Initially, I wanted to do a little week in review and take a look at the positives and negatives of the Flyers first two games. However, with the recent drama swirling about concerning Blair Betts and the Flyers ever present cap woes I figured this would be a much more interesting topic. So let’s get to it, shall we?
By now it should be a secret to no one, that the Flyers perpetually operate at the upper limit of the salary cap. As long as Ed Snider is the owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, they never be a shortage of money. The Flyers have carved a nice place in the United States hockey market for themselves, and none of that would be possible without Mr. Snider. To put it bluntly, he is Philadelphia hockey. Ed Snider wants to win, and he is willing to spend to do it. We all know this by now, so there is no reason to expect a wealth of cap space with the Philadelphia Flyers. So the ever maligned Paul Holmgren did what he could do to make cap space, but more importantly a roster spot, for the youngster Sean Courturier, who at this point should be a lock for the roster all season long. Blair Betts was placed on waivers, with the expectation that he would be claimed. A valuable 4th line, defensive foward with a very reasonable cap hit, Betts was bound to picked up, and he was by the Montreal Canadiens. It seems that Betts has some health issues, so Montreal asked the league to nullify their waiver claim, which they did.
That brings us to now. What exactly should the Flyers do? Betts is in a unique situation as he is on the books, but is essentially waiting for the first ticket out of town. One option is to see just how bad Betts’s knee is, and possibly place him on LTIR, in which he will have to remain for the remainder of the season. Depending on how severe his injury is, that is a viable option. However the concern is also contracts. The Flyers are currently at the maximum allowed by the league, which is 50. Couturier is currently “sliding” as he has not played 10 games in the NHL so the first year of his ELC has not kicked in yet. With the likelihood of Couturier staying with the Flyers looking more and more apparent daily, the Flyers will more than likely have to make a deal of some sort.
There have been a fair amount of armchair GM’s and amateur capologists (which we all are at some point or another), so say “waive Jody Shelley!” as loud as their caps lock will allow, but the fact remains that it simply won’t work. It won’t work because Shelley is a one dimensional enforcer. No one will dispute that he is a great team guy, but no team will pick up his 1.1 million dollar cap hit when he goes through the waiver wire. In addition to that fact, there have been numerous reports that the Flyers still think highly of Shelley’s character, and thus…he ain’t goin’ nowhere. It almost goes without saying that Betts could be waived again after the 30 days of his initial waiving, but that seems to be an exercise in futility, as no one would claim damaged goods so soon after being this initial waiver debacle. Matt Walker is also eligible to sent down to the AHL, but given his performance this pre-season he remains a wild card as to whether or not he will stay with the Flyers.
So that leads us to one of the most prevalent theories on the internet right now, trading Scott Hartnell, more specifically, trade him to Dallas. In theory it makes perfect sense. Dallas needs to take on salary, and the Flyers need to lose salary. More importantly, the Flyers need to make room to keep Couturier on the team. Two problems with this scenario. First of all, Hartnell has a no trade clause. Whether or not he will waive it is anybody’s guess. Secondly, we have no idea whether or not Dallas would take Hartnell is a salary dump. The Flyers might have to include a player with the Phantoms, and take back a smaller contract and/or late round draft pick. Perhaps it could be even simpler. If the Flyers choose to keep Walker, they can still send Betts down to Adirondack and make a deal regarding one of their AHL players for “future considerations” or a 6th/7th round draft pick. It’s also worth noting, that while Hartnell’s ice time has been noticeably cut, he’s serving an important role on the 3rd line with Couturier and Matt Read. He’s the establish veteran with the ability to play physical and scrap. For lack of a better term, he’s their body guard. He’s more than capable of handing out some damage is anyone tries to take “liberties” with our youngsters. With Wayne Simmonds logging more quality minutes on the second line, and Zac Rinaldo being the forth line energy guy, Hartnell’s role is ideal. Let us not overlook that Hartnell has been a perennial 20 goal scorer during his Philadelphia tenure. It’s entirely plausible that his numbers will take a dip, he is still a consistent producer, which is something this team needs amidst their roster turnover.
Looks like the Flyers are in between a rock and hard place. Same old story huh? For all the flack the Philly Faithful give the front office, more often than not, they find a way to solve their problems. I don’t see how this is any different. It will simply take some fine tuning , and perhaps a little bit of luck. When all is said and done though, the Flyers should be able to get their way, and only most of us will have something snarky to say about it.
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