Trade Proposal – With a Twist




One of the underlying issues confronting the Flames this off-season is their shortage of cap space. Presuming the players go for the escalator to the salary cap, Calgary will have just under 6 million dollars of space to sign 6 players. If said players were all fourth-liner/bottom-pairing D types, that would be manageable, but given that Ian White is likely included in that number, the task seems almost out of reach without a move to shed a big-ticket player.

The three main targets for removal that most fans are identifying are Kotalik, Sarich and Staios. Before we get to what I’m suggesting, let’s have a look at each man’s contract status, including what buying them out would entail, since yesterday marked the beginning of the 15 days that teams are allowed to offer buyouts to players. 


Ales Kotalik:

Two seasons remaining at a cap hit of 3.0 million per year is a lot for a guy that wouldn’t sniff the top six on a contender. His buyout courtesy of CapGeek:

Cash cost to the team would be 4.0 million over four years, and the cap implications are as follows:

2010-2011: $1,000,000

2011-2012: $1,000,000

2012-2013: $1,000,000

2013-2014: $1,000,000

So buying him out is an option, in that it’s very likely that the Flames could get analogous production in the top nine for less than 2 million a year, but the overall savings would still be relatively minimal. 


Cory Sarich:

Two seasons remaining at 3.6 million per year. Sarich is still a decent defender, but he’s been given opportunities in each of the last two seasons to play top-six comp with good partners (Regehr in 08/09, Bouwmeester last year) and has finished both years in the third pairing. 3.6 million is too generous for that level of play. Here’s his buyout:

Cash cost to the team would be 4.67 million over four years, with the following cap hits:

2010-2011: $1,066,667

2011-2012: $1,466,667

2012-2013: $1,166,667

2013-2014: $1,166,667

Again, the savings are real, and I suspect that the Flames could replace Sarich’s production for half of what he’s making. So, helpful in a small way, just like buying out Kotalik.


Steve Staios:

One year remaining at a cap hit of 2.7 million. He’s about done as a NHL defenceman, IMO, and there’s no salary I’d pay him that the league would allow ๐Ÿ˜‰ His actual paycheque for 10/11 will be 2.2 million. His buyout:

Cash cost to the team would be 1.47 million over two years, with these cap hits:

2010-2011: $1,233,333

2011-2012: $733,333

Those savings aren’t anything special, and given that Staios’ salary is lower than his cap hit, and that he only has one year left on his deal, the Flames should send him to Abby and be done with him after this year if they can’t dump him. A buyout wouldn’t make much sense. They’d be better off paying him 2.2 million in the minors with no cap hit rather than paying him 1.47 million and having him tie up any sort of cap space for two more years.


So, can you trade any of these three? Easier said than done, of course, since a GM that would be willing to take on one of those tickets would almost certainly expect the Flames to take on a crap contract in return. If I were running things, there is one player I might target, not because I think he’s anything special on-ice, but because the Flames could take advantage of his contract status to gain cap flexibility.


Rostislav Olesz has been a major disappointment in Florida. The 24 year old Czech was signed to a 6 year deal with a 3.125 million yearly cap hit after the 07/08 season, but injury and indifferent play have made him a player that the Panthers would prefer to move. As in the case of Calgary’s three shaky contracts, it seems likely that Florida would have to take back something considerable to make a deal for Olesz happen.  There hasn’t been any talk of the Panthers buying him out, either. It’s possible that they think that he might turn out at some point, but it’s just as likely they’d prefer not to spend the dough. Not every team’s ownership group is as flush as Calgary’s. 

What would make Olesz an appealing target is the relatively cheap terms of his buyout. Because he’s under 26, the team that buys him out only has to pay 1/3 of his contract to do so. Players 26 and over receive 2/3 of their remaining contract. So, here’s Olesz’ buyout, as per CapGeek:

Cash cost to the team would be 4.9 million, spread over 8 years. The cap hits are as follows:

2010-2011: $639,583

2011-2012: $339,583

2012-2013: $-260,417

2013-2014: $-510,417

2014-2015: $614,583

2015-2016: $614,583

2016-2017: $614,583

2017-2018: $614,583

Years with a minus amount are cap credits. As you can see, the yearly charges range from cheap to better than cheap over the first four years, and one could hope cap inflation makes the final four years’ worth of charges even less relevant.


Would Florida take one of the Flames’ contracts in return? I can’t see them wanting Staios or Kotalik, but Cory Sarich might still be useful enough to entice Dale Tallon into thinking about it. The move would secure them a player that might still be a top-four D-man in the East, while eliminating a long-term deal that appears to have gone sour. Personally, if I were the Panthers’ ownership, I’d be looking to buy out Olesz and just cut bait, but as I’ve mentioned, there’s been no talk of that sort of move on their part.

The benefit for the Flames of making a "Sarich-for Olesz’ buyout" trade would be substantial, with cap savings of nearly 3 million in 10/11, almost 3.3 million in 11/12, and the two cap credit years thereafter. Beyond 13/14, chances are the cap should be high enough that a small hit shouldn’t impair the club’s competitive situation. Combined with sending ol’ Steady Steve to Abbotsford, the Flames could clear enough room to sign White, find one more acceptable defender that could be 4th or 5th on the depth chart, and still have enough money left that they wouldn’t have to sign four or five minimum salary types just to stay under the cap.

I want to state for the record that I’d certainly rather get a cheap asset for any of the three Flames’ players mentioned if at all possible as opposed to making this sort of deal. That noted, moving under-performers in the current environment isn’t always simple, and if the Flames can move even one of these three players without taking an equally bad contract in return, I’d be surprised. Olesz’ contract certainly falls under the category of "bad", but it does offer an out, even if the Panthers are loathe to use it themselves. I’ll also admit that recommending that someone set fire to a pile of money is a lot easier when said pile of money isn’t your own, but if Darryl Sutter can’t move some payroll via conventional means, this sort of move might be an option that has to be considered.


  • I like the suggestion…it’s the “thinking out of the box” type stuff that I only wish I could do.

    That being said, if nothing like that is a possibility…I’d be all for buyouts with any of those guys mentioned.

    • Robert Cleave

      They crop up when a player isn’t paid exactly the same amount in every year, and, his deal is back-loaded. Because Florida has spent less than 3.125 million a year in real dollars over the first two years of the deal, a buyout would include a “cap credit” acknowledging that they had used 6.25 million in cap space despite only actually paying him 4.0 million over the first two seasons of the deal. If you go to the CBA, this scenario is covered under Illustration #3 on page 208. If you want a contrasting example, head over to CapGeek and set Miikka Kiprusoff’s buyout date for June 15th of 2013. Kipper would have one year on his deal at an actual pay level of 1.5 million. However, since the Flames front-loaded his deal, they still have to account for his contract’s averaged cap hit. His hit for 2013/14 would be 4.833 million, or 3.333 million more than his season’s paycheque.

  • Robert Cleave

    Sarich for Olesz? Wouldnt touch that with a 10 foot pole. The Flames dont need anymore bad contracts. I’ve always thought some young team with cap space may like Staios. Kotalik and Sarich. I have a sick feeling Sutter will be too stubborn to move him. I’ve also thought there are a few other players who may be gone for salary issues or “we’ll take him but only with him” type deals, such as Moss or Hagman. If the Flames do buy out/trade Kotalik and/or Staios and/or dont resign a couple RFA’s i think that is reason enough to prove to ownership that Darryl should not be the one to right his own wrong.

  • Robert Cleave


    This may well come across as harsh, so my apologies in advance, but if all you gleaned from this was that I’m advising trading Sarich or Kotalik for Olesz as a straight across deal (i.e. not immediately buying out Olesz for a relatively cheap price and reaping major cap savings), you might want to re-read the article.

    • Robert,

      Didnt think you were suggesting that, just a “here’s something”. Hopefully by the 5th of July we’ll know better what direction the team is taking and how they’ll be able to handle the salary cap.

      • Robert Cleave

        No worries Nolan. I actually hope they’ve got a clear direction by the draft, because I get the sense that more than a few teams will be using that weekend to do some major roster reshaping via trade.

  • Robert Cleave

    Very cool stuff. In a perfect world I’d love to see a Kotalik for Olesz buyout trade. I still think Sarich could garner something (even if it’s only a 5th rounder) from the right team.

    • Robert Cleave

      I’d rather have Kotalik go as well, because I’d like to think that Sarich still has enough tread on his tire to attract some sort of return beyond mere cap relief. I’m just not sure that any other team would take Ales before the 2012 trade deadline, and the Flames are in a right mess cap-wise.

  • As it pertains to buyouts, Im surprised that this hasn’t been done before, actually, as it makes a lot of sense.

    4.whatever over 4 years or 8 years, I’d take the 8, for sure.

    Of course, Sarich has no protection, so I’d just as soon bury him in the minors with Staios, let the kids on the farm soak up the veteran-niss, and not take any cap hit back, but thats me, and it isn’t my money. Well, it is, I buy tickets, but I digress.

    Someone may even claim one of them on the way down, if we throw enough salt over our shoulders.

  • Balthazar

    I agree that Sarich still has tread on his tire and will be able to play, likely more effectively in the Eastern Conf.

    If Staios is sent down, he could elect to retire. Is he old enough that the Flames would have to recognize his salary or is that for contracts signed after 35 something.

  • Oyo

    i love this article robert. instead of sutters an idiot bashing articles and the equally good articles of the prospects by kent, this article has a “what i think should happen” solution which has been sorely missed on this site. everyone willing to bash but without any constructive ideas on who to bring in or what to do (other then sign white and gio haha).

    well done.

  • Is there any rules about paying the other team for the salary they might eat up in a buyout scenario.

    For example, a team like the Islanders or the Thrashers may not want to spend real money on a Sarich or Staios but their cap hit is irrelevant to those teams because they will not have salaries at that level. But what if the Flames trade them for a 7th rounder, NYI buys them out, and Calgary pays them the buyout amounts on a side deal. Calgary would have to pay him to be in the minors anyways so the money is irrelevant, but this way they get a late draft pick at least.

    Or is this what Burkie got slapped for trying with Tampa a couple years ago?

    • Can’t do that.

      BTW, nice approach, Robert. Before I go looking, are there many other like Olesz? I know in Edmonton they’re looking at buying out Nilsson & O’Sullivan with the under-26 rule (they just have 1 yr left). Just wondering if Olesz would be the rare “bad long-term contract under 26” or if there’s a few others like him.

      I still say loan out Kotalik to a KHL team… get him off the books!

  • Oyo

    That’s an excellent idear. I had never considered the under-26 clause as a possible escape route.

    The one I always wondered about was packaging 2 of those guys for 1 bad contract, something along the lines of Sarich and Kotalik for Briere. Of course I had that long before that playoff run. Back then Briere’s contract looked as unmovable as Kotalik, and I figured Philly might welcome the cap flexibility of splitting it into 2 shorter contracts. And since we were stuck over-paying $6M+ anyway, we might as well combine it into a guy that could possibly center Iggy.

    Does anyone think something like that might be workable?

  • i agree sarich has some tread on the tire left and if a team has some puck moving dman but lacks a stay at home guy and/or is short on dmen with a little cap room. if they trade sarich for a prospect or a player like an olesz i think it could happen. a team that could use his services i think is pitt but they are also looking for wingers to play with their centers so may not work unless they would like to take on the salary for a prospect of draft pick.