When the Flyers faded into the April frost, there were a number of questions regarding returning personnel for next season.
Such as what was going to become of left winger Dmitry Afanasenkov.
He had 15 points in 41 games with the Flyers and was minus-19 in the plus-minus rating. That last stat is skewed given that the Flyers led the NHL with the worst plus/minus in hockey, minus-72. Let's throw that stat away as being reflective of the entire team.
The 27-year-old Afanasenkov played on four lines over the final two months of the season. He was primarily a third-line winger on R.J. Umberger's line with Sami Kapanen or Geoff Sanderson. He also played with Mike Richards and Kapanen.
Bottom line? Even though Afanasenkov occasionally dazzled with offensive flair the likes of which the Flyers desperately need, he was still a third-line checking winger under coach John Stevens.
So when the Flyers talked to agent Todd Diamond and Mark Gandler, who represent Afanasenkov, about re-signing, they talked in terms of third line - not first or second line.
"We're at the point right now as to where he fits in the overall picture," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "We see him as a third-line player."
And therein lies the friction.
Diamond's two-year proposal to the Flyers, according to those familiar with the deal, would average more than $900,000. That, on the Flyers, is more like second-line money.
Holmgren doesn't want to talk about it, but his problem is if he pays Afanasenkov that kind of money on a third line, the price goes up for every player above him.
Diamond has been on vacation and is expected to reopen talks with Holmgren soon. The Flyers already qualified Afanasenkov and still have time to get something done.
"Dmitry is happy in Philly," Gandler said this week. "We've made a proposal and we're talking. He can play the defensive end, but he considers himself an offensive player. He needs ice time to get his job done."
Afanasenkov averaged 10 minutes, 30 seconds of ice time this season. Gandler says his client can be more effective if given 13 to 17 minutes a night.
"Dmitry feels he will produce if he's given that kind of ice time," Gandler said.
The competition for bucks this summer concerns what the Flyers offer to unrestricted free agent forwards Danny Briere and/or Chris Drury and/or Scott Gomez.
Afanasenkov earned $738,023 last season. He needs to be thinking in terms of $800,000 for this role if he's going to re-sign.
Sports business briefs
According to SportsBusiness Daily, the Penguins say demand for season-ticket packages is so high the club is saving the best seats for full-season ticket packages, not partial plans.
Penguins vice president for communications Tom McMillan told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Full-season ticket sales are up 60 [percent] over this season. We haven't seen anything like this since the [Stanley] Cup years."
As a result of the demand, many fans with partial-season-ticket plans received letters last month "telling them their seats were now available only for full-season tickets," SportsBusiness Daily reported. They can be re-seated somewhere else if they choose.
Most Pens fans seem to be taking it in stride as the result of the team evolving into a hot ticket with Sidney Crosby and company.
Anaheim general manager Brian Burke recalled that, after one year of running the Vancouver Canucks in 1998, the team had 7,600 season ticket holders. After his first season with the Ducks last year, he had 13,000 season ticket holders. "This is a great hockey market, much better than people realize," he told ESPN's Jim Rome. "It's not front and center like it is in Canada, but that doesn't mean out of 25 million people I can't get enough people to watch it on TV and fill the building."