June 04 2012 12:02PM
SNET's Roger Millions dropped a bit of a bomb on twitter today. He claims the Flames will operate significantly under the NHL salary cap for the upcoming season:
If true, that change can have some wide ranging implications for the club.
For those who missed it, Bob McKenzie recently reported the new (potential) cap for the upcoming season would be about 70.3M, absent any new CBA alterations. The Flames already have about $51M committed to next season, so a self-imposed $55M shrinks their roster budget from just north of $19M to about $4M, give or take.
That amount includes only 8 forwards total and only 3 defenders you would classify as top-4 guys. So Calgary has significant holes to fill and, if Roger's assertion is accurate, virtually no budget space to do it.
That means the club will have to be dealing at least one of the big tickets this summer: Kipper, Iggy or Bouwmeester. I floated these possibilities by Millions and he responded:
@Kent_Wilson Not all three...maybe one of them. btw don't expect Iggy or Kipper to be one of them. So.......????— Roger Millions (@RogMillions) June 4, 2012
The implication is that Jay Bouweester is on the block heading into the draft. So of the the three big ticket players, the Flames are apparently looking into trading the (admittedly overpaid) 28-year old, rather than the 35 -year old forward on the last season of his current deal or the 36-year old puckstopper who has had one notably good season in the last four.
This obviously worries me. We're still dealing with rumors and speculation, but Millions is sufficiently close to the team that we can say there might be a fire below all this smoke. I have no principled argument against the club trying to keep budget costs around 50-60M (that's a lot of cheddar) but looking to move JayBo ahead of the other guys smacks of a marketing rather than hockey decision - he is a far better bet to be sustain his current performance level than the other guys.
Bouwmeester has become a whipping boy in town because of his lackluster offensive totals and huge cap hit, so his departure would be met by cheers in many quarters, but he remains far and away the most capable defender on the Flames blueline. His ouster would leave a giant hole on the back-end and, because of meh output and big salary, it's likely the team won't get concurrent value in return should they move him. Moving him for some futures represents a faily big gamble, particularly because the team is adamant they won't be "rebuilding" any time soon.
Of course, what this also means is the team should get aggressive about deleting other inefficient salaries for players that aren't nearly as essential as Bouwmeester. Anton Babchuk (2.5M) and Matt Stajan (3.5M) come to mind.
Beyond the particulars, deleting that much cap space from the budget simply means the Flames will have a lot less flexibility going forward. If true, a $55M will pose a significant challenge for Feaster, particularly as the club continues to try to ice a competitive club in the short term. Calgary was facing anu uphill climb in that regard going forward anyways, so doing so on the cheap (which the team hasn't attempted since the salary cap came into effect) will be, um...interesting to say the least.
I expect the Flames will have a response to this report within the week. We'll update as more info is released.