I know this all came down last week and MAYBE it’s too late to talk about it, but by now you’ve all probably caught wind of Brian Burke, noted blatherer, mention in an interview that GM Brad Treliving has the autonomy to spend to the cap this season should he see fit.
But I’m a trend follower, and a late adopter (I didn’t sign up for twitter until 2011, buddy), so guess what, we’re talking about it.
Now, of course it goes without saying that it’s entirely possible (and frankly, probable) that the Flames don’t end up employing this course of action, whether they’re authorized to or not. And that’s a good thing, because the sheer logistics that go into spending that much money in one season is too overwhelming to try and grasp.
Which is why, naturally, I’m attempting to do it. Most people don’t know this, but I’m an expert hobby capologist, and I’ve taken it upon myself to explore all the options available to the Flames.
I mean…they didn’t ask me to. But I’ve been obsessed with the idea of just who (or what) the Flames would have to do to max out their ample cap flexibility, and I believe I’ve come away with a few tenable scenarios that perhaps the Flames should consider if they feel they are within shouting distance of a playoff spot. And while the Flames could trade for 2.36 Sidney Crosbys and stay cap compliant (Spoiler alert: this is not one of the options I explored, at least not until human cloning becomes far more reliable), I will attempt to address team needs and fix the current glaring holes in the lineup in order to create a more complete, competitive playoff hockey team.
There’s two theories on why the Flames at this point would flirt with maxing out the cap this season, and they’re as close to polar opposites as you can get as far as team building philosophies go. The first is a prudent, calculated approach in which Treliving and friends help the opposition ease the burden of their own cap struggles by taking in an expensive, likely expiring, and overall problematic contract into the fold, for the low price of young assets the Flames are continuing to try and stockpile. Damn that’s noble.
But to spend to the cap to meet these needs seems downright dopey, and that seems like a strategy you’d want to experiment once, maybe twice in a season, and that practice leads you nowhere close to the ceiling, so you wouldn’t expect Burke to say the things he said under this approach, because it’s not a factor in this game.
Which is why we’re focusing on the much crazier, and certainly much more fun philosophy, the one that implies the Flames feel like they have a shot at the playoffs, and are willing to go kamikaze headfirst towards the end of the season making that charge. Maybe that means employing the same methods from the approach above (it’s good to collect assets even if you’re buying over selling), and that’s cool, but it also means playoff rentals, and that’s when things fall on their ear. Let’s have fun exploring this plan of action today.
In an effort to make this exercise as REALISTIC AS POSSIBLE, which is obviously my goal, I had to restrict myself from just simply looking at how much of any given player’s contract would cost this season against the cap, as obviously not just any player is going to be available to the Flames. More often than not, the highest paid players are pretty decent at what they do, and tend to be locked up by above average teams fighting for their own playoff lives (or are Eric Staal). Obviously, you can’t just trade for Ryan Getzlaf, so we’re not going to explore that thread at all.
No, I had to limit my experiment twofold:
- a) any player the Flames pick up need to fit a need for the team going into the playoffs. It’s obvious there are some positional depth weaknesses within the current roster, and it’s not like the team needs to search for a 1-2 defenseman.
- b) as mentioned, we have to limit our field to expiring contracts (maybe players with an extra year) on subpar teams who are willing to part with their pricey underachievers who just “need a change of scenery”
But it’s also important to note that the Flames today have just a shade under $20.8 million in cap space, (with a staggering $61.2 million availlabe at the trade deadline, so for today we’re going to pretend this doesn’t exist, because, damn) so to max THAT out would require a lot of veteran reinforcement, probably more than what’s available on the market, so I had to get creative and have our theoretical trade partners throw in a few sweeteners that would drive the cost up.
Now that we’ve established a template, let’s make some trades!
Scenario A: Horcin’
The Flames trade Sven Baertschi, Devon Setoguchi, John Ramage, and a 1st round pick to Dallas for Shawn Horcoff, Eric Cole, a 2nd round pick, a 4th round pick, and $5 million dollars of Texas State Debt.
This addresses needs for both teams, as the Flames pick up a couple of big, meaty veteran forwards in Horcoff and Cole. Both have been in lengthy playoff runs in their career and Eric Cole even has a Stanley Cup ring, and that kind of experience is worth his $4.5 million and a fraction of Texas’ oustandings. Horcoff can play both center and left wing, while Cole can manage either flank, and both players have proven to have a bit of secondary scoring punch over the course of their careers, so these two players alone round out Calgary’s depth. Meanwhile, Texas has something to the tune of 292 trillion dollars owed, and sure 5 million is really just pocket change relative to that, but every little bit helps, and the Flames would be doing their part in maintaining a continued strong bond between two energy powerhouses in turbulent times that see the price of oil dropping every day. Diplomacy has no price tag, citizens.
Losing that first round pick stings, I guess, but you can’t sneeze at a second and fourth round pick, especially when you know Alberta’s economy will have a strong ally for years to come.
Scenario B: Hedjing Their Bets
Flames trade Lance Bouma, the 2nd and 4th round picks acquired from Dallas to Colorado for Jan Hejda and a 1908 Honus Wagner Trading Card
With the additions of Horcoff/Cole contracts and the subtractions of Baertschi, Gooch, and Ramage, the Flames now have $6.26 million in cap space, which is more than enough to go out and acquire some defensemen to shore up the third pairing, which as we all know was sorely needed. Jan Hejda is an underrated defenseman who can play in all kinds of scenarios on the ice, and can mentor some young up and comers like Tyler Wotherspoon, and basically only Tyler Wotherspoon.
With Brodano doing their thing for nearly 30 minutes a night and Dennis Wideman scoring 50 goals on the power play, Hejda will only be counted on to play a steady defensive game and do whatever he can to keep the Flames from being hemmed in their own end.
Meanwhile, Honus Wagner is one of the finest baseball players to ever put on a mitt, this card is in mint condition, and the former Pirates’ short stop’s card is valued at $2.8 million dollars. Baseball cards are a real solid financial investment, plus it’s just really cool, and all of the Flames’ friends are going to be really jealous. Robbie Connors might even stop giving them a wet willie every time he sees them like the big meat headed jerk that he is. Jessica Snyder might invite them to her birthday party. Everything’s really turning around for the Flames.
I mean we’ll miss Lance Bouma, but you can’t turn down this opportunity.
Of course, now the Flames sit at $985,000 in cap space, and I guess they’ll want to spend it, for the sake of accuracy.
Uh…shit, trade for Colton Orr. I don’t care.
Bonus Alternate Universe Scenario
Flames trade Curtis Glencross to the Penguins for Sidney Crosby’s mumps, clone Sidney Crosby 2.3 times, pay him exactly what patient zero Sidney Crosby gets paid
Stanley Cup baby. That .3 Crosby is the best 4th line center this team has ever had.
It’s the Christmas season, and you’ve probably done some holiday shopping and come to the realization that it’s really easy to spend money. And it is (I’ve done some shopping too, I know)
But when you have a lot of money to spend, and have to spend a lot of money in a limited market, it gets really hard, and man, maybe the Flames could donate some of that cap space to it’s fans to help pay off some of those holiday bills. I mean, it’s just sitting there.
But more realistically, they’ll use it to spend on the betterment of their team, which is what we all really want.
So that’s why I’ve outlined these totally doable, sense making scenarios that makes the Flames better short term as they cruise (and I mean cruise) towards the franchises second (really, should be third) Stanley Cup victory. And if Brad Treliving decides to venture off the extremely practical path that I’ve laid out for him today, perhaps he’ll finally stop ignoring all the emails and take heed of my other proposition to help bridge the gap between the Flames and the competition: by buying that death ray hockey stick I’ve been developing in my top secret lab for quite some time now.