Now that the dust has settled on this year’s Stanley Cup Finals and the 2009-2010 season has officially ended, the two combatants for the highest prize in the sport have a lot of work to do before the next season gets underway.
Before training camps crank open their doors in the fall, the Blackhawks and Flyers will have a lot of roster changes to undergo. Commish Gary Bettman has stated that the salary cap will “increase slightly” for the start of the 2010-2011 NHL season. The current cap is $56.8 million.
Looking at the roster for the Blackhawks, they currently sit with 14 under contract players for a combined payroll of $57.6 million. The Flyers have 16 players under contract for next season adding up to a total of $48.6 million.
These numbers become more meaningful when one considers what’s to be done about them. The Flyers have a lot more roster holes to fill, potentially, and will have to figure out a goaltending situation in Philly if they intend to repeat their successes of the past year. Riding the wave of momentum is a short-term prospect, in my opinion.
The Blackhawks have a more complete roster and do have more options. They can start by ditching the $5.625 million cost of goalie Cristobal Huet, for instance, by dumping him down to the minor leagues. They’ll have to deal some of their key players, almost immediately, to fit in any more of their roster before training camp. Word around the campfire is that Kris Versteeg will be one of the key guys to go on the move.
The Blackhawks have a few key unrestricted free agents, too, including John Madden, Adam Burish, Nick Boynton, and Kim Johnsson. RFAs include Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jordan Hendry, and goalie Antti Niemi. The Hawks will want to sign a considerable group of these players, making the cap situation all the more urgent.
The Flyers, meanwhile, also have a few key UFAs. Consider the fact that Ray Emery, Lukas Krajicek, Arron Asham, and Michael Leighton are all UFAs and you’ve got some decisions to make if you’re in charge of the club. RFAs for Philly include Braydon Coburn, Daniel Carcillo, Ryan Parent, and Darrell Powe.
Chicago has a few difficult spots on their roster that may be hard to dump off on anyone save for Glen Sather. Looking at Huet’s contract is tough, considering the whopping salary he’s getting for being a glorified backup goalie. As he’s playing currently, Huet would be tough to peg as a starter on any NHL team and nobody will pay that kind of bank for a backup.
Brian Campbell’s a difficult guy to move, too, and his $7,142,875 is the top salary on the club in the Windy City. Finishing 29th in defensive scoring and still rating one of the biggest salaries for his position in the NHL, Campbell’s in tough for Chicago management and will probably remain a Blackhawk for the season.
The Flyers’ first order of business will be to figure out what to do with Leighton, I think. I’m not sure that Ray Emery has much of a chance at remaining with the club or any club, even with a pretty hot start, and I’m sure he’s out of the picture. Boucher will play backup again, most likely, leaving the top spot wide open to possibilities. It’s the most pressing question in Philly right now.
So how will this play out over the summer months? It’s anybody’s guess, of course. We’ll be following all the action right here, so make sure you’ve bookmarked us for the best in hockey news and analysis. And keep your eyes fixed here for more cool prizes, too.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.