One of the bigger stories of the second day of the Entry Draft was that of the alleged verbal deal that sees the Philadelphia Flyers get the negotiating rights to potential unrestricted free agent goaltender, Evgeni Nabokov.
Clearly, Nabokov should be considered one of the top unrestricted free agents this Summer, even if he is only known as a good regular season goalie and a sub-par playoff goalie in his career playing for the Sharks. Regular season success is worth a lot of money to teams, since it lasts the longest part of the hockey year and Nabokov is a guy who can put in 70 appearances a year.
In his time with San Jose, Nabokov has been a guy that has needed to pull some games out of the fire and steal from time to time, but of course, that really only applies to the regular season. Nevertheless, if the Flyers can get themselves a goalie that can steal some more games in the regular season, they might be on the right track with their thinking, applying a good goalie behind a big defense and a more-than-capable offense.
What is Nabokov going to be worth to the open market? In some designs, Nabokov should have the ability to write his own number down and be able to stick to it. That's something that the Flyers would hope to slip away from in some early negotiations, but being surrounded by Martin Brodeur ($5.2 million), Ilya Bryzgalov ($4.25 million), Ryan Miller ($6.25 million) and Roberto Luongo ($5.3 million), you would have to think that Nabokov has dollar signs in his eyes, when determining his cap hit. Even if Nabokov agreed to the average cap hit of those four goalies (and their current cap hits), he would be looking at $5.25 million against the cap and it's hard to say that he isn't worth it... in the regular season.
As the Flyers know, all they need is to get to the playoffs and they can let the team do the rest, in front of any goalie that is ready to go. What the may want is a guy that can get the team to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and hopefully impose some dominance over their Eastern Conference rivals, but they will need to pay for it.
As of Saturday night, the Flyers have 10 forwards, 3 defense and Brian Boucher signed on for the 2011 season for an approximate cap hit of $47.2 million. With the salary cap number rising to $59.4 million, that leaves the Flyers with $12.2 million. Let's say Nabokov can sign for $5.2 million (for a nice round number and easier to work the math out with), that would leave $7 million to sign the remaining eight players for the 23-man roster. We can take into account that they don't need all 23 players all season long, but it's just good to keep in mind when doing the math.
I don't think this signing is out of the question, by any means, but I think the Flyers would have to get awfully creative with their youth, their AHL team and possibly some more transactions after the fact to make everything work. Boy, it's a good thing they didn't sign Dan Hamhuis, eh?