With the news yesterday that team’s will have the option of a compliance buy-out immediately (rather than having to wait till the summer), the most frequent question I’ve been asked is if the Flames will choose to part ways with Matt Stajan soon.
The wrinkle here is the the entire contract cap hit would still count against the Flames cap. On the other hand, by waiting out the shortened season the club can buy him out in the summer and get away cap-penalty free, saving them about $3.5M. Not huge, but certainly not nothing either.
Calgary’s other option, of course, is to send Stajan to the minors this season. Unlike the previous CBA, one-way deals can’t be completely hidden in the minors anymore, with all but $900,000 staying on the parent club’s roster. As such, the team would have to pay Stajan $3.5M to play for Abbotsford, but it would cost them about $2.6M in cap space.
Aside from freeing up a roster spot for what the organization perceives as a superior player given the club has 14 NHL-ready forwards vying for spots (plus various hopefuls like Winchester, Begin, Street and Horak), there isn’t much of an impetus for Calgary to either buy-out or demote Matty Franchise right now. Jay Feaster only has to wait a few months before Stajan’s second last season expires and then he can erase him for less and with a much improved cap position as re sult to boot.
Short version: its possible, if the Flames have immediate, pressing plans for a roster spot that they’ll use the compliance buy-out, although it’s much more likely they’d send him down to the Heat and then wait for the summer to rid themselves of his final year.
The two guaranteed buy-outs are the guys the rule was more or less made up for this week: the Rangers 35-year old Wade Redden and Montreal’s 33-year old Scott Gomez. The second most frequent question I’ve been asked today is if the Flames will have interest in either of these players.
Especially not Redden. He as a middling defender several years ago when Sather decided to ink him to his absurd $6.5M deal, so now in his mid-30’s and after a season and half in the minors I doubt he has improved. It’s possible Redden is still NHL-worthy, but I wouldn’t press him to be anything more than a 3rd pairing defender. And the one thing the Flames are currently neck deep in is depth defensemen.
As for Gomez, I actually have a lot more time for the player than most fans and pundits these days. His possession numbers have stayed consistently good over the years, but his multiple injuries, lackluster personal shooting percentage and some bad luck all conspired to sink his counting stats to positively putrid levels. I think a healthy Gomez could be a pretty useful third-line/2nd PP center in the league still, but again Calgary isn’t exactly aching for bottom-6 forward depth.
In addition, I can’t see a team that is dogged by a perception of aging, doddering forwards adding another one to the pile, even if he could potentially be useful to some degree.
One-Way Contract Complications
The actual rule regarding one-way deals and the cap is:
A one-way contract counts against the cap as follows: cap hit – [ minimum salary + $375,000 ]
That means one-way deals at $900k or less don’t count when sent to the minors, so guys like Brett Carson ($525k) or Derek Smith ($575k) can be sent down without fear of cap repercussions. Anton Babchuk, on the other hand, would cost the team about $1.6M against the cap if he was shuttled to Abbotsford.
These are relevant issues with so many guys vying for the 6th and 7th spots on Calgary’s blueline. Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano, Chris Butler, Dennis Wideman are all shoe-ins, while TJ Brodie should be considered a near lock as well. Corey Sarich likely has the inside track to be the Flames 6th defender since he was re-signed in the summer, leaving Babchuk, Smith, Carson, Steve McCarthy and Chris Breen to duke it out for 7th.
Probably the best outcome for Calgary is they expose Babchuk to waivers in order to send him down and he is plucked off the wire by some other club. That or Feaster finds a way to trade him before camp ends, which isn’t as ridiculous as it once seemed since we’ve recently seen a spike in demand for NHL depth defenders.
“When you’re young, like we were in St. Louis, you’re not good enough to play power on power,” Murray said. “You cannot play your top players against the best teams’ top players. We needed a line that had the responsibility of making sure that we defended our game."
That’s Andy Murray talking to the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle about his time with the Blues and Jay McClement (one of the purest defensive forwards in the league). This entire passage could be re-written for the Flames by simply replacing "when you’re young" with "when you’re key players are older".
One the of the reasons the Flames possession rates cratered last year was the team completely lacked in any sort of hard minutes/shut-down line option. As has been pointed out in this space time and again, Iginla, Tanguay, Cammalleri, etc aren’t up to the task anymore and with the guys like Craig Conroy and Daymond Langkow who used to play this role in bygone times now gone, the team has floundered as the role has been placed back on Iginla’s shoulders (ie; "power vs power" as Murray puts it above).
If the Flames insist on keeping Jarome around and want to remain competitive, they will need to either find a Jay McClemment/Sammy Pahlsson type center so they can construct a "nothing" line to feed to the wolves or, you know, improve the top-end enough that they can effectively match the big guns vs big guns again.