August 01 2010 03:15PM
With Ian White's deal landing a Happy Meal short of $3 million, the Flames last order of business this off-season is to become cap compliant before the season starts. While Cap Geek reports the Flames are $2M and change over the cap, the truth is that one can readily delete AHL minor leaguers Staffan Kronwall without much fuss. The Flames won't be carrying 8 defenders and Kronwall is the most obvious choice to get shuttled out of town.
With Niklas' lest talented brother out of the picture, the club is actually about 1.85M above the ceiling. As such, technically only one of Ales Kotalik or Steve Staios needs to be pushed overboard for Calgary to be back in the black. Replace Staios' 2.7M on the roster with Matt Pelech's 600k, and the Flames cap space balloons to $250k(!). Woohoo!
Of course, that would leave the margin for error/injury during the year razor thin. It would also mean the Flames would have next to no opportunity to make any additions via trade during the season without first dropping significant injury. So while demoting Staios to captain the Abbotsford Heat would technically solve the immediate problem of getting beneath the cap, it would mostly be a short term solution.
There's been much mention of Calgary getting "cap relief" from a potential long-term injury to Daymond Langkow, but as we've discussed before, the LTIR-exemption doesn't simply delete a contract from the team's budget - it merely allows them to go over the cap by the replacement players salary (up to a maximum of the LTIR players cap hit) for as long as the injured guy remains out. So if Langkow begins the year in the infirmiry, the cap relief wouldn't extend to the dual issues of injury replacement and trade space mentioned above.
What all this means is: even if the Flames are willing to demote Steve Staios, ideally one more pricey contract is going to have to go out the door. Deleting Kotalik instead of Staios creates the same problem - he's only 300k more expensive and the cap savings would only be marginally better at 550k.
Removing both Kotalik and Staios, on the other hand, boosts the club's cap space to 3.25M. If you assume the team would replace Kotalik with another near-minimum wage earner (Conroy at 600K for example), the Flames would have a full 13 forward, 7 defender roster and $2.65M to spare. Now the question is...is it even possible for the Sutter to demote $5.7M in salaries?
Natually, this is just one (and, in my mind, ideal) scenario. Suggestions for others are welcome...