Weekend Open Thread: Race to The Cap Floor

A good many people, myself included, have spent the first part of spring actively contemplating the future of Dennis Wideman.

It’s no small wonder. To be charitable, he didn’t have a good season. To be blunt, he wasn’t very good at all. We’ll dig into the team-wide possession stats a bit next week, but let me spoil it for you: however you slice it, Wideman wildly under-performed.

He’s also making more than any Flame not named Mike Cammalleri, and he’s on the richest deal on the books for next season. He’s been floated out there as a prime compliance buyout candidate, as who wants a third-pairing blueliner making $5.25 million on the books?

Well, probably these guys might.

THE CAP

The salary cap is projected to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $68 to $71 million next season, depending on the impact of the fluctuating Canadian dollar. That would place the cap floor between $52 and $55 million.

MONEY ALREADY SPENT

If you look at one-way deals and players that are virtually guaranteed to be on the NHL roster next season, here’s how Calgary’s roster works out.

Goalies: $2.75m (1 body) – Karri Ramo $2.75m

Blueline: $17.495m (5 bodies) – Dennis Wideman $5.25m, Mark Giordano $4.020m, Ladislav Smid $3.5m, T.J. Brodie $2.125m, Kris Russell $2.6m

Forwards: $17.7m (7 bodies) – Jiri Hudler $4m, David Jones $4m, Matt Stajan $3.125m, Curtis Glencross $2.55m, Mikael Backlund $1.5m, Sean Monahan $1.775m, Brian McGrattan $0.750m

If you add that up, you get approximately $37.945 million committed to 13 players, leaving 10 roster spots needed to be filled with between $14 and $17 million needed to be spent to hit the floor.

Okay, let’s go one step further.

If you look at Calgary’s many, many restricted free agents, there are three players that have basically forced Brad Treliving’s hand – Joe Colborne, Lance Bouma and Paul Byron. While I can’t figure out precisely how much they’ll each make individually, let’s operate under the not-so-terrible assumption that the three of them combined will earn around $4.5 million.

That gives the Flames 1 goalie, 5 defensemen, 10 forwards and 7 roster spots to fill with between $9 and $12 million left to hit the floor. If you presume they bury Shane O’Brien’s contract in the AHL again (I think they buy him out), knock off another million. The three most likely bubble players to make the team – Tyler Wotherspoon ($925k), Max Reinhart ($878k) and Markus Granlund ($925k) all have cap-friendly deals.

And even with those three (or their equivalents) in the NHL, you still need to fill four NHL roster spots and spend a minimum of between $6.25 and $9.25 million to hit the bare minimum of NHL payroll.

SO?

Can you fathom this ownership group (1) paying Dennis Wideman his money owed to play elsewhere and then (2) having to probably wildly, wildly over-spend to hit the cap-floor?

Even without buying out Wideman, it’ll be incredibly difficult for the Flames to hit the cap floor without going out of their way to add salary from somewhere or to really, really encourage some of their rookies with incentive-laden deals (like Sven Baertschi, Corban Knight or Johnny Gaudreau) to spend time in the NHL to take advantage of their resultant cap hits.

In short: Dennis Wideman has a bad, bad deal for what he brings to the table, or at least for what he brought to it last year. But I cannot foresee a buy-out in his near-future for the simple logistical reason that I can’t see how the Flames can manage the cap situation a compliance buy-out would produce.

  • Rockmorton65

    How are you going to finish below Oilers and Sabers next season ? If you want to finish that low then do as the Oilers are doing . Get rid of your veterans for peanuts and have your young stars play with half your AHL squad for most of season . New coach each season also helps to confuse/retard the progress of your young stars /players . Oilers plethora of so called generational players is not exactly bringing them positive results . Oilers have very little veteran depth in comparison to most contenders .

  • 5by5

    The whole discussion on when to shift gears from from a slow rebuild to an aggressive one makes for interesting discussion. I for one believe we need to stack the cupboards significantly more if we are going to turn this organization around. Drafting well and developing players well for me is more important at this time than chasing the playoffs; in a year or two I could see this as an option. If the chemistry and work ethic this team showed this season continues to be the routine then this team will have a chance for marked improvement especially if the hopes we have for many of the prospects comes true. Indeed we could use a solid 24-28 year old defender or two for that matter but would I trade the farm for one this year probably not. I also think we need to acquire or develop a stud on the RW, we have so much potential on the LW we need to do this.

    I have said it many times if we started the season upfront with what we have signed and our own RFA signed I would be okay with that. We have 6 established forwards, 4 emerging forwards and this would allow us to allow our prospects to develop both in the NHL and AHL as the need to. However I would be disappointed if at the end of the year some of the veterans were not moved and a younger leadership core allowed to emerge either via trade or natural selection. Again I look at it from a nontraditional perspective and say roll four lines with skilled guys, vets and energy guys on each line rather than the traditional load up two lines, have a third line that might be a checking line and a fourth line that is considered n energy line but might only play 3-6 minutes a game.

    on the back end we have a solid top pairing but after that it’s questionable. Wides was rollercoaster last year and never really recovered from his injury. Russell had a breakout year but his lack of size limits his effectiveness. Smid would be an adequate 7th but he is someone whom we could upgrade on. Spoon showed promise but will be prone to mistakes. If we are going to throw money after free agents this is where it needs to go. If we are going to make any significant trades this is another area to do so.

  • Rockmorton65

    2014-15 should focus on being the Year of Development…to develop all prospects with less than 200 NHL games experience.

    2015-16 should be the Year of Improving to become a Playoff Contender with the goal of positioning the team to be a Cup Contenter by 2017-18.

    • Kevin R

      How ironic would it be for Flames to get Phaneuf back for Wideman & unite the last 2 standing of that nostalgic trade? Ha, would that be a resign Jokinen moment?

      • FeyWest

        You know Jokinen is a UFA this year right? ;D haha but I’ve said it in many posts, just say no to Jokinen… and for that matter Phaneuf too, don’t need to relive ghosts of the past

  • PrairieStew

    Sorry I missed this thread.

    Last week I proposed taking on a contract in order to both meet the floor and gain further assets. Instead of overspending on UFA’s ( “We as a group of GM’s make more mistakes on July 1 than any other day ” – B. Burke) why not profit from other people’s mistakes ? Would Toronto give up their 2015 first round pick to rid themselves of Clarkson ?

    I would want assets in exchange for Cam Ward too.

  • 5by5

    CAPGEEK.COM ARMCHAIR GM ROSTER
    CapGeek Armchair GM Roster

    FORWARDS
    Mike Cammalleri ($6.000m) / Paul Stastny ($7.000m) / Radim Vrbata ($4.500m)
    Curtis Glencross ($2.550m) / Mikael Backlund ($1.500m) / Jiri Hudler ($4.000m)
    Sven Baertschi ($0.894m) / Sean Monahan ($0.925m) / Joe Colborne ($1.500m)
    Paul Byron ($1.400m) / Markus Granlund ($0.768m) / Corban Knight ($0.900m)
    Lance Bouma ($1.200m) / Brian McGrattan ($0.750m)

    DEFENSEMEN
    Mark Giordano ($4.020m) / T.J. Brodie ($2.125m)
    Keith Yandle ($5.250m) / Matt Niskanen or Orpik ($5.500m)
    Ladislav Smid ($3.500m) / Chris Butler ($2.400m)
    Tyler Wotherspoon ($0.925m) /

    GOALTENDERS
    Karri Ramo ($2.750m)
    James Reimer ($2.400m)
    Joni Ortio ($1.200m)

    BURIED
    Shane O’Brien ($1.075m)

    RETAINED SALARIES (4.36% of upper limit) for 2014-2015 season only
    Dennis Wideman ($2.100m—40.00%)
    David Jones ($1.000m—25.00%)

    SALARY CAP: $71,100,000; CAP PAYROLL: $67,731,667; BONUSES: $4,388,750
    CAP SPACE (24-man roster): $3,368,333

    Signed Cammy with possible intent to trade at 2014 and/or 2015 draft or 2015 trade deadline if either party desires.
    … so if we trade Cammy for picks we still have approx 13 mill in cap space for next yrs UFA/RFA signings (Brodie, …)
    and money for another quality RW forward. If we dont trade him, not so bad either, hes a useful quality vet. We cant let
    him walk for nothing, its bad Karma.

    Signed, Bouma, Byron, Colborne, Butler, Ortio – 2-3 yrs max

    UFA signings: Statsny, Vrbata, Niskanen or Orpik, Reimer … perhaps ROR if Statsny not available.

    Traded Stajan, Wideman, Jones + 3.1 mill in salary retention to Phoenix for Yandle. This package should
    be able to land a good YOUNG 1-4 defenceman somewhere if Yandle’s not available. Toronto’s Reilly? Ideas?
    I am aware of the trade clauses, but we gotta get rid of em somehow/somewhere. Phoenix just seems feasible for all parties.
    Bowmeister @ 5mill sure looks good now, ALWAYS DID even @ 6.5 mill. (Another Feister screw up, not to mention Bartkowski)

    Traded Russell or Butler for Reimer’s rights (only if he wants to sign here)

    We need another season to see what we have in the farm system and this yrs #4 pic. We should know much better
    what we have in: Reinhart, Granlund, Knight, Sven, Agostino, Wotherspoon, JG, Porrier, #4 … by then.

    Assuming Cammy, Statsny, Vrbata, Orpik/Niskanen want to play here long term and barring All the usual things like,
    catastrophic year ending injuries, sophomore slumps, bad goaltending, … this team makes the playoffs next year.

  • 5by5

    CAPGEEK.COM ARMCHAIR GM ROSTER
    CapGeek Armchair GM Roster

    FORWARDS
    Mike Cammalleri ($6.000m) / Paul Stastny ($7.000m) / Radim Vrbata ($4.500m)
    Curtis Glencross ($2.550m) / Mikael Backlund ($1.500m) / Jiri Hudler ($4.000m)
    Sven Baertschi ($0.894m) / Sean Monahan ($0.925m) / Joe Colborne ($1.500m)
    Paul Byron ($1.400m) / Markus Granlund ($0.768m) / Corban Knight ($0.900m)
    Lance Bouma ($1.200m) / Brian McGrattan ($0.750m)

    DEFENSEMEN
    Mark Giordano ($4.020m) / T.J. Brodie ($2.125m)
    Keith Yandle ($5.250m) / Matt Niskanen or Orpik ($5.500m)
    Ladislav Smid ($3.500m) / Chris Butler ($2.400m)
    Tyler Wotherspoon ($0.925m) /

    GOALTENDERS
    Karri Ramo ($2.750m)
    James Reimer ($2.400m)
    Joni Ortio ($1.200m)

    BURIED
    Shane O’Brien ($1.075m)

    RETAINED SALARIES (4.36% of upper limit) for 2014-2015 season only
    Dennis Wideman ($2.100m—40.00%)
    David Jones ($1.000m—25.00%)

    SALARY CAP: $71,100,000; CAP PAYROLL: $67,731,667; BONUSES: $4,388,750
    CAP SPACE (24-man roster): $3,368,333

    Signed Cammy with possible intent to trade at 2014 and/or 2015 draft or 2015 trade deadline if either party desires.
    … so if we trade Cammy for picks we still have approx 13 mill in cap space for next yrs UFA/RFA signings (Brodie, …)
    and money for another quality RW forward. If we dont trade him, not so bad either, hes a useful quality vet. We cant let
    him walk for nothing, its bad Karma.

    Signed, Bouma, Byron, Colborne, Butler, Ortio – 2-3 yrs max

    UFA signings: Statsny, Vrbata, Niskanen or Orpik, Reimer … perhaps ROR if Statsny not available.

    Traded Stajan, Wideman, Jones + 3.1 mill in salary retention to Phoenix for Yandle. This package should
    be able to land a good YOUNG 1-4 defenceman somewhere if Yandle’s not available. Toronto’s Reilly? Ideas?
    I am aware of the trade clauses, but we gotta get rid of em somehow/somewhere. Phoenix just seems feasible for all parties.
    Bowmeister @ 5mill sure looks good now, ALWAYS DID even @ 6.5 mill. (Another Feister screw up, not to mention Bartkowski)

    Traded Russell or Butler for Reimer’s rights (only if he wants to sign here)

    We need another season to see what we have in the farm system and this yrs #4 pic. We should know much better
    what we have in: Reinhart, Granlund, Knight, Sven, Agostino, Wotherspoon, JG, Porrier, #4 … by then.

    Assuming Cammy, Statsny, Vrbata, Orpik/Niskanen want to play here long term and barring All the usual things like,
    catastrophic year ending injuries, sophomore slumps, bad goaltending, … this team makes the playoffs next year.