Flyers quiet on first day of NHL free agency

Flyers quiet on first day of NHL free agency
July 1, 2014, 7:00 pm
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The Flyers entered the first day of NHL free agency $230,000 over the salary cap, which hampered GM Ron Hextall's ability to make moves.

For the first time in a generation, the NHL dropped the puck on free agency on Tuesday, yet the Flyers were barely on the ice.

Ron Hextall’s first foray into free agency as general manager saw him primarily sitting on the bench because the club had no money to spend. The Flyers stayed rather quiet, re-signing goalie Ray Emery to a one-year deal (see storyand inking another goalie, Rob Zepp, for the Phantoms (see story). They ended the night by signing former Flames forward Blair Jones to a two-way contract (see story).

After the re-signing of Emery, the Flyers are now $1.23 million over the $69 million salary cap, according to Capgeek.com. They are permitted a 10 percent overage until the season begins in October.

The Flyers came into the day more than $230,000 over the NHL salary cap and trying desperately to move center Vinny Lecavalier to clear $4.5 million off their cap.

Hextall couldn’t do it.

He would liked to have bulked up on defense and left wing, but that wish list far exceeds what the Flyers have in actual dollars to spend.

As such, the day came and went with an unprecedented amount of money -- over $424 million -- and players (more than 55) being moved around North America, but none headed toward Philadelphia.

Most of the major news came out of the Western Conference, which continues to get stronger, as evidenced by the fact that four of the last five Stanley Cups have taken residency there.

Thomas Vanek, among the most sought-after left wings, signed with Minnesota late in the afternoon for $19.5 million on his three-year deal. He wanted to return to the state where he played his college hockey.

Matt Moulson, just as good if not better at that position, went back to Buffalo, signing a five-year, $25 million contract.

Among the name players who landed in the Central Division was Jarome Iginla, signing a three-year, $16 million deal with Colorado (check out our free-agent tracker for other signings).

The Central also saw the biggest trade: Ottawa’s Jason Spezza went to Dallas in a multi-player deal that gives the Stars a better one-two center punch in Tyler Seguin and Spezza.

General manager Jill Nill also added Ales Hemsky with a three-year, $12 million later along with backup goalie Anders Lindback, who would have been an inexpensive fit for the Flyers. Lindback signed a one-year deal worth $925,000.

The Penguins, who took a huge hit on the blue line with the loss of Matt Niskaken to free agency, quickly signed former Sabre Christian Ehrhoff. He agreed to a one-year deal worth $4 million. Same money he made in Buffalo. No raise. Just going to a better team, one that can win, which was not the case with the Sabres.

Both Niskanen and former Penguins teammate Brooks Orpik signed with Washington -- Niskanen for seven years, $40.25 million and Orpik for five years at $27.5 million.

Ironically, Niskanen, who is right-handed, almost priced himself out of the market with talks of a deal approaching $7 million for a player who earned just $2.3 million against the cap last season then had a career year.

Aging defenseman Dan Boyle went to the Rangers on a two-year, $9 million deal.

Anton Stralman, another right-handed defenseman the Flyers had interest in had they had some cap dollars available, signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with Tampa Bay.

Paul Stastny, among the marquee centers, signed a four-year deal with St. Louis worth $28 million. Is he a $7 million centerman? No, but he was probably the best available free agent as his position, and that rules the market.

Center Dave Bolland signed a five-year deal with Florida worth $5.5 million a season. General manager Dale Tallon drafted him in Chicago and now brings him to Florida.

People asked why Tallon would spend more on Bolland when you could have had Lecavalier for $1 million less and the answer is past history with a player he respects and trusts.

Goalie Ryan Miller wanted to play out West and signed a three-year, $18 million contract with Vancouver.

Locally, the Islanders signed backup goalie T.J. Brennan from South Jersey, a player the Flyers reportedly had some interest in.

Winger Mike Cammalleri signed a five-year, $25 million deal with New Jersey. The Devils also added the irascible Martin Havlat to a one-year deal for $1.5 million.

In the first hour of free agency, clubs spent nearly $200 million.

Loose pucks
The Flyers' free agent list consisted of: Emery, Adam Hall, Hall Gil, Yann Danis, Steve Downie, Bruno Gervais, Ben Holmstrom, Kris Newbury, Chris VandeVelde. With Downie being cut loose, the Flyers have erased that trade last fall that saw them send Max Talbot, one of their top penalty killers, to Colorado for Downie and lose salary in the process. ... Mike Stothers, formerly of the Flyers' organization, was named head coach of the L.A. Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester.

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