The Stanley Cup Final could end on Tuesday night with the Florida Panthers hoisting the silver chalice for the first time in franchise history. If they do, the offseason will begin in earnest.

For the Flyers it will be a busy one, albeit not a necessarily glamorous.

As President Keith Jones said at a recent press conference, the Flyers still have to get out from under some “dead money” before they can start adding to the roster.

He’s not wrong. They have the money retention from Kevin Hayes and Tony DeAngelo on the books. They have the albatross of the Ryan Ellis contract that will likely end up with LTIR at some point. They have to carry Cal Petersen for the first day of the new year before putting him on waivers and ultimately sending him and his money to the Phantoms.

But there’s also some money that, while not quite dead, is keeping GM Danny Briere from really having the flexibility he needs. There’s no doubt he’d like to move on from Rasmus Ristolainen’s contract – and there could be interest there this summer – but the one that’s even stickier is Cam Atkinson.

I talked on the most recent episode of Snow the Goalie about the Flyers likely choosing to buy out the final year of Atkinson’s contract and spreading it over two years to pay him to not play for them.

Well, it turns out they had an opportunity to trade the contract to San Jose, but Atkinson has a modified no-trade clause that allows him to block a trade to 10 teams. Apparently, the Sharks are one of them.

I know Dreger mentions that keeping him in the mix remains a possibility, but you have to think that’s way outside the realm of what the Flyers actually want to do. They’d much rather hand that spot over to a younger player that could be part of the team for several years than have a veteran guy clogging up space.

And while it’s easy to sit here and say, “Just waive him and when he goes unclaimed, send him to the minors.” That sounds all well and good, but how teams treat players is followed closely by other players and their agents around the league. While you may get out from salary cap hell sooner by doing that, the long-term effects are worse, because you risk damage to your brand if players feel you value them less as individuals. Burying a long-time NHL veteran in the minors just to get out from under his cap hit should truly be a last resort and done after exhausting all other possibilities. Briere wants to do right by Atkinson and make the Flyers better in the process, so it’s a delicate tightrope to walk.

Atkinson has that clause in his contract for a reason, and he has every right to exercise it, so there can’t be any ill will toward him for doing so. This is no different that Torey Krug blocking the trade last summer when the Flyers were this close to sending Travis Sanheim to St. Louis.

Keep in mind, Atkinson can always change his course of thinking and come around to playing for the Sharks and waive that right to block a trade there.

But players have their reasons for getting those no-trade clauses. Some of them want on-ice stability. Some do it for reasons having nothing to do with hockey. Atkinson and his family have really taken to the area and it would be understandable, at this point in his career, if he would like to avoid moving all the way across the country so he can stay closer to his wife and kids in a place they want to live even after his playing days conclude.

Keep an eye on this situation over the next several days leading up to the draft next week. A lot of times, moves like this are precursors to other moves. It’s a game of chess and the best GMs are able to see moves several steps down the line. Right now, Briere would like Atkinson to be a pawn that moves further down the board for a bigger piece to be played.