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 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.
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.