Re-signing Voracek and Getting Crazy with the Salary Cap

Created 3 years 358 days ago
by Michael DeNicola

Tags: Jakub Voracek
Views: 1677

by Michael DeNicola

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 --

Through the first nine games this season, Jakub Voracek has 2-goals and 11-assists. That's a pace of 118.45 points in an 82-game schedule. There have only been six skaters to break the century mark since Voracek's rookie '08-09 season: Sidney Crosby (x3), Evgeni Malkin (x2), Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Alex Ovechkin (x2), Nicklas Bäckström. 

That'd be quite the committee to be a part of... granted if, ya know, Voracek completes the 2014-15 campaign with triple digits. And with the way he's playing right now, there's no doubt in my mind that this guy's name will be added to that elite list. 

In fact, prior to this year, his best start  to any season was in October, 2009, when he recorded 4-goals and 4-assists through the first nine tilts. He finished the year with 50-points in 81-games. Not half bad for a second-year winger, eh?

I know that it's real exciting to witness Jake the Snake climb to another level. And I really hate to play the part of Buzz Killington. But Jake is about to get paid, and the Flyers are strapped for cash.   

Jukub Voracek is currently playing on Year 3 of his four-year, $17 million contract. A Club and Player cannot begin negotiating an extension until the Player has entered the final year of his existing contract. Which means Jake and the Philadelphia Flyers can't finalize an extension until at least next Summer, when the 2015-16 League Year has begun. 

Between now and then, we could possibly witness Voracek go from a very good player... to a sensationally elite player. And he'll be looking to be paid like one. 

No, he won't take a "hometown discount", and this is what everyone looks like when they suggest it.

Those six star players I listed earlier; their combined annual value is $48.4 million, and an average cap hit of $8.066 million. That seems like a fair starting point for Voracek's camp. I imagine Hextall will want to scale that back a tad -- after all, that's the type of money you hand over to a winger who has reached 70+ points more than just a couple times. The best season Voracek has had was 62-points in 2013-14. If he gets over 100, or even ends a handful of points shy, it'd be in the Flyers best interest to re-sign him the minute they're legally allowed to. 

So, what kind of cap hit are we talking about for Jake?

Mike's got the right idea. That $8.066mm figure is skewed by Alex Ovechkin's asinine 13-year, $124 million contract, which predates the 2012 Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

But we get why ya did it, George McPhee. That boy is worth every penny....

Starting in the Fall of 2015, Bobby Ryan from Cherry Hill, NJ, will be skating on a fresh 7-year, $50.75M ($7.25mm AAV) extension with the Ottawa Senators. That term may seem inflated, but when you consider inflation and what UFA's have gone for on the open market... it's no secret why these Clubs are so anxious to re-sign their stars a year early. 

Here's the dilemma: by the time Voracek begins Year 1 of his next extension, our payroll could pose some issues. By 2016-17, the Philadelphia Flyers have a little over $46 million committed to eleven other existing Players. Add Voracek's term to that pile, and that is ~78% of our salary cap devoted to twelve Players (including Chris Pronger and his $4.941mm AAV). That percentage will be coming down a few points, depending on how much the cap ceiling rises. 

Nevertheless, locking Voracek down to an 8-year extension as early as possible is our organization's long-term Priority #1. It spreads the total salary out over the maximum allowance of time, which lessens the player's average annual value. The lesser the cap hit, the better. 

Besides, by 2016-17, assuming they're still a part of this roster, player's like Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, and Michael Raffl are each due an extension. And since three-fourths of our payroll is committed elsewhere, that means those three have a quarter of the pie to split. Actually, much less than that. Even with these guys sewn into our team's combined AAV, we're still left with eight empty roster spots, and a guesstimated 5 - 7% of the salary cap to fill them (that's roughly $600K per player, eight players). 

Is it doable? Is it a tight squeeze? Sure as hell is. And unless Hextall plans on filling out all the remaining spots with entry-level contracts -- which I doubt he will -- then this organization is going to have to make a move. Or, as some of us have learned to call it, a salary dump

This is where I get my palm ready to crash land on my forehead. Fans immediately react to that by demanding we trade Vincent Lecavalier and his obnoxious $4.5 million AAV. 

People, I'm with you. If Hextall can find a buyer, I'd trade Lecavalier for a sleeve of half-eaten Oreos and a kick to my balls. But think for a minute... do you truly believe there's some NHL General Manager out there who's anxious to get his wallet wrapped around a 34-year old veteran in a miserable twilight of his career, whose AAV is worth more than a garage full of Lamborghini's? 

The answer is no, and stop cooking up irrational circumstances to convince yourself otherwise. 

When you're venturing into a salary dump of this nature, you have to ask yourself...

  1. Who has one of the more inflated cap hits? And...
  2. Which of these inflated cap hits would be easiest to trade?

As I take a look at our payroll and consider the two questions above, the name that jumps out at me is defenseman Mark Streit. Just remember, this has nothing to do with bad performance issues. In fact, it's just the opposite. 

When I consider this player using the criteria I've mentioned, this player has to be sell-able. He has to be a valuable piece. He's got to be wanted elsewhere -- and not by one or two teams, but several. 

Mark is a young 36-year old. Despite his age, he's got speed, he's got a rocket shot, he's got versatility, he's durable, and he has Playoff experience. Offensive-defensemen are the Tickle Me Elmo's of the NHL; they're flying off the shelves because they're in the highest demand.

Streit's cap hit is $5.25 million, which, if freed up, would go a long way financially for the Flyers. And the best part is that his contract isn't anchored by a no-movement or no-trade clause. Hextall can catapult Streit to the deepest corners of the Florida Panthers' dressing room at a moment's notice, and there's nothing Mark can do contractually to stop it. 

Again, I'm not suggesting we start selling off players this minute to relieve our salary cap a couple years from now. Hell, I'm not even suggesting we start the trade crusade with Mark Streit's head on the chopping block. He's just an example. 

This is all something to keep placed in our minds and not forgotten. At one point or another, Ron Hextall is going to come to a very high financial obstruction. He's going to have some difficult choices to make, and whichever roads he chooses... they'll be tough terrain. But this is the nature of the beast.......

.....or the end result of Paul Holmgren's reflexive influence. 

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