Work Remains

Kent Wilson
July 05 2010 09:21AM

 

 

 

After the flurry of activity this past long weekend, the Flames appear to have their roster more or less set heading into the new season. Appearances may be deceiving, however. According to Cap Geek, Calgary has $1.15M in cap space remaining, with 12 forwards, 7 defenders and two goalies signed. One of those forwards is Ales Kotalik. The back-end lacks Ian White, who remains a restricted free agent.

In truth, the team needs to add a 4th line center and perhaps an extra forward. Both will likely need to be near league minimum. If you add those two theoretical players and delete Kronwall and Kotalik from the roster by sending them to the AHL when things get going, that leaves the club with approximately $3.65M in cap room (assuming 500k salaries for the 12th and 13th forwards). That cushion should be enough to sign Ian White without moving any other pieces, although that would likely leave the club periously close to the upper limit, depending on what White ultimately signs for. 

Ramifications:

- Mikael Backlund (and his 1.27M salary) doesn't have a place on the current roster, both in terms of fit and budget. The only way he makes the team out of camp is if Daymond Langkow remains on injured reserve. Otherwise, it's another year of seasoning for him in the AHL. Honestly, that's probably not such a bad thing.

- Craig Conroy at or near league minimum for the 4th line suddenly makes all sorts of sense.

- Despite the fact that Sutter may be able to shoe-horn everything under the cap by banishing Kotalik in September to the farm, the club will likely want to clear more space before the season begins. As Sutter learned two seasons ago, spending the year pressed firmly against the cap ceiling can cause all sorts of problems down the line. A minimum of $1M or so of cap clearance should be the organizational goal.

- Steve Staios' $2.7M salary for a team knee-deep in NHL defenders is an absolute millstone. Matt Pelech beating out Staios for a job in camp would do all sorts of good things for the organization (assuming management would be willing to stash some $5.7M in salary on the farm in Staios and Kotalik). It would also render Sutter's post-Phaneuf work last season both very expensive and completely pointless.

- The Flames depth chart looks fine until you delete a top 6 winger or two. A long-term injury to Iginla or Tanguay and you suddenly have Tim Jackman and/or Raitis Ivanans playing in the top 9. With vets Colins Stuart, David Van Der Gulik and Jason Jaffray moving on from Abbotsford this summer, there's precious little help to be had from the farm as well. 

- The PP has been a perpetual sore point for this team for the last 2 seasons. The moves this summer don't improve it - at least, not on paper. Tanguay and Jokinen were bad and mediocre with the man advantage respectively last year. Dawes, on the other hand, was the Flames most efficicent producer of points a man up. Stajan and Hagman were both middling on the PP as well last year, although it's difficult to project what a full season of them on the Flames man advantage will look like. 

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Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 R O
July 05 2010, 09:43AM
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The recent additions won't improve the PP. Jokinen is terrible on the man-advantage which is hard even for me to believe given the type of player that he is, but there it is. The Crown Prince of Plays Dying on His Stick.

I remember MattF once talking about Tanguay, about how he was elite at evens but perfectly average on the PP. IIRC he said it was something about Tanguay's passing game and how he couldn't exploit the opposition if they were already set up defensively. At the time I thought it was just a post ex facto explanation of a poor year by the numbers, but maybe there's something to it.

In any case I just hope Brent sees reason and doesn't put Jokinen and Regehr on the man-advantage. Or if Jokinen does go on, keep him the hell away from the #1 unit.

I doubt the PP will even break top half but there's nowhere to go but up, really. So I expect improvements there just from momentum alone.

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#3 JF
July 05 2010, 10:49AM
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Not for nothing but if there was a long-term injury to Iginla the least of your worries is who from the farm plays on the third line.

I think Backlund is on the team from the start of the season. I have a bad feeling that Daymond Langkow starts the season on LTIR.

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#4 Rain Dogs
July 05 2010, 10:57AM
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The more time that passes a few things are happening. 1. I'm realizing that Sutter is not totally out to lunch. 2. I'm realizing the the Calgary media are a seriously dense collection of imbeciles

Everyone is going on and on about the Flames current "predicaments" and cap problems, and considering these things, how stupid Sutter was for signing Jokinen. (Check the Sun for example)

Sure, the cap looks tight right now, but seriously, unless A: there is a complete void of further options, White refuses to come back, Langkow is healthy and Kotalik, Sarich AND Staois are offered spots on the roster come opening night then the last thing we need to worry about is the cap.

Think of it this way:

The other extreme is B: Langkow cannot play (-4.5mil) Kotalik goes to Europe (-3.0mil) White signs (~+3.0) and one of Staois/Sarich (-~3.0) loses their job in pre-season to a kid (~750k)and is buried in the minors.

Then we're looking at: 10 forwards signed 7 solid d signed including White 2 goalies

Backlund moves in (+1.3) and we've got over 5 million free dollars in cap space.

The point is, had we not signed Jokinen (3 mil) and option B is closer to reality, or IS reality and IMHO it is closer to reality, then we would have had 8 million free.

Did people seriously expect Sutter to just sit on his hands while everyone was signed and do nothing until training camp?

I could care less if ownership burns up their money with Staois and Kotalik buried somewhere, I only care about the real cap, so all things considered, Sutter SHOULD be signing guys who can assist the team in case of option B and deal with the dead weight after the fact if necessary.

Again, Jokinen is probably twice the value of Kotalik for the same money.

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#5 Robert Cleave
July 05 2010, 11:21AM
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Everyone is going on and on about the Flames current "predicaments" and cap problems, and considering these things, how stupid Sutter was for signing Jokinen. (Check the Sun for example)

That's a worthwhile point, particularly in the cases of Staios/Kotalik. Anyone who listened to the Sutter presser on Friday should have been able to read between the lines, especially in the case of Kotalik. I can't remember the last time I built a Flames roster on CapGeek that included either of those two guys, and I don't think that's just wishful thinking on my part. The real Flames' salary number is around 58.5-59 million without SS/AK at their combined hit of 5.7 million, IMO. That leaves them enough room that they might be able to make a hockey trade of sorts for Sarich if one is out there.

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#7 Robert Cleave
July 05 2010, 11:36AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

One thing that should be noted going forward is that Langkow on LTIR does NOT = 4.5M of cap space. The cap hit remains, but the team is free to replace him with another player up to his cap hit for as long as he's injured.

That sounds like a pointless distinction, but it isn't. Say for example Team A is up against the ceiling, but has player X on LTIR with a cap hit of $3M. They remain a cap team, no matter what they do at this point - replace him with a guy making 500k or 3M. When the deadline rolls around, their cap hit is again fixed at the ceiling...they don't have that $3M to play with and perhaps throw at a deadline acquisition. This was one of the reasons that Warrener on LTIR back in 08-09 caused problems later on.

So, in Lawrence's example above, if Langkow starts the year on LTIR and Backlund takes his place, the Flames don't really garner $3M and change in extra cap room from the difference in their salaries.

The Flames would only get relief if Langkow stayed on LTIR for the entire season, correct. Warrener's hit never counted against them in 08/09 solely because he never played again. If you have any hope of a player returning, you must include his salary and return to compliance when that player is put back on the active roster.

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#8 olderthendirt
July 05 2010, 11:38AM
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Everyone assumes the ownership is fine with spending $500000 or so for players in the minors.

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#9 olderthendirt
July 05 2010, 11:39AM
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that should be 5 million.

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#12 Robert Cleave
July 05 2010, 11:42AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

On Warrener: I think he did count against the Flames insomuch as his cap hit "remained" on the roster all year. If he'd been demoted to the AHL in September, his 2.35M worth of space prorated at the deadline probably would have saved the team all it's cap troubles. Assuming Sutter wouldn't have spent it before that point, of course.

Right, they didn't get the full compounding value of having that 2 million and change turn into 10-11 million in pro-rated space at the deadline. They got strict replacement value only.

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#14 Rain Dogs
July 05 2010, 11:56AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

One thing that should be noted going forward is that Langkow on LTIR does NOT = 4.5M of cap space. The cap hit remains, but the team is free to replace him with another player up to his cap hit for as long as he's injured.

That sounds like a pointless distinction, but it isn't. Say for example Team A is up against the ceiling, but has player X on LTIR with a cap hit of $3M. They remain a cap team, no matter what they do at this point - replace him with a guy making 500k or 3M. When the deadline rolls around, their cap hit is again fixed at the ceiling...they don't have that $3M to play with and perhaps throw at a deadline acquisition. This was one of the reasons that Warrener on LTIR back in 08-09 caused problems later on.

So, in Lawrence's example above, if Langkow starts the year on LTIR and Backlund takes his place, the Flames don't really garner $3M and change in extra cap room from the difference in their salaries.

This is certainly true.

I guess my point is that, this is the first year in many, that I can remember anyway, where our 'top-end' forward depth is more of a strength and our bottom end/replacement players is our weakness. We have flexibility going forward, which is especially important re: the health of Langkow.

For example, Having Jokinen, Stajan and Langkow as our top three centres suits me better than having Langkow, Conroy, Boyd, Prust/Primeau etc.etc.

I like the idea of Conroy at 500k. I'm sure that Sutter made a pitch to Mayers at 750k. The nice thing is, we can sit and wait. Sutter has put himself in a position to squeeze guys...including Langkow. We're not desperate for Lanks to come in ...play unhealthy in a limited 3rd line centre role, while he recovers from a serious neck injury.

It's nice to be able to argue about whether Tim Jackman will ever play a game in the bigs, or if he'll be in Abby the whole year, while we wait to see what unsigned players desperate to play will take come September.

Ivanis may just sit in the presser earning his 600k, rubbing his knuckles.

I would take Mayers as a fourth line C, who can win a face-off, for 600k...maybe time will force him to take that too.

Hell, we don't even have to be forced by White. I personally don't want him for more than 2.5. I think a 1.7 million dollar raise is good enough.

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#17 R O
July 05 2010, 12:05PM
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I guess my point is that, this is the first year in many, that I can remember anyway, where our 'top-end' forward depth is more of a strength and our bottom end/replacement players is our weakness. We have flexibility going forward, which is especially important re: the health of Langkow.

07/08 was the last season. The Flames had a ferocious top 6, probably contending for best in the West IMO, but their bottom 6 contended for the worst.

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#18 R O
July 05 2010, 12:13PM
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I like the idea of Conroy at 500k. I'm sure that Sutter made a pitch to Mayers at 750k. The nice thing is, we can sit and wait. Sutter has put himself in a position to squeeze guys...including Langkow. We're not desperate for Lanks to come in ...play unhealthy in a limited 3rd line centre role, while he recovers from a serious neck injury.

I think we're pretty desperate for Langkow to come in. I mean 09/10 pretty much highlighted that Lanks was the only centre capable of breaking even in terms of scoring chances, territorial play, shots, eyeballing, everything, in tough minutes. Jokinen didn't do it, Stajan didn't do it (against softs!).

Stajan and Jokinen are bigger names but they are undeniably worse hockey players. I'd even take Conroy in a bigger role, at least he was good at it at some point in his career.

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#19 Rain Dogs
July 05 2010, 12:14PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

A small part of me is hoping someone comes along and offers White 3.7M or so with an offer sheet.

If you're hoping, why not hope for 3.93mil or whatever the number is this year.

Come on Edmonton.... you know you want him for that, and you know we'll be happy to take your 1st,2nd, and 3rd while you suck for a few years.

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#20 Rain Dogs
July 05 2010, 12:27PM
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R O wrote:

I like the idea of Conroy at 500k. I'm sure that Sutter made a pitch to Mayers at 750k. The nice thing is, we can sit and wait. Sutter has put himself in a position to squeeze guys...including Langkow. We're not desperate for Lanks to come in ...play unhealthy in a limited 3rd line centre role, while he recovers from a serious neck injury.

I think we're pretty desperate for Langkow to come in. I mean 09/10 pretty much highlighted that Lanks was the only centre capable of breaking even in terms of scoring chances, territorial play, shots, eyeballing, everything, in tough minutes. Jokinen didn't do it, Stajan didn't do it (against softs!).

Stajan and Jokinen are bigger names but they are undeniably worse hockey players. I'd even take Conroy in a bigger role, at least he was good at it at some point in his career.

I disagree.

How many players would you bury, and how much would you convince Langkow to take a full year off to free up 4.5 million plus ???? to sign a healthy 5 vs 5 centre who only needs to replace 15 goals.

Langkow is very good, I take nothing away from him on that, but he's also very well paid. AND he's potentially not 100%, and he's already only looked 80% this last year before the injury.

I don't think Lanks has the leverage. 5 million bucks (4.5+500k) can get you a pretty good 'tough minutes' low-scoring centre.

Didn't Alexei Ponikarovsky split LW/C duties?

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#21 R O
July 05 2010, 12:53PM
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Name the players who can play against even strength star players and actually succeed. The list is short and they are all highly paid or about to be. Many are star players in their own right.

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#22 Casey
July 05 2010, 01:10PM
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What are the cap implications if the injury was career threatening, and Langkow were to announce his retirement? Obviously, I hope that isn't necessary. But would his contract come off the cap since he was under 35 when he signed?

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#24 Greg
July 05 2010, 01:24PM
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Saw the list of arbitration filings on TSN, and no mention of White. Anyone know if he did indeed opt to not file? If so I think that means he becomes eligible for an offer sheet. Doubt he's courting one though, I'm guessing this means the 2 sides are close. I hope they sign him, but I would take the picks as well if it includes a first rounder.

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#25 Luc
July 05 2010, 02:43PM
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im so much more interested in this article then the last. debating better routes for the team and cap hits and possibilites. i wanted to shoot myself with the lack of enthusiasm or optimism of the last article.

i hate reading the hate mail.

im in the EXACTLY same boat as lawrence. well said and i to think sutter may just be a wee bit smarter then we give him credit for.

(lets hope the ownership is going to swallow that 5 mill in players in abbotsford)

this team is NOT going to be the trainwreck everyone seems to think it will be.

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#26 Robert Cleave
July 05 2010, 02:55PM
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Ian White filed for arbitration, as per Scott Cruickshank's Twitter feed.

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#27 R O
July 05 2010, 02:59PM
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Ian White filed for arbitration, as per Scott Cruikshank.

No surprise, he has the offensive numbers to earn Sarich money (maybe not so much the underlying offensive ability though you and I are probably on opposite ends of that debate).

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#28 Robert Cleave
July 05 2010, 03:10PM
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R O wrote:

Ian White filed for arbitration, as per Scott Cruikshank.

No surprise, he has the offensive numbers to earn Sarich money (maybe not so much the underlying offensive ability though you and I are probably on opposite ends of that debate).

I don't know if I'd pay him 3.6 million, offensive worth or no, R O, because I think he's just one of those nice second pairing D on a good team, and paying those dudes that much money isn't my cup of tea. It's the comps in an arbitration hearing that worry me. I'm not sure they're in Calgary's favour.

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#30 Robert Cleave
July 05 2010, 03:22PM
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That link from my earlier comment might not work.

Cruickshank's Tweet.

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#31 Greg
July 05 2010, 03:37PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Yup. I wouldn't be surprised to see White earn north of 3.5M in the arb.

I'll be pleasantly surprised if it's near $3M, but I'm expecting something around the $3.5 mark.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think an RFA who has filed for arbitration rights can't be signed to an offer sheet, correct? So either we sign him before the hearing, sign him for whatever he gets awarded, or let him walk away as a UFA. If he got $4M, would you let him walk?

Given Souray cleared waivers, I'm losing confidence that Sarich can be traded at all anymore. Sutter's got his work cut out for him. Really shot himself in the foot with the Kotalik and Staois trades.

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#33 Graham
July 05 2010, 04:19PM
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Kent wrote

I would take Mayers as a fourth line C, who can win a face-off, for 600k...maybe time will force him to take that too.

I like the option of resigning Mayers (at the right price). I thought he brought an interesting mix of size, speed and grit to the 4th line. He seemed a cut above your normal 4th line grinder.

Boyd would have been another good fit, but we basically gave him away for nothing. He signed with the Habs for a reasonable $650K, which would ahve been in our price range.

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#34 dustin642
July 05 2010, 09:20PM
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All this Ian White getting north of $3.5M is very scary, more so because if that is what White gets, then what do we have to pay Giordano??? Recently I bashed the signings if Raitis Ivanans and Tim Jackman, but after looking into them and finding out a little bit about the players they are, I will be pretty happy to have them on the 4th line. Jackman comes very well recommended from Brent Sutter, he is an agitator and really likes to get under your skin. He has only played in crap markets and is extremely excited to play for a Canadian team that has passionate fans that will care and respect the style of game he plays. Ivanans is a big mean fighter, and sure a lot of people do not see a need for a pure knuckle chucker in the NHL anymore, but at the very least as a 13th forward, they do serve a purpose. And this dude is a tank! Honestly as long as one of those dinner plate sized fists makes contact to the face region of Ryan Kesler, Roberto Loungo, and/or Alex Burrows, then I say 600k well spent! But really, the big man is a decent defensive minded forward who never gives less then 100% a night and should be capable of slightly more than McGrattans 2:45 of ice-time per game.

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