Why the Flames signed Nicklas Grossmann

Christian Roatis
October 13 2016 11:39AM

The only thing that made less sense than starting Nicklas Grossmann in the Calgary Flames’ first game of the regular season in Edmonton last night was signing the brick-footed defenceman altogether.

But, as Brad Treliving explained hours after inking Grossmann on Tuesday, there was a definite method to his madness. Ladislav Smid won’t play for the Calgary Flames this season, but they’re still on the hook for his $4 million salary and $3.5 million cap hit. On the surface, there’s a simple solution to this: throw him on long term injured reserve and redeem the $3.5 million in cap space to spend on a new shiny toy!

Not so fast.

We all laughed at the Flames when they submitted their official roster to the NHL office on Tuesday with cap space totalling just over $8,000. We also scratched our heads because the reason they had zero breathing room under the cap was their bewildering signing of Grossmann which not only erased any space under the cap, but also muddied an already unclear situation on the Flames' blueline.

What the heck, Brad? We thought you were a wizard genius?

Well, he is. As it turns out, LTIR space is only afforded to the teams that actually need that space. As Cap Friendly explains, in order to get full LTIR relief, a team needs to have literally zero cap space when they designate that player for LTIR, because the cap savings you receive is calculated under this formula:

LTIR Cap Relief = Cap Hit of LTIR’d Player - (Salary Cap – Current Team Salary Total)

Meaning, every penny the Flames are under the salary cap when they LTIR Smid is deducted from the savings they would receive from his contract. 

So, considering Brett Kulak and his $656,666 cap hit made the roster, that left the team just a shade over $575,000 in cap space to play with. Under normal circumstances, the Flames would take it and start the season as is. However, this season, if they did that, then when they eventually LTIR Smid, they would’ve received only $2.925M of his $3.5M in cap relief. Thus, signing Grossmann to his gross, but very specific contract.

“You’re adding a contract to help your cap situation,” Brad Treliving noted on Sportsnet 960 after the signing.

My initial reaction to learning this quirk was “Why not just call up someone from the farm to fill that extra space?” Well, as it turns out, nobody comes that cheap. Any call up from Stockton would put the Flames over the salary cap, thus the need to sign somebody from the outside to a very specific deal.

At first, it sounded like the Flames were really high on Lauri Korpikoski and might’ve actually gone down that road had the Dallas Stars not stepped in with a contract offer – and a more lucrative one, at that. Since Grossmann had history with Gulutzan and had been with the team since the beginning of the season, the match was there. Plus, the Flames can option Grossmann to the AHL and regain the cap space in full should they choose to do so down the road. It's not a good match by any means, but one can understand the logic thinking behind it. 

So that is the reason the Calgary Flames signed the God-awful Nicklas Grossmann to a contract. As for why the Calgary Flames played the God-awful Nicklas Grossmann in Edmonton to start the season? I don’t think anyone – Glen Gulutzan included – will ever have a good answer to that. Let’s just hope it never happens again.

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Christian Roatis writes about the Calgary Flames at FlamesNation and covers the NHL Entry Draft for FutureConsiderations. Follow him on Twitter @CRoatis!
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#51 The Real Slim Brodie
October 13 2016, 08:36PM
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@The Real Slim Brodie

I'm sorry

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#52 thumz
October 13 2016, 08:43PM
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beloch wrote:

With Grossmann:
Cap Relief = 3.5M - (73,000,000 - 72,991,734) = $3,491,734
Cap Space = Unused Cap Space + Cap Relief = $3.5M
Without Grossmann:
Cap Relief = 3.5M - (73,000,000 - 72,416,734) = $2,916,734
Cap Space = Unused Cap Space + Cap Relief = $3.5M

So, the Flames get more cap relief thanks to signing Grossmann, but it leaves them with exactly the same amount of cap space because Grossmann does actually have to be paid.

It's certainly possible that burying Grossmann in the minors once Smid goes on LTIR would produce a net gain in cap space. I don't know if the rules are smart enough to close that loophole. They could be. However, for as long as Grossmann remains with the team, the Flames have gained nothing, except a very bad defenceman.

Alright. So I wasn't going nuts thinking this exact same thing.

Let's hope that Grossman comes in handy during a LONG playoff run!!!

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#53 Johnny Goooooooaldreau
October 13 2016, 10:13PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

The RFA thing only applies to goalies. Skaters have to be signed.

It appears you are correct sir.

https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-expansion-draft-rules/c-281010592

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#54 trox
October 14 2016, 03:42AM
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@Backburner

Based on how quickly he abandoned this experiment, I wonder if it wasn't someone else's idea (i.e. Burke). Maybe Gully was just following orders, and can now say "Tried it and it didn't work".

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#55 trox
October 14 2016, 03:45AM
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@Arod

We didn't sign him. We traded for him. At least troll in an accurate manner please.

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#56 cjc
October 14 2016, 07:50AM
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BlueMoonNigel wrote:

How I long for the days when hockey moves were made for hockey reasons and not to suffer the wrath of bean counters and shysters. Is this Gary's foremost legacy?

Say what you will about Gary Bettman, the salary cap may be the only thing that is keeping this league (and teams like the Flames) alive. Without it the southward talent drain would be far worse.

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