In contrast to the draft, Darryl Sutter has never been too active when it comes to July 1; opting instead to re-sign his in-house assets or acquire big names via trade. The most notable free agent signings by Calgary in the last few years have been Todd Bertuzzi and Cory Sarich. As such, Flame fans shouldn’t expect Sutter to make a play for any of the big name guys available tomorrow…
…with the obvious exception of Jay Bouwmeester, of course. With the clock ticking down on Sutter’s “alone time” with the most coveted pending UFA defender in the league, the situation fast becomes something of a catch-22 for the organization:
Calgary has about 10M in cap space remaining and 17 players signed. If Bouwmeester decides not to become a Flame, Sutter will need to invest those cap dollars elsewhere on the roster (top 6 forward, bottom pairing defensemen). However, as the negotiation with JayBo stretches out, the club will be forced to set aside at least 6M of that space since that’s approximately what he’s going to cost. It’s therefore entirely possible the Flames will miss out on other free agents waiting for Bouwmeester, which is obviously a sub-optimal strategy if he inks with another team. It’s in Flames fans best interests to hope for a quick resolution to the Bouwmeester issue one way or the other therefore.
Other points of interest heading into tomorrow:
– Adam Pardy hasn’t been signed. The 25 year old proved he could be an everyday NHLer last year and while his defection wouldn’t be a crippling blow to the Flamers depth chart, it would represent a poor investment considering all the time and money they’ve put into getting Pardy to this point. I can’t imagine what the point of contention is or that Adam thinks he’s going to get significantly better offers elsewhere, so it wouldn’t surprise me to hear of a contract extension in the next few days.
– Johnny Oduya and Brian Gionta are two (soon to be) ex-Devils who could be of interest to the Flames, depending on the Bouwmeester thing. The diminutive 20 goal scorer averaged about 17 minutes of ice under Brent Sutter last year and could be a good fit in the Flames top 6 with the deletions of Todd Bertuzzi and Mike Cammalleri.
As for Oduya, he was basically the Devils 2nd defenseman behind Paul Martin last year, soaking up almost 21 minutes a night, most of it at even strength or short handed. He put up favorable advanced stats at ES across the board in that role, meaning he would be a welcome depth addition to the Flames blueline.
– If Bouwmeester signs with Calgary, the team will have a lot of big contracts, a lot of little contracts and not much in between. That means some low paid guys will be depended upon to deliver better than value performances relative to their contracts (Moss, Glencross, Giordano, Boyd, Bourque). it also means that guys who aren’t going to do that will need to be replaced by guys who will. A quick look at the Flames forward salary structure will instantly give you an idea of who is at risk to be demoted or shipped out:
Iginla – 7M
Jokinen – 5.25M
Langkow – 4.5M
Primeau – 1.4M
Bourque – 1.35M
Moss – 1.3M
Glencross – 1.2M…
Get the picture? Nilson and Eriksson got the giant hook off the NHL stage last year by Sutter due to cap concerns and there’s a good chance the same will happen to Primeau, especially since his contrbutions can likely be replaced by a variety of cheaper options.