Vincent Lecavalier deal with Flyers isn't typical Paul Holmgren insanity

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Stop with the Paul Holmgren jokes when it comes to Vincent Lecavalier's deal. It makes sense for the Flyers and it doesn't hurt them a single bit.

At this point, it's easier to make fun of Paul Holmgren, the Flyers and their insane roster moves than just about anything in professional sports besides the New York Mets. These jokes are easy, and our instinct whenever Holmgren makes some sort of big move is to sit back and hurl them with reckless abandon.

It's a lazy instinct, and if you're making those jokes in the aftermath of Vincent Lecavalier signing a five-year, $22.5 million contract worth $4.5 million against the cap each year, you're wrong and probably being lazy. This is not a bad signing for the Flyers. It's weird and out of left field, but it's not bad at all. In fact, it's hard to argue it's anything but good.

You can look at this signing from a lot of different perspectives.

The simplest way: Danny Briere was going to make $6.5 million against the cap next season, and instead the Flyers got a younger, better version of him with $2 million in savings per year. That's nothing but awesome.

It's true that adding Lecavalier puts the Flyers above salary cap yet again this summer -- according to CapGeek, they're $318,522 above the cap right now. That, however, is with 14 forwards on the roster and nine (!) defensemen. They need to add a starting goaltender, yes, but they can easily acquire savings somewhere on the roster.

Here's what we have now, adding a slight $200,000 raise for RFA Erik Gustafsson to the mix:

--------------

FORWARDS

Hartnell ($4.750m) / Giroux ($3.750m) / Voracek ($4.250m)
B. Schenn ($3.110m) / Lecavalier ($4.500m) / Simmonds ($3.975m)
McGinn ($0.775m) / Couturier ($1.375m) / Read ($0.900m)
Rinaldo ($0.750m) / Talbot ($1.750m) / Akeson ($0.900m)
Laughton ($1.107m) / Rosehill ($0.675m)

DEFENSEMEN

Timonen ($6.000m) / L. Schenn ($3.600m)
Coburn ($4.500m) / Streit ($5.250m)
Grossmann ($3.500m) / Meszaros ($4.000m)
Gustafsson ($0.851m) / Gervais ($0.825m)
Bourdon ($0.613m) / Pronger ($4.941m)

GOALTENDERS

Mason ($1.500m)

Buyout: Bartulis ($0.100m)
------
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $68,429,022; BONUSES: $2,960,000
CAP SPACE (25-man roster):- $1,169,022

(We're pretty sure Pronger has to be on the roster on Day 1 before he can be placed on LTIR, so the Flyers have to account for that. There's a chance that this has changed in the new CBA, but until we know for sure otherwise, we're going to assume this is the case. They can't be over the cap on Day 1, so for accounting purposes right now, he counts. He will free the Flyers up with some space once the season starts, however, in case they need an injury call-up or whatever.

Far too many defensemen. I've advocated at least twice this week for dishing Andrej Meszaros for a bag of pucks, and I think there are teams that would take him for a late-round draft pick despite his injury woes and his bad contract. It's only one year before he's a free agent, and Meszaros is still a capable defenseman. Worst-case: waive the dude and at least get a little savings before exploring other options.

There's $4 million in cap savings right there. The Flyers have also been rumored to be shopping Braydon Coburn, and while that's not a move I'd make given the teams depth on defense, it's a possibility. They'd get some cap savings there as well, obviously depending on the pieces coming back in a Coburn trade, but let's pencil in $3.5 or $4 million saved against the cap with Mesz or Coburn even Nicklas Grossmann gone.

Beyond that, you can remove Marc-Andre Bourdon or Bruno Gervais from the roster -- one will be the seventh defenseman and the other will be in Glens Falls for an additional $600,000 to $800,000 in savings.

There are still a few question marks up front, most notably whether or not Scott Laughton makes the team out of camp and whether or not Jason Akeson and Tye McGinn make the team as well. Let's go with the most expensive possibility for our purposes right now. That means Akeson and Laughton make the opening night roster.

These moves would give the Flyers about $4 million in space. That's more than enough money to spend on a goaltender who can play half or more-than-half of the season with Steve Mason next year. Given that basically nobody is looking for a starting goalie at this stage, I can see the Flyers getting Tim Thomas for around $3.5 million.

If that happens, here's roughly what we'll have:

--------------

FORWARDS

Hartnell ($4.750m) / Giroux ($3.750m) / Voracek ($4.250m)
Lecavalier ($4.500m) / B. Schenn ($3.110m) / Simmonds ($3.975m)
Talbot ($1.750m) / Couturier ($1.375m) / Read ($0.900m)
Rinaldo ($0.750m) / Laughton ($1.107m) / Akeson ($0.900m)
Rosehill ($0.675m)

DEFENSEMEN

Timonen ($6.000m) / L. Schenn ($3.600m)
Coburn ($4.500m) / Streit ($5.250m)
Grossmann ($3.500m) / Gustafsson ($0.851m)
Gervais ($0.825m)
Pronger ($4.941m)

GOALTENDERS

Thomas ($3.500m)
Mason ($1.500m)

Buyout: Oskars Bartulis ($0.100m)

------
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $66,541,522; BONUSES: $2,960,000
CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $718,478

It's tight, but completely workable. And maybe I'm crazy, but that's probably a playoff team if the injuries from last year don't repeat themselves and the younger guys continue to grow. (Playing with Vincent Lecavalier should help in that regard!)

Better in goal, better on defense, better up front. It's not a Cup contender, but it's a good improvement on a team that probably would've been a playoff team last season had they played 82 games.

***

That's 2013. What about next 2014 and beyond? Shouldn't we be worried about the need to sign Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, who are all restricted free agents a year from now?

The salary cap under the new CBA is still tied directly to league revenues, and considering that the NHL made a reported $2.4 billion in this lockout-shortened season, and that they'll have the beef of SIX outdoor games next season, revenues are going to friggin skyrocket. Bruins stupid jerk owner Jeremy Jacobs expects the cap will jump up substantially next year. Obnoxious player agent Allan Walsh thinks it'll be around $70 million as it was this past season. These are people who would know, and they are also people who don't agree with each other much.

Let's say it'll be back at $70.2 million as it was in 2012-13. That might be a low estimate actually, but let's roll with it. If that's the cap situation, the Flyers will have 13 players under contract for $43.5 million in 2014-15, leaving $26.7 million in cap space. Giroux will take roughly $7-8 million of that. Schenn will get a raise in actual dollars, but considering his high bonuses but his cap hit at $3.1 million already, we don't need to account for much more of a raise against the cap. Couturier will get a slight raise in his next contract, probably somewhere around $3 million against the cap.

So let's pencil in Giroux at $8 million, Schenn at $3.5 million and Couturier at $3.2 million. (For comparison, consider Giroux got paid $3.75 million against the cap on his second contract.) All loose estimates, but we're still a year out from them hitting the market. That'd put the Flyers at about $12 million in cap space with 16 players under contract including Pronger.

It's hard to forecast any further than that really, but that's not the salary cap doomsday all the lazy pundits on Twitter seem to be talking about.

In the scenario that it does become cap hell, it's not as if the Vincent Lecavalier contract is what's put them there And if push comes to shove and they need to ditch it, a $4.5 million salary cap hit is insanely friendly. He has a no-trade clause, but that doesn't mean he's not tradable. It means he has to approve a trade. I'm sure Tampa Bay would love him back at a $4.5 million hit a calendar year from now.

***

The Flyers signing of Vincent Lecavalier was not crazy. It makes them a better team next year and likely won't hurt them much if any down the road. And if they determine it will hurt them down the road, it won't be difficult rid from their books.

You know what's actually crazy? Having $45.2 million wrapped up in just eight players for 2014-15. Maybe we should talk about that sometime.

More from Broad Street Hockey:

Tim Thomas seems like perfect fit

Holmgren discusses 2013 draft

The Flyers' sad history of drafting defensemen

We could've had Cory Schneider

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