Next Summer’s Salary Cap Tightens For Flames

The biggest news of this past week was the signing of forward Lance Bouma to a new three-year deal. The deal has been seemingly praised and trashed by the local hockey community.

Those praising it typically are pointing at Bouma’s on-ice leadership, tenacity and determination, as well as his ability to score key goals, in justifying his $2.2 million cap hit through 2017-18. The main criticisms of the deal tend to fall into the realm of “Well, he’s a tremendous role player, but man, that’s a lot of money for a bottom-six player…”

I don’t mind the deal myself, but it does tighten the noose a bit next summer in terms of managing the salary cap.

2015-16 CAP SPACE

Bouma’s deal gives the Calgary Flames 47 players under control for the 2015-16 season – including restricted free agents Micheal Ferland and Paul Byron. In terms of committed cap space for this season, the Flames have roughly 22 players on one-way deals (or who are waiver eligible or Sam Bennett) for a cap commitment of $67.712 million before bonuses. Right now, that leaves the Flames with roughly $3.688 million to wrap up another roster player.

That’s totally doable, and that’s before Brad Treliving does his magic show and somehow makes an ugly contract disappear between now and October 6.

It’s next season that’s going to be downright ugly.

2016-17 CAP SPACE

Let’s jump in the time machine and leap to July 1, 2016.

Under contract for the Flames for 2016-17 and cemented in the NHL are Michael Frolik, Mikael Backlund, Mason Raymond, Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma, Brandon Bollig, Sam Bennett, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie, Ladislav Smid and Deryk Engelland. The cap hit of those dozen players? About $40.592 million for a dozen players.

In a summer that will see the Flames needing new deals (or replacements, heaven forbid) for guys like Jiri Hudler, David Jones, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano, Kris Russell, Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo, the club will likely have around $34 million in cap space to lock up 11 players – and that includes the team’s best (and most expensive) guys.

If we presume the NHLPA utilizes its 5% salary cap escalator next summer as it did this year, you have a cap of just shy of $75 million ($74.97 million to be precise). Let’s see how quickly that disappears…

  • Mark Giordano – $8.5 million
  • Sean Monahan – $6.5 million
  • Johnny Gaudreau – $6.5 million
  • Two goalies of some repute – $6 million combined, at least

That’s five roster spots taken up, and suddenly, you have an optimistic $27.5 million disappear, and the team has just $7.5 million to sign the rest of the team. And might I stress this, I think I’m being optimistic that these deals for these players will be this cheap. And if you want to retain Jiri Hudler or Kris Russell, kiss even more of that meager cap space goodbye.

IS IT BOUMA’S FAULT?

Nope.

Once you see how tight the cap situation is for next summer, you can understand the concern about Bouma’s cap hit but let’s not get crazy here – it is in no way his fault. He obviously worked his tail off last summer and throughout this past season, and he was rewarded with a nice offensive campaign and a ton of goals – and a new contract. He did everything he was asked to during his “show-me” deal, and he was compensated accordingly.

But man, things will get hairy next summer, and I’m terrified that deals like this one may be the difference between keeping guys like Hudler and Russell in Calgary and having them ply their trade elsewhere in the future. Monahan, Gaudreau and Giordano are the top priorities, and I’m under no illusions that Bouma getting a few hundred thousand more than people thought he should get will bump any of those three gentlemen from the roster. But when you look at the success teams like Chicago and Los Angeles have had over the last stretch, it’s the secondary and complementary guys – their versions of Russell and Hudler – that chip in throughout the year and make the difference over the 100-plus games of a long season and playoff drive. Diminish your team’s depth even in tiny ways through slightly heavy cap hits for guys like Bouma, and it can have ripples throughout your salary structure.

The good news is that Brad Treliving has another year to figure out a way to make the numbers work. But as you can see, he’s got his work cut out for him.

    • RedMan

      How far away are we from contending? What pieces do we need? I am not saying we are their yet but I”m always interested in what people have to add. Hence I never use the trash button but ask questions or debate differences.

      • DestroDertell

        my opinion is we need
        1. A top 6 power forward with skill. ( simmonds, Jenner,)
        2. A top 6 forward to replace hudler perhaps. ( that could be Poirier is Rychel)
        3. A solid all round def with more of a shut down/ physical side since we have good offensive puck movers coming. ( Heatherington)
        4. A game stealing goaltender. ( we may have one coming up)
        All need to be the same age range as our core.
        You can probably guess which team I would try to trade with.

        • RedMan

          So if we are patient could not Ferland possibly fit your #1? Playing with better players could elevate his game significantly.

          At the moment HUdler is here for this but I get your point for the future.

          Point 3 Might Nakladal or spoon be able to do this job supported by a any of our current top 3.

          A game stealing goalie? I recall both Ramo and Hiller stealing a few last year.(altough both give up wek ones as well) I thought Ortio did as well. And yes either Gilles or MacDonald could do be what you are looking.

          So you would like to steal some players from the blue Jackets.

          • Graham

            I don’t see Ferland as a top 6. I’m talking about another 60 plus point guy. I dont know if Wotherspoon will get there or not and know nothing about Nakladal. So, for fun, here’s what I’d love to see. Gio for Jenner and Rychel. That type of trade. Not sure if Columbus would but they may only be a top 2 def away.

          • KACaribou

            I do see Ferland as our 2nd line LW after Johnny Hockey. Ferly was nearly a 100 pt guy in Jr. and had spurts of point-a-game play for Adirondack between fourth line stints for the Flames or injuries. I certainly wouldn’t count him out quite this soon anyway.

          • Wizard22

            Have have just read all the posts here today and you will be happy to know that I have awarded you with the number 1 award for the most ridiculous comments. Congratulations! Your prize will be forthcoming in the mail…..

        • Graham

          Found all these guys for a terrific price….

          1. Top6 Power Forward with Skill: Ferland (Smith, Carroll… WIW*)

          2. Top6 Forward to replace Hudler: Poirier (Mangiapane, Agostino… WIW)

          3. Solid physical D: Nakladal (Wotherspoon, Kanzig… WIW)

          4. Game-stealing Goaltender: Ramo, Ortio (Gillies, MacDonald WIW)

          All can be had this year or next without giving up the future. All it takes is a little patience and continued development. Do NOT go and trade for them all, as the cost will be high and you’ll end up with an untenable BACK-LOG of players that you won’t be able to get rid of down the road, even worse than the current back-log we have.

          *Waiting in Wings

          • Graham

            I’m not talking about mortgaging the future. The opposite in fact. Signing Gio will be mortgaging the future. I’m talking about trading a guy 10 years older than our core for more future skill and depth

    • DestroDertell

      Exactly. This. I’m happy to say others are warming up to this as I was panned when bringing it up when he got injured for the 3rd long term I jury in 3 years.

      Dump him, save the cash, reap the rewards. Dude can’t stay healthy and is getting older every day..no matter how good a Captain he is for 60 games a year.

      Playoffs proved we can survive e without him, Hamilton furthers that motion

  • OKG

    Work some magic BT, please move the following contracts: Raymond, Smid, England @10m and everything will be okay. Unfortunately I think it is easier said than done.

    I know any discussion of bridge deals for either Johnny and Monny will get trashed but I still think the GM has to have that discussion with them and their agents. The players and the agents know about cap space and all the RFA rules as well that govern the NHL.

    So a conversation goes something like this to both Monny and Johnny and their agents. We know that you are worth $6-7 million a year but you can see our cap issues and that after next season more money comes off of our salary issues, We pay you $4m each for this season a one year deal and then we lock you up for the next 8 years(I believe that is the max number a years) at $6.75m each.
    They may absolutely reject the $ or the term but the conversation has to be had. Hopefully they love Calgary and trust BT at his word and it happens, if not what is wasted by having this chat.

    If it falls apart there is always arbitration. At some point teams have to bring this second contracts back in.

  • Curtis

    The noose around the neck was tightened long before Bouma’s contract signing.

    Smid/Wideman/Englland/Raymond/Jones are the noose.

    I trust that BT has a plan to subtract some of these contract’s.

    • OKG

      I still can’t fathom WHAT Treliving was thinking when he signed Engelland to that deal. I’d rather have brought in Nikitin @ 4.5M / 2 than Engelland @ 2.9M/3, at least Nikitin isn’t an analytics disaster and the term makes sense. You know you messed up when friggin Craig MacTavish had a better offseason move.

      • RedMan

        Nikitin is not an analytics disaster, but he is a disaster on the ice! Oiler fans have been clamoring all season to dump Nikitin. Nikitin was a TOTAL bust, at least Engelland @ 2.9 million was very useful in the latter part of the season and the playoffs, as Giordano was out.

        • DestroDertell

          First of all, Nikitin has never been good with analytics aside from a fluke 2011-12 season. Pretty everyone who is pro-analytics and read Nikitin’s possession numbers knew it was a bad idea. Engelland was NOT “very useful”, he never shown he earned his minutes after Gio was injured and he dragged Brodie down like an anvil the whole time.

          Let’s be clear: Russell, Wideman & Engelland did not “step up”. The flames made the playoff because Hiller had a Save% of 95.24 at even strength and 95.37% ajusted in the last six games, excluding the pointless game 82. Before that the flames were 7-7 without Gio with a good 92.6 Sv% at even strength. Hudler going berserk after Gio was out also helped.

          • MontanaMan

            Wow people’s memories are short. Of course Wideman, Russell and Engelland stepped up – every one of them played in situations above their heads for the last quarter of the year and playoffs. Was it ideal? No. Would you want it for a 82 game schedule? No. But make no mistake about it, all three performed admirably during the Flames run and should be recognized as such. If you want to discuss trading them for other assets, its a good discussion, but don’t ever question what the three of them brought to the Flames in big games.

        • OKG

          Nikitin was a “total bust” because he played for the Oilers.

          Can you imagine if Engelland played for the Oilers? Dude would have been like, -70 just by himself.

          Again though, give me two years of one terrible player over 3 years of another terrible player.

    • DestroDertell

      Jones is off next year and will likely be replaced from within. With any luck for the team Smid is on LTIR or retires, although I wish him well. England and Raymond are BT signings and he has to wear them until he moves them. Wideman is an interesting contract for me, at times I hate it but by the end of last season and seeing him grow as a player after the Gio injury I’m not sure it is as bad as most say it is . He was one of the top scoring defenseman in the league this year so I don;t hate it but if he could could be moved for a need and some cap relief I would be okay with this.

    • DestroDertell

      Yes I believe in the noose except for one…wideman 56 pts are hard to sneeze at. You can’t remove all of the veterans from this team. Wideman falls in the same importance to the team as Gio & Hudler. three major contributers & leaders. If 5 is your lucky number I will throw in Russel! The only reason why he stops so many shot is size and his inability to take the puck from larger power forwards, evident in the Ducks series.

  • DestroDertell

    Some thoughts:

    – I’ve been very vocal about my feeling over Bouma’s contract but if the Prust trade teaches us anything, it’s that there’s always a GM who will be willing to trade for guy like him even after they flopped. So at least there’s that.

    – Kris Russell, like Jones, should be traded not resigned. No need to make things worse.

    – A deal involving Wideman with 33% retained would interest many teams like the Bruins if they can’t sign Franson.

    – Buying out Smid’s and Raymond’s final year would free up ~4.67M$ for 2016-17.

      • DestroDertell

        There’s no answers at #4 right now. But the answer for the future will come one of the prospect – I have faith Wotherspoon can become that guy but he’s not the only one who has the potential. Either we trade for a #4 Dman or we accept there’ll be a big hole there next season.

        • RedMan

          So please correct me if Im wrong, based on this team as it is you feel we either trade for a #4 dman or accept we have a big hole in our 2nd pairing next year??
          Wow. So you are saying 6.75mill of cap space on two defence men is not capable for #4 spot. Two guys that played 20+ minutes a game last year & playoffs. Holy smokes buddy, I just can’t get on the same page of your thinking. Again, I watch the games & I liked Russell’s overall 5V5 game than Widemans. Hamilton just signed a contract for more $$$ than Wideman & he has a pretty darn good offence upside, was the Bruins first PP pairing last year. I think he is going to get some of Wideman’s PP minutes, don’t you?

          I don’t see this cap crunch as bad as it seems. To me keeping Wideman next year would be a mistake. His numbers are going to decline, along with his perceived value. Wideman should be moved once Franson signs. Picks & prospects would be sufficient & then we have lot’s of cap breathing room for 2015-16. The following year, Jones is done +4.0mill in space. One of Hiller or Ramo will be retained around the 4.0mill range & Ortio will be resigned to a comparable $$ value contract he currently has. I predict maybe 10 starts for Ortio in 2015-16, so really, don’t see how his salary could go up any higher anyway. So instead of 6.0 mill on goaltending, drop that 1.0 mill to 5.0 mill. I don’t think Gio or Gaudreau or Monahan are anywhere close to$21.5 mill. I see 2 year Bridge deals for Money & Johnny at about the 5.0 mill range & I see Gio at the 7.25 mill range. We can argue all 3 of these guys numbers all day, but BT has proven to get loyalty & discounting factored into his extensions of important pieces. Just look at Backlund & Brodie. If we need more, I think Raymond can get his 1 year left moved for a mid round pick & Smid will be coming to a head in 12 months.

          • DestroDertell

            Doesn’t mean they played 20+ minutes they were good. Using that line of reasoning Andrew MacDonald and Trevor Daley are good defensemen. If they get those minutes either they shouldn’t be and the coach isn’t doing a good job distributing time or there’s a lack of depth.

            I also watched the flames last year (duh!), Wideman was usually too aggressive for his speed which caused line breakdown but Russell’s puck handling skills were horrendous, allowing the opponents to get scoring chances. Neither are acceptable 2nd pair options.

          • TheoForever

            Being at the game & watching on TV are two different things.

            I guess they were good enough to get through a tough playoff sprint & two rounds of playoffs. Yeah you’re right, they were hot garbage playing 27 minutes a night. Like I said, we just have a hard time getting on the same page of thinking. Put Russell with a proper 2nd pairing defence man like Hamilton & watch his progress. Russell was trying to compensate for Widemans lack of foot speed to his own detriment. Makes a difference if you have a defensive partner that can make you look good & you can focus on your game & not trying to do too much.

          • DestroDertell

            Daley played 23 minutes a night. What a great player! Andrew MacDonald played 24 minutes a night the year before. He’s an elite player! Except not really.

            We got a playoff spot in spite of Russell and Wideman’s defensive, not because. As I mentioned in my previous post, Hiller carried the team in his last few games of the season.

            Russell’s possession numbers were not bad because of Wideman. Without each other, (a sample of 230+ minutes each) Wideman has a +0.5 CF% edge over the Russell even tho he started 8.3% less of his shift (33.0%) in the O-Zone than Russell (41.3). Russell’s possession numbers were bad because he is bad.

            EDIT: Are you implying your opinion is more valuable because you were at the game? That has to be the weakest appeal to authority I’ve ever seen.

  • KACaribou

    I understand that there is no advanced stat for intangibles… but Engelland has some of that to offer.

    He’s basically the sole tough guy we have on defense. He’s mean. He’ll fight! And if we can all try to be fair here, when his ice time doubled due to the Gio injury we also found out that he is a capable player.

    No team is successful only full of stars. We need the Engellands. I personally don’t want to cheer for a team full of wussys.

    While I am on a rant; what the heck is all the slamming of Stajan and Wideman?

    Stajan has transformed his game and plays a pretty tough game now – perfect for the fourth line. Yes he isn’t value for the money he makes but his play last year was admirable.

    Wideman is a talented freak on offense with an uncanny ability to get shots through legs and onto the net. His D play is average sure, but his O play is very good. Nobody on our defense is exactly Bobby Orr.

      • Wizard22

        And the Blackhawks will probably tell you Bickell was a big part of their team and they are happy to have a player like him which helped to get to the Stanley Cup finals….and then show you a big silver trophy and some rings. lol

        • DestroDertell

          You mean when he played a whoopin total of 9:53 minutes during the finals? Or the zero goals in 18 playoff games that led up to being a healthy scratch (and his weak hockey play in general)? The only thing he is a big part of is their cap hit.

          • Wizard22

            Winning a Championship is more than a 7 game series.Bickell played 80 of 82 regular season games plus 18 playoff games. His team also won the Cup.That tells me he must do something right and is a valueable member of the team somehow. Whether that is by telling Kane and Toews funny jokes, scaring opposition defenseman with forechecking or the 28 regular season points.

          • DestroDertell

            You people are getting desperate to defend your so-called “intangibles”. The finals are kinda the time of the year you put your best players on the ice to win the game. Bickell was benched despite throwing more hits than anyone else in the playoff because he sucked at playing hockey. The Blackhawks won the cup because they usually know what kind of player should play and what kind should stay on the bench; as it turned out they decided players like Bickell belong in the 2nd category.

            The Blackhawks also won a cup while Bollig was in their roster and they managed to win another without his “truculence”. Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup wins had nothing to do with neither Bickell nor Bollig.

          • TheoForever

            ‘You people’, love this crap.. Look other Flame fans have opinions that are different than yours, is that bothering you?. I disagree with your take on intangibles, most people that play would, but hey whatever floats your boat.

  • DestroDertell

    It’s OK, Flames can sign Jankowski to a ELC and he can be a cheap 3rd line shutdown center until they move Bennett to the wing (replace Hudler) and Jankowski will be in his natural position of 2nd line Center. The money saved here will solve all the caps problems

  • RedMan

    it seems that what happened here is that the new management was expecting a longer period of wandering in the wilderness, when in fact the team surprised everyone and were much better much faster than expected. BT and BB added some functional toughness and placeholders, definitely overpaying a bit (to reach the cap floor maybe), and here the team’s depth and skill were farther along then advertised.

    Personally, I don’t remember anyone predicting this outcome – everyone was pretty much in agreement that the road ahead looked long, and we were all committed to following the team through some years of suckiness. Then last year happened. Surprise after surprise as so many players developed faster than expected and took major steps forward.

    I believe we still really don’t know what this team is… will it take another step forward? a step back? anything is possible and arguments can be made for either of these possibilities.

    In the mean time, we are sitting here holding the bag on some of these players that were brought in as stop gap measures… and the team will obviously have to deal with it.

    it’s going to be interesting to see how the management do that. I think we all mostly agree that it would be foolish to abandon the rebuild mentality completely and adopt a “go for it now” approach. and it seems that BT agrees, as both major additions this summer completely fit into the rebuild model.

  • Graham

    The odd man out is going to br Gio, with Brodie and Hamilton signed we simply can’t spend 8 to 9 million on another dman. It’s trade to trade him while his value is high.

  • KACaribou

    Now that Dougie Hamilton is here do we need Wideman’s BIG (5.25 and 6 mill next 2 years) contract too? I liked Wideman’s play last season, but can we afford Gio, Hamilton and Wideman?

    David Jones could be off the books by this years trade deadline (4 million cap hit) as he will be a UFA. Get a pick for him, unless the Flames are in the thick of the playoff run and he is a significant contributer.

    Hope that Smid (3.75 and 4 mill next 2 years) considers that being healthy is more important than another year of getting banged up and returns to Europe and do the Flames a favor as Roman Turek did a few years ago.

    Jonas Hiller (4.5 million) is likely gone at trade deadline or before because he will be a UFA. Enter a cheaper Joni Ortio.

    Put Raymond and Bollig on waivers and see if someone bites…

    If Treliving accomplishes all of the above, no sweat for 2016-17!

  • TheoForever

    Your assumed cap of 75 million is very optimistic at best. Last year the NHL season started with the Canadian dollar trading around 90 cents and still around 85 on New Years day.

    This year the dollar could be as low as 70 cents or less at the start of the season. That would be disastrous on the cap as the cap is directly tied to revenues (Canadian NHL teams collect revenue in Canadian dollars and then it gets converted to US dollars).

  • Trevy

    Sorry Ryan but if you think Treliving is going to fork over 8.5 for a 32 yr old defenseman even if it is Gio, you’re crazy! Maybe just maybe if it’s 3-4 yr term, but I would definitely be fielding calls to see what offers I can get since he’s at the peak of his career! The rest of your numbers for Mony and JG are slightly high given comparables like Hall and Eberle, but realistic.

  • DestroDertell

    Pike. You say the numbers you’re projecting are conservative and best case scenarios. I could not disagree more, the numbers you’ve chosen to use are absolute worst case scenarios.

    No way Gio’s cap hit is $8.5M

    Monahan and Gaudreau are definitely gonna get paid but at age 20 and 21 they haven’t earned a $6.5M cap hit, they’ll max out at around $6M each if BT goes long term with them, if he goes shorter term it’ll be more of a bridge type deal for even less.

    As for the goalie situation, one of Hiller or Ramo is likely back, demanding around $4M per season and Ortio as the backup will be $1M max. $5M is more realistic for our goalie cap hit.

    You’ve over-shot the mark by a good $3M-$4M. That’s more than enough to cover a Russell extension and only likely $1M-$2M short to cover Hudler’s (if they chose to do so).

  • KACaribou

    Hey Ryan! That signing of Adam Larsson by New Jersey was interesting in that the gap in the salary between the last year & the first year was pretty large. I thought this couldn’t be done. Does anyone know the maximum variance allowed in the actual salary paid & cap hit that doesn’t circumvent the rules? Possibly we can structure Gaudreaus & Monahan’s contracts similarly.