Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Looming Cap Troubles: Philadelphia Flyers

I was on the way to getting a haircut inbetween classes this afternoon and caught part of an interview with CBC's Elliotte Friedman (owner of a terrific Twitter account and purveryor of the absolutely essential 30 Thoughts) on the TEAM 1260's Mark Spector Show. Friedman and Spector were discussing briefly about how Gagner may be a target for a trade with the cap coming down to $64M next year if he keeps having a great numbers year but they believe the performance is unsustainable.

So, as any normal human should, I went to CapGeek (a.k.a. The Best Site Ever), and noticed Philadelphia was listed as having $0 (!) in cap room this current year. They have a few players on long term injured reserved so that number isn't entirely representative of their current situation. Currently they have $62M+ committed towards the $64M cap next year with three everyday roster players to replace through FA (Gagne, Fedotenko and Foster). It seems as if the Flyers would be in a bit of a cap crunch next year and could be vulnerable to a savvy GM preying on their position of lesser power. I was already going to do a post on a few different players looking at legitamite #2 defenseman options to play with Justin Schultz going forward (as I believe Nick Schultz is probably a really solid #5 at ES on a contending team). Meszaros was amongst the list of names I was going to consider doing a Shift Stalker on. He seems like a decent target for a one-year rental for a team looking to go over the top and less of a true loss for the Flyers as he may likely walk away with his unrestricted free agency looming in the summer of 2014.

The second name that caught my eye was Scott Hartnell. Tyler Dellow did an interesting post about Hemsky and Gagner and their struggles at even strength and theorized in part that puck recovery was an issue and getting second shots and chances. People have long been clamouring for "grit" and "sandpaper" in the Oilers' top-six, but for the most part I get the sense they're just saying it blindly as part of engrained Western-Canadiana hockeyspeak. But grit in the sense that it would be a function for second chances and puck recovery as opposed for grit for grit's sake is two different things. I was going to another series of Shift Stalkers on the gritty type of top-six winger (think Downie, Simmonds, Clowe) that will crash the boards and can skate, have the hands to bury 40-55 pts and pull his weight defensively. (Players of which, by the way, are WAY different than a player like Mike Brown or Eager). Without so much as delving further into his Behind the Net numbers or usage numbers from previous seasons, it seems like Hartnell would be another decent option. With Voracek and Simmonds occupying those gritty, physical, puck-digging roles as well, (along with being younger and owning less restrictive salaries in the future) Hartnell could be had, and his type is seemingly in need to an extent on the Oilers roster.

A contention I would have is that Hartnell is turning 31 in April and likely already played out his prime years or is ending them right now or in the next few seasons. Hartnell's contract goes until he's 37, and we've seen with a similarly styled player in Ryan Smyth see a sharp decline in effectiveness as his age increased. It could have something to do with the toll the style of play has on the body.

It's 2AM though and I might expand on this a bit later but just thought I'd get my thoughts down. Meszaros and Hartnell are on the radar, for now.

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