With the immediate aftershock of the latest in recent string of disappointing early playoff exits now in the rearview mirror, new Flyers general manager Ron Hextall surely has jotted down a checklist of things he’d like to accomplish this summer.
Obviously, jotting down an offseason checklist of things is completely different than accomplishing the things on that offseason checklist. There will be plenty of obstacles along the way.
And perhaps the biggest of those obstacles will be the existing no-movement clauses in the contracts of current Flyers whom Hextall may want to move via the trade route.
Those players specifically are forwards Vinny Lecavalier and Scott Hartnell and defensemen Braydon Coburn and Nick Grossmann. The latter two have modified no-movement clauses that say they can negate a trade to certain teams while Hartnell and Lecavalier have full no-movement clauses.
The only other Flyers with any sort of no-movement clauses are Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Chris Pronger. Pronger won’t be coming off long-term injury reserve any time soon and it’s pretty safe to say Giroux and Simmonds will be wearing orange and black for quite a long time.
Let’s start with Lecavalier, whose name has been bandied around the rumor mill since the Flyers’ season ended a few weeks ago.
It’s not that Lecavalier’s goal-scoring numbers were disappointing. 20 goals is a real solid year no matter how you look at things. The problems were that Lecavalier fell out of favor at times with head coach Craig Berube, lost his second-line center spot to Brayden Schenn and dropped to the fourth line before seeing his ice time slashed in the playoff series against the Rangers.
His $4.5 million cap hit is a lot for a guy basically without a spot to play in the lineup. Hextall will have to work around the 34-year-old’s no-movement clause and the fact that his cap hit remains steady at $4.5 million for the next four seasons may scare some teams off.
The story is much the same for Hartnell.
Hartnell is very much a useful player, as evidenced by his 65 goals over the past three seasons. But he’s just not the kind of player Giroux and Jake Voracek need playing with them on the first-line wing. They need a polished finisher. A sniper, some would say.
Hartnell is an integral part of the team and locker room but would fit better on a lower line where his physically grinding skillset could excel. But his $4.75 million cap hit for the next five seasons is second only to Giroux among forwards.
This isn’t to say Hextall has any intention of trying to move Hartnell. But with a team that needs that big-time scorer on the wing, has depth at the position on other lines and in the minors along with desperate blue line needs, not to mention resigning Brayden Schenn – an issue of importance, apparently, - freeing that $4.75 could be an attractive option for Hextall to at least try.
As mentioned above, both Coburn and Grossmann have limited no-movement clauses. In layman’s terms, neither player can be traded to certain teams without their approval. Usually, a player with this kind of clause will be asked to submit a list of teams he’d be willing to go to or not willing to go to if a trade seems imminent.
We’ve grown accustomed over the years to what Coburn brings to the ice. The longest-tenured Flyer, Coburn can look like unbeatable some nights while using his great speed for a big man to his advantage. Other nights he can look completely lost and look like he doesn’t know what to do with the puck, much like he looked during the entire seven-game series against the Rangers.
Add that into a $4.5 million cap hit for the next two seasons and that makes him a possible target of Hextall’s trade endeavors.
Grossmann is what he is. He’s a big defenseman that is going to wallop opposing players and block a ton of shots. He isn’t going to put up points or skate up and down the ice. And that comes with a $3.5 million cap hit for the next two seasons.
With Luke Schenn the only other real bruiser on the blue line, Grossmann wouldn’t seem to be at the top of the Flyers’ trade list but no one outside of Hextall knows for sure.
Remember, both Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald have cap hits of over $5 million on the blue line for the next few years, Kimmo Timonen has yet to decide on his future and Shayne Gostisbehere and Sam Morin are lurking in the wings just waiting on their chances to impress.
Another thing to keep in mind here is that the cap is rising to approximately $71.1 million for next season. That’s just under $7 million more than this season’s $64.3 million cap limit.
That also means that the cap floor will rise. TSN reported during this past regular season that the floor will likely rise from $44 million to $52 million.
Add a little bit here, carry the one over there, multiple here – come on, you can put it together – and that means teams will have to spend to reach that cap floor.
As of this writing, all but 12 teams have a cap number under $52 million. That’s kind of skewed because that doesn’t count the unsigned unrestricted and restricted free agents for each team. But you still get the point.
And that point is that with teams that will be forced to spend this summer, which might make it a tad bit easier for Hextall to move some of those higher salaries mentioned above, if he can get those players to agree to waive those clauses.
Either way, we’ll find out soon enough what the man who tended the Flyers’ net for parts of 11 seasons has in store as he molds the team in his own vision.