If Flyers general manager Ron Hextall isn't named the NHL's executive of the year - or at least made an honorary certified public accountant - some people haven't been paying attention.

In his 20 months on the job, Hextall has traded the contract of an injured player, Chris Pronger, who will never play again; dealt away seldom-used Vinny Lecavalier; who had two-plus seasons left on a contract that absorbed a $4.5 million annual cap hit; and stockpiled draft picks.

In short, Hextall has done an amazing job cleaning up his predecessor's messes.

Thanks to a little help from his mentor, Dean Lombardi, Hextall was given a get-out-of-cap-jail card Wednesday.

Lombardi, the Kings general manager and a man who used to be Hextall's boss when he was an assistant GM in Los Angeles, took Lecavalier and mediocre defenseman Luke Schenn off the Flyers' hands and dealt them a prospect (center Jordan Weal) and a third-round pick in this June's draft.

More important, he agreed to take half their salaries. Thus, the Flyers are responsible for only $2.25 million of Lecavalier's $4.5 million cap hit, and $1.8 million of Schenn's $3.6 cap hit.

"He knows all my tactics, so it's like negotiating with myself," Lombardi said in a conference call after the deal was made. "Like looking at myself in the mirror. It's why he beat me up."

Flyers fans are excused for doing cartwheels when Lombardi confirmed that Lecavalier, one of the classiest men to ever play in the NHL, was going to forgo the final two years on his contract and would retire after the season.

That means the Flyers will be done with Lecavalier's contract - originally, it was a five-year, $22.5 million pact - after this season.

In a short time on the job, Hextall has erased most of the money-draining, head-scratching deals of his predecessor, excluding the six-year, $30 million contract that then-GM Paul Holmgren gave to defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who has spent most of this season in the minors.

The Flyers, who usually have less cap room than almost all NHL teams, now find themselves with the ability to make moves depending on talent, not a player's salary. They have more cap room ($4.1 million) than 18 other NHL teams. Coupled with a promising group of prospects, and draft picks that Hextall has acquired, the future looks very bright.

It figured to take a few more years for the Flyers to become a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. But Hextall's moves have sped up the process. Which is why "In Hexy We Trust" has become the fans' mantra on Twitter.

Hextall hasn't been perfect. For instance, the trade that sent Scott Hartnell to Columbus for R.J. Umberger and a fourth-round draft pick hasn't worked out. Yes, Umberger's hefty contract will expire two years before Hartnell's, but the Flyers have missed Hartnell's production and leadership.

Entering Saturday, Umberger hadn't scored a goal in his last 42 games.

It wouldn't be surprising if Hextall bought out Umberger after the season. It makes lots of cents, um, sense.

After this season, the winger will have one year and $4.5 million left on his contract (4.6 million cap hit). With the buyout, which would be spread over two seasons, the Flyers would pay him $3 million ($1.5 million per year), and his cap hit would be $1.6 million in 2016-17 and $1.5 million in 2017-18.

It's either you pay two years of a fairly modest cap hit, or you don't buy him out and you absorb a whopping $4.5 million cap hit for 2016-17.

The former choice seems logical.

Should the Flyers buy out Umberger ($3 million cap-hit savings) and not re-sign free agents Sam Gagner ($3.2 million) and Evgeny Medvedev ($3 million), Hextall would have even more maneuverability.

That would put their 2016-17 cap hit at $56.7 million for 14 players, including Jake Voracek and Sean Couturier, forwards whose salaries take significant jumps next season. Voracek's cap hit climbs from $4.25 million to $8.25 million, and Couturier's goes from $1.75 million to $4.3 million.

The Flyers also will probably give restricted free agent Brayden Schenn, who has a $2.5 million cap hit this season, a big raise - provided he is not dealt.

Let's assume Schenn that gets around $4 million, that unrestricted free agents Michael Raffl and Ryan White get around $1.5 million and $900,000, respectively, and that restricted free agent Radko Gudas gets around $1.7 million. In the above scenario, the Flyers would have committed about $65 million for 18 players.

If the cap goes from $71.4 million to $73 million next year, that would leave the Flyers with about $8 million for four spots, provided they carry 22 players.

Hextall has been adamant about having players develop in the lower levels, but let's assume winger Travis Konecny ($925,000) and defenseman Ivan Provorov ($925,000) start next season with the Flyers. That would leave the Flyers with about $6.2 million left for two spots.

And Hextall will have even more space if he decides to deal Mark Streit ($5.25 million cap hit) and/or Matt Read ($3.625 million) before the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

If that happens, Hextall, whose team desperately needs scoring help, can at least consider signing a free-agent forward such as Steven Stamkos, Anze Kopitar, or Milan Lucic.

The prospects are coming. Cap space is here quicker than expected. The dark cloud hovering over the Flyers is slowly moving away.

scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

www.philly.com/flyersblog