Anthony Di Marco of The Fourth Period is reporting that the Philadelphia Flyers are prepared to weaponize their cap space to acquire additional assets. The Flyers begin today with less than $1MM in salary cap space, a number that would translate to roughly $3.9MM at the NHL trade deadline. Now that number might not seem significant, but the Flyers can easily free up over $6MM by placing defenseman Ryan Ellis on LTIR, something they’ve been hesitant to do thus far, but are willing to do to make a trade work.
After years of being slammed up against the salary cap, the Flyers have finally created roster and salary cap flexibility after a summer in which they moved on from veterans Kevin Hayes, Tony DeAngelo, and Ivan Provorov. General Manager Daniel Briere seems fully committed to rebuilding the Flyers and appears willing to take on undesirable contracts in exchange for future assets.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported just two weeks ago that the Flyers were open to taking on Ottawa Senators forward Mathieu Joseph and his $2.95MM cap hit in exchange for a high prospect or a first-round pick, something Ottawa appears uninterested in entertaining. However that could change if they start the season slow without their second and third-line centres.
While a Joseph deal hasn’t materialized the Flyers will likely have their pick of suitors as the flat cap has created a financial landscape in which 19 NHL teams are within $1MM of the salary cap ceiling (including Philadelphia). There are a lot of teams that see themselves as Stanley Cup contenders who will be hard-pressed to make in-season improvements unless they can move out some salary, this is where the Flyers cap space could be leveraged to acquire assets.
The Flyers are early in their rebuild and are at least three or four years away from turning the corner. With that in mind, any contract they take on will probably fall into the one to three-year range similar to the contract they acquired with Cal Petersen. Philadelphia has several of their own undesirable contracts as well as over $5MM in dead cap space for the next few seasons in the DeAngelo buyout and the retained salary on Hayes.