Roger MIllions: Flames Not to be a Cap Team Next Year

 

 

SNET’s Roger Millions dropped a bit of a bomb on twitter today. He claims the Flames will operate significantly under the NHL salary cap for the upcoming season:

If true, that change can have some wide ranging implications for the club.

For those who missed it, Bob McKenzie recently reported the new (potential) cap for the upcoming season would be about 70.3M, absent any new CBA alterations. The Flames already have about $51M committed to next season, so a self-imposed $55M shrinks their roster budget from just north of $19M to about $4M, give or take.

That amount includes only 8 forwards total and only 3 defenders you would classify as top-4 guys. So Calgary has significant holes to fill and, if Roger’s assertion is accurate, virtually no budget space to do it.

That means the club will have to be dealing at least one of the big tickets this summer: Kipper, Iggy or Bouwmeester. I floated these possibilities by Millions and he responded:

The implication is that Jay Bouweester is on the block heading into the draft. So of the the three big ticket players, the Flames are apparently looking into trading the (admittedly overpaid) 28-year old, rather than the 35 -year old forward on the last season of his current deal or the 36-year old puckstopper who has had one notably good season in the last four.

This obviously worries me. We’re still dealing with rumors and speculation, but Millions is sufficiently close to the team that we can say there might be a fire below all this smoke. I have no principled argument against the club trying to keep budget costs around 50-60M (that’s a lot of cheddar) but looking to move JayBo ahead of the other guys smacks of a marketing rather than hockey decision – he is a far better bet to be sustain his current performance level than the other guys.

Bouwmeester has become a whipping boy in town because of his lackluster offensive totals and huge cap hit, so his departure would be met by cheers in many quarters, but he remains far and away the most capable defender on the Flames blueline. His ouster would leave a giant hole on the back-end and, because of meh output and big salary, it’s likely the team won’t get concurrent value in return should they move him. Moving him for some futures represents a faily big gamble, particularly because the team is adamant they won’t be "rebuilding" any time soon.

Of course, what this also means is the team should get aggressive about deleting other inefficient salaries for players that aren’t nearly as essential as Bouwmeester. Anton Babchuk (2.5M) and Matt Stajan (3.5M) come to mind.

Conclusion

Beyond the particulars, deleting that much cap space from the budget simply means the Flames will have a lot less flexibility going forward. If true, a $55M will pose a significant challenge for Feaster, particularly as the club continues to try to ice a competitive club in the short term. Calgary was facing anu uphill climb in that regard going forward anyways, so doing so on the cheap (which the team hasn’t attempted since the salary cap came into effect) will be, um…interesting to say the least.

I expect the Flames will have a response to this report within the week. We’ll update as more info is released.

  • RexLibris

    @steve

    In a word: no.

    The Oilers would rather add a franchise player who, in the worst case scenario, could be traded in three years’ time as a heavily restricted RFA for a king’s ransom. Getting a middle-of-the-road pick and a defenseman who, while unquestionably more talented, has skills that were to some extent duplicated in Tom Gilbert, in exchange for the above-mentioned player, doesn’t add up.

    Not to mention, it would be to a divisional rival.

    I believe the Oilers right now value that pick in the range of a Ryan Johansen plus the 2nd overall. It is an extreme overpay, but if you have the asset, little pressure not to use it, and everybody is calling, you can set the price at whatever tickles your fancy.

    The Flames don’t have the assets of the required variety to interest the Oilers, in my opinion. In the same way that the Oilers would like Toronto’s or the Islanders’ pick but aren’t willing to offer, or don’t have, the assets to interest those clubs.

    Sorry, but I think the Flames are going to have to earn their first 1st overall the hard way.

    • Tach

      I agree. I could see that trade for Johansen, but like you said, it would be a HUGE overpay by the BJs. But hey, Scott Howson isn’t exactly a genius when making major trades “cough*Jeff Carter*cough”

  • RexLibris

    I hope we get some “intellectual honesty” in the forthcoming near future. I weathered the Young Gun era where we were nothing more than a farm/development team for the the richer clubs. I will not support this with Seasons Tickets like that again.

    After a deep breath there are too many contradictions. If you want to be a cap floor team, you have to be a continual rebuilding team like the Islanders & Columbus & currently the Oilers. Declaring that they are not rebuilding and saying this is just idiotic. Now if we go in rebuild mode, I can see us just by logistics be well below the cap while the young players take time to develop.

    The next thing that simply doesnt even make business sense is that they are planning on unveiling this incredible new building. Its one thing to build it but they better put a product out that will fill it.

    I am shocked, I would totally expect there are some details missing & if the current ownership is having trouble spending the $$$ to have a competitive team, they better find some new or additional owners that do want to win a Cup before the 30th century.

  • supra steve

    JBo and our #14 pick to Oilers for #1 pick on June 22. Does this make sense? Sure, would probably require some tweaking. Would the Oil deal that pick to Calgary? Rex?

  • Graham

    If this team was rebuilding (trading Kipper and Iggy) spending well below the cap may make sense. It ‘help’s’ you race towards the bottom of the pack, and a top five pick.

    Not rebuilding, keeping the status quo with Iggy and Kipper, trading Bouwmeester in a fire sale, AND spending a lot less is hardly a receipe for success. It sounds like a race to the bottom without having to rebuild.

    Honestly, Bouwmeester and next years second round pick for ‘which’ no name prospect?

  • Tach

    And I missed Baertschi, Nemisz and Horak as cap hit higher than salary guys who, combined, would have cap hits about $1 million over their salaries if they all played full seasons with the Flames next year.

  • Vintage Flame

    I too share your concern Kent.

    If the Flames are looking to become a Cap team then it makes no sense whatsoever to me to hold on to guys like Kipper and Iggy. If what Roger says is true, then the thing that Calgary should be looking at is the exact opposite. Hold on to J-Bo and trade BOTH Kipper and Iggy.

    This is an odd development to say the least.

  • Tach

    While I don’t doubt that Millions heard something similar to what he is reporting, I also have some serious doubt as to his level of sophistication in dealing with the CBA and the salary cap calculation that would lead me to treat this particular interpretation with scepticism.

    For example, if the Flames spend $55 million in actual money this year, and assuming every other player they sign would be matched cap hit to salary, Calgary’s likely cap number would already be $59.5 million due to the following sub-cap hit contracts:

    Kiprusoff: $0.83 million
    Cervenka: ~$2.7 million
    Stajan: $1 million
    Glencross: $.05 million
    Bouma: $.14 million
    Bouwmeester: $.08 million
    Giordano: $.52 million
    Brodie: $.2 million
    Total Cap over salary: $5.5 million

    Only guy on the other side is Cammy who will be paid $1 million more than his cap hit of $6 million.

    The other possility is that Millions has, unbeknownst to him, received word on what the post new-CBA cap hit is going to look like and that $55 million is the number with some kind of salary roll-back.

    While many might say that the player’s are not going to take a $15 million rollback on the salary cap, unless you have some actual data on how much of the current HRR actually was paid out to players after the distribution out of escrow (which we can’t possibly know as the playoffs are not over), that $55 million may not be that big of a roll back.

  • Bouwmeester may not be putting up 40+ points anymore, but he still eats 25+ minutes per game. If anything he is overpaid by 1-1.5M, and that was a given since we clearly paid a UFA premium to keep him from hitting the open market. You have to take into account the circumstances under which he was signed.

    We have nothing even approaching a top 2 defender aside from Giordano, and there are virtually no UFA options this year. And if there were UFA options, you would be paying a ridiculous premium for them.

    Our defense is subpar now, take away Bouwmeester and we are a defensive laughing stock. It might even be too late for that…

  • supra steve

    Management have pointed out the Flames lack of mid 20’s (year old) assets, so naturally they would want to deal their 28yr old franchise D-man? Doesn’t sound quite right.

    But, I guess we should not have any untouchables. As I’ve said here before, the Flames will not be hoisting the Cup any time soon anyway. So, if JBo brings a nice (young) return, why not. However, trading #4 while keeping older stars is, in my opinion, a mistake. If you are cleaning house, clean the whole damned house.

  • Bravo. Clap…Clap…Clap…Clap.

    what happens if the Flames trade Bouwmeester? Minnesota happens.

    Although, laughably, the Flames without Bouwmeester are still better than the Wild. They would at least still have Giordano. Wild got nothin’ since Burns left.

  • Given the dearth of UFA talent available, and the cap going to $70M (in theory anyway) it could actually be *difficult* for the Flames to spend to the cap. None of our RFAs are really due for a big raise, and it appears that most of our UFAs are either going to walk (Jokinen) or re-sign for the same or substantially less.

  • Tach

    I’m hoping Jay is not on the trading block, I may be one of the few that doesn’t mind his contract, he is overpaid but by half a million or so, it’s not the worst contract in the NHL. I doubt an adequate return will be sent back in exchange for him

    I have issue with management not spending to the cap, I doubt our ticket prices will reflect lower spending by owners.

  • Tach

    Doesn’t really surprise me in the least, however, I think it more has to do with economics. For the sake of simplicity, the Canadian dollar is trading at 95 cents to the US dollar, so that number go lower, thats a really bad thing. Lets use as an example 90 cents.

    At 90 cents our 55 million budget would acutally be 60.5 million, drops another 5 cents to 85 cents and our 55 million budget becomes almost 64 million.

    Still not a good thing, although that could also signal to what the owners feel will be closer to the cap for next year after the outcome of the CBA negotiations as well. Calgary will stay at 55 and wait out the CBA which will probably bring the cap way down.

  • marty

    Rog has already posted on CP that 55 was a guess and it could be around 60 and he isn’t sure. IF the flames moved a salary (jbo or stajan) 60-63 would still leave alot of cap room and they could improve the team so im going to take the wait and see but if they do become a cap floor team and my season tickets went up the 5% i will be one upset STH but all murray and king are worried about is $