PHILADELPHIA — Here's the $69 million question: What can the Flyers do now to improve through free agency when they just lost a million or two off the original NHL salary cap projection?

Other than part ways with Vinny Lecavalier (so far, no takers, even though general manager Ron Hextall gave Lecavalier's agent, Kent Hughes, permission to talk to other teams), the Flyers have no space at all.

In fact, at this moment, they are a couple hundred thousand over the cap.

So, if things stay the same, don't look for the Flyers to add anybody of note when free agency starts on Tuesday.

Hextall said the Flyers have reached out to some potential unrestricted free agents.

"We haven't met with anybody,'' Hextall said Saturday after the NHL Entry Draft ended at the Wells Fargo Center.

"First on my agenda right now is to go back to Skate Zone and take a look at our cap. We have the hard number now, so we've got to look at it and see where we can try to maneuver.''

Without question, that $69 million figure kind of hit the Flyers where it hurts – in the wallet.

"Yeah, it affects every team that's close,'' Hextall said. "It affects us for sure. We've got to find a way to get below it. It was a little lower than we thought and hoped.''

Flyers going tobacco-free?: The recent death of baseball's Tony Gwynn has once again brought to light the dangers of tobacco use, even the smokeless variety.

While chewing tobacco is not as prevalent in hockey as it is in baseball, there are still some old-school types who insist on this bad habit.

At last Tuesday's press conference, Hextall acknowledged that the Flyers have had discussions about limiting or perhaps even banning tobacco use in their facilities.

A hockey team can't dictate what a player can do away from the rink but it can encourage a healthy lifestyle, educate and enlighten players on the issue.

Would the Flyers seriously consider such a ban?

"I would be all for it,'' Hextall said. "I remember when I played, they put the pictures up in our (dressing) room (of cancer victims). I think it's a good thing.''

From Hextall's vantage point, is there much chewing still going on in hockey?

"I think there's some,'' he said. "I don't think it's like baseball. You're not out in the field. It might be part of the culture of baseball, it's not the culture of hockey.''

Would the Flyers get ahead of the situation by not waiting for the NHL to do something and get proactive by themselves?

"We've talked about it. We've talked about having a rule within our locker room. We'll continue to talk about it.''

Luke-warm on coach's challenge: On another timely topic, Hextall sounds only luke-warm on the concept of a coach's challenge similar to what football has and baseball recently instituted.

Hextall isn't foreign to the idea, he's just concerned that the appeal might be used too often and slow down a game that prides itself on speed and action.

"I think it's one of those things where I think the league is doing the right thing by going slowly here,'' Hextall said. "You don't want to reverse something that's been given.

"To me, you want to go slow and make sure you're doing the right thing. It's 'how many seconds back can you go?' There are a lot of good questions out there.''

Some coaches have gone on record to say they would be in favor of an appeal system that would cover replays beyond just pucks crossing the goal line.

One proposal would be to have one challenge. If the coach is wrong, he loses his timeout. Therefore, the impact on the game isn't that great.

Hextall doesn't quite agree.

"If there's an offside and play continues for another minute and a half and then the other team scores,'' Hextall said. "If you bring it back, is there a time limit?

"There are a lot of things to work through there. I'm not opposed to it but I think there are a lot of things to work through. Don't put it in until there's more thought process and talking.''