After the flurry of activity this past long weekend, the Flames appear to have their roster more or less set heading into the new season. Appearances may be deceiving, however. According to Cap Geek, Calgary has $1.15M in cap space remaining, with 12 forwards, 7 defenders and two goalies signed. One of those forwards is Ales Kotalik. The back-end lacks Ian White, who remains a restricted free agent.
In truth, the team needs to add a 4th line center and perhaps an extra forward. Both will likely need to be near league minimum. If you add those two theoretical players and delete Kronwall and Kotalik from the roster by sending them to the AHL when things get going, that leaves the club with approximately $3.65M in cap room (assuming 500k salaries for the 12th and 13th forwards). That cushion should be enough to sign Ian White without moving any other pieces, although that would likely leave the club periously close to the upper limit, depending on what White ultimately signs for.
– Mikael Backlund (and his 1.27M salary) doesn’t have a place on the current roster, both in terms of fit and budget. The only way he makes the team out of camp is if Daymond Langkow remains on injured reserve. Otherwise, it’s another year of seasoning for him in the AHL. Honestly, that’s probably not such a bad thing.
– Craig Conroy at or near league minimum for the 4th line suddenly makes all sorts of sense.
– Despite the fact that Sutter may be able to shoe-horn everything under the cap by banishing Kotalik in September to the farm, the club will likely want to clear more space before the season begins. As Sutter learned two seasons ago, spending the year pressed firmly against the cap ceiling can cause all sorts of problems down the line. A minimum of $1M or so of cap clearance should be the organizational goal.
– Steve Staios’ $2.7M salary for a team knee-deep in NHL defenders is an absolute millstone. Matt Pelech beating out Staios for a job in camp would do all sorts of good things for the organization (assuming management would be willing to stash some $5.7M in salary on the farm in Staios and Kotalik). It would also render Sutter’s post-Phaneuf work last season both very expensive and completely pointless.
– The Flames depth chart looks fine until you delete a top 6 winger or two. A long-term injury to Iginla or Tanguay and you suddenly have Tim Jackman and/or Raitis Ivanans playing in the top 9. With vets Colins Stuart, David Van Der Gulik and Jason Jaffray moving on from Abbotsford this summer, there’s precious little help to be had from the farm as well.
– The PP has been a perpetual sore point for this team for the last 2 seasons. The moves this summer don’t improve it – at least, not on paper. Tanguay and Jokinen were bad and mediocre with the man advantage respectively last year. Dawes, on the other hand, was the Flames most efficicent producer of points a man up. Stajan and Hagman were both middling on the PP as well last year, although it’s difficult to project what a full season of them on the Flames man advantage will look like.