January 05 2017 12:00PM
We're roughly halfway through the 2016-17 National Hockey League season. Given that players on one-year deals can now be officially re-signed by NHL clubs - meaning that tinkering for the impending expansion draft can begin in earnest - it's probably a good time to take a look at where the Calgary Flames sit in regards to the salary cap.
To make a long story short: they have a ton of flexibility due to the big-money deals coming off the books, but they also have a lot of work to do and some decisions to make.
The Cap, This Year And Next
This season, the salary cap is $73 million. The early indications for next season are that the cap will be flat. Right now, the Flames are over the salary cap but are able to spend up to $76.49 million due to the exemption they get from Ladislav Smid being on the long-term injured reserve (or LTIR).
Based on NHL Numbers' numbers, the Flames are presently sitting with $2.57 million in cap space to use between now and the end of the season. It's not a ton, but it's not nothing. In terms of performance bonuses to entry-level players - the thing that ate up $630,500 of this year's cap space - my understanding is the LTIR-infused $76.49 million cap is the new ceiling and any spending (including bonuses) over that number comes off next year's cap.
With that in mind, there are six players who have spent time on the NHL roster who have bonuses on their deals: Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, Hunter Shinkaruk, Garnet Hathaway, Mark Jankowski and Brett Kulak. Expect Tkachuk and Bennett to get most of their bonuses, which could push the Flames' cap spending up by over $3 million. It seems probable that they'll get some amount shaved off of next season's cap as a result.
Holy moly, the Flames have a lot of deals coming up for renewal (or abandonment) on July 1:
- Unrestricted free agents: Kris Versteeg ($950,000), Brandon Bollig ($1.25 million, but $300,000 against the cap while buried in the AHL), Dennis Wideman ($5.25 million), Deryk Engelland ($2.917 million), Ladislav Smid ($3.5 million), Chad Johnson ($1.7 million) and Brian Elliott ($2.5 million)
- Restricted free agents: Bennett ($925,000), Micheal Ferland ($825,000), Alex Chiasson ($800,000), Garnet Hathaway ($690,000), Jyrki Jokipakka ($900,000), Tyler Wotherspoon ($625,000), David Rittich ($925,000), Jon Gillies ($925,000), Kenney Morrison ($925,000), Linden Vey ($700,000), Ryan Culkin ($656,667) and Brett Kulak ($656,667)
The good news? That's just over $18 million of space opening up, and presuming the Flames wrap up one of their goalies for a deal at around $4.5 million that leaves them with over $13.5 million to spend. That's great!
The bad news? They need to figure out what's happening with goaltending at both the NHL and AHL levels, they still lack proven wing depth beyond Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, and once you remove Wideman and Engelland (and perhaps a third player via the expansion draft) they need to fill a lot of holes on their blueline.
Sum It Up
The Flames have oodles of big money deals coming off the books this summer, and the only internal pieces that will require decent raises are Bennett and whichever goalie they decide to re-sign. That said, they have their work cut out for them in terms of spending their remaining cap space to fill some holes on their blueline.