The Cap And The Flames Deadline Dealings

We’re rapidly approaching the NHL’s trade deadline – March 2 at 1pm MT – and one thing that’s on everybody’s mind is the salary cap. (And lunch.)

But mostly the cap. It’s at $69 million US right now, and the escalation of the cap is dependent on where the Canadian dollar lands, or is expected to be, considering that a lot of league revenues are paid in Canadian dollars. At the All-Star Game, Gary Bettman indicated a general scale of escalation based on the Canadian dollar’s value, and that places the cap at around $71.7 million US next season if there’s an 80-cent dollar (and it moves up or down about a quarter-million with each cent).

I don’t think the Flames are too worried about where the cap wiggles to for next season.

For the 2015-16 season, the Calgary Flames organization has 26 players under contract, in addition to 16 pending restricted free agents. The benefit of Calgary’s success this season is it makes it a bit easier to project out next season’s cap situation, because the likelihood of the team going scorched-earth at the deadline or the draft is pretty low.

Signed to one-way deals for next season are the following gentlemen:

  • Goaltenders Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio
  • Defensemen Kris Russell, Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie, Ladislav Smid and Deryk Engelland
  • Forwards Jiri Hudler, David Jones, Mason Raymond, Joe Colborne, Matt Stajan and Brandon Bollig

In addition, you can almost definitively state that Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are locks for next season. And let’s presume two things:

  1. The RFAs on the roster will be retained.
  2. Nobody with an existing contract will be moved in the near-future.

Neither of these are gonna actually happen – the Flames will probably move players in both categories – but for this exercise, let’s make life easy on ourselves and presume that RFAs Mikael Backlund, Paul Byron, Josh Jooris and Lance Bouma are all retained and given raises of some amount.

So here’s a vague, vague look at the team’s 2015-16 roster as we sit right now.

Pos Player Cap Hit
G Hiller $4.500m
G Ortio $0.600m
D Wideman $5.250m
D Brodie $4.600m
D Giordano $4.020m
D Smid $3.500m
D Engelland $2.917m
D Russell $2.600m
D ? ?
F Hudler $4.000m
F Jones $4.000m
F Raymond $3.150m
F Stajan $3.125m
F Gaudreau $1.850m
F Monahan $1.775m
F Colborne $1.275m
F Bollig $1.250m
F Backlund RFA ($3.00m?)
F Jooris RFA ($0.9m?)
F Byron RFA ($0.80m?)
F Bouma RFA ($1.20m?)
F ? ?
F ? ?

Presuming the roster shakes out like this and the RFAs get the raises I vaguely project – completely off the top of my head and only for illustrative purposes, you have three open spots for new kids and/or bodies you bring in from outside the organization, and roughly $54.3 million in committed cap space.

If the cap ends up in the vicinity of $71.7 million (or so), that means the Flames have approximately $17.4 million in cap space before they start their pre-trade deadline wheeling and dealing. That’s a tremdenous amount of wiggle room to have, particularly considering all the of the Flames major pieces are under contract through next season (at the least).

    • piscera.infada

      I’m a fan of what Byron has done this year, save for missing every breakaway on earth(!). I wonder if they choose to keep him though. You’d have to think there are options out there that could be better in a year or so.

    • beloch

      Here’s a fun Byron fact: He has the same number of goals as and more assists than Nail Yakupov does this year, and in fewer games.

      If Glencross were traded tomorrow, Paul Byron would be the guy to take Glencross’s minutes. This season, Glencross is getting the toughest minutes of any forward on the Flames, but last season Byron’s deployment was nearly identical to Glencross’ and his possession stats were better. Byron doesn’t have Glencross’s wicked wrister or much of a finishing touch at all really, but he’s capable of driving play in the right direction against the toughs. Paul Byron is an economical shut-down winger.

      The Flames left it until the very last minute to re-sign Byron last summer, and they signed him for just one season. It’s clear that Treliving doesn’t prize diminutive shut-down wingers highly. Byron will again be an RFA this summer. Given how Byron’s point pace is down and not up, how good Wolf has looked, and Baertschi’s gradual progress, it seems likely Byron will spend most of this summer without an inked contract, again. That is, unless Glencross is traded or walks. Without Glencross, the Flames will need a player like Byron.

  • piscera.infada

    I would add F Sam Bennett, F Emile Poirier, and D-man Tyler Wotherspoon all at $925,000 plus bonuses, if any.

    I notice that pending UFA Curtis Glencross is not on the list..Flames retain him to end of season, see if they can re-sign him or get a draft pick for negotiating rights. Hartley likes him in the lineup as he plays tough minutes. Need him for Pac Division games for sure….

  • beloch

    An 80 cent dollar vs parity means teams could be about $5M short of the cap space they may have been counting on. Oil has recovered modestly this month and anything could happen to the CAD in the near future, but it’s interesting to think what might happen to the player market if every cap team in the league finds themselves short by a first-liner’s salary.

    In theory, cap space is a saleable asset in the NHL, but we really don’t see trades that reflect this very often. Teams in a tight spot usually find some way to wriggle out of a bind without giving up anything juicy. If it’s just one or two teams in dire straights, it’s not too hard for them to make a few mostly lateral trades to get a slightly cheaper roster.

    This summer there might be more teams looking to get cheaper than the market will accommodate. If that happens, the Flames could pick up some skilled, but expensive, players without giving much in return. The usual bidding wars on the cream of the UFA crop may be somewhat subdued this year as well. It could be a buyer’s market, and the Flames have more to spend than most.

    • MattyFranchise

      The Flames have more so spend than anyone, I think. I believe they have either the cheapest or second cheapest team in the league.

      As for the cap, so far as I know the rules are more lax either after the trade deadline or in the playoffs. Teams can be over the cap by a significant margin for the stretch run (maybe) and in the playoffs (certain).

  • KiLLKiND

    Bennet and Wother likely fill in and probably Shore, or maybe Granlund or Poirer.

    Also has anyone seen Sieloff and how has he looked this year until last year he seemed really promising.

    • Sieloff is a frequent healthy scratch on the farm. 20 years old, lost a year of development and wasn’t the most skilled guy in the world anyways.

      It’s going to be long, hard climb back into relevance for Sieloff. His formative years were completely decimated by injury.

  • KiLLKiND

    “This summer there might be more teams looking to get cheaper than the market will accommodate. If that happens, the Flames could pick up some skilled, but expensive, players without giving much in return. The usual bidding wars on the cream of the UFA crop may be somewhat subdued this year as well. It could be a buyer’s market, and the Flames have more to spend than most.”

    That may be true, but nobody wants the Flames to be a dumping ground for other teams high salaried non-performers. If there is a chance of picking up someone like Boychuck, then go for it..but the price in terms of salary structure on the Flames…

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    -Resign Backlund. I’m guessing he wants ~4.5m and that’s fine in my opinion.
    -Trade a few B-prospects for Adam Larsson’s RFA rights and sign him for whatever his camp expects (I really don’t know or expect it to happen). Put together an offer including Joe Colborne, Drew Shore, Marcus Granlund, Ryan Culkin. It does bleed our farm a bit dry but I think I have confidence in guys like Arnold and Elson should we need the depth due to injury.
    -If the above actually works out, move Dennis Wideman while his stock is high.
    -If the above actually works out, sign Tyler Toffoli to an 5m offersheet (1st / 3rd in compensation – no more though).

    Make a concerted effort to clear out Bollig, Engelland, Smid, Stajan by the end of the 2016 season because that’s when Cap space truly matters with Monahan, Gaudreau, Giordano coming off the books.

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Toffoli
    Baertschi-Bennett-Hudler
    Bouma-Backlund-Poirier
    Wolf-Jooris-Byron

    Brodie-Giordano
    Russell-Larsson
    Wotherspoon-Diaz

    Tell me that’s not a roster set up to compete now, while still having guys like Hickey, Kulak, Rafikov, en route

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Not likely BT/BB would break the unwritten rules and sign a RFA, though not horrible idea.

      Larsson a nice idea too but I think Jersey will hang on and that 4-player package is ALOT of players and potential to give up so not likely either.

      MORE LIKELY: Flames get a tough D4 by picking up Emelin who is on the block.

      WOULD BE COOL: Flames (please don’t puke, it makes sense) get proven 1RW by getting Kessel out of Toronto for 1st rounder this year, Poirier, and Wotherspoon. Or better would be 1st rounder, Baertschi, and Wotherspoon.

    • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

      If Backlund signs for a 3M cap hit as suggested in the article, then yes please, resign our 3rd line center. If you wants more than that, then he WILL be traded, and should be.
      Monahan
      Bennett
      Backlund

      1
      2
      3

    • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

      Re. Adam Larsson, I thought it might be a good idea earlier in the season to try to pick him up. Since then I have seen a few NJ games and there is no way I want him now.
      IMHO there are only 4 prospects outside of the NHL roster I will not trade:
      Bennett
      Gillies
      Ortio
      Poirier
      Plus our first rounder this year in a draft compared to 2004 where players like Getzlaf, Perry and Carter were late 1st rounders.
      That pick is going nowhere, believe me.

  • SydScout

    For the guys that need to be signed this year it’s a tough time relative to the last few years. Their agents will be asking for dollars based on previous cap levels but if the CAD continues its slide their negotiating power is diminished given the expected cap level.

    While not wanting to make key signing decisions based on currency projections (guesswork at best), this may be the time to resign those key long term pieces. The relative cost is likely less than it could be going forward, if the cap climbs back up.

    That’s the interval view. Externally BT should be running the ruler over any team that it hard up against the cap, and going in hard. They’ll have nowhere to go.