God, I still hate the Flyers.
I thought I was over this. It seems, after all, so immature to hate a sports team past the age of 20. Sure, it's easy to admire Mike Richards (when he's not playing against your favorite team, at least). Make no mistake about it, though, it took little time for the blood to boil again.
So, there are still at least three sports teams that annoy me endlessly: the Dallas Cowboys, the San Antonio Spurs and the Philadelphia Flyers.
That being said, it's not hard to look at the salary cap objectively. So let's see what the future holds for the Broadstreet Bullies:
Note: Daniel Carcillo's contract was not listed at NHLSCAP.com, but he should be signed through next year. The cap numbers are without him for the time being. Please e-mail me if you know the terms of his contract.
Current cap in 2009-10: $45 million
Current starters under contract: 8 forwards, 4 defensemen and 0 goalies
Best contracts: Mike Richards ($5.75 million through 2015-16); Jeff Carter ($5 million through 2010-11); Simon Gagne ($5.25 million through 2010-11)
Worst contracts: Danny Briere ($6.5 million through 2014-15);Matt Carle ($3.43 million through 2011-12); Joffrey Lupul ($4.25 million through 2012-13)
Wild cards: Kimmo Timonen ($6.33 million through 2012-13); Scott Hartnell ($4.2 million through 2012-13)
The Flyers are a franchise that consistently finds ways to be competitive. After one horrible year, Philadelphia made some big moves and made a big jump to the SCF last season. As it stands, they are an interesting mix of solid bargains and really bad contracts.
The biggest, most obvious black eye is Briere's huge contract. Briere certainly has offensive talent, but the fact that he is being paid more than Richards, Carter and Gagne is pretty obscene. Briere is an aging, small one-dimensional player whose contract may force a useful player out of Philly if the cap drops in the next two years.
Nashville received quite a bit from the Flyers in trades for Peter Forsberg as well as the bargaining rights for Hartnell and Timonen. And while the Flyers are slightly overpaying the Predatorial pairing, both have been a big part of that team's resurgence. Timonen is absolutely the team's defensive cornerstone while Hartnell's repulsive Lionel Ritchie perm infuriates opponents, yet Hartnell has shown a solid offensive touch for an agitator.
The best deal is Richards' lifetime deal, one of the best contracts in the Eastern Conference. He's wrapped up longer than Sidney Crosby and is earning $3 million less per season. That's a steal, with the only worry being that Richards' hard hitting style could make the length of his contract an issue.
Gagne's contract is perhaps the most interesting, because when healthy, Simon is one of the best snipers in the league. He's so good that you forget his name makes you think he'd be a French woman.
Aside from dealing with bad contracts with Briere and Lupul, the Flyers' biggest issue is a common refrain: goaltending. Although Martin Biron can get on a hot streak now and then, you wonder if he will ever be consistent enough to be a genuine No. 1 starter. Do the Flyers take a chance on a guy like Manny Fernandez or stick with a goalie who, limited or not, is a known commodity?
Much like their cross-state rivals, the Flyers will mainly be looking to add cheap parts since they have a massive amount of cap commitments already under contract. Hopefully, they will continue to overpay the Brieres of the world, instead of getting bargains on guys like Richards.
Flyers' probable targets in free agency: Jay Bouwmeester, depth players and a goaltending tandem.