSES: $637,500

CAP SPACE (20-man roster): -$1,325,596

Still not working. Also note that this is a 20 man roster, so we don't have a 13th forward or 7th defender at all. In all likelihood, we'll carry a 600k guy, which puts us around 2 million above the cap.

Anyway, so what do we do now? Well let's say we signed Danny Carcillo for about 1.2 million and let our potential Finnish superstar go and test the open market. Here's what we've got:

FORWARDS

Return For Gagne ($1.000m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Jeff Carter ($6.000m)

Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Daniel Briere ($6.500m) / Zherdev's Replacement ($1.500m)

James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Claude Giroux ($3.500m) / Daniel Carcillo ($1.200m)

Ian Laperriere ($1.166m) / Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Jody Shelley ($1.100m)

 

DEFENSEMEN

Matt Carle ($3.437m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)

Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m)

Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m)

 

GOALTENDERS

Marty Turco ($1.750m) /Michael Leighton ($1.550m)

 

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)

(these totals are compiled using the bonus cushion)

SALARY CAP: $59,400,000; CAP PAYROLL: $60,063,096; BONUSES: $637,500

CAP SPACE (20-man roster): -$25,596

NOT WORKING!!!!!!

And let's be honest, making Jeff Carter sign for 6 on what will probably be his biggest payday will be hard, especially if he has another 40 goal season. Making Giroux sign for less than Hartnell and Meszaros and only 300k more than Braydon Coburn will also be hard if X remains as impressive as he's always been. But I'm saying 6 and 3.5 to show that there's a problem even if we sign them at decent contracts. And let's be more honest, that 'Return for Gagne' that I've got playing top line LW minutes on a 1 million dollar contract that will extend beyond the end of next season? He probably doesn't exist. If he does, he isn't going to be traded for Gagne. If we got Simmonds, which would be amazing, he would require at least a 2.5 million dollar raise at the end of next season, which would mean we would probably have to lose him too (or Giroux).

Anyway, there's no way out unless we trade another core unit. Obviously none of this is desirable. Also we could just, you know, not sign Giroux. Especially if Hartnell and Briere don't waive their NTC/NMC respectively. The thought scares me.

Alternatively, for the fun of it because it doesn't look like it'll happen. We trade Carter for Parse, Quick and a 1st round pick (we might be able to get a better return than Parse, but as mentioned previously, guys like Simmonds and Bernier have contracts expiring in 2011, and Brown is just too expensive for us now after Homer's spending spree). No need to sign Turco anymore. Gags takes a hometown discount, the rest is the same.

FORWARDS

Simon Gagne ($3.500m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Nikolai Zherdev ($3.000m)

Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Daniel Briere ($6.500m) / Ville Leino ($2.500m)

James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Claude Giroux ($3.500m) / Scott Parse ($0.900m)

Ian Laperriere ($1.166m) / Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Jody Shelley ($1.100m)

 

DEFENSEMEN

Matt Carle ($3.437m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)

Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m)

Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m)

 

GOALTENDERS

Jon Quick ($1.800m) /Michael Leighton ($1.550m)

 

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)

(these totals are compiled using the bonus cushion)

SALARY CAP: $59,400,000; CAP PAYROLL: $60,313,096; BONUSES: $637,500

CAP SPACE (20-man roster): -$275,596

Still above the cap, but better. This way we don't need to get rid of another core unit, we could just lose Zherdev and sign a 2 million dollar replacement.

But even this is a tough situation. Essentially there's a reason you don't trade away all your draft picks, and that reason is so that you have a constant stream of Girouxs coming in any playing like stars on 1 million dollar contracts.

What's coming up in 2012

JVR, Carle and Coburn become free agents. All three will demand raises being young players. Only players coming off the books to provide some contract relief are Betts, Lappy and Leighton. Betts and Lappy will need to be replaced with roughly similar contracts, so no relief there. Leighton might be replaced with a true backup goalie contract, but that won't really help too much in the big picture...

This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.

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