A lot of the contracts signed yesterday (as well as Timonens) are heavily front weighted with the player making a lot of money in the first few years of the contract and substantially less in the last few years. This is one of the things that big revenue teams are doing to get a competitive advantage. These contracts also could be beneficial to small market teams down the road. The rules are that all teams have to maintain a payroll minimum (currently $34 million) but that is for the average contract salary, not the players actual salary paid for a particular year. Some of these teams can’t make money spending $34 million on players, but if they pick up one of these players late in their contract their cap hit will be much higher than their actual contract.
For example, the Flyers are paying Timonen $3 million in the final year of his contract but his cap hit will still be $6.3 million. The Flyers will have very little interest in keeping him around because his play at age 37 probably won’t be worth a $6.3 million cap hit. But if he can still play at a reasonable level he could be highly valuable to a small revenue team not wanting to spend even the minimum amount, which may be $40+ million 5 years from now. With Timonen on their roster you can meet that $40 minimum but only spend $37 million in actual player salaries because of the $3.3 million difference between his actual salary and his salary cap number in the final year of his contract. It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out 4 and 5 years down the road when these guys enter the last couple years of their contracts.