Monday, July 8, 2013

The cost of doing business 7/8

When the Philadelphia Flyers acquired goaltender Yann Danis via free agency and center Kris Newbury via trade last week, they did so to shore up their organizational depth at those two positions.

But organizational depth can be pretty expensive.

CapGeek keeps a list of the highest American Hockey League salaries here, and Danis and Newbury are both right near the top of the board. Danis actually ranks No. 2 at the time of this writing -- his $325,000 trails only sniper Andrew Gordon -- and Newbury is tied for third with a $300,000 salary.

Phantoms captain Ben Holmstrom is a little further down the list. He ranks No. 8 at $285,000.

If none of those three play a single National Hockey League game this season, Ed Snider will write them all checks for $910,000. The total cost may even wind up being a little bit higher, since there's a good chance one or two of them might get called up as injury replacements. It might top $1 million.

To be fair, the Flyers didn't sign Newbury to that contract. He signed a two-year contract with the Rangers last summer, but they traded him to the Flyers for Danny Syvret. However, the Flyers signed Syvret to a pretty similar contract, one that paid him $275,000 in the AHL last year and this year too.

One thing that immediately comes to mind is the fact that the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement eliminated re-entry waivers, so the old de facto AHL salary cap of $105,000 no longer exists. Before, players who earned above that total had to clear re-entry waivers to be called up to the NHL. Some players accepted less money so they would be exempt from re-entry waivers, hoping it would improve their chances of a call-up to the NHL. Since they don't have to worry about that anymore, they can demand more AHL money. And right now, teams are giving that money to them.

As Jonathan Bombulie of The (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) Citizens Voice notes, there are 14 other players who are set to make at least $250,000 on the AHL portion of their two-way contracts this season.

Holmstrom, for example, made $105,000 last season. He got a $180,000 raise. That's significant. I think it's not unreasonable to expect other free agents to start seeing more money on their AHL deals.

One other Phantoms item of note: I spoke to Newbury on the phone this afternoon. He said he's looking to make the Flyers out of training camp. Look for his comments on the blog later today.


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