Earlier this month, Gary Bettman indicated that current projections have the salary cap for the 2015-16 season raising to $73 million, as long as the Canadian dollar retains its current value.
That would be an increase of $4 million on the current $69 million upper limit. As a team that is perpetually close to or over the salary cap, a cap increase is always good for the Flyers. But they are pretty committed to this current roster, at least for next season. There isn't much in the way of available roster spots despite the fact that the Flyers should have a little bit of money to spend.
Currently, Capgeek has the Flyers at $67.179 million committed to 18 players for next season (one of which is Chris Pronger). For the moment I'll ignore the $212k they have noted in bonuses for 2015-16 as that is likely to continue to increase. That leaves the Flyers with about $5.8 million to spend this summer, before any potential bonus overages come into play. If you include Pronger's potential $4.9 million LTIR allowance, that balloons to roughly $10.7 million.
There aren't many free agents of note to re-sign either. Ray Emery, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan White, Chris VandeVelde, Kimmo Timonen, Nick Schultz and Carlo Colaiacovo are the unrestricted free agents. Michael Del Zotto is the lone restricted free agent.
With the current group of forwards that means there are open positions for two forwards on what is likely the fourth line and the extra forward. There are also already five able-bodied defenseman (read: Not Pronger) under contract meaning there are likely spots for two additional defenseman, one of which would be the extra man. Lastly, there is the backup goalie position which is likely to be filled at a similar cost to Emery's current $ 1 million.
If the thirteenth forward and seventh defenseman spots are filled at about $1.5 million total, and the backup goalie comes in at around $1 million; that should leave roughly $3.3 million for the last two roster spots, one forward and one defenseman; or $8.2 million if they opt to use Pronger's LTIR.
Some outstanding questions
Does Timonen try to come back and play? If so, he will likely get a similar contract as he currently has, so that's $2 million.
Do one of the young defenseman make it? If so, it's a boon in the sense that they are cheap and it would also make some sense to get them some experience before 2016-2017 when they will be desperately needed with Coburn, Grossmann, and Schenn expiring.
It's also worth noting that 2015-2016 is the last year of Jake Voracek's contract, which means he will be eligible for an extension once the new league year begins. So look for him to get extended this upcoming July. Frankly, that should be priority number-one this offseason.
With so much money committed to so many players there isn't much opportunity for change unless some tough decisions are made. Do the Flyers try to jettison some burdensome contracts through a buyout or by retaining salary in a trade?
If Vincent Lecavalier is bought out in June, he would hit the cap for $2.888 million next season, which is a net gain of about $1.6 million.
If R.J Umberger is bought out in June, he would hit the cap for $1.6 million next season, which is a net gain of $3 million.
If both of those moves are made the Flyers could have over $10 million to spend this summer, or over $15 million with Prongers' LTIR overage . It's never easy to take on dead money, but the Flyers are really tied in to the current roster. If the season ends poorly and the Flyers want to make some changes, something has to give. Expensive players would need to be traded, or some of the ones that can't be traded may need to be bought out. This would both free up some money and open up roster spots.
I think I literally say this every year, but it will be another interesting offseason for the Flyers. Especially if the team underperforms by season's end. Some tough decisions are on the horizon and despite having a little bit of money to spend, there aren't many open spots on which to spend it. However, just because you have money doesn't always mean you should spend it. It's always good to have an eye towards the future and the following offseason is going to see some major increases for Voracek, Schenn, Couturier, and potentially Raffl.