The Calgary Flames got marginally healthier this week, welcoming back Micheal Ferland to the active NHL roster. But this is probably the last of the “easy” injury activiations, as the eventual return of Jonas Hiller from the injured reserve will likely create some ripples and the resultant lack of cap space will probably cause more than a few grey hairs for Flames General Manager Brad Treliving.
Here’s how the organizational roster situation looks as of this morning.
The NHL team presently has 23 active bodies. That’s two goalies (Ramo and Ortio), seven defensemen (Russell, Giordano, Wideman, Brodie, Hamilton, Engelland and Smid) and 14 forwards (Colborne, Backlund, Gaudreau, Jooris, Stajan, Jones, Raymond, Monahan, Hudler, Bollig, Grant, Frolik, Ferland and Bennett).
The club also has two players on the Injured Reserve list: forward Lance Bouma (out until January/February with a broken fibula) and goalie Jonas Hiller (out week-to-week with a lower-body injury). Neither is currently skating with the team, for what it’s worth.
There are two looming concerns with the NHL club: waivers and the salary cap.
Mason Raymond cleared waivers on October 6 but has been on the roster longer than 30 days (and has played 10 games), so he’d need to clear waivers again to go down to the AHL. Derek Grant cleared waivers on September 28 and has played 6 games on the NHL roster, so after four more appearances – basically in a week – he’d need to clear waivers to go down, which he might not given how effective he’s been on the team’s bottom-six. Karri Ramo cleared waivers on October 22 and has since dressed for 5 games, so he’ll need to clear waivers to go back down after he’s dressed for another 5 games. I’m certain that Raymond and Ramo would both clear waivers, but much less certain that Grant would. (For what it’s worth, Brandon Bollig also probably clears waivers if they absolutely need the cap space.)
Calgary’s current active roster represents $67.08 million in cap space (including bonuses), giving them about $4.32 million in cap room for players being activated from the injured reserve. Once Jonas Hiller returns, cap space might get tight. There are three basic scenarios I have in my mind, considering they won’t keep three goalies again.
- Scenario A: The Flames keep Ramo and Hiller and demote Joni Ortio to the AHL. Hiller makes $4.5 million against the cap, an increase of $3.9 million over Ortio’s cap hit. Swapping Hiller for Ortio would bump the Flames’ cap commitment to approximately $70.98 million and leave them with just $419,000 of wiggle room (and would probably be coordinated with the team reducing their roster to 22 bodies to compensate).
- Scenario B: The Flames keep Hiller and Ortio and put Ramo back in the AHL. This move would see the Flames pay Ramo his $3.8 million NHL salary in the minors, of which $2.85 million would count against the cap. This move would give the Flames a cap commitment of around $70.63 million and $769,000 of cap space.
- Scenario C: The Flames keep Ramo and Ortio and put Hiller in the AHL. This move would see the Flames pay Hiller his $4.5 million salary in the AHL, of which $3.55 million would count against the cap. Again, this move would see the Flames with a $70.63 million cap commitment and just $769,000 of cap space.
I have no idea which of these three moves the Flames will make, but as Hiller gets closer to returning, expect the Flames to waive some bottom-six bodies to give themselves a bit of wiggle room, as likely any goaltending scenario probably sees them carry 22 bodies for a while to maximize cap room in case of a last-minute injury.
Calgary’s top affiliate in the AHL, the Stockton Heat, presently have roughly 24 active/healthy players.
That’s two goalies (Kent Simpson and Eric Hartzell), eight defensemen (Brett Kulak, Oliver Kylington, Tyler Wotherspoon, Dustin Stevenson, Kenney Morrison, Patrick Sieloff, Jakub Nakladal and Aaron Johnson) and 14 forwards (Garnet Hathaway, Freddie Hamilton, Turner Elson, Kenny Agostino, Austin Carroll, Emile Poirier, Drew Shore, Blair Riley, Markus Granlund, Colton Orr, Ryan Lomberg, Hunter Smith, Bill Arnold and Bryce van Brabant). The nice thing is they can rotate bodies in and out and typically they only have to scratch four healthy players.
Jon Gillies and Morgan Klimchuk are both nursing short-term lower-body injuries. Ryan Culkin is almost back from his shoulder injury suffered in Penticton.
Michigan State senior Matt Deblouw, a Flames seventh round pick back in 2012, is currently out 4-6 weeks with a lower-body injury. Calgary Hitmen forward Pavel Karnaukhov is expected back in a week or so from his upper-body injury.
For the curious, with Keegan Kanzig back in the WHL, his entry-level contract is still running because this is his 20-year-old season. His deal counts against the 50 contract limit (as opposed to Mason McDonald, Oliver Kylington and Rasmus Andersson AND Nick Schneider, who are all under 20 and not in the NHL, so their deals haven’t activated yet).