Salary cap projection for next season as high as $74.5 million
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 8, 2015
This season, the salary cap is set at $71.4 million, so that’s an increase of
$4.1 3.1 million – an increase that could really help the Flames, as the 2016-17 season suggests an impending cap crunch for the team.
As of right now, the Flames have roughly $2.2 million in cap space. That’s a far cry from the 2014-15 season, when Calgary seemed to be swimming in it. But adding Dougie Hamilton ($5.75 million), Michael Frolik ($4.3 million), and giving Karri Ramo a raise ($3.8 million) all took their tolls – and next season, things are going to get worse.
Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are on their final years of their entry-level deals, which see the Flames’ two stars make less than $1 million apiece. They’ll need to be re-signed, and they won’t come cheap. Mark Giordano is about to cost another $2.73 million when his new deal kicks in, as well.
All the while, the Flames have a number of bad contracts that don’t come off the books until 2017-18. They include:
- Dennis Wideman, $5.25 million
- Ladislav Smid, $3.5 million
- Mason Raymond, $3.15 million
- Deryk Engelland, $2.9 million
- Brandon Bollig, $1.25 million
That’s $16.3 million being held up in guys that either aren’t playing, or are playing minimal impact roles (i.e. bottom pairing defencemen, fourth line forwards). That’s way, way too much – and because they’re terrible contracts, it’s difficult to see anybody taking them on without the Flames having to take something equally bad back in return.
Fortunately for Calgary, there will be a number of contracts coming off the books following this season sooner or later, whether via trade or free agency:
- Jonas Hiller, $4.5 million
- Jiri Hudler, $4 million
- David Jones, $4 million
- Karri Ramo, $3.8 million
- Kris Russell, $2.6 million
That’s $18.9 million in extra cap space the Flames should have to play with next year. Add that to the $2.2 million in space they already have, and the projected possibility of an additional $3.1 million, and that leaves the Flames with $24.2 in cap space – although that isn’t counting the small cap hits of the RFAs on the Flames who will require new extensions.
Right now, the RFAs actually on the NHL roster are the aforementioned Monahan and Gaudreau, as well as Joe Colborne, Josh Jooris, and Markus Granlund. Those final three should all come relatively cheap, but Monahan and Gaudreau are going to be priorities to re-sign.
In addition to locking up two members of the new core, the Flames will also need to use that cap space to acquire two goalies. They have adequate enough depth at the forward and defence positions that free agency shouldn’t be a necessity for them, and any depth options could hopefully be filled from within.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume Monahan and Gaudreau take up a little more than half of that possible $24.2 million ($6.3 million cap hits each). Along with Giordano’s raise, that would leave roughly $14.33 million for the Flames to work with, which should be more than enough considering it’s only two players they really need to sign.
It’s important to keep in mind that these are best case scenarios, but even should things go south a couple million, the Flames should still have enough flexibility to ensure they ice a full roster – and maybe even enough to play in free agency, too (though that would be particularly reliant on $74.5 million being the correct figure).
And then, come the 2017-18 season, Calgary will be free of a whole lot more contracts, and have a whole lot more space to work with when it comes to re-signing Sam Bennett, and whoever else may stand out when the time comes. They just have to get through 2016-17 first, and right now, it looks like they’ll be able to make it through just fine.