BUFFALO - By signing rugged defenseman Radko Gudas to a four-year deal Thursday night for a reported $13.4 million, the Flyers ' cap space is shrinking and, unless they can deal Mark Streit or Matt Read, they won't have much room to sign even a mid-level free agent in the offseason.

According to generalfanager.com, Gudas' annual cap hit ($3.35 million) leaves the Flyers with $11.9 million in space.

That's not much when you consider they still want to resign free agents Brayden Schenn, Ryan White, Nick Cousins and perhaps Brandon Manning.

If they sign all four for, say, a combined $8 million annual cap hit, they will have about $4 million left to spend.

And since GM Ron Hextall says he wants to leave about a $2 million cushion, they would actually have just $2 million to spend.

That number would grow to about $3 million if defenseman Andrew MacDonald was sent back to the Phantoms. MacDonald would still be paid his full salary, and the Flyers would absorb a cap hit of $4,000,050. They would get $950,000 of cap relief with the demotion.

Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny might make the team in training camp, but their cap hits (about $900,000 each) and those of Cousins and Manning would just about cancel each other out - assuming the latter two don't make the team in that scenario.

Bottom line: Unless Hextall can make a deal, the Flyers figure to be quiet on the free-agent front, where someone like left winger Milan Lucic would be way too costly.

Hey, that may not be a bad thing. Time to play the kids and build for the future.

As for Gudas' contract, the Flyers appeared to overpay a bit, and it was surprising he received a lengthy four-year deal. That said, with so many talented defensive prospects on the verge of making the team in the coming years, several will be on entry-level deals, meaning the Flyers won't have a lot of money committed to the blue line.