Tag: Niko Hovinen

Sergei Bobrovsky

Philadelphia has salary bonus overage of $1.4 million, more moves ahead for Flyers?


It’s always fun in Philadelphia. After the Flyers’ busy summer of spending and trading, they’ve got a new obstacle in their way to winning the Stanley Cup for the offseason. Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly reports that the Flyers will have $1.4 million in salary bonus overages counted against the cap this season. The bonuses were earned by players last season and will have to be counted against the cap this year. The Flyers owe up to former players Sean O’Donnell as well as to James van Riemsdyk, Andreas Nodl, and Sergei Bobrovsky for those bonuses.

If this scenario sounds familiar, it’s because it happened to the Chicago Blackhawks last season and helped force them to purge their roster of better paid players like Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, and Brent Sopel. This time around, the Flyers cap situation isn’t nearly as dire as Chicago’s was last year, as CapGeek.com will show you, but the Flyers still have a move or two to make to help get them more comfortably under the cap. While they’ll get Ian Laperriere on LTIR once again to get his $1.1 million hit off the books, they’ll need just a bit more space for flexibility.

CSN Philly’s Sarah Baicker has one idea how the Flyers could do things and it surrounds moving a certain Russian goaltender.

The name that sticks out most is Bobrovsky. The 22-year-old goalie will cost $1.5 million next season, which is very expensive for a backup netminder on a team so close to the cap ceiling.

General manager Paul Holmgren has repeatedly said the Flyers aren’t shopping Bobrovsky around. But with workhorse Ilya Bryzgalov as the new No. 1, the need for a young, developing goaltender is significantly lessened. Plus, there’s undoubtedly interest in Bob from teams around the league.

Shopping Bobrovsky may not be as crazy as you’d think. When Philly locked up Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year $51 million deal, Bobrovsky’s title as future #1 goalie in Philadelphia disappeared. Bobrovsky making $1.75 million (according to CapGeek) is a tough number to handle for a backup goalie, but other guys in the Flyers system like Michael Leighton ($1.55 million against the cap) or Niko Hovinen (zero NHL experience) don’t offer much solace in either salary relief or ability to jump in at the NHL level.

While the Flyers cap situation doesn’t demand that they make a move, losing a little bit more salary would make life a bit easier for GM Paul Holmgren to arrange things when injuries occur. While there’s no doubt about interest around the league for Bobrovsky’s services, the Flyers won’t just give him away and teams may not be eager to deal with the Flyers when the leverage in the situation really doesn’t sit with anyone. The Flyers don’t have to deal him and teams looking to land him could just wait until things get really desperate for Philly to make an offer that works better for them.

Still, the fact that the possibility is out there makes things with the Flyers a never-ending source of intrigue. The moment Philly needs to make a move to adjust for injury will have everyone watching to see how they manage to dance around the salary cap and whether or not they’ll have to cut off someone useful to their needs.

Flyers won’t re-sign Joacim Eriksson, another sign of their confidence in Sergei Bobrovsky

Paul Holmgren

From a short-term perspective, it almost seemed like the Philadelphia Flyers pulled the plug on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky during the 2011 playoffs. After emerging as their No. 1 netminder much earlier than most people expected, head coach Peter Laviolette gave the rookie goalie a short leash in the postseason.

Michael Leighton’s training camp surgery probably pushed Bobrovsky into the spotlight sooner than many in the Flyers organization would have liked, but it seems like the front office is excited about his longer-term future. It seems highly likely that they will go after a veteran (or “proven”) goalie through a trade or free agent signing this summer, but they appear to believe that the Russian stopper has a bright light at the end of his developmental tunnel.

Today provided another bit of evidence of that increasing confidence (and also the unpredictable nature of developing goalies). CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio reports that the Flyers allowed goalie Joacim Eriksson’s signing rights expire this week. This might be stunning news to people who follow prospects closely because Eriksson was once considered the top goalie in the team’s farm system.

It seems like three factors contributed to the decision. The first is the notion that Bobrovsky is the leader of the pack when it comes to being the team’s future No. 1 goalie. The second factor is that Eriksson wasn’t receiving many opportunities to develop overseas. The final bit of reasoning is that the Flyers signed former Minnesota Wild prospect Niko Hovinen last month. Panaccio indicates that the team expects the 6-foot-7 Hovinen to make it to North America sooner than Eriksson, so Hovinen essentially replaced Eriksson in the team’s prospect ranks.

Holmgren said it made no sense to sign Eriksson if they had no place to play him right now. He was not expected to replace either Johan Backlund or Brian Stewart with the AHL Phantoms this season, either.

“Your choice is you sign the guy, give him money and hope he develops,” Holmgren said. “Or you just wait. See what happens if they become free agents. Minnesota drafts Hovinen … it doesn’t happen, he goes back in the draft and nobody drafted him.

“Then this year he became a hot commodity. He started to come on. That’s just the way it is. When you draft kids at 17, sometimes it works out and sometime it doesn’t.”

At the moment, the Flyers don’t own first or second round picks in the 2011 Entry Draft. Panaccio reports that Eriksson (Philadelphia’s seventh round pick in 2008) is eligible to be drafted again, so there’s always the chance the team will bring him back on board with one of their five choices in this year’s draft.

From the draft to free agency and possible trades along the way, it should be an interesting off-season for the often-aggressive Flyers franchise. We’ll keep you informed about their frequently intriguing decisions.