Many Flyers fans were excited about this offseason. This was the year the Johnny Gaudreau was going to come home and delight fans at the Wells Fargo Center. Then came the sad news….No. It wasn’t going to happen. This wasn’t totally unexpected. Even if there was a desire on both parts to make it happen, the Flyers simply couldn’t because of salary cap issues.
There was no way they could get him, or any other top free agent without moving some major pieces. No teams were willing to work with the Flyers because they knew the bind they were in. And now, with training camp just weeks away, the Flyers currently stand at almost $2.4 million over the salary cap after the recent signing of Hayden Hodgson.
Now, before we get too upset, there are some ways to finagle this. Any player who does not make the team out of camp and gets assigned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms will cause that number to drop. So, if players like Cam York, Ronnie Attard, and Morgan Frost don’t make the cut, that there would be enough to cover the cap costs and we’re squared away. Of course, if someone gets hurt and we have to have a call-up from the AHL, we’re right back in the same position.
The other way to get around the salary cap is to Long Term Injured Reserve list a player. To qualify, a player will have to first have been out for at least 10 games and have missed 24 calendar days. Now, placing a player on LTIR does NOT mean that you can go over the cap. That player’s salary still counts as part of the team salary. However, you can temporarily go over the cap while the person is listed. The Tampa Bay Lightning famously used this trick to keep Nikita Kucherov hidden away and not counting against the cap as they captured a Stanley Cup title.
BUT, if the injured player comes back, the team has to be salary cap compliant. So, if Ryan Ellis is hurt for the season, or a large chunk of it, he and his $6.25 million salary would cover those costs and might leave you enough money to sign defenders Anton Stralman or PK Subban, depth center Sam Gagner, or steal Evan Rodrigues from the Penguins. If he comes back, the Flyers would have to scramble to find space to keep him on the roster. However, to be honest with you, we’d much rather have a healthy Ellis suiting up for us on the blueline.
If everyone is healthy, the AHL demotions will take care of a lot of the salary cap issues. However, if a player has to go through the waivers, it is possible that the Flyers would lose him to a waiver claim. If you recall, this happened last year with Nicolas Aube-Kubel and he ended up on the Avalanche before he dropped the Stanley Cup. Perhaps the team may swing a trade if they are in dire straits and need to trade someone for draft pick considerations or find a home for a disgruntled star player.
The cap crunch leaves the Flyers with not a lot of flexibility. If someone gets hurt, they will have to rely on a bevy of young players again (and it worked so well in 2021-22!) or they may have to scour the waiver wires for someone/anyone. And even then, they may have to face a crunch again if the player gets healthy.
What it is all going to come down to is the training camp battles. Which young players will arrive at camp and really make a push to prove they belong in Philly? Which vets come in sluggish? Who catches Coach Tortorella‘s eyes? The Flyers training camp opens in three weeks. It will be interesting to see how the Flyers fix their financial problems.