Will the Flames Buy-Out Stajan? And Other Contract Issues

Kent Wilson
January 16 2013 07:12AM

With the news yesterday that team's will have the option of a compliance buy-out immediately (rather than having to wait till the summer), the most frequent question I've been asked is if the Flames will choose to part ways with Matt Stajan soon.

The wrinkle here is the the entire contract cap hit would still count against the Flames cap. On the other hand, by waiting out the shortened season the club can buy him out in the summer and get away cap-penalty free, saving them about $3.5M. Not huge, but certainly not nothing either.

Calgary's other option, of course, is to send Stajan to the minors this season. Unlike the previous CBA, one-way deals can't be completely hidden in the minors anymore, with all but $900,000 staying on the parent club's roster. As such, the team would have to pay Stajan $3.5M to play for Abbotsford, but it would cost them about $2.6M in cap space.

Aside from freeing up a roster spot for what the organization perceives as a superior player given the club has 14 NHL-ready forwards vying for spots (plus various hopefuls like Winchester, Begin, Street and Horak), there isn't much of an impetus for Calgary to either buy-out or demote Matty Franchise right now. Jay Feaster only has to wait a few months before Stajan's second last season expires and then he can erase him for less and with a much improved cap position as re sult to boot.

Short version: its possible, if the Flames have immediate, pressing plans for a roster spot that they'll use the compliance buy-out, although it's much more likely they'd send him down to the Heat and then wait for the summer to rid themselves of his final year.

Gomez, Redden...Flames?

The two guaranteed buy-outs are the guys the rule was more or less made up for this week: the Rangers 35-year old Wade Redden and Montreal's 33-year old Scott Gomez. The second most frequent question I've been asked today is if the Flames will have interest in either of these players.

No.

Especially not Redden. He as a middling defender several years ago when Sather decided to ink him to his absurd $6.5M deal, so now in his mid-30's and after a season and half in the minors I doubt he has improved. It's possible Redden is still NHL-worthy, but I wouldn't press him to be anything more than a 3rd pairing defender. And the one thing the Flames are currently neck deep in is depth defensemen.

As for Gomez, I actually have a lot more time for the player than most fans and pundits these days. His possession numbers have stayed consistently good over the years, but his multiple injuries, lackluster personal shooting percentage and some bad luck all conspired to sink his counting stats to positively putrid levels. I think a healthy Gomez could be a pretty useful third-line/2nd PP center in the league still, but again Calgary isn't exactly aching for bottom-6 forward depth.

In addition, I can't see a team that is dogged by a perception of aging, doddering forwards adding another one to the pile, even if he could potentially be useful to some degree.

One-Way Contract Complications

The actual rule regarding one-way deals and the cap is:

A one-way contract counts against the cap as follows: cap hit – [ minimum salary + $375,000 ]

That means one-way deals at $900k or less don't count when sent to the minors, so guys like Brett Carson ($525k) or Derek Smith ($575k) can be sent down without fear of cap repercussions. Anton Babchuk, on the other hand, would cost the team about $1.6M against the cap if he was shuttled to Abbotsford.

These are relevant issues with so many guys vying for the 6th and 7th spots on Calgary's blueline. Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano, Chris Butler, Dennis Wideman are all shoe-ins, while TJ Brodie should be considered a near lock as well. Corey Sarich likely has the inside track to be the Flames 6th defender since he was re-signed in the summer, leaving Babchuk, Smith, Carson, Steve McCarthy and Chris Breen to duke it out for 7th.

Probably the best outcome for Calgary is they expose Babchuk to waivers in order to send him down and he is plucked off the wire by some other club. That or Feaster finds a way to trade him before camp ends, which isn't as ridiculous as it once seemed since we've recently seen a spike in demand for NHL depth defenders.

Parting Thought

“When you’re young, like we were in St. Louis, you’re not good enough to play power on power,” Murray said. “You cannot play your top players against the best teams’ top players. We needed a line that had the responsibility of making sure that we defended our game."

That's Andy Murray talking to the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle about his time with the Blues and Jay McClement (one of the purest defensive forwards in the league). This entire passage could be re-written for the Flames by simply replacing "when you're young" with "when you're key players are older".

One the of the reasons the Flames possession rates cratered last year was the team completely lacked in any sort of hard minutes/shut-down line option. As has been pointed out in this space time and again, Iginla, Tanguay, Cammalleri, etc aren't up to the task anymore and with the guys like Craig Conroy and Daymond Langkow who used to play this role in bygone times now gone, the team has floundered as the role has been placed back on Iginla's shoulders (ie; "power vs power" as Murray puts it above).

If the Flames insist on keeping Jarome around and want to remain competitive, they will need to either find a Jay McClemment/Sammy Pahlsson type center so they can construct a "nothing" line to feed to the wolves or, you know, improve the top-end enough that they can effectively match the big guns vs big guns again.   

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
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 xis10ce
January 16 2013, 07:46AM
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There is ZERO reason to use the compliance buyout early for NYR / MTL. It's 100% a favour to the player to potentially them out of bubble wrap so they can play this year. But there in is the liability, if they are bought out early then picked up by one of your 14 conference opponents, you've just paid early to improve your opposition at no benefit to you...

If I was GM of either team I'd say screw that and call up those two, then to sit tight at home because it's going to be a long year on the couch.

Quite frankly a more fair approach to the compliance buyout would have been to say if the player resigns with a new team this season after being bought out, 1/2 of their new salary doesn't have to be paid by the compliance buyout team. That why the compliance buyout team gets a pittance, the new team gets a roster player and the player gets slightly more $$$ and play time this season. WIN/WIN/WIN!

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#2 seve927
January 16 2013, 08:04AM
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With this type of schedule, having 24 or 25 middling NHLer's may just turn out to be a blessing. Everyone else is going to be losing top players to injury during the season, we don't have any to lose! Except Kipper and Bouwmeester of course, who are composed solely of iron.

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#3 Sincity1976
January 16 2013, 08:20AM
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Is Gomez better then Stajan? If so you can buy out or demote Stajan, ink Gomez to a small 1 year redemption contract. Gomez gets a chance to play on a team with limited C depth but lots of decent wingers.

I doubt it happens. But again, would you rather have Stajan or Gomez?

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#4 loudogYYC
January 16 2013, 08:57AM
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@Sincity1976

I agree. I would sign Gomez to a short contract as an opportunity to showcase himself. He's overpaid in MTL but he's still an effective centre and Calgary isn't deep in effective centres. I kinda hope Feaster's considering it.

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#5 RossCreekNation
January 16 2013, 09:33AM
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If they buy Stajan out now, he'll have the same $2.6M cap hit for this season as if they send him to Abby (Redden will count as $5.6M for NYR, Gomez $6.35M for Habs). So the only benefit to sending him to Abby as opposed to buying him out is that they could later use him in Calgary if need be. The benefit to buying him out now is the (50-man) roster spot & the $800k or so in real dollars that Flames ownership will save.

All that said, I doubt they buy Stajan out. I wonder if maybe they could trade him tho. $2.5M in real dollars... might find a budget team willing.

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#6 Charleston Kingsley
January 16 2013, 09:40AM
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We should not pursue Scott Gomez or Wade Redden. It's like adding another Matt Stajan (but worse) which would be ridiculous. We saw a sign of life from Stajan late last year in which he became one of our more consistent players which is one of the reasons we fell short of the playoffs but anyway, maybe he'll show up this year, too early to say.

This is going to be Backlund's make it or break it year, put him in the top six and see if he can get the job done. These low percentages he has been getting aren't going to last forever especially if he's playing with skilled players such as Baertschi and Cammalleri.

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#7 icedawg_42
January 16 2013, 09:42AM
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Sincity1976 wrote:

Is Gomez better then Stajan? If so you can buy out or demote Stajan, ink Gomez to a small 1 year redemption contract. Gomez gets a chance to play on a team with limited C depth but lots of decent wingers.

I doubt it happens. But again, would you rather have Stajan or Gomez?

I agree with this. I would much rather pick up Gomez and waive Stajan to give Gomez a shot. Problem is this time around with the compliance buyout, Gomez' salary is still on the cap for MTL, isn't it? So Xis10ce brings up a good point, and potential nail in the coffin of this idea.

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#8 Charleston Kingsley
January 16 2013, 09:44AM
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@loudogYYC

Two goals (both on the powerplay) in 38 games last year and he is 33.

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#9 T&A4Flames
January 16 2013, 09:50AM
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Charleston Kingsley wrote:

We should not pursue Scott Gomez or Wade Redden. It's like adding another Matt Stajan (but worse) which would be ridiculous. We saw a sign of life from Stajan late last year in which he became one of our more consistent players which is one of the reasons we fell short of the playoffs but anyway, maybe he'll show up this year, too early to say.

This is going to be Backlund's make it or break it year, put him in the top six and see if he can get the job done. These low percentages he has been getting aren't going to last forever especially if he's playing with skilled players such as Baertschi and Cammalleri.

One thing for sure, if Backs plays with those 2 for the majority of games, there is no excuses. His offensive stats should greatly improve with 2 pure goal scorers on his wings. Also, Baertschi is a pretty good passer as well so if Backs keeps going to the net like it's been reported on in camp, he should score some. I just hope that line gets some soft minutes; give the 2 young guys a chance to build some confidence.

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#10 T&A4Flames
January 16 2013, 09:54AM
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icedawg_42 wrote:

I agree with this. I would much rather pick up Gomez and waive Stajan to give Gomez a shot. Problem is this time around with the compliance buyout, Gomez' salary is still on the cap for MTL, isn't it? So Xis10ce brings up a good point, and potential nail in the coffin of this idea.

To me it makes no sense to buy out Stajan and replace him with Gomez; a player that went an entire calender year with out a goal at 7+mil/per. I actually would rather give Redden the chance. If we could maintain that defensive depth until the deadline, we would be in a good position to aquire some lower draft picks. I believe we have some space under the cap and sonce it's a shortened season, rotate some through the line up to show case them. Redden at 1yr-1mil.... yea, if he fits under the cap, I would do it.

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#11 JF
January 16 2013, 09:54AM
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Sincity1976 wrote:

Is Gomez better then Stajan? If so you can buy out or demote Stajan, ink Gomez to a small 1 year redemption contract. Gomez gets a chance to play on a team with limited C depth but lots of decent wingers.

I doubt it happens. But again, would you rather have Stajan or Gomez?

Me personally? Gomez. If I'm the Flames? Neither.

Gomez reputation is so mud right now that the improvement you might get in terms of player quality doesn't equal either the longer cap penalty or the negative press that signing Gomez would incur (even if it were at league minimum) for the Flames.

I could see a team like Phoenix or the NY Islanders taking a roll of the dice with Gomez but not Calgary.

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#12 RossCreekNation
January 16 2013, 09:57AM
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If you wanted Gomez over Stajan, I guess you could buy Stajan out & be stuck with $2.6M in dead cap space and then sign Gomez for $900k. This would essentially mean you'd have Gomez at the same $3.5M cap hit as Stajan.

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#13 kittensandcookies
January 16 2013, 10:30AM
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I thought the "accelerated compliance buyout" requires the player to make over $3mm pro-rated this season, so Stajan wouldn't qualify.

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#15 SmellOfVictory
January 16 2013, 10:42AM
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Sincity1976 wrote:

Is Gomez better then Stajan? If so you can buy out or demote Stajan, ink Gomez to a small 1 year redemption contract. Gomez gets a chance to play on a team with limited C depth but lots of decent wingers.

I doubt it happens. But again, would you rather have Stajan or Gomez?

Comparing their underlying stats, they look like very similar players. They both look like okay 3rd line centres, essentially (not amazing 3rd line centres, by the way, just okay ones). Literally the only issue with Stajan as a bottom 6 guy is that he's paid 2-3x as much as he should be for the role he can fill. Paycheque aside, he's serviceable; he's just not the 3rd line centre the Flames need (as Kent stated, they need a dude who can take being absolutely buried, and unfortunately the only guy on the Flames who can handle that is Backlund, who I think we'd all prefer to have a chance at a top 6 scoring role if possible).

So in other words, I don't think it's worth it at all to buy out Stajan for Gomez. It's basically a lot of work for what will likely end up being the same result.

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#16 Jeff In Lethbridge
January 16 2013, 10:52AM
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Gomez &/or Redden

Seriously? not a chance we should even consider either of them.

Neither of them make us better now, neither builds the future...

Want a good season?

Let's start by seeing if we can get coach and Captain to play the same system.... this in itself will solve a lot of problems.

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#17 kittensandcookies
January 16 2013, 10:54AM
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Kent, do you have a link to the CBA or other related material? I have to actually comprehend lawyer-speak for my job so I can take a crack at it.

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#20 seve927
January 16 2013, 11:15AM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

Gomez &/or Redden

Seriously? not a chance we should even consider either of them.

Neither of them make us better now, neither builds the future...

Want a good season?

Let's start by seeing if we can get coach and Captain to play the same system.... this in itself will solve a lot of problems.

Complete agreement on all points.

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#21 backburner
January 16 2013, 11:23AM
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There is a rumor up to 5 Western Conference teams are looking at Gomez.. Canucks are one of them..

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#22 icedawg_42
January 16 2013, 11:36AM
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So the moral of the story is Calgary should send O'Reilly an offer sheet?

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#23 beloch
January 16 2013, 11:36AM
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The Flames ambitions fall into two categories:

1. "Going for it!"
2. Rebuild.

Gomez does nothing for #2 and would really need to turn things around to help with #1, although #1 is starting to look a little insane, not that anyone in the org is about to admit that publicly.

I say offer him a 1 year contract at league minimum. He probably won't take it, but if he did, the Flames wouldn't be hurting #2 significantly and would be making a reasonable gamble for #1. There's always the long-shot that he turns into the shut-down center Calgary needs. There's even the remote possibility that, if he turns it around and the Flames still tank, he might even bring a bag of hockey pucks back in at the trade deadline.

Why might Gomez take a crap contract in Calgary? If he doesn't completely stink up the ice he's virtually guaranteed ice-time, and there's a very real possibility a complete mediocrity could move up to the top-6. So, if he places ice-time above compensation (unlikely), Calgary is attractive.

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#26 T&A4Flames
January 16 2013, 12:06PM
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@beloch

"Why might Gomez take a crap contract in Calgary? If he doesn't completely stink up the ice he's virtually guaranteed ice-time, and there's a very real possibility a complete mediocrity could move up to the top-6. So, if he places ice-time above compensation (unlikely), Calgary is attractive."

At this point, I think Gomez would be wise to go where he will get ice time and worry about compensation later. Show that you can play still and you may get a nice contract from someone next year.

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#27 Jeff In Lethbridge
January 16 2013, 12:50PM
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icedawg_42 wrote:

So the moral of the story is Calgary should send O'Reilly an offer sheet?

IN MY OPINION, NO.

Flames should stand pat, see how Backlund/Baertchi/Brodie do, and call it a season with a top five draft pick.

this season has progressed from long-shot gamble into gong-show status with Cervenka sidelined, Hudler off for family, Iggy already nursing a groin, new system/coach, Taungay at center, no true center that can compete.

Enough distraction already... reevaluate at game 30 as to whether there's reason to: 1) bring in help (not likely) 2) buy out anyone 3) trade/sign Iggy

is it true popcorn/pop/hotdogs are free to public at practice this week?

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#28 backburner
January 16 2013, 12:55PM
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@jeffandellie

Yes... free hotdogs and popcorn this week..

But if you ask me, free saddledome beer would be the least they could do to show their appreciation!

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#29 Michael
January 16 2013, 01:03PM
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The Flames still have a "win now' mentality, so a run at Gomez wouldn't surprise me at all. It also sends a signal to Iggy that the Flames are not interested in rebuilding, so please sign here on the dotted line... We have a lot of questions down the middle, so Gomez might be worth a look on a small dollar, short term contract.... but another small older forward isn't the direction we should be going.

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#30 icedawg_42
January 16 2013, 01:13PM
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backburner wrote:

@jeffandellie

Yes... free hotdogs and popcorn this week..

But if you ask me, free saddledome beer would be the least they could do to show their appreciation!

^^^ THIS!

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#31 MAC962
January 16 2013, 02:00PM
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Flames Fans - i read Flames Nation as an Oilers Fan because i love the Game and my team as do you. Its a great Rivalry. I just happened to check out the Canucks Army , 26 !! 26 !! Comments left total on the last 5 articles.. Van City.. Hockey Town ? Bandwagon jumpers. At least we , and i say Oilers and Flames Fans , because we are Loyal to our teams win or lose and yeah i know, the Oil have had enough of the the losing crap, and i am afraid the Flames may have a few tough years coming, but we are diehards and support our teams.

IDLE NO MORE ! Should be some Nucks jerseys out there i am sure.

All that aside, How is Sven doing in Camp ? He i have to admit is a wicked player. Have not heard much.

See you in the playoffs. Wouldn't that be sweet ? We both deserve it.

Peace Flames Fans... For now.

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#32 T&A4Flames
January 16 2013, 02:48PM
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Does anyone know if our guys that were put on waivers yesterday cleared or picked up by anyone?

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#33 ChinookArch
January 16 2013, 03:25PM
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"Probably the best outcome for Calgary is they expose Babchuk to waivers in order to send him down and he is plucked off the wire by some other club"

Ya! That's what I've been saying. The man does not fit on this team. Get rid of him.

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#34 loudogYYC
January 16 2013, 03:38PM
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@Charleston Kingsley

I'm not interested in Gomez being the #1 centre in Calgary now or in the future. I'm saying he'd be an upgrade at centre for the Flames. He can penalty kill and apparently play the PP too, he can distribute the puck and not get buried by top opposition either.

He needs a rebound season to land a bigger contract next year. What better place than Calgary that has lots of wingers but no centremen.

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#35 Jonathan Happy
January 16 2013, 04:12PM
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@T&A4Flames

I'd say Backlunds success will be determined by how Hartley uses his line, to a fair degree. If he throws Backlund and company almost exclusively against the Zetterbergs' and Toews' of the West, I seriously doubt his counting stats increase by much. His percentages will no doubt increase, so he should score a fair few more goals, but I wouldn't count on anything earth-shattering. He's a good possession player, especially considering he played against tough compeition last year, but he's still not Zetterberg or Datsyuk. If Hartley can spread the difficult starts around this year, giving guys like Hudler and Cervenka some of the tougher reps, Backlund should do fine.

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#36 Jonathan Happy
January 16 2013, 04:14PM
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By the way, I think the Canucks will try to sign Gomez. Their roster is by no means weak, but losing Kesler and Booth for extended periods of time can't be ignored, particularly in a condensed season.

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#37 RKD
January 16 2013, 05:37PM
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I guess with Gomez it would be if the Flames brass thought a change of scenery would be good for him.

Even if he has strong possession numbers, I really don't think he could help the Flames in any manner. He would only create another unnecessary distraction.

Might as well let Stajan ride it out this season and buy him out in the summer. He's probably better to keep around in case of injuries.

Redden, no. he's older than Gomez hasn't played in the NHL for a couple of years. Can't see him helping our defence. I would take Derek Smith over Cory Sarich or Anton Babchuk for the sixth spot. I know the Sarich/Brodie tandem worked well together last season but Sarich has had injury issues.

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#38 SmellOfVictory
January 16 2013, 06:30PM
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Jonathan Happy wrote:

I'd say Backlunds success will be determined by how Hartley uses his line, to a fair degree. If he throws Backlund and company almost exclusively against the Zetterbergs' and Toews' of the West, I seriously doubt his counting stats increase by much. His percentages will no doubt increase, so he should score a fair few more goals, but I wouldn't count on anything earth-shattering. He's a good possession player, especially considering he played against tough compeition last year, but he's still not Zetterberg or Datsyuk. If Hartley can spread the difficult starts around this year, giving guys like Hudler and Cervenka some of the tougher reps, Backlund should do fine.

Given his apparent marriage to Baertschi (of which I am a huge fan) it seems likely that Backlund will get softer minutes than that, for the most part. Sort of a secondary scoring line, is my presumption.

If any one line is given the checking line treatment it'll be Jones. And honestly, Calgary's 4th liners are good enough that they might be able to handle it without completely collapsing.

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#39 Baalzamon
January 16 2013, 07:12PM
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@SmellOfVictory

to that end, something that's been percolating in my head for a while now is the possibility of a Glencross - Jones - Comeau 4th unit to eat defensive starts, once Hudler and Cervenka are back and if Stajan sticks in that 3rd C slot.

Cervenka - Tanguay - Iginla

Baertschi - Backlund - Cammalleri

Hudler - Stajan - Stempniak

Glencross - Jones - Comeau

it might work, and it might not, but if that's not the best "4th" line in the league, I'll eat my left shoe.

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#40 SmellOfVictory
January 16 2013, 08:15PM
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@Baalzamon

Yeah, I'd be okay with that. They could split the ES icetime about evenly that way, instead of having a 4th line that plays 8-10 min/night.

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#41 T&A4Flames
January 16 2013, 09:15PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

to that end, something that's been percolating in my head for a while now is the possibility of a Glencross - Jones - Comeau 4th unit to eat defensive starts, once Hudler and Cervenka are back and if Stajan sticks in that 3rd C slot.

Cervenka - Tanguay - Iginla

Baertschi - Backlund - Cammalleri

Hudler - Stajan - Stempniak

Glencross - Jones - Comeau

it might work, and it might not, but if that's not the best "4th" line in the league, I'll eat my left shoe.

Interesting idea. It would eliminate the typical 4th line of somewhat useless pugilists and muckers. I'm not sure GlenX would be overly happy but that line could have success. Still, you wouldn't want to play that line 20-25min. Night against the top lines in the league.

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#42 SmellOfVictory
January 16 2013, 10:03PM
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@T&A4Flames

No, but if you put them out for 12ish and gave them substantial dzone starts, the rest of the lines could spread the other minutes about equally and have a slightly easier time with it.

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