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Kimmo Timonen's return to Flyers: How much of a pay cut is he willing to take?

If Kimmo Timonen decides to play another year, it'll be in Philadelphia. But can they fit him under the salary cap?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Kimmo Timonen is obviously a key piece on this Philadelphia Flyers team -- a top-4 defenseman playing for an organization where top-4 defensemen are its weakness -- but at 39 years old, he's obviously getting up there a bit. He's taking the next few weeks to determine whether or not he'll come back and play an eighth year for the Flyers.

Of course, it's a no-brainer to say the Flyers should want him back. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize he's lost a step, and at his age that's to be expected. But he's still an extremely useful player, and it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that either.

Kimmo damn Timonen 5v5 Shot Attempt For % ES Time on Ice per game PP Time on Ice per game SH Time on Ice per game Games Played
2009-10 53.6% 18:31 3:40 3:43 82
2010-11 51.3% 15:42 3:19 3:25 82
2011-12 54.7% 13:58 3:47 3:28 76
2012-13 53.2% 15:02 3:48 2:55 45*
2013-14 54.6% 13:30 3:25 3:24 77

He'll play almost every game, and no, he won't be as much of a horse at even strength anymore. But he's important on both special teams units and is still a top-4 guy at evens. And more often than not he's successful when he's out there, too.

So yes, the Flyers want him back. Craig Berube and Paul Holmgren told him as much last week after the season ended.

"I talked to Homer yesterday and I asked him if he wants me back, and the same with Chief, and they feel like I should get back and that's always a good sign," Kimmo said.

And Kimmo says that if he plays anywhere next season, it will be in Philadelphia.

"This is my place," Kimmo said with no chance of misinterpretation. "If I get back here, this is where I want to be. I like our team. I like the team moving forward because we can get some young guys, young forwards, who can be faster. I won't get any younger, that's for sure, and probably not faster, but I feel like I can still help the team. But again, I want to take my time and see if I can get to the level that I want to be."

It's not like Kimmo is running off, ready to get back to Finland, either.

"No matter what we're going to do, we're going to stay here for a couple more years and really figure out what we're going to do as a family," he said. "My kids are older. My son is 15, and I'm sure he wants to stay here. He's been here all of his life, so I don't see him going back to Finland or somewhere else. So we'll see, but we're going to stick around here for a couple more years at least."

The Timonens are Philadelphians for at least a few more years. If he plays hockey, it will be in Philadelphia. The Flyers want him back, and should want him back. This really comes down to two things, then:

  • will he play again?
  • can the Flyers fit him under the salary cap?

We obviously don't know what he'll decide with regards to his playing future, but the good news is that he said he's not dealing with injuries this offseason, so he'll be able to start working out soon and see how he feels. It really comes down to whether he can get in shape well enough for the grind of the regular season, and that's something he won't know until he starts working out.

So that's up in the air. But the salary cap issue is one we can foresee.

Let's assume the cap is $71 million, even if it might be a little lower. Right now, heading into the summer, the Flyers have 10 forwards, five defensemen and one goaltender locked down under the cap, for a total cap payroll of $59.6 million. (This doesn't include Chris Pronger, who for these purposes we've already pushed to LTIR.)

That leaves the Flyers with $11.5 million under the salary cap to sign the following:

  • Brayden Schenn: he's an RFA, and who really knows what's going on there. (Kevin wrote about this in detail earlier this year, which you might be interested in.) He made $3.1 million against the cap on his entry-level deal thanks to bonuses, which is rare. Most players who earn that much in bonuses on their ELC are very, very good players like Gabriel Landeskog or Evander Kane, and when it comes time to re-sign them, they get a ton of money on contracts that take them through UFA. Schenn likely won't be signed to a big deal like that, and will hopefully be more similar to a guy like Tyler Bozak, who actually made less against the cap on Contract 2 than on his ELC. Hard to tell what Schenn will make, but let's use Kevin's estimate of $2.5 million.
  • Two other forwards: at the very least this will be around ~$2 million, but likely more than that. Who knows exactly what the Flyers will want to do, but they could bring in Jason Akeson and Scott Laughton for roughly $900,000 and $1.1 millon, respectively. They might make a big splash with forwards, of course, and that ~$2 million price tag could change dramatically.
  • A backup goalie. Ray Emery made $1.5 million this past season, but most teams pay under $1 million for their backups. Let's just pencil in $1 million here, because even if they go with Cal Heeter, he earned $950,000 last season and will be at least ~$875,000 this year as an RFA.
  • At least another defenseman. Timonen would give the Flyers six, and that's not gonna fly. The lowest-salary scenario seems like they'd bring back somebody like Erik Gustafsson, an RFA who will make at least $1 million on a new deal.

In total, the Flyers will have to pay out at least $6.5 million just to fill out the rest of their roster. That's on the conservative end, but let's run with it. That leaves them $5 million under the cap to sign Kimmo Timonen, and that's assuming they make absolutely zero improvements to the roster.

If you're assuming they're going to change things up after this season -- probably a safe assumption! --  that number gets tighter and only changes with trades. In a nut shell, giving Andrew MacDonald $5 million per year and Vincent Lecavalier $4.5 million per year looks really, really ugly right now.

That's the only thing that keeps the hopes up. It's not money. It's not anything else. It's the Stanley Cup.-Kimmo Timonen

Kimmo made $6 million against the salary cap last season, and has never earned less than that as a member of the Flyers. Luckily, it seems like money isn't really the issue here, and Kimmo doesn't seem greedy at all.

Could he take something as low as $2 million next season? Given how tight things are, it seems like that's the number that would work for the Flyers. They don't want to give Timonen too much early in the summer and then be unable to adjust the roster when things open up at the NHL Draft and free agency.

"Let's put it this way: if I won the Stanley Cup earlier, I probably wouldn't be here and talk to you guys," Kimmo said." I would say ‘OK, that's it.' But I haven't won it. That's the only thing that keeps the hopes up. It's not money. It's not anything else. It's the Stanley Cup."

Kimmo seems like he recognizes that this team needs to make moves and not just stay at the status quo to win the Stanley Cup. He's not in it for the money, and he's going to need to take a serious pay cut to remain with the Flyers and ultimately win that Stanley Cup. So, will he?