Flyers Free Agency Preview: Cap Space
Free agency opens for the NHL on Sunday and the Flyers are finally in a position to be big spenders. With almost $22 million available in cap space entering the 2018-19 season, the Flyers have the funds to make some deals.
So what do the Flyers do with this cap space? After looking at some of the free-agent targets on Thursday, here's a look at their now positive cap-space situation.
Just because the Flyers have the space doesn't mean they are going to spend it all in one place or go on some sort of shopping spree. This offseason, they have a lot of players locked up for the 2018-19 season with over $20 million in cap space available. But in order to keep many of the players that are part of a budding future in Philadelphia around beyond the 2018-19 season, they need to be somewhat conservative this offseason.
The Flyers didn't have any players hit free agency from the 2017-18 roster that were really going to be requiring a major contract or be re-signed. Essentially all of their unrestricted free agents are going to be playing elsewhere next season. Among the restricted free agents, seven of the eight players in that category were extended qualifying offers, but several of those players are going to be on AHL contracts.
That should still leave the Flyers with a solid $18-20 million to spend this offseason. But this is where thinking of next offseason has to come in.
The Flyers have six forwards, one defenseman and two goalies with expiring contracts after the 2018-19 season. In some cases, next offseason will be like this offseason. Expect one of Brian Elliott or Michal Neuvirth to be leaving the team and the same with forward Jori Lehtera. Everyone else is at least going to be worth some discussion.
The priorities certainly lie with the team's two first-round picks from 2015. Both Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim are restricted free agents and due for big pay days, potentially on long-term deals. The Flyers are also looking into an extension for Wayne Simmonds as soon as this offseason. Forwards Michael Raffl, Jordan Weal and Scott Laughton are also slated to be free agents after next season.
With so many contracts to work out, the Flyers may need to ensure they have the space to pay the pieces of their future. The Flyers can start working on extensions for Provorov and Konecny as soon as July 1, but in many cases, teams wait until the conclusion of the player's entry-level deal before officially making a deal.
So what does that mean for the Flyers cap space in this offseason? It's not a class that screams top-end talent. John Carlson fetched an eight-year, $64 million deal in re-signing with Washington. John Tavares is going to get a huge extension as well. But aside from that, there isn't a high-end player who is going to warrant a massive deal. Free agency can also be a crazy time with GMs throwing out large contracts that can easily put a team in salary cap hell. That's the last thing the Flyers want to do.
In reviewing some of the free agent targets on Thursday, there were a lot of players that provided good depth options at forward, filling a third-line center and veteran defenseman role. At both positions, the Flyers need to try to upgrade the penalty kill.
That may not mean spending the big dollars this offseason. It may not be what fans are looking for with so much cap space available, but that's the reality of the free-agent class this offseason. The Flyers are better off continuing to add internally than overpay several free agents.
There is room to make some upgrades through the free-agent market and the Flyers will certainly try to do that. But with this new-found cap space, the Flyers may be better off looking at how they can lock up key pieces to the future instead of temporary parts of the lineup.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.