Adam Kimelman had an interview with Paul Holmgren yesterday. Here's the entire story on NHL.com, and it's worth a read, but this quote stood out.
NHL.COM: At what point did you realize you had to trade Carter and Richards to create enough cap space to sign Bryzgalov? Could you have just moved one?
HOLMGREN: I think we probably could have done it by keeping them both, too. ...
Technically, this isn't false; it was not impossible to have Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Ilya Bryzgalov on the same roster. But was it remotely reasonable?
Imagine what the Flyers roster would have looked like if you undid those trades and all free agent signings. At that point, they've let Versteeg, Powe, Leino, Zherdev, Carcillo, and O'Donnell leave. They have $2.05M cap space left and need to sign at least four forwards and a defenseman.
If they put Laperriere on LTIR, then they have $3.22M to play with but can't bank any unused space, so they need to leave enough room to fit an injury callup's salary in. So if the five players they add earn more than $538k apiece, they can't call anyone up in the event of injury. Unfortunately, the Flyers only have one skater in their system earning less than that: Dan Jancevski.
So if they want to be able to make any emergency moves, they have to unload another big salary.
What if they fly by the seat of their pants and use all the money they have, crossing their fingers and hoping they don't need to call anyone up for injury all year long? Then they could divide the $3.22M among the five additions, so they can spend up to $643k apiece. That produces the following roster:
CAPGEEK.COM CAP CALCULATOR
James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m) / Claude Giroux ($3.750m) / Jeff Carter ($5.272m)
Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Daniel Briere ($6.500m) / Eric Wellwood ($0.580m)
Andreas Nodl ($0.845m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Tom Sestito ($0.550m)
Blair Betts ($0.700m) / Jody Shelley ($1.100m) / Ben Holmstrom ($0.750m)
Zac Rinaldo ($0.544m)
Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)
Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m) / Matt Carle ($3.437m)
Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Andreas Lilja ($0.737m)
Oskars Bartulis ($0.600m)
Ilya Bryzgalov ($5.666m) / Sergei Bobrovsky ($1.750m)
CARRY-OVER BONUS PENALTY: $1,402,500
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $64,245,266; BONUSES: $1,825,000
CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $54,734
With Phantoms all over the lineup -- and the cheapest Phantoms available at that -- the Flyers could get $54k under the cap, cross their fingers, and hope nobody gets hurt.
So technically, Holmgren was telling the truth when he said he didn't need to trade away a high-priced player to fit Bryzgalov in (other than Versteeg), but let's not pretend it was ever a serious option.