Calgary Flames have a few options open to them this summer. They need defensemen and some high-end depth at the wing. They have a surplus of cap space and a wealth of middling prospects as well as three 2nd round picks and two 3rd round picks this June and a full round of picks next June.
Off the top of my head here are five things (with apologies to Ryan Lambert) the Flames could try this summer.
- The Flames could trade for Alexander Semin (and the 5th overall pick).
- The Flames could submit an offer sheet on Brandon
- The Flames could trade for Patrick Sharp.
- The Flames could submit an offer sheet on Dougie Hamilton
- The Flames could trade for Zdeno Chara.
The Semin deal is, well, interesting. Here’s why: the Flames need a defensive stud prospect and the right side of the roster is, after
Jiri Hudler, rather barren. The Hurricanes need out from under that deal and would
be motivated to move the contract. The deal will have to be creative because the 5th overall pick in this year’s draft is slightly more valuable than fish-wrap, even if that fish is Semin at $7 million for three more years.
Elliotte Friedman mentions the Hurricanes shopping Semin and that the 5th overall pick may be in play.
Brandon Saad and Patrick
Sharp are in some ways linked in this scenario. The Flames could submit a
reasonable offer sheet on Saad forcing the Blackhawks to match which puts them
over the cap. $5 million would probably be enough to put the screws to them and the compensation in that range is a 1st and a 3rd round pick. If they don’t match, you’ve just acquired a 22 year old center
with some very good potential. If they do, you can turn around and make a trade
offer for Sharp, a $5.9 million cap hit for two more years, and because of the
corner you’ve put them in likely walk away without paying full price. Say a 2nd
and a prospect like Markus Granlund. The Blackhawks might get better offers
elsewhere for Sharp, so we’ll put this one aside for now and continue on with Semin.
What would a deal for Semin and the 5th overall pick look like? There are several variables to consider. Are we making the trade today or on the draft floor when the pick reaches peak value? Are we putting aside NMCs and the like for the time being? Let’s say we can ignore NMCs right now and that Ron Francis is smart enough to wrangle a few verbal offers prior to the draft but waits until the 3rd overall pick is taken before re-engaging other GMs. We know that it’ll be McDavid and Eichel 1-2, #3 goes to Arizona and word is that they are interested in Strome. That leaves Toronto to make a pick at #4. I think they take Hanifin at that spot leaving Carolina with options ranging from Ivan Provorov to Mitch Marner and so on. How much is Ivan Provorov worth to the Calgary Flames? How much is he worth to the Hurricanes relative to Alex Semin’s boat-anchor contract? I’d wager that the Hurricanes would consider moving that pick for the 15th and 45th picks, Markus Granlund, Patrick Sieloff and Kris Russell.
Russell and Granlund are the parts of the hockey deal the Hurricanes are going to demand, Sieloff isn’t a Burke/Treliving pick and they have no loyalty to him, the 15th and 45th picks are the price to move up in the draft order and help Carolina restock the cupboard. Eric Staal is a UFA at the end of this season so if the Hurricanes decide on a major rebuild they may be looking at adding more draft bullets, taking quantity over quality right now.
On paper it looks like a steep price to pay for Semin, but he isn’t really the target here, just some sleight-of-hand to get the pick the Flames need. Provorov is the top-rated non-NCAA defender in the draft and is perhaps only one or two years away from the NHL with top-pairing potential. After June 26th the price on that player/prospect is likely only going to go up.
Let’s switch gears away from Semin and over to acquiring an impact NHL player.
Submitting an offer sheet on
Dougie Hamilton would be a very brave, and perhaps very lucrative, move.
Boston would have to match all but the most aggressive offers, so it would
likely have to be somewhere close to $6.7 million a year, which is the upper
end of forfeiting a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round
pick in compensation (source). Let’s say $6.5 million on a seven-year offer sheet.
Boston could match, but then they are dumping one of Zdeno Chara or Milan Lucic
to make some space under the cap. Lucic is a $6 million cap hit for one more
year while Chara is a $6.9 million cap hit for three more years.
Here’s where we could get
really creative. If Boston matches the offer sheet on Hamilton, you could
submit a trade proposal where you take Chara and Marc Savard, a $4 million cap
hit for two more years who is almost guaranteed to spend every day of it on
long-term injured reserve, in exchange for Deryk Engelland, John Ramage, Max Reinhart and a 2nd
Savard’s contract expires at
the same time as Engelland’s while Chara is a far more effective player at that
position and you’d be slotting him in as a 2nd pairing with Wideman
behind Giordano and Brodie. Boston needs some defensemen and centers in their prospect pipeline and both Ramage and Reinhart have pedigree, that goes a long way with NHL GMs. I think Boston may be highly motivated to turn the page on the Marc Savard experience at this point as well.
But what would be the
knock-on effect for Hudler, Monahan, Gaudreau, Colborne and
Giordano, all of whom need to be re-signed at the end of next season? Monahan
and Gaudreau may end up signing bridge contracts for a year or two before
signing their next big contract that eats into UFA years. So we can assume that
something south of $5 million over two years in that scenario. Colborne and Arnold are not the kinds of players you want to spend too much
money on. Sign them to affordable deals or let them walk.
Hudler is a different matter.
With the shortage of effective right-wingers on the roster the Flames may want
to try to lock him up for another three years. His current deal is very
affordable for the team, so let’s assume he asks for a pay raise that puts him just
north of Radim Vrbata at something like $5.5 million or $5.75 million a year.
Then we’ve got Mark Giordano.
TJ Brodie signed a very affordable extension this past season that covers the
Flames for the next five years. Giordano’s boxcars look better than Brodie, he’s
the captain and he’s a veteran. I think we’ll be looking at something just
below the Chara line, perhaps between $6.25 million and $6.75 million over say
four to five years. I can’t see it being more than that, and frankly it if is
less then you’re just coming out ahead.
What would that cap situation
To begin with, we have some
expectation that the salary cap next season is going to be roughly $71 million
as the players are expected to use their escalator clause in the CBA. Without
it the cap was going to be closer to $69 million.
On a $71 million dollar cap,
the Flames would be carrying $61.45 million towards the salary cap leaving them with a considerable cushion for trades and free-agency.
In the second year, 2016-2017 the Semin/Chara route would have the Flames salary cap at $65.78 million.
Your forward lines would
include Monahan, Gaudreau, Hudler, Bennett, Semin and Backlund in the top six.
Bouma, Byron, Colborne, Stajan, Bollig and Raymond would rotate through
the bottom six or could be used as trade assets.
The defense would have Brodie
and Giordano as a top pairing with Chara and Wideman as the 2nd
pairing and could chase Mike Green or Cody Franson as 3rd pairing defenders and powerplay specialists.
Now, substitute Dougie Hamilton in place of Chara and you save a little bit of cap space while still adding a phenomenal young defender for the 2nd pairing.
Ivan Provorov almost certainly returns to the CHL next season and could slot in for the 2016-2017 season to a blueline that already boasts Brodie, Giordano, Wideman, Chara/Hamilton.
The cost to the organization
in terms of players, picks and prospects would be Russell, Engelland, Sieloff, Ramage, Reinhart, the 15th overall pick and three 2nd round picks. Alternatively, 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks in the 2016 season if you go the Dougie Hamilton offer sheet route rather than a 2nd round pick, Derek Engelland, Patrick Sieloff and Max Reinhart.
Let’s return to the Patrick
Sharp idea for a moment and see how that might turn out instead of Semin.
Sharp is a $5.9 million cap
hit for two more years, and if the Blackhawks were offered a 2nd and
Granlund, that clears the cap space for them to re-sign Saad. He is listed as a
left winger and so is a less-than-ideal for the Flames needs but could provide
an attractive alternative for Hartley in creating a solid one-two punch down
the wing alongside Gaudreau. But could they afford to add both Sharp and Chara
without dumping Smid and Jones?
Yes, they could.
and Sharp and without adjusting for new contracts for Shore, Arnold, Wolf, Agostino,
Elson, Schlemko, Diaz, Potter, Ramage and Ramo the Flames would have a cap hit
of $67.34 million (a shade less if they were to land Dougie Hamilton instead), leaving them just shy of $4 million under the salary cap. Schlemko,
Diaz, Potter and Ramo are free-agents while Shore, Arnold, Wolf, Agostino,
Elson and Ramage are RFAs. The Flames may need to move another contract to
create a little more space or will have to make some decisions to winnow the
In the second year of the Sharp scenario the Flames would have a cap hit of $73.5 million.
Either the Saad or Hamilton offer sheets,
while costly in terms of picks, could add a stud blueliner to build around for
another decade alongside Brodie. Picks forfeited to the offer sheet could be
recouped by trading expiring UFAs such as Hiller (2nd round pick), Jones (3rd
round pick), Hudler (1st round pick), and Russell (2nd round pick).
Regardless of whether you
were to choose the Semin/Provorov, Chara, Hamilton or Sharp/Saad route, the Flames will have added
high-end talent where it is needed and strengthened the roster while giving up relatively modest assets.
This exercise isn’t to advocate for one of the above ideas, but rather to offer them up as possibilities, explore the relative costs as best we can, determine whether they would be advantageous or not, and discuss.
That being said, if Noah Hanifin should fall to #5 and Ron Francis is still taking your phone calls, you make the deal and run the hell up to the podium grinning like the butcher’s dog.
(All salary cap data taken from NHLNumbers.com.)
(Draft pick information courtesy of generalfanager.com.)