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.

  • SoCalFlamesFan

    My impression of Wideman’s season was:

    1) Out of the gates, he wasn’t just good, he was really good – playing huge minutes, hitting guys hard and putting up points, getting compliments from Coach Bob.

    2) Then he got hurt, and after that he wasn’t good. At all.

    As far as getting to the salary cap floor, you’d have to think that Treliving’s at least going to consider taking another team’s bad contract for a pick or two at the draft table. I know Lambert’s guaranteeing 3 years of UFA Heatley at 5 mill, but really, doesn’t it make more sense to get real assets when you HAVE TO throw away big money?

    • BurningSensation

      I think this is on the money.

      I can see Burke offering a contract that is both fat and lengthy to Cammalleri to get him to stay. Why bother asking him for a home-town discount when you have the money to burn?

      This strikes me as way more reasonable than paying Heatley to be a powerplay spot-up-shooter who otherwise can’t ger around the rink fast enough to make any kind of difference.

      That said, I think the real targets are Eric Staal or Jason Spezza. Both have big ticket contracts their current teams aren’t keen on having to pay, both are legit #1 Cs entering the tail end of their prime, and both could likely be had for prospects/picks without big contracts going back because their current teams have cap issues and are looking to hit the reset button.

      I know it isn’t a popular line of reasoning as most of the fanbase is with Lambert in thinking we should be tank-city for the next decade until we luck into a generational talent (the hockey equivalent of investing your paycheck in lottery tickets as a retirement plan), that it is highly unlikely to be Burke’s way of doing things.

      If we added a Staal/Spezza to fill out the top line, the Flames would be instantly more; balanced, competitive, and would have our young players slotted more appropriately (i.e Monahan wouldn’t have to play above his head). I also believe we’d be knocking on the door for the playoffs.

      If we also added a #3 Defender (likely by trade, I can’t see us outbidding everyone for Niskanen), we might be even better than that.

      • T&A4Flames

        Sorry BS, but I in no way advocate moves like these. Removing some of the prospect depth we just spent the last few years on rebuilding for expensive vets. If they could be had on the cheap, sure, but the cost to acquire those players would ruin what we have just built up and have neede for a long time. I would offer a sizeable contract to Mark Fayne to strengthen our D, especially on the right side. That costs only money and a contract spot, not our youth.

        • BurningSensation

          For me it depends on what the assets being moved out are.

          If the Flames dealt their 2015 1st rnd pick and Granlund to Carolina for Staal, I’d be totally OK with that. It wouldn’t hurt our C depth (it would improve it substantially), and we would be a considerably better team.

          For me, the assets I wouldn’t move under just about any circumstances (unless Malkin becomes available), are; Johnny G, Monahan, Gillies, and Brodie. The rest I would happily consider (including either this years or next years 1st – but not both).

          I like your idea of going after Mark Fayne, but don’t see him being a realistic signing.

          • Skuehler

            I think Granlunds gonna be a stud for a long time. And he costs very little. And he’s ready to step up and take a spot next season. Why trade that?

            If I’m NY I take that deal everyday and twice on Sunday. 1st round pick (top 10), Gralund and cap relief to sign other players?! Why trade away a pre-apex solid high end prospect on the cheap for an expensive post apex player??

          • redhot1

            I wouldn’t really want to go after Staal or Spezza. We have a logjam of centres at the moment that need playing time, along with a couple of them fighting for a roster spot. If you were to go after a big name player, make it RWer, like Voracek

          • beloch

            I think I would prefer to be somewhere in the middle. Doesn’t make sense to trade a 2014 or 2015 1st that will be top 5 picks for players like Spezza or Staal. If we part with any of our 1st in the next 2 years, it will be for either ROR or Kane or some mid 20’s up & coming core player. Colorado needed defence you have to wonder if Wideman & our #4 pick & a prospect, can get us ROR.

  • loudogYYC

    Yes, much better to hope he has a bounce back season.

    As the cap rises over the next couple of seasons his deal won’t look so bad.

    I think his performance this season is somewhat (who knows really) attributed to injuries and to that he had to carry the second pairing all of the time when healthy. In reality he is a decent #3/4 puck mover who can play the powerplay at an acceptable level. To get the most out of him he needs a better partner:

    So, if you keep Brodie with Gio, then that second pairing will still be a weakness. Russell and Smid would be a good 3rd pairing I think. None of our prospects are ready so if we want to get the most out of Wideman we have to fill that #3 D spot.

    Can this spot be filled best via Free Agency or trade.

    Who are our FA candidates?

    Who are our trade chips that have actual value?