Navigating the salary cap is one of the more important tasks for any GM. Teams that can avoid total cap chaos by walking the tightrope of inking players to deals that match their value (or compensate for future value without breaking the bank) remain successful. Those that don’t see struggles and front office changes.
PHR will look at every NHL team and give a thorough look at their cap situation heading into the 2021-22 season. This will focus more on players who are regulars on the roster versus those who may find themselves shuttling between the AHL and NHL. All cap figures are courtesy of CapFriendly.
Current Cap Hit: $81,118,523 (under the $81.5MM Upper Limit)
Farabee’s second season was a good one as he earned an extension that we’ll look at closer to the end of this article. For the upcoming season, those performance bonuses could be met with a similar showing so either the Flyers will need to leave themselves some wiggle room at the end of the season or face a reduced cap for the overage next year. Frost was limited to just two games last season due to injury so he may see some AHL time but should be a regular before too long. With his limited production and game action so far, he’s a strong candidate for a short-term deal. If Allison lands a full-time spot, the ‘A’ bonuses in his deal could be achievable but if he bounces back and forth between the Flyers and Phantoms, those shouldn’t be an issue and, like Frost, he’s likely to get a short-term second contract.
One Year Remaining, Non-Entry-Level
F Nicolas Aube-Kubel ($1.075MM, RFA)
D Justin Braun ($1.8MM, UFA)
F Derick Brassard ($825K, UFA)
F Claude Giroux ($8.275MM, UFA)
G Martin Jones ($2MM, UFA)
D/F Samuel Morin ($750K, RFA)
D Rasmus Ristolainen ($5.4MM, UFA)
F Nate Thompson ($800K, UFA)
D Keith Yandle ($900K, UFA)
Giroux, Philadelphia’s captain, has been a fixture in their lineup for the past 13 seasons. However, his production is starting to tail off and it has already been stated that he won’t sign an in-season deal. His next contract could very well be his last, especially if it’s a four-year pact or longer and it seems like a lot will be riding on how things go this season. Either way, his next deal should come in a couple million cheaper than this one. Aube-Kubel, as a role player, shouldn’t be commanding much more than his qualifying offer of $1.225MM unless his production ticks up this season. Brassard has seen his value dip in recent years to the point where he has had to settle for what feels like a below-market contract based on his production for the second year in a row. This seems to be his new baseline deal moving forward. Thompson is a capable veteran depth piece that can win faceoffs. There is always a market for those players but it typically is close to the minimum.
The Flyers paid a big price to add Ristolainen just before the draft to add what they hope will be an impact piece to their back end. He has struggled with Buffalo as of late but still logs heavy minutes which will keep his earnings potential fairly high. He’ll need to bounce back offensively to have a chance at landing a sizable raise on his next deal. Braun doesn’t produce much but is a steady defensive player. As he ages, it’s hard to see him landing a pricier contract next year but he could come close to his current rate. Yandle signed for cheap after being bought out by Florida and is looking to restore some value. However, he’ll be 36 for 2022-23 and will likely have to go year to year. An incentive-laden contract for that season would make a lot of sense for him. Morin served as a depth option both up front and on the back end last year and shouldn’t be able to command much more than that unless he locks down a regular role defensively. The recent report that he has sustained another significant knee injury will make that quite difficult to accomplish.
Jones has not played well lately which led to the Sharks paying him a lot of money ($10MM over six years) to no longer play for them. When he’s on, he’s capable of pushing for closer to a 50/50 share of starts and that would certainly help his case for free agency next summer. At 31, a good showing could land him a multi-year commitment.
Two Years Remaining
The second stint in Philadelphia hasn’t gone as well for van Riemsdyk. He’s still fairly productive – he tied for the team lead in points last season – but he’s more of a supporting player being paid like a front-liner. It’s not a massive overpayment but his deal has definitely become an above-market one and he will be facing a cut two summers from now. Lindblom’s first full season back from cancer was a quiet one. Similar showings would make him a non-tender candidate but he still has time to turn his fortunes around.
The Flyers were one of two teams to take a restricted free agent to arbitration this offseason as they did so with Sanheim. That guaranteed that they’d get a contract in place before training camp but it also gave Sanheim more leverage as he could have elected to take a two-year deal from an arbitrator to get to free agency early. They didn’t go to arbitration but he still got the two-year pact and the quick trip to the open market. He’s coming off a down season but if he can get back to his production from two years ago, he could be looking at a substantial jump in pay on a long-term deal based on what the defensive market was this year.
Three Years Remaining
G Carter Hart ($3.979MM, RFA)
Hart had a year to forget but his first two were strong enough to give him what was still a pretty strong second contract. He has the potential to be a high-end starter and if that happens, he could come close to doubling that on his next deal. The qualifying offer here is $4.479MM so if Hart doesn’t bounce back or is more of a 1B netminder, that could be a bit too rich for them at that time.
Four Or More Years Remaining
F Cam Atkinson ($5.875MM through 2024-25)
F Sean Couturier ($4.333MM in 2021-22, $7.775MM from 2022-23 through 2029-30)
D Ryan Ellis ($6.25MM through 2026-27)
F Joel Farabee ($5MM from 2022-23 through 2027-28)
F Kevin Hayes ($7.143MM through 2025-26)
F Travis Konecny ($5.5MM through 2024-25)
F Scott Laughton ($3MM through 2024-25)
D Ivan Provorov ($6.75MM through 2024-25)
Couturier isn’t going to win any scoring titles but he’s a premier two-way center in this league and would have landed that price tag on the open market. The last couple of years could be a bit pricey but in the short term, they shouldn’t have any issues with that deal. Hayes, like van Riemsdyk, has been productive but is a bit overpaid relative to the role he fills which is more of a complementary one than a top one. That could be an issue down the road. Atkinson is making high-end second-line money and as long as he plays and produces like a top-six forward – there’s little reason to think he won’t – they’ll get a good return on this deal. Farabee’s deal carries some risk given that he has just 107 career games under his belt but he’s already trending towards being a long-term top-six piece and $5MM for that is pretty good value. Konecny is making market value for a second liner and that’s basically the role he fills even though he is coming off a bit of a disappointing season. Laughton opted for some security at the trade deadline when he signed this extension. Good third-line centers have made more than that in free agency and he’s at least a capable third liner so there shouldn’t be too many issues with this one other than the term may be a little longer than they’d probably have preferred.
Provorov may not be a true number one defenseman but that’s the role he fills on the Flyers. He’s in the prime of his career and is making a lot less than a typical number one defender gets. As a number two, he is making market value and if they keep relying on him as their top blueliner, it becomes a below-market contract. Ellis was their biggest acquisition on the back end, coming over from Nashville. He should take some of the pressure off Provorov and will be a key cog offensively. As long as he plays in their top two, they’ll get a good return on this deal.
G Ilya Bryzgalov ($1.643MM through 2026-27, $0 cap hit as it was a cap-exempt buyout)
Retained Salary Transactions
Still To Sign
Best Value: Couturier (current contract, not next year’s extension)
Worst Value: Hayes
The Flyers project to be tight to the salary cap all season long and will need to be healthy to bank enough space to add an impact player at the deadline. Looking ahead to next summer, with nearly $66M in commitments already, keeping both Giroux and Ristolainen and having enough space to fill out the rest of their roster could be a bit difficult.
Long term, Philadelphia has over $47MM in commitments for 2024-25 already which is near the top of the league in that regard; that number will certainly go up if Giroux and/or Ristolainen re-sign while Hart will be in line for a new deal at that point as well. The odds of them being able to add another core piece will be low as a result with the cap not expected to go up much between now and then. The long-term core is pretty much in place already and any changes will need to come on the trade front. GM Chuck Fletcher has already shown an ability to make core-changing trades based on his moves this summer and more could be coming down the road if this team is unable to get into contention.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.