May 12, 2022
After nearly everything went wrong for the Flyers this season, general manager Chuck Fletcher and chairman/CEO Dave Scott hope an 'aggressive retool' can make them competitive again.
But right now the process they have in mind is way easier said than done.
The Flyers were bad this season. That's overstating the obvious at this point. A 25-46-11 record, dejected play, multiple losing streaks, and for fans, the apathy of tuning in most nights just knowing how things were gonna go.
Injuries didn't do the team any favors, but ultimately, the on-ice product just couldn't keep up with the rest of the NHL.
Off the ice, the front office has to work around a big problem that could very well restrain how much 're-tooling' it's able to do over the summer unless there are one or two major trades in the works: This is an expensive team.
The Flyers were right up against the $81.5 million salary cap throughout the 2021-22 season, and even though the cap ceiling is supposed to increase by $1 million for 2022-23, they won't get the full extent of it due to an overage penalty.
2022-23 Bonus Overage 10/14— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) May 6, 2022
Philadelphia Flyers #BringItToBroad
$295,000 overage penalty
Farabee: $212,500 (+/-)
Attard: $82,500 (GP)
Philadelphia's cap ceiling is $82,205,000 next season.https://t.co/QVtQa7ijUc
Fletcher at least seems aware of the circumstances. In his end-of-season press conference from a couple weeks ago, he was asked about the team's cap restraints and if it makes a difference in their approach of seeking immediate improvement or looking more toward the future.
"Well, it’s going to be a little bit of both," Fletcher said. "I think we do have some young players with some high-end upside that are currently with us and that's still continuing to get better. By that, I mean players like (Travis) Konecny and (Joel) Farabee and obviously Travis Sanheim took a pretty big step this year, and Carter Hart.
"I think there are some young players that haven’t hit their peak at this point. Some other young players, whether it’s (Bobby) Brink or (Noah) Cates or (Tyson) Foerster, players like this that are going to continue to evolve and impact this team. We’ll have a pretty high pick this year that’ll be part of our team in probably the very near future. That’s got to be a big part of it. In terms of adding players from the outside, we have to look at that. We’ll have to see from a cap perspective what’s realistic and what we can do, but we’re certainly going to aggressively look at every option we can to add more talent."
Well, here's a look at what the cap perspective is going into the summer...
The Flyers will have a handful of names coming off the books with expired contracts. Keith Yandle is headed for retirement while the rest on the list below are slated for unrestricted free agency.
They were all on lower-end contracts — only Martin Jones' cap hit exceeded $1 million — so in the chance one or two names do return, it won't be for much.
|Player, Pos.||Age||2021-22 Cap Hit||2022-23 Status|
|Martin Jones, G||32||$2,000,000||UFA|
|Nate Thompson, C||37||$800,000||UFA|
|Keith Yandle, D||35||$900,000||UFA (Retired)|
|Kevin Connauton, D||32||$825,000||UFA|
UPDATE [May 19, 12:25 a.m.] — The Flyers re-signed defenseman Nick Seeler to a two-year contract at $775,000 per (a $25,000 raise from the one-year deal he signed last summer).
OFFICIAL: We have re-signed defenseman Nick Seeler to a two-year, one-way/two-way, contract with an average annual value (AAV) of $775K. https://t.co/ZI0uDuM25y— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) May 19, 2022
Seeler played 43 games for the Flyers this season, mostly as a bottom pairing defenseman. He averaged 13:05 of ice time, going minus-3 with a goal and two assists.
The 28-year old blueliner spent his first three seasons in Minnesota and then had a brief run in Chicago in 2020 after a waiver claim. He did not play in the shortened 2020-2021 season.
Seeler has 148 career NHL games under his belt and figures to continue being a depth defenseman for the Flyers going forward.
Three major contract extensions kick in with the 2022-23 season: Sean Couturier's eight-year deal at a team-high cap hit of $7.75 million per, Joel Farabee's six-year contract at $5 million per, and big defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen's at five years and $5.1 million per.
Couturier and Farabee both struggled with injuries this year, with Couturier's back injury shutting him down the rest of the way back in February.
At 29, there are concerns about how effective Couturier will be when he returns next year, but when healthy, he's the Flyers' top center and one of the best defensive forwards in the league.
With Farabee, it's safe to assume he will continue to trend upward. His 20 goals led the Flyers for the COVID-shortened 2020-21 schedule, and while it isn't saying much after this kind of season, he still did finish fourth on the team in points with 34 in 2021-22. Not to mention, he was praised heavily by Claude Giroux as the team's next star on his way out of Philadelphia.
Ristolainen was brought in at a heavy cost last summer, and while he has many detractors when it comes to his game, he's going to be a key part of a potential blueline makeover (more on that in a second).
With each of those extensions kicking in, the Flyers have nine contracts that carry a cap hit of at least $5 million, and they total more than $56.3 million, nearly 69 percent of the team's cap hit for next season.
Here are the Flyers' 10 most expensive contracts and the years remaining on them:
|Player, Pos.||Age||Cap Hit||Years Remaining (UFA)|
|Sean Couturier, C||29||$7,750,000||8|
|Kevin Hayes, C||30||$7,142,857||4|
|James van Riemsdyk, LW||33||$7,000,000||1|
|Ivan Provorov, D||25||$6,750,000||3|
|Ryan Ellis, D||31||$6,250,000||5|
|Cam Atkinson, RW||32||$5,875,000||3|
|Travis Konecny, RW||25||$5,500,000||3|
|Rasmus Ristolainen, D||27||$5,100,000||5|
|Joel Farabee, LW||22||$5,000,000||6|
|Travis Sanheim, D||26||$4,675,000||1|
Kevin Hayes had as difficult a season as any between nagging injuries and the loss of his brother Jimmy last summer. He showed he can still be a highly productive center though when he finally got healthy down the stretch, and it stands to reason that he can continue that level of play into next season.
Both Ryan Ellis and the Flyers are aiming for the defenseman's fully healthy return at training camp, which could be a huge boost for Ivan Provorov going forward.
But Provorov is going to be an interesting one to keep an eye on this summer.
The 25-yeard old was once thought to become an eventual franchise defenseman and looked like he was going to when he was paired with Matt Niskanen two years ago. But after Niskanen retired, Provorov wasn't the same. He took massive steps back this season, leading the team in average ice time (24:53) but going -20 largely because of reckless decision-making with the puck.
There were rumors about Provorov's future with the Flyers becoming uncertain ahead of the trade deadline back in March, and it's fair to wonder if those rumors might pop up again after the playoffs come to a close, especially after the improvement Sanheim showed in the back half of the season and him being due up for a new contract soon.
A $6.75 million cap hit is a hard one to move after a bad season, but Provorov's age and potential can still make it doable. As far as what's publically stated though, Fletcher said the Flyers are still sticking with him.
"Ivan’s certainly not a polarizing figure within our group," Fletcher said.
"At times he maybe holds on to it a little bit too much," he added. "I think again, as we get him the right partner, like we had in ‘19-20 for him, I thought he was much more effective in that regard. He gets every top matchup. He gets in every defensive zone, faceoff basically, and first PK. We ask a lot out of Ivan Provorov and I think he gives us a lot. As the talent around him improves, like every player, he’ll be better, but he’s already a pretty good player."
The Flyers also have to worry about the younger players that'll be due up within the next couple of years.
Sanheim, who finished the season as the team's best defenseman, has one year left on his current contract and, at 26, is just entering the prime of his career.
Owen Tippett, the winger who was the key player in the Claude Giroux trade and is still trying to find a steady spot in the NHL, is a restricted free agent. So are Wade Allison and Tanner Laczynski, forwards who have each been on the bubble of cracking the Flyers' roster but were held back by injuries.
Morgan Frost and Jackson Cates need qualifying offers. Cam York, Oskar Lindblom, Noah Cates, Ronnie Attard, and recently-signed goaltender Ivan Fedotov will all be RFAs after next season. Then Carter Hart and Bobby Brink will be RFAs following 2023-24.
Here's the full breakdown:
|Player, Pos.||Age||Cap Hit||Status|
|Travis Sanheim, D||26||$4,675,000||UFA after '22-23|
|Carter Hart, G||23||$3,979,000||RFA after '23-24|
|Oskar Lindblom, LW||25||$3,000,000||RFA after '22-23|
|Noah Cates, LW||23||$925,000||RFA after '22-23|
|Bobby Brink, RW||20||$925,000||RFA after '23-24|
|Ivan Fedotov, G||25||$925,000||RFA after '22-23|
|Ronnie Attard, D||23||$883,750||RFA after '22-23|
|Cam York, D||21||$880,833||RFA after '22-23|
|Morgan Frost, C||23||$863,333||10.2(c)**|
|Owen Tippett, RW||23||$863,333||RFA|
|Wade Allison, RW*||24||$925,000||RFA|
|Tanner Laczynski, C*||24||$925,000||RFA|
|Jackson Cates, C*||24||$925,000||10.2(c)**|
*Non-roster; **Did not have enough professional time to qualify for restricted free agency
Not everyone will get re-signed, but next season will be crucial in determining who gets a raise and remains part of the Flyers' plans long-term, whether an 'aggressive retool' has the team competitive again or not.
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