With the Stanley Cup Finals just less than a week away, some teams are still looking to sign their UFA and RFA forwards. Early this week, it was reported that the Flyers have finally begun contract talks with pending RFA Michael Del Zotto. The Flyers also need to re-sign Chris Vandevelde and Ryan White who are both set to become UFA.
White played pretty well in his first season with the Flyers. In 34 games, White registered 6 goals and 6 assists and only racked up 34 min in penalties. White, I feel is the replacement for Zac Rinaldo. Rinaldo, brings zero offense to the table and its unknown whether he can be disciplined. New Coach David Hasktol, has a history of not putting up with players who are undisciplined and we could have very well seen the end of Rinaldo. White, who missed most of the season to a torn pectoral muscle, didn’t have an entire season to show what he can do and only made $575,000 last Season. This could work out well for the Flyers, given that White could end up getting a similar contract and could help keep the Flyers numbers low. I can see a 750k-900k one year deal happening here. It would be friendly for both sides.
Chris Vandevelde could go either way. He had ok 4th line numbers with 9 goals and 6 assists through 72 games. Vandevelde was bounced all around in Berube’s line-up last season. He saw some time on the first line next to Giroux and Voracek, two players far out of his capability. He also had a rotating line-mate on the fourth line which switched from Rinaldo to Lecavalier quite often. It’s hard to generate chemistry when things like that are happening on a game to game basis. He also made $575,000 last season and I can see a one year, 750k deal happening here. He can provide depth, given if he doesn’t make the opening night roster. A lot can happen between now and October.
That brings me to some notable free agent forwards that could potentially hit the market on July 1.
The Los Angeles Kings are very cap strapped and could wind up losing several players because they simply are handcuffed just like the Flyers. Three UFA forwards could be open for offers on July first, and if they are should the Flyers throw a line out?
Let’s take a look at who they are. We’ll begin with a familiar face and that is Justin Williams. Williams, has 3 Stanley Cup rings and a Con Smythe to go along with it, is a former member of the Flyers’ Organization. Since being traded, he’s gone on to do great things. Williams will be 34 when the new season kicks off, however he plays very well for a 34 year old. Williams had 18 goals and 23 assists for 41 points last season and was a plus 8. Williams is known for his two way play and his leadership. Williams also shines in the post season. Since Williams is getting older, he won’t be posting prime numbers like he used to and he has already won 3 championships, so perhaps a discount rather than a raise could be proposed. Last year he made 3mil but his cap hit was at 3.6mil. Williams also lives in New Jersey during the offseason. His family is here, he practices at the Flyers skate zone during the summer and he has a prior relationship with GM Ron Hextall who was his assistant GM in LA during LA’s first Cup. Could the Flyers land Williams with a 2 year 2.5-3mil offer? I know adding older veterans, is against Hextall’s plan but he wouldn’t have to give up any prospects or young players to land him. Just given his leadership alone which the Flyers lacked tremendously I’d at least take a look at this option.
The LA Kings are also going to see if they can re-sign forward Tyler Toffoli. Toffoli is only 23 years old. He was part of “That 70’s line” in LA that had great success in the beginning of the season. Toffoli finished off with 23 goals and 26 assists for 49 points. Could he be the forward that the Flyers first line sorely needs? He’s a natural center, but he played on the wing while Jeff Carter centered. It’s going to be interesting because LA isn’t going to want to let a player like him go, but where are they going to get the money? That same question could be asked for the Flyers but I’ll add more into that later on. Toffoli’s cap hit was only 870k last year. He’s obviously due for a raise. Given his potential it’s possible he could ask for money LA can’t afford, but if he isn’t on LA’s books by June 30, I would absolutely take a run at this guy. He’s young, he’s fast and he can put points up on the board, oh and he has a Cup on
Jarret Stoll will more than likely not be re-signed by the Kings. Stoll is a good 4th liner, which the Flyers have a plethora of. Stoll had a previous cap hit at 3mil and he’s going to be 35 at the start of the season. I don’t see him making 3 mill next year, but I also don’t see the Flyers taking a shot at him. The only purpose I brought him up was because he’s part of the Free Agents that could soon depart from LA.
The Kings also have a RFA goalie and that would be Martin Jones. Jones, 25, is no joke. He began his NHL career stepping in for an injured, Jonathan Quick and went 8-0-0 in his first 8 starts with 3 shutouts. In his short NHL career, Jones has a .923 save %. Jones who can be a reliable back-up would cost the Flyers a draft pick if they were to sign him to an offer sheet, which I don’t see happened given that Hextall is going to build through the draft. Jones however, caught Hextall’s eye during a tryout session in 2010 and the Kings signed him to a 3 year contract. Jones went undrafted. I wouldn’t mind seeing Jones as the back-up to Steve Mason, but like I said, if the Flyers sign him to an offer sheet and LA doesn’t match, the Flyers will have to give up compensation which I just don’t see them doing. I fully expect LA to re-sign Jones.
Okay, so while reading this, you’re probably asking where, are the Flyers going to come up with any of that money to sign these players? Well, the Flyers currently have $69,375,000 tied up in contracts. That does not include any of the Flyers pending free agents. The Flyers will get relief from Chris Pronger’s contract once he is place on LTIR and then Flyers will then have 64.454mil in the cap. The salary cap is expected to rise to 71mil, however you can’t count on that until it actually happens. If it does, the Flyers will have $6,545,000 to play with for Free Agents. Now it is widely believed that Hextall is going to heavily shop Vinny Lecavalier. There are also rumors that Vinny and the Flyers could come to an agreement to terminate Vinny’s contract which is plausible considering Vinny is getting a hefty check from his buyout in Tampa. Both parties have publicly stated that it hasn’t worked for either side so it’s very well possible that this could happen, given the Flyers can’t find a buyer to take on Vinny’s contract.
If the Flyers can shed Lecavalier before July 1, they’ll have $11,046,000 in money to play with. The Flyers could then sign Toffoli, Williams and find a back-up goalie in the mean time. They can also sign Del Zotto, White and Vandevelde. Hypothetically, let’s just say for argument’s sake this whole paragraph does happen. What are the numbers?
Let’s do the easy ones first. White and Vandevelde at one year deals for a combined cap hit at 1.8mil (a reasonable and real number at 900k each.) 9.246mil remains in available cap space. Del Zotto signs for a 2 year 3mil deal which would leave 6.246mil in cap space. Emery is re-signed for a 1 year 1mil deal leaving 5.246mil available. Toffoli, given his age and potential, would probably command a 3-4 year deal probably in the 4mil range. Pending on how you structure the contract you can get that cap hit to only be about 3mil so you’re left with 2.246. I’m sure you can bring in Williams on 2mil which leaves you with very little money to fluctuate in case of an injury. However if you can bring in Toffoli, I wouldn’t go after Williams, therefore you still have 2.4mil in cap space to play with or leave open in case of an injury.
Now all of this is hypothetical. There aren’t any reports of any kind out there saying the Flyers are targeting these players or if LA fully intends to let these players hit Free Agency. I just noticed that LA is heavily strapped, Hextall has ties to these players and one of them is very young and very good. Everything with the numbers was just to explain how it could work although I know it’s easier said than done.
With that said, could the Flyers land anyone of these potential free agents? Would you want the Flyers attempting to land any of them? What are your thoughts? Personally, I would love to see Toffoli in a Flyers uniform. But that’s just me.
Follow me on Twitter @iban3zhead