The Flyers' free-spending ways are leaving more questions than answers.
They signed Jeff Carter to an 11-year contract extension worth $58 million last weekend. That came less than a week after they gave Claude Giroux a three-year extension. Carter will count $5.27 million against the salary cap next season and Giroux will have a $3.75 million numbers. Thus, if the NHL salary cap remains at $59.4 million, the Flyers would only have $1.8 million left to sign five players and that almost certainly would mean they would have no chance to retain right wing Ville Leino.
Seemingly little separates Carter and Leino. Leino is two years older at 27 and both have 15 points this season, Carter scoring eight goals and Leino tallying three. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren has had some talks with Leino's agent, Bill Zito, but it's hard to see a deal being struck without a major roster move being made between now and the start of next season.
"Obviously, he's a guy we want to keep in our organization, so we'll do what we can," Holmgren.
Another team with salary cap issues is the Bruins. They will need to make some moves when Marco Sturm and Marc Savard eventually return from injuries and Michael Ryder, who has a $4 million cap hit, is the player most likely to go.
"I guess as a coach, I would answer, 'Why bring Michael's name up?'" Bruins coach Claude Julien said, aware that Ryder has five goals and 11 points in 15 games. "Why is he the one that is being pointed at right now? You're gonna say salary and everything else but there's no reason right now in the world to even look at anybody, and for me right now, I think Michael's had a really good start to the season and all it's going to do is make the people above me's decisions even harder."
Senators Show Support
The Senators had heavy legs Wednesday night when they took on the Hurricanes at the RBC Center in Raleigh.
The Senators flew home to Ottawa from Philadelphia after losing to the Flyers on Monday night rather than going directly to Raleigh as the team will attend a service this morning for assistant coach Luke Richardson's 14-year-old daughter Daron, who committed suicide last Saturday. Following the funeral, the Senators flew to Raleigh.
Professional sports teams almost never fly on the day of a game. However, the Senators believe it was much more important to be there for Richardson than worrying about any possible fatigue.
"It was a short conversation when we were presented with the opportunity (to go back)," alternate captain Chris Phillips said. "It was something, if they didn't come to us, we were going to go to them and see what we could do. We're happy (the organization) stepped up to want to bring everyone home. We feel it's important to be able to show our support to the family."
Rangers' Christensen Admits Sucker Punch
Rare is the time when a player will admit that one of his teammates took a cheap shot at an opponent. However, Rangers center Erik Christensen did on Sunday and coach John Tortorella, who chose not to comment publicly, was said to be livid.
Christensen told the New York Post that he agreed with Oilers players that the Rangers' Sean Avery sucker punched Ladislav Smid. The punch sparked a brawl in the final minutes of the Rangers' 8-2 victory that resulted in 124 penalty minutes.
"It looked to me like he suckered him; I'm not going to deny it," Christensen said. "I mean, everyone could see."
Christensen admitted to meeting to Tortorella about the comment, saying "We've handled it internally. That's the best way to put it,"
Those who know the talented but enigmatic Christensen could only shake their heads at him comment about Avery.
"He's a good kid and he's full of talent, we all know that," Tortorella said. "We do a lot of coaching with him. It's not his hands, it's not his feet. It's upstairs and it's him believing in himself and we're trying to help him with that. But it's a process. It's a process with Erik."
First-year Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is getting plenty of praise as his team is off to an 8-7-2 start. The Wild, meanwhile, can only wonder might have been.
Wild owner Craig Leipold tried to hire Yzerman as his GM prior to last season. However, Yzerman was also ready serving as the GM for Team Canada and thought it would be too much to try to deliver an Olympic gold medal, especially with the Games being played in the homeland at Vancouver, and run an NHL team for the first time.
"I think at the end of the day Craig and I both realized, 'I don't know this is the right time to do this'" Yzerman told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "To take over a team for the first time and build an Olympic team, it definitely can be done, but it was a lot of responsibility there. I just felt like a year ago, I wanted to get the Olympics done, do it the way I wanted to do it and put as much energy and time into it as I felt was necessary. It just wouldn't have been fair to the Wild or Canada to do both at the same time."
Leipold instead hired Chuck Fletcher and isn't complaining as the Wild are 8-6-2. Meanwhile, Canada won the gold and Yzerman felt the time was right last summer to take a step up from his assistant GM post with the Red Wings.
"Minnesota's a tremendous franchise and tremendous market," Yzerman said. "Chuck Fletcher is a very lucky guy to be able to get that job. It's a great job, and the Wild's a very lucky team to get Chuck."
John Perrotto is an author of Puck Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.