With Feaster now cemented in the GM chair and Glencross signed, we can turn our attention to Calgary’s predicament heading into next season. With a few more dollars on the books (and yet another NMC), the Flames have a few players left to sign and a vanishingly small amount of cap space to do it with.
The org has 12 forwards under contract currently, although Raitis Ivanans is a good bet to spend the year on LTIR and at least one of Hagman or Kotalik will likely find themselves demoted or shipped to Europe. You can add another 3.60M in cap space if those assumptions prove to be accurate. The actual number will probably be about 30.916M as a result.
With Giordano’s raise, the Flames back-end becomes even more top-heavy in 2011-12. The club has 18.32M committed to it’s default top-four and will probably need to sign at least two more veterans (one established enough to slip into the top-four comfortably in case of injury) and hope that one of Erixon or Brodie is good enough to step in and not struggle too much. Brodie’s cap hit is .741M while Erixon has yet to sign his big league deal. Look for his salary to land in Backlund’s ballpark (1.27M including bonuses).
These numbers highlight why Anton Babchuk is likely a goner this summer. Beyond the fact that he probably won’t be worth whatever contract he lands, the Flames probably don’t have the wherewithall to afford it anyways.
Including Ivanans and Kotalik, the Flames have about 58.807M already spoken for in 2011-2012. If the cap swells to $62M, Calgary has all of 3.913M to play with. If you delete Ivanans and Kotalik, the club has 6.793M in the bank, although that also creates two more holes to fill on the roster.
Going with the "Kotalik moves to Europe" scenario, Calgary will have to re-sign or replace Tanguay, Morrison, Pardy, Staios, Babchuk and Karlsson. With room for contigencies during the season. If the club reserves $1M cap space as a buffer, they’ll have about 5.793M to spread across 6 UFA’s, or an average of $966k per player.
Which isn’t a very good number. If he re-ups, Tanguay is a good bet to soak up at least half those dollars ($3M), dropping the available space down to 2.793 for six guys ($559k per player). That’s barely enough scratch to pay guys minimum wage under the current CBA, meaning something’s gotta give here. In addition to Kotalik and Ivanans, one of Stajan, Hagman, Kipper, Sarich or Regehr would also have to go away (with their replacements being much cheaper pieces) in order for the Flames to make it to October with a complete, cap-compliant roster that doesn’t boast five replacement level skaters.
Looking over each of the tables again re-affirms my belief that the best Calgary can hope for in 2011-12 is to run in place. If Tanguay re-signs, the next iteration of the Flames will probably look a lot like the last iteration, albeit slightly more expensive and probably with a rookie or two on the back-end.