This offseason, the projected salary cap ceiling was estimated at $69 to $70 million because of the decreased value of the Canadian dollar. Monday
afternoon, it was reported the National Hockey League expects to hit $3.7 billion in revenue, a league high. With record dollars flowing into the NHL, the ceiling projection has boosted to $71.1 million.
So where does this leave the Flyers? As the orange and black stand on June 10, 2014, GM Ron Hextall has about $6.5 million in cap space. With eight free agents – four restricted, four unrestricted – Hextall faces the daunting task of piecing together a competitive hockey team on a tight budget.
Brayden Schenn, who notched 41 points last season, is looking for a new deal. It is believed his agent structured his first contract in a way, that when negotiations started for his second contract the final number would stand north of $3 million per year. Palat’s and Johnson’s statistics – 59 and 50 points – exceeded Schenn’s production, which gives the upper hand to Hextall.
When all is said and done, Schenn’s cap hit will probably cover two to three years at $2 to 2.5 million per season. That brings the cap space down to $4 or 4.5 million.
If Hextall wants to sign a more complementary left-winger for Claude Giroux, he will need to move one or several players for draft picks or prospects. If Hextall can get an extra million or two in cap space, he may be able to sign Jussi Jokinen, Mike Cammalleri or one of the other left wingers on the market. No, these players do not scream out like ThomasVanek, who will command at least $7 million a year but a player like Jokinen or Cammalleri can put the puck in the net.
One of the larger priorities facing the Flyers is securing a permanent left-winger for Sean Couturier and Matt Read. Michael Raffl could fill the slot, but with the speedy Mason Raymond on the market and the Flyers in desperate need to get faster, signing Raymond is something Hextall should consider. Raymond scored 19 goals last season and only made $1 million.
In today’s NHL, every dollar spent is crucial. The Chicago Blackahawks have mastered the art of fielding a competitive team while managing to keep themselves financially stable. They may run into some trouble when negotiations begin with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane but the Blackhakws have managed to lock up all of their best players with contracts under $6 million. Toews and Kane are the exceptions.
Hextall was given a tough situation when he took over as general manager. There are some tough contracts that could hinder the Flyers when it comes to improving the team and holding onto their core players. Hextall will have to make adjustments here and there to keep the Flyers competitive, yet financially able to make a blockbuster signing when the time comes.