The last team standing was the Flyers, who put Vincent Lecavalier in orange and black with a 5-year, $22.5 million deal for a $4.5 million cap hit – making him the second-highest paid forward on the team behind Scott Hartnell ($4.75 million.)
As a straight one-for-one upgrade over Danny Briere, it’s a win for the Flyers. But it’s more complicated than that.
There’s going to be a lot of attention paid to the other salaries on the Flyers, because the team began the day with just $4.18 million in cap space, per Cap Geek. That’s without a goalie to complement Steve Mason. That’s with new contracts due to Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and (if they keep him) Kimmo Timonen next summer.
(Wait … the Flyers might overspend at other positions and try to go goaltending on the cheap? It’s like the 1990s never ended!)
One imagines Braydon Coburn’s $4.5 million cap hit, and three remaining contract years, will be shipped out to compensate. His name was being bandied about at the NHL Draft, with the Edmonton Oilers a specific target.
The deal puts the Flyers right back over the salary cap. They had $4.18 million in space before the deal, and they still need to sign a starting or tandem starting goaltender. This is probably where the Braydon Coburn trade talk from the weekend comes into play, but I'd still rather trade Andrej Meszaros for a bag of pucks to get some cap savings. Once the season starts, Chris Pronger's LTIR relief will help as well. There's also a full no-move clause in the deal, because Lecavalier was going to get that from just about any team at this stage of his career. High-powered free agents get NMCs.
Why the Flyers for Vinny? They came close to the 5 years at $5 million he was looking for and play in the Eastern Conference. (Hey, he can knock off some dough from the price tag, getting $32.667 million over the next 14 years from the Tampa Bay Lightning.) His versatility at forward means he could play up with Claude Giroux or as a second-line center.
Why Vinny for the Flyers? They wanted a second line center with size. They wanted some veteran leadership. And let’s face it: There’s never been a big name that Ed Snider didn’t covet, whether or not it made fiscal or strategic sense.
Does this make sense? Again, they did have a need at forward, although the solution didn’t necessarily have to be a 33-year-old and a 5-year contract. But their needs were so much more glaring on the back end that this signing feels abjectly irresponsible.
Yes, they’re going to sell a metric ton of Lecavalier Flyers gear; perhaps that’ll offset the cost of having Steve Mason, Affordable Other Goaltender and a questionable defense on the backend.
We much preferred last summer’s Philadelphia Flyers Star-[expletiving].
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