As we get closer to the start of training camp, the Philadelphia Flyers prepare for a “bridge season” before their most prized defensive prospects are ready to don the orange and black. This past off-season has been a quiet one for the Flyers due to their cap problems but with the news of Kimmo Timonen's blood clots, they have recently signed Michael Del Zotto to a 1 year contract. The best part of this signing is his $1.3 Mill cap hit, a relatively low number compared to other Flyers defenseman. The good news is that the Flyers will soon have some Cap relief along the blue line just in time as their young D prospects are making their leap to the NHL.
Braydon Coburn, Luke Schenn, and Nicklas Grossmann each make $4.5, $3.6, and $3.5 respectively on the Cap. All of their contracts are set to expire at the end of the 2015-2016 season. The Flyers will then be able to rid themselves of their current cap dilemma, (unless of course they can trade some of those players before their contracts expire). Contract extensions are possible for the above mentioned but with the young Flyers D prospects on the horizon those extensions seem unlikely as the team wants to get cheaper and more explosive on the blue line.
Add in the fact that Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, and Brayden Schenn will be due for contract extensions and pay increases at the end of the 2015-2016 season, the Flyers will not be able to afford the current spending they are making on the defensive end. This has opened the door for the youth revolution that is soon to hit Philadelphia. Samuel Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, and Travis Sanheim lead the way for the future of the Flyers blue line. When these players make the leap to the NHL, the Flyers will not have to pay them more than $1 Mill per season for the first 3 years as they will be locked in at their Entry Level contracts.
While some of these players will attempt to make the Roster this upcoming season, Philadelphia Flyers Director of Scouting Chris Pryor has stood by his belief of not rushing his young players to the NHL. “You've just got to be patient, even though sometimes it's hard to do it if you have a lot of high draft picks and everyone wants to see them play right away,” Pryor said. “Unfortunately, it's not that easy. And what's best for the kid is to be patient. Let him develop.” The highly touted prospects are all projected to make the team by the beginning of the 2016-2017 season. Some may come sooner. Some may come later. But one thing for sure is when these prospects begin their Entry Level Contracts, the Flyers will have a 3 year window where they aren't strapped against the cap.
During this time I fully expect the Flyers to make a serious push for a Stanley Cup title. With the necessary cap relief along the blue line combined with their current young core of forwards who will be primed for big seasons, the Flyers can become a very dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Flyers Management, led by newly named GM Ron Hextall, will need to be on the top of their game as they will try and lure the veteran pieces needed to make a Stanley Cup run while also preparing for future extensions after these young D-men have outplayed their Entry level contracts.
The future is looking bright in Philadelphia. Patience is the key. Try and tell that to the Philadelphia fans though....