When I saw the press release in my e-mail inbox yesterday morning, I’ll admit I was worried. The Calgary Flames had re-signed Mark Giordano. This was going to be expensive. He’s Calgary’s best player by a fair margin right now. Best players typically do cost a lot of money.
I expected a deal to cost the Flames between $8 million and $9 million annually, enough to force some belt-tightening this coming summer.
So when I saw that the Flames had somehow gotten the deal done for $6.75 million per season, I was equal parts shocked, impressed and excited. This is the kind of deal that opens up a lot of possibilities for the team going forward – at least for the next few seasons.
THE SUMMER OF 2016
Next summer, the Calgary Flames will be looking at the following in terms of cap commitments – presuming nobody gets moved out:
- Mark Giordano – $6.750m
- Dougie Hamilton – $5.750m
- Dennis Wideman – $5.250m
- T.J. Brodie – $4.650m
- Michael Frolik – $4.300m
- Mikael Backlund – $3.575m
- Ladislav Smid – $3.500m
- Mason Raymond – $3.150m
- Matt Stajan – $3.125m
- Deryk Engelland – $2.917m
- Lance Bouma – $2.200m
- Brandon Bollig – $1.250m
- Sam Bennett – $0.925m
When you do the math, the team’s committed roughly $47.342 million for 2016-17 already. If we presume that the NHLPA uses their 5% cap accelerator like they did this summer – and like they always seemingly do – you’re looking at a cap of around $74.97 million for 2016-17. So with Giordano’s deal done, the Flames have seven forwards and six defenders inked and about $27.63 million in cap space available to sign 10 players, including two goaltenders.
That’s not bad.
And if you presume that Giordano’s $6.75 million cap hit puts a ceiling on future contracts, we can peg the new deals for pending restricted free agents Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau at around $6 million each. That leaves more than $15 million in cap space to sign a pair of goalies and some depth players.
And that means that with a free agent list that will include restricted players like Joe Colborne, Josh Jooris and Joni Ortio, and unrestricted names David Jones, Jiri Hudler, Kris Russell, Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller, suddenly – unexpectedly – it appears that the Flames will actually have the financial ability to retain a few key names rather than tighten their belts.
That also means that the team has flexibility. Let’s say Tyler Wotherspoon is ready for the NHL full-time; Treliving can try to move an existing defensive contract, or he can simply let Kris Russell walk to move a younger body in. The same could happen in the forward ranks; Jiri Hudler can easily be retained at a $5 million (or thereabouts) cap hit. Heck, David Jones could take a pay cut and stick around, or they could move somebody in from Stockton.
Regardless of how things unfold, we may end up seeing some auditioning take place this season, as the players that aren’t obviously part of the team’s core will be vying for a roster spot and some of the cap space that the Flames will now have this coming summer.
And it gets better…
THE SUMMER OF 2017
Coming off the books on July 1, 2017 (if not before) are arguably the team’s worst contracts:
- Dennis Wideman – $5.25 million
- Ladislav Smid – $3.5 million
- Mason Raymond – $3.15 million
- Deryk Engelland – $2.917 million
Brandon Bollig’s $1.25 million is also coming off the books, but that’s a deal that’s not too hard to work around in the current system.
But there is just shy of $15 million coming off the books potentially for 2017-18, at a time where the team’s best players will have been locked up already and the only major player to re-up will be Sam Bennett. Add in the presumed $4 million bump in the salary cap (via the 5% NHLPA cap escalator) and Brad Treliving has his core locked up long-term and a lot of financial flexibility to maneuver in the event he wants to get creative with the supporting cast.