Del Zotto deal is a reminder: Flyers are in salary cap jail

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Every GM experiences a hiccup or two, but there are many signs that Ron Hextall has a sound plan for the Philadelphia Flyers. Unfortunately, Paul Holmgren left behind quite the mess.

Michael Del Zotto’s two-year contract more or less takes up Philly’s cap space for 2015-16 (unless Hextall clears some room with a move or two). That spending has to sting, especially since this largely similar roster failed to earn a playoff bid last season.

By signing Del Zotto to a two-year deal at that $3.875 million cap hit, this also reminds us that the Flyers could take some time to break themselves out of salary cap jail. At the moment, the outlook doesn’t look so great for 2016-17 and maybe beyond:

Indeed, $48.5 million for 13 players is rough when you start to forecast a possible deal for Jakub Voracek, assuming the Flyers can find a compromise with their outstanding winger.

It doesn’t stop there, either.

The summer of 2016 could be challenging

While Sam Gagner’s $3.2 million cap hit could very well be funneled into other bank accounts, the Flyers really might need to fork over some money to keep RFAs Brayden Schenn ($2.5 million next season) and Sean Couturier (a steal at $1.75 million in 2015-16) in the fold.

Much-criticized deals, especially Andrew MacDonald’s $5 million cap hit, only sting that much more when you start to think about the raises Philly may need to hand out.

New life – but also uncertainty – in a few years

Beyond those payouts, there’s also the fact that many contracts run out after 2016-17 … although maybe that’s the time when we’ll really get a sense of what Hextall can do?

That’s actually the enticing thing for Flyers fans: the impressive array of draft picks Hextall has been compiling might start to really pay off by right at the time when the organization could finally enjoy some financial breathing room. Hextall is doing what he can with the situation he’s been given, so it’s intriguing to imagine what he might do with more cash to burn.

You know, if he makes it that far.