Hey guys. First post so I hope it doesn't suck!
This will be a 2 parter due to length and density. I'll try to get part two up in a couple days.
There's a lot of numbers and such that I looked at, so if I goofed anywheere please let me know!
To the point. I've been following this board now for the better part of the season and I've noticed how there seems to be a near consensus that the Flyers will use one, if not both of there compliance buyouts this off-season. I guess I'm one of the few who thinks they should wait until 2014. There are a couple reasons why I think waiting as long as possible to use a buyout is a good idea. While reading these points, keep in mind in part 2 (which I will write up later), I will show a cap solution that won't require any compliance buyouts but will require some- in my opinion- believable trades.
1.) The less money there is left on a bad contract, the more likely (and potentially benificial) it is for an organization to swallow the buyout costs. Buying out Bryz this year would cost $23 mil (good lord). Buying out Bryz in 2014 would cost $17.67 mil + $8 mil for the 2013 salary. Doing the math, it would cost $2.67 mil more to retain Bryz's services for another year. Is there a goalie out there who would sign for $2.67 mil and would be better than Bryz (I don't think so, but I also don't think Brzy is the problem on this team other than his bad contract). If the answer is no, then keeping Bryz one more year is more cost effective.
Now I know as fans we don't care about cost effectiveness unless it relates to the cap because, hell, it's not our money. However, management will be making the moves, not us, and they do care.
2.) The most obvious rebutle to point #1 is that, while waiting may be more cost effective, it will hurt our cap situation. As I said before, I have some ideas about getting under the cap with trades, so this shouldn't be an issue for the one season waiting for a buyout would affect. Moreover, my re-rebutle to this argument is to take a look at UFA goalies next season. Here's the list of names along with their age and current salary. Anyone over the hill will cost less, under the hill will cost more, and on the hill waiting to fall will be about the same as their current salary (roughly). With the exception of Backstrom and Mike Smith and a handful of the dinosaurs, I don't really see any of those goalies as true number 1's. Those two will cost something comparable to Bryz's cap hit, especially if we only offer a two year deal (which is the max I'd give a goalie at this point). I think Anton Khudobin from Boston has potential (I live in Beantown and have seen him play a decent amount), and I would consider trying him out for a year or two. Still he will command more than he does this year, though not nearly as much as Bryz. Point being, unless your ready to roll with a Stegosaurus or two backups with potential, I would stick with Bryz for the year. Last time we did that, we got ourselves into this mess.
By the way, I say I wouldn't sign anyone for more than two years, not as an overreaction to Bryz's contract, but because I'm interested in seeing how Stolarz progresses. We are all riding high on his playoff performance, but in truth it's too early to make long term decisions around him. If we ride Bryz another year we will have a much better idea if we should make another move on a goalie, stick with Bryz (again I don't think he's the problem), or wait for Stolarz.
3.) The candidates for our buyouts aren't the reason this team is struggling. Briere is underperforming relative to his contract for sure. But take a look at all the players who are overperforming: Giroux and Voracek are both point per game guys. G is going to make way more than Briere when the dust settles. If Voracek continues his pace, he will make more or around the same. Then there is Matt Read who probably outperforms his contract more than anyone on the team. If you average the performance to cost value for our forwards, I would think you would come out with a pretty happy number. In fact, I think it would be a great exercise for someone to see how our forwards' values compare to someone like Pittsburgh, Anaheim, or the Rangers (pre-Gaborik trade) who are shelling out for their top guys.
Bryz is not performing to his cap hit. However, the concern I have with his contract is not the yearly cap hit but the length. I've already said why I would rather keep Bryz one more year than buy him out.
The real issue I have is with the defense. We have 4 defensive players with 2nd pairing talent (if that) making 2nd pairing money (L. Schenn, Coburn, Grossman, Mesz). In a longer season I would consider Kimmo to be the 5th 2nd pair guy because I don't think he will hold up 25 mins a game for 82 games. His overall production is 1st pair quality, I just don't think he will hold up. Even with a healthy Kimmo on the 1st we have one guy underproducing on the 1st line and 1 guy overproducing on the 3rd but still getting overpaid due to the minutes he's getting. That leaves two guys on the line they should be on. However, because Mesz is probably hurt or playing too badly to be on the 2nd line, the two guys who are on that line are both struggling because neither is a puck mover. If you move up Gus as the puck mover than you have two guys getting overpaid to play 3rd line minutes and an underproducing (though getting better) Gus on the 2nd. This is probably confusing but the idea is that we have so many 2nd line "stay-at-home" guys with bad value that we are severly underproducing on D. I see this as the main reason we are both a bad team and in cap trouble. As you will see in my second post, these defensive guys will be the main pieces in getting under the cap.
4.) There is absolutely zero reason to use a buyout for the sake of using a buyout, at least not until you have to use it or give it up. My point here is that unless you spend the money you free up from using a buyout, you are leaving money on the table.
There is noone on the team who's contract is up next year that we would need a buyout to afford. Here's the list of UFAs: Gagne, Fedotenko, Shelley, Knuble, Hall, Matt Walker, Kurtis Foster, Kent Huskins, Lilja. CYA LATER BUCKOS. No I take that back, I wouldn't mind seeing Gagne and Fed come back for combined less than Gagne is making now ($3.5). Though truthfully, I'd rather see some cheaper parts with more upside take there places, say Akeson or one of the other kids on third line wing. Here's a list of RFA's: Gustafsson, Manning, Lauridsen, Kessel, Wahl, Harper, Wellwood. Under my ideal plan, only two of those (Gus and Manning/Lauridsen) would count towards the cap, aka be on the pro roster filling in the 3rd pair. I'm not too worried that they would get offer sheets, though my plan has enough breathing room to match offers that are worth matching. If someone offers any of them $3.3 mil or more I'll buy his plane ticket out of here myself and take the 1st and 3rd draft picks to the bank. Hell, with an offer a bit less than that, I still might consider taking a 2nd for the latter two.
That being said, the real problem is the restricted free agent class coming up in 2014/15 (G, B. Schenn, Coots, McGinn, Mason, Heeter, and some duds... i mean dudes) plus UFA Matt Read and any tendered RFA from the year before. Then going another year of RFAs in 2015/16, we have Laughton, Konan, Cousins, and a few others. In 2014/15 alone (when our buyouts must be used) we could be facing $10+ mil a year in contract renegotiations/offer sheet matching. The flyers will be looking to lock up G. I can't see him making any less than 7/8 given Getzlaf's and Nash's ridiculous deals and their performance relative to Giroux's. If Coots, Schenn, Akeson or really any of the other RFAs have breakout years next year they will be serious candidates for offer sheets if they aren't already.
This is a scenario where being up against the cap going into the 2014/15 offseason is terrible. If we are too close to the cap we will have no choice, but to tender qualifying offers on our valuable RFAs leaving them open to offer sheets. Any GM with a brain who sees Sean Couturier with tender status and a Flyers organization with no cap room will push us just beyond that cap space, forcing us to move another player or give him up. Here having our buyouts is invaluable. You could say, "why not just use the buyouts now and keep some money in reserve?" This goes back to my point about leaving money on the table. If we buyout Briere for his $6.5 mil and don't spend up to the cap limit, we are wasting free money, aka leaving it on the table. If we do buyout Briere and spend to the cap limit, we are putting ourselves in a terrible position next season.
We have a young team. I would much rather trim some of the fat we have without buyouts pushing ourselves to the cap this season. This will allow us to make a more informed decision about who needs to be bought out the season after. We will have better knowledge about how much cap space we need because we will have better knowledge of what players we want to resign. If we don't need Briere's $6.5 mil, I'd much rather buyout Hartnell's $4.7 till 2019, who in my opinion has the second worse contract on the team. Then we can use Briere's $6.5 mil that naturally comes off the year after to sign Laughton and Cousins, should they pan out.
I can't stress enough the importance of spending to the limit next season without giving up buyouts. Unless there is some absolute stud #1 dman who we can not get one way or the other without a buyout, I would not use one. I would much rather sit through one more season of mediocrity followed by 5 great seasons because we were patient and made the right contract moves.