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The Butterfly Effect: How tiny decisions shape the face of the Flyers

Getty Images
Getty Images

For a team that is so closely pegged against the salary cap and 50-contract limits, every small move has major consequences. Let's take a look at how a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a tornado wiping out the Wells Fargo Center.

To start, the Flyers were under the cap last year and not forced to do anything they didn't want to. What happened then?

  1. They decided they wanted to rent a player for the stretch run
  2. Adding Kris Versteeg forced them to put Ian Laperriere on LTIR and end the season over the cap
  3. Being over the cap forced them to take bonus overage penalties on this year's cap
  4. They decided to demote Sergei Bobrovsky to third string after one bad period
  5. Demoting Bobrovsky to third string resulted in a ridiculous goalie carousel
  6. The ridiculous goalie carousel was embarrassing and caused Snider to make them sign Ilya Bryzgalov
  7. Signing Bryzgalov put them over the cap so much that Jeff Carter and Mike Richards and Versteeg had to be traded away

This chain of events only had two small decisions -- a roster move and a lineup move. Had the Flyers gone without Versteeg, they could have stayed under the cap and acquired Bryzgalov by trading just one of Carter or Richards. The decision to add Versteeg cost them Carter and Richards. And Versteeg. And the first round pick they used to get Versteeg. All because they weren't content with Nikolay Zherdev in their top 9 for a couple of months.

Think about that chain of events triggered by Lappy going on LTIR the next time you're wondering why we're complaining so much about some trifling detail.

  • Who cares about acquiring Jason Bacashuihua? Well, now the team is at the 50 contract limit and needs Sean Couturier's contract to slide, so he can't make the team no matter how good he looks in camp.
  • Who cares that Talbot's contract has a cap hit that's perhaps $200k-300k too high? Well, the team is now so close to the cap that they can't afford to have Matt Read on the roster no matter how good he looks in camp.
  • Who cares that Lilja's tiny contract has a second year? Well, if the top 5 all return next year, it means that Kevin Marshall and Erik Gustafsson can't make it to the NHL this year or next unless the Flyers dump Bartulis, since Lilja's deal is 35+ and will count against the cap no matter what.

These small details shape the franchise in important ways.