If you haven't heard by now, 26-year old defenseman Braydon Coburn has signed an extension with the Philadelphia Flyers worth 4-years at $18M ($4.5 AAV) that begins next season and ends after the 2015-2016 league year.
According to CapGeek.com's salary cap chart for the Flyers, our club's payroll (prior to Coburn's latest contract) totaled $54,383,373 which is a $9,916,627 difference from the cap ceiling. With Braydon's additional increase in pay, and still considering the six soon-to-be free agents yet to of signed a contract beyond this 2011-12 season, that difference margin is cut to $5,541,627.
That five-plus million dollars is there to anchor any players the organization is interested in re-signing such as Jaromir Jagr (UFA), Jakub Voracek (RFA), Ian Laperriere (UFA), Harry Zolnierczyk (RFA), Blair Betts (UFA) and Matt Carle (UFA).
Right off the bat we can eliminate any possibility of the Flyers extending proposals to Blair Betts and Ian Laperriere for reasons I believe we're all aware of.
Jaromir Jagr's future with the NHL is a tall standing question-mark, let alone with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Voracek's future in Orange & Black is based entirely on whether he can find his scoring niche on this team and keep it on a consistent basis. To be honest, it's too early to come to any final decision on the matter.
Harry Z is currently pulling in $775K and another $215K in bonuses. There's tons of variables in this equation that are impossible for me to imagine because I am not Paul Holmgren, however if the Flyers decide to part ways with Jagr and/or Voracek then we can only think Harry will be up for a pay raise. Nothing huge and outstanding enough to bring our world down around us, but something in the seven-digit range.
So now the real question is -- Has Coburn's extension sealed the fate of defenseman Matt Carle and his future in the City of Brotherly Love?
If you ask any higher upper in the Flyers office, they'll look at you like you're nuts and tell you to take your head out of your ass, but make no mistake......we have every right to believe this decision to re-sign Coburn had something to do with Carle.
This team simply cannot drop this bag of cash on Braydon and then a similar number of monies on Carle, and have enough leftover to re-sign or pickup some forwards to complete an NHL roster.
Why do I say this?
Well, because of three words; Collective. Bargaining. Agreement.
The salary cap, ladies and gents. It exists and it stares the Flyers organization in the face year in, year out. There hasn't been a season gone by where fans, players and the suits involved with our hometown club aren't bitterly reminded of the strict laws this league operates on. So unless Matt Carle's okay with taking a dramatic paycut from his current $3,437,500 cap hit, I think it's safe to say his days here are numbered down to a final seven months.
Now hold your horses.
Remember, none of this is ever chiseled in stone. We've got a wacky, wily group of decision makers in the Flyers war room who have - let's just say - made some jaw-dropping, surprising moves in their tenure here. So perhaps there are some more significant moves planned to strike. I dunno, I'm not Holmgren.
Not even God knows what's going on in Paul's skull. After this last off-season, the man upstairs said, "Jesus Christ! I don't remember the paperwork filled out for that!"
But for the sake of argument, let's assume all future happenings are contained in a straight vacuum. No more trades. No more re-signings before this season is completely over.
Then that means management's chosen Coburn and his skill over Matt Carle's.
"Whoa...." you may be saying. Some agree. Others may disagree.
I am one of those who agree. I agree a thousands times and more.
Matt's a good soldier. He's shown signs of defensive brilliance time and time again, however if we're talking long-term practicality, then Coburn's your man, and here's why...
Yea, our captain. He's a great guy, great player and a great voice in the locker room, but our star defenseman AIN'T gonna be around that much longer. Time to face facts. And what I've been preaching for a long time is that Matt Carle's play is entirely too dependent on Chris Pronger being his linemate.
Lately in Pronger's injured absence, Carle's shown signs to strengthen my argument. He's turned the puck over in our own zone which has led to goals against us. Matt's looked a tad lost.
"But he had a great game against Columbus!"
A skating Chris Christie could finish 6-points against the Blue Jackets and a plus-10 rating.
Look, is Matt Carle an asset to any team? Certainly. Without question. But signing him to a long-term deal that will exist past Chris Pronger's existence in the league.....is a gamble. And right now, the Philadelphia Flyers have taken MORE than their fair share of gambles, amirite?
We know what we're getting with Coburn. He's an effective defenseman and a big body. Carle is an offensive-sound blue liner, but his offense will just have to be made up by our forwards. Right now this team needs all the defensive assurance they can sign up.