Obviously we've been expressing a lot of anguish about the reports that Ilya Bryzgalov will get $50 million over 7 years and what that would mean for the Flyers salary cap woes in 2011-2012. But I'd like to look farther down the line.
In 2012-2013, James van Riemsdyk will be a RFA and due for a big raise from his current $800k salary. Matt Carle and Braydon Coburn will both be UFAs and will likely get significant raises as well. After the jump, we take a look at what that means for the Flyers roster.
If the Flyers let Carle walk, it leaves the Flyers with the following situation:
|Hartnell 4.2M||Briere 6.5M||???|
|van Riemsdyk 3.5M?||Giroux 3.8M||Carter 5.3M|
|Timonen 6.3M||Coburn 4.5M?|
That's almost 59M committed and you still need nine or ten more players to fill out a roster. If the cap is in the $67M range, that means nine or ten guys who are all under a million bucks apiece. It doesn't just mean replacing Ville Leino and Kris Versteeg with Matt Read and Eric Wellwood; even guys like Andreas Nodl, Blair Betts, and Darroll Powe may be cap casualties who have to be replaced with the likes of Tom Sestito, Zac Rinaldo, and Jason Akeson.
The forward corps gets downright thin -- with Briere turning 35 and Hartnell 31, the Flyers could be going from a team celebrated for their depth to having just one real scoring line. The defense is completely relying on Timonen and Pronger staying healthy and playing well, even though both are turning 38.
The Flyers' outstanding young core is being wasted -- Versteeg and Carle have already been jettisoned, and the remaining players are spending their primes saddled with teammates who are breaking down and can't be replaced. They still have the talent to be good, but these roster burdens will keep them from being great.
And what if instead of a 7-year, $50M contract, Bryzgalov gets a 12-year $63M contract that puts the cap hit at $5.3M? They still wouldn't be able to keep Carle or Versteeg, as that would leave them with eight players to add and no more than $6M of cap space. All it would do is allow them to bring in a ~1.5M defensemen so they aren't totally dependent on the health and skill of two 38-year-olds. And the price for that? The Flyers would then have more than $16M committed to Richards, Carter, and Bryzgalov well past their primes, at which point they're not merely mortgaging the future; they're outright selling it.
I understand people who are excited to have an elite goalie in Philadelphia. And while I don't agree, I can even understand how they think it might make the team better in the coming season. But it's just downright irresponsible to take a team that's in a really bad cap crunch this year and looking at even worse trouble next year and try to add a $50M free agent -- particularly when the team already has a capable goalie at a $0.9M salary. This team has the young core to be among the elite for a long time to come and there's no reason to give away that bright future.