So whats the first order of business for the Flyers when all the teams get a copy of the CBA and normalcy returns?
Well, thanks to 2013-14 salary cap coming in at 64.3 million, the Flyers will be compliant, even though they have players to re-sign.
Theres not a lot we have to do next year, said one club source.
Defense remains the Flyers Achilles heel going into this season. Its simply not as sound as it was in October of 2011 when Chris Pronger was healthy and Matt Carle was still here. Rick Tocchet, speaking on Comcast SportsNet during the lockout, called the Flyers blue line serviceable.
General manager Paul Holmgren needs to investigate whether there is another defenseman he can get to fortify his corps.
Montreals P.K. Subban is a restricted free agent who remains unsigned as we go into training camps this week. He would be an instant upgrade on the Flyers blue line.
As for other personnel matters, there will be two (amnesty) compliance buyouts to help cap-heavy clubs get down to 64.3 million next season. This actually benefits big-market clubs that spend -- or perhaps overspend -- to the cap limit.
The Flyers have commitments of approximately 65 million in salary for this year and almost 60 million next season. Alas, they will have to re-sign Kimmo Timonen and makes decisions on Eric Wellwood, Zac Rinaldo, Andreas Lilja, Michael Leighton, Jody Shelley and Ruslan Fedotenko.
They will also want to lock up Claude Giroux long-term this summer. His contract expires after 2013-14. Obviously, they wont have near enough money to do all that next year with cap of just 64.3 million.
Thats where the compliance buyouts come in.
You cant use a buyout on an injured player on long-term injured reserve (LITR), such as Pronger. All players on LTIR are required to attend camp to be medically evaluated. Pronger will attend training camp but wont skate. It would appear he is certain never to come off LTIR during the remainder of his five years because he wont be cleared to play with post-concussion syndrome. The Flyers can use his 4.9 million cap hit on LTIR.
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who right now has eight years left on his 51 million deal, is the most obvious buyout candidate except whos your goalie?
Bryzgalov will play the shortened season knowing he is basically auditioning to stay with the club and avoid being bought out. His annual cap hit is 5.66 million, meaning his two-thirds buyout would cost the Flyers almost 23 million.
Interestingly, sources in Boston and elsewhere say Tim Thomas -- whose politically charged, right-wing remarks embarrassed the Bruins numerous times -- will never play again in a Bruin uniform. That said, he told TSNs Bob McKenzie he is perfectly happy to stay semi-retired in Colorado and -- for now -- has no desire to suit up again.
If the Flyers wanted to trade for Thomas right now, its very likely Boston would be a willing partner. Thomas has a 5 million cap hit, so the Flyers would have to do some finagling to make a trade right now, but they dont have to make this decision just yet.
If Bryzgalov looks and plays this shortened season like he did last March, before incurring a chip fracture in his right foot, the club will think very differently about him.
Then it becomes a matter of looking at other players with high cap figures.
And remember just because teams have a couple compliance buyouts, it doesnt mean they have to use them.