What’s on Treliving’s to-do list?

We’re in the waning days of the 2015-16 Calgary Flames season. The playoffs aren’t going to happen this season for this group, but the ongoing business of trying to improve the hockey club is still a top priority for general manager Brad Treliving.

As we’re going to detail here, he’s got a lot of work to do before the 2016-17 season commences.

WHO’S SIGNED?

Here’s everybody under team control for next season, along with their bonuses-included cap hits.

Goaltenders: (5)

  • Jon Gillies – $925,000
  • Mason McDonald – $925,000
  • Nick Schneider – $625,000
  • Joni Ortio – RFA
  • Kevin Poulin – RFA

Defenders: (15)

  • Mark Giordano – $6.75 million
  • Dougie Hamilton – $5.75 million
  • Dennis Wideman – $5.25 million
  • T.J. Brodie – $4.65 million
  • Ladislav Smid – $3.5 million
  • Deryk Engelland – $2.917 million
  • Keegan Kanzig – $925,000
  • Patrick Sieloff – $925,000
  • Kenney Morrison – $925,000
  • Oliver Kylington – $925,000
  • Rasmus Andersson – $925,000
  • Jyrki Jokipakka – $900,000
  • Ryan Culkin – $817,000
  • Brett Kulak – $817,000
  • Tyler Wotherspoon – RFA

Forwards: (25)

  • Michael Frolik – $4.3 million
  • Mikael Backlund – $3.575 million
  • Sam Bennett – $3.225 million
  • Mason Raymond – $3.15 million
  • Matt Stajan – $3.125 million
  • Lance Bouma – $2.2 million
  • Joe Colborne – $1.275 million
  • Brandon Bollig – $1.25 million
  • Hunter Shinkaruk – $1.076 million
  • Brett Pollock – $925,000
  • Hunter Smith – $925,000
  • Morgan Klimchuk – $863,000
  • Emile Poirier – $863,000
  • Micheal Ferland – $850,000
  • Garnet Hathaway – $775,000
  • Kenny Agostino – $735,000
  • Austin Carroll – $707,000
  • Johnny Gaudreau – RFA
  • Sean Monahan – RFA
  • Josh Jooris – RFA
  • Bryce van Brabant – RFA
  • Drew Shore – RFA
  • Bill Arnold – RFA
  • Freddie Hamilton – RFA
  • Turner Elson – RFA

Based on that count, that’s 45 players under contract (or control) for next season. (That said, the Flames have until June 27 to qualify their pending restricted free agents, so depending what happens on draft weekend they might not re-up everybody.) Nick Schneider will still be 19 next season, so unless he plays in the NHL his contract will slide for a year and not count against their 50-deal limit.

Oh, and the Flames have a few players that they need to make decisions on…

WHO NEEDS TO BE SIGNED?

There are a lot of restricted free agents in the organization, but there are also a lot of players the team needs to act on now or risk losing their rights.

The Flames have until July 1 to sign pending unrestricted free agents Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller, Niklas Backstrom, Jakub Nakladal and Derek Grant.

The Flames have until August 15 to sign pending college free agents Mark Jankowski, John GIlmour and Matthew Deblouw. (If Jankowski becomes a free agent, though, the team gets a compensatory draft pick.)

The Flames still have a lot of time to sign Andrew Mangiapane and Brandon Hickey, but given each player’s performance thus far, you’d imagine the clubs want to get them locked up sooner rather than later. Because Mangiapane turns 20 in April, if he signs an entry-level deal it’ll start running next season regardless of whether he plays pro or not (and count against their 50-contract limit), while Hickey will necessarily turn pro by signing a pro contract.

WHAT ABOUT THE CAP?

Based on cap hits on NHL players with NHL salaries (meaning Mason Raymond is included), the Flames have $51.4 million committed to eight forwards, seven defensemen and zero goaltenders. Presuming the cap barely moves, the Flames have roughly $20 million to use on re-signing their restricted free agents (including Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan) and somehow obtaining an NHL-caliber starting goaltender.

WHO WILL NEED WAIVERS?

In addition to the contractual juggling they’ll do this summer, the Flames will also potentially have waiver concerns. Here’s a handy table.

Waivers Waiver
Exempt
Goalies Ortio
Poulin
Gillies
McDonald
Defenders Giordano
Hamilton
Wideman
Brodie
Smid
Engelland
Jokipakka
Wotherspoon
Kanzig
Sieloff
Morrison
Kylington
Andersson
Culkin
Kulak
Forwards Frolik
Backlund
Raymond
Stajan
Bouma
Colborne
Bollig
Ferland
Agostino
Gaudreau
Monahan
Van Brabant
Jooris
Shore
Arnold
Hamilton
Elson
Bennett
Shinkaruk
Pollock
Smith
Klimchuk
Poirier
Hathaway
Carroll

SOME DATES TO THINK ABOUT

  • Later of June 15 or 48 hours after end of Stanley Cup Final: First buy-out period begins
  • June 25 & 26: 2016 NHL Draft
  • June 27: Deadline to qualify restricted free agents
  • July 1: Beginning of free agency
  • August (dates TBA): Salary arbitration (and second buy-out period with teams with arbitration cases)
  • RKD

    Address the goaltending! Sign a #1 starter or acquire one through a trade. Sign a top 3 RW forward or trade for one that can play with Gaudreau. Sign a top 4 d-man that can play with Hamilton. Do something about the bad contracts given out to Wideman, Engelland, Smid, etc. I think there will be a buyout if he can’t unload one on another team. New contracts for Gaudreau and Monahan.

    • Brent G.

      I agree they will likely need to buy someone out, like Wideman. Although a less than ideal situation given that a smaller cap hit will be on the books for 2 more seasons.

      I still can’t believe BT didn’t trade him last summer. Everyone knew that was the best move even if it was for no more than a third.

    • deantheraven

      Goaltending has been addressed. They’re going to ride Ortio and sign Backstrom as a back up on a decent salary- at least in the short term next season. If it doesn’t work BT will do a deal mid season if he thinks the team will challenge for a playoff round or two.
      Contracts for Johnny and Monny are priority 1 &2. After that, the RW is the most pressing need. Hopefully someone in the system will step up and into the top 6, and one or two of Nakladal, Kevin, and Wotherspoon or another farm hand remove the need for those cumbersome contracts on defense. Wideman will be bought out if he doesn’t waive his NTC. Smid may retire. Sounds weird, but I’d even keep Engelland as a 7th if I had to- and those other two were off the books.
      Fingers crossed for the lottery!

  • deantheraven

    Don’t doubt Raymond will be bought out because ain’t nobody interested in him. He’d be nice to package up and send somewhere but I don’t think there are going to be any ‘floor’ teams that need to take on salary (to bury in the minors ’cause he can’t play NHL hockey) next year.

    Best buy out(s) would be any or all of the 3 overpaid d-men. I’d say if we could find a partner to take Wideman, I’d tell him to waive his NTC or go to Europe.
    Guys like Bollig can be waived and not be too much of a loss because his deal isn’t to heavy to begin with. But if the Flames replaced his contract with say, Hathaway, wouldn’t the net be about the same?
    BT’s got some deep thunkin to do. Hopefully his magic charm hasn’t worn out yet, cause so far he’s been golden.

  • hulkingloooooob

    no need to go hunting and over spend on a goalie right now, IF you can re sign ramo and ortio for a year or two max. serious show me contacts. Rams was looking great for a while there and orts has been really good. why spend more on someone you don’t know. plus it’s good asset management.

    sign johnny and mony obviously plus a bunch of the young (ahl) guys need to be re signed.

    lots to do…..

    .d

    • Jeremy

      Rammo tore his ACL. That is a 10 month rehab minimum. He won’t play in the NHL until at least the end of December. Possibly later.

      Treveling absolutely needs to sign a goalie to pair with Ortio.

      • Kevin R

        So many think we just sign Ramo on July 1 & we’re set with Ortio. That’s just nuts. He won’t be ready. We have 1 more year of crappy contracts on placeholders that are blocking some young players that need to get their chance. I really don’t want to do buyouts to extend cap hits further than we have to. Unless BT can find an acceptable deal on Murray or Andersen, moving dirty underwear for other dirty underwear may be the best route. What we learnt from Hiller the last 2 years was he could be really good & was a big part of us making the playoffs last year, but can really crap the bed like this year. 2 years, 50% value is OK but not ok if you are using free cap space to bring in this type of asset. Target a few placeholder goalies & dumps as many of these bad contracts as possible. Our really bad ones have 1 year left. Package Wideman & Raymond & get Lehtonen or Niemi. Smid & a 5th for a 7th rounder might fit nicely in Arizona to help them get to the cap floor, especially if he’s an LTIR candidate. In fact Arizona probably needs to find contracts as bad as we need to dump for next year.

        • Baalzamon

          Package Wideman & Raymond & get Lehtonen or Niemi.

          You keep saying this like it makes some kind of sense. But it doesn’t. For either team.

          Dallas doesn’t have the cap space to take on additional cap hits in trades (they need to re-sign Goligoski, Demers, Nichushkin, Fiddler, and Russell at the end of the season). Which means the trade doesn’t make sense for them unless they’re dumping Lehtonen for LESS money coming back. Which doesn’t make sense for the Flames, because Lehtonen has TWO years left (it doesn’t make sense to dump a bad contract (say Wideman) for a WORSE contract).

          Oh, and Lehtonen (and Howard, and Ward, and Niemi) are also terrible.

          That isn’t just an unrealistic trade. It’s a bad one. For both teams.

          • Kevin R

            Ok, lets clear up some things on my thought process:

            1/I never mentioned Ward, he’s a UFA & that cost of signing would come from our cap asset

            2/Howard maybe a candidate for a swap of contracts but I don’t like his 3 years remaining. It’s too long.

            3/Chances are, Dallas probably won’t & depending on cap restraints probably can’t resign all of those guys. Part of their problem is they are paying over 10 mill of their cap to a 1a & 1b goalie tandem. Is about as much of a waste as us spending 8.5 mill on Ramo & Hiller. They also have Moen coming off their books as well.

            4/If they free up 5.9mill from their goalie spending & go with Niemi & a cheaper younger back up, they can add Wideman at virtually no cost & fill a spot for next year & target 2 of three UFA’s on their blue line. They can replace Moen for Raymond at a slight difference but they gain getting rid of Lehtonen’s 2nd year of 5.9Mill. Low risk for them as they can walk from Raymond & Wideman after the 1 year & have all that cap space. Nichushkin will probably get a bridge deal as he really hasn’t accomplished a lot other than having a lot of upside to tap into.

            5/ Flames get a goalie Lehtonen who has played 35 games & has a record of 19-8 & a .906 save%, very comparable to Ramo who has played 37 games, has a record of 17-18 & a .909 save %. I would say Lehtonen is pretty comparable to Ramo in ability & has way more experience to be a mentor to Ortio. We dump 2 contracts & open up 2 spots for younger guys like Nakladal & fill the goalie position for the next 2 years while we see what we have in Ortio, Gilles & Macdonald. Time line looks fine unless one of our young guys moves up the curve faster than anyone would think.
            Dallas also shifts a cap drain to a need , admittedly, both are short term for both teams. This is about moving contracts & Ipersonally don’t see how you don’t see the benefit for both teams. That’s fine, we agree to disagree.

  • Greg

    I doubt Wideman gets bought out. Too much money for a guy who would still a contract to play somewhere. Raymond on the other hand is likely done.

    Would be nice if they could clear at least 1 more bad contract. Otherwise they’ve got nearly 25% of the cap space allocated to bad deals and will have to run in place for another season.

    If they’ve got ~$20M left, and say $13M of that will go to John and Sean (7.5 and 5.5?), that’s about $7M left to sign 4 forwards and 2 goalies. That’s really tight. Say they theoretically sign Reimer for $4M and retain Ortio for $.750, then all 4 forwards have to basically be the sub $900K prospects they’ve already got.

    If they do but out Raymond and catch a break on Smid having to retire or go on LTIR, they’ll have roughly $5M to try to push for an upgrade somewhere at least. Otherwise we’ll be counting on 1 new goalie and a lot of internal improvement for next season.

  • beloch

    I’ve really liked how Nakladal, Wotherspoon, and even Kulak (albeit a small sample size for him) have played this season. They’re no worse than Engelland or Smid and they’ve all got a lot of potential upside. These are guys you want to see signed and playing for the team next season. Do the Flames have enough cap space (and contract slots) to do this though? I have a feeling Treliving is going to have to buy one of his overpaid defenders out if he wants to keep the new guys.

    The way the NHL calculates cap-hits of a bought out contract is as follows:

    First, find the buyout salary:
    Buy-out salary = 2/3 * remaining Salary / 2 * years remaining on contract
    (Note: It’s 1/3 * remaining salary for players under 26)

    Next, using the buy-out salary, find the new cap-hit:
    New Cap Hit = Old Cap Hit – Current Salary + Buy-out Salary

    Wideman:
    Buy-out salary = 2/3 * $6M / 2 * 1 = $2M/yr (for two seasons)
    New Cap Hit = $5.25M – $6M + $2M = $1.25M (for two seasons)
    Cap Space Freed: $4M

    Engelland:
    Buy-out salary = 2/3 * $2.75M / 2 * 1 = $0.917M/yr (for two seasons)
    New Cap Hit = $2.917M – $2.75 + $0.917M = $1.08M (for two seasons)
    Cap Space Freed: $1.84M

    Smid:
    Buy-out salary = 2/3 * $4M / 2 * 1 = $1.33M (for two seasons)
    New Cap Hit = $3.5M – $4M + $1.33M = $0.833M (for two seasons)
    Cap Space freed: $2.66M

    Buying out any of these contracts leaves a residual cap-hit in 2017-2018 that ranges from $0.833 to $1.25, which is a negligible difference. However, the amount of cap space freed in 2016-2017, right when cap space is the tightest, varies considerably.

    Buying out Wideman frees up the most space. However, Wideman plays a lot of minutes and produces a decent number of points. He’d be on pace for 32 points if he played a full 82 games this season. If he bounces back next season, it’s possible he might be worth something at the trade deadline. Don’t laugh. Look what Dallas paid for Kris Russel!

    Buying out Engelland frees up the least cap space, and Engelland is a fairly dependable, if not great, defender. If he’s bought out, that’s a lot of minutes to replace.

    Buying out Smid frees up enough cap space to sign a couple of younger defenders and possibly Nakladal. Of the three buyout options, he has (surprisingly) the best possession stats and has been given the toughest minutes. However, Smid is just not a healthy guy. He played just 22 games this season. How much of next season will he actually be around for?

    My money is on Smid being bought out. The rookie defenders are all better than Smid, healthier, and $2.66M might be enough to sign Nakladal plus Wotherspoon. Wideman might be bought out if Treliving gets desperate for cap space, but I suspect the team will try to hang onto him simply because he produce points and gets a lot more ice-time than Smid or Engelland. Wideman may be a valuable trade chip next year. Smid will almost certainly not be.

  • DestroDertell

    – Clear up the trash: bad contracts and coaching staff

    – Pursue Troy Stecher and Alex Lyon. If done, the trash cleanup will lead to permanent prospect graduation (Wotherspoon, Nakladal, Ortio) meaning open spots to use in the AHL.

    Otherwise, wait for next year to spend. Better options and more cap with less risky picks to use for offersheets.

  • Könniek

    I dont think Calgary wants what Wideman is bringing anymore and they want to be done with it. They stripped him of his assistant captaincy. He is gone as soon as possible. Trading him is unlikely, who is willing take him? If Brad couldnt get much for Wideman before, no way in hell is someone trading for a diminishing player who sat for 19 games serving a suspension for hitting a linesman at 5.5 mil.

    Smid is probably gonna be put on LTIR.

    • beloch

      You do realize what an alternate captain’s job is, don’t you? When the captain is not on the ice, it’s the alternate captains’ job to speak to the ref’s on behalf of the team. That’s it. Everything else is optional and up to team culture. Being one of the guys who talks to the refs is the core part of the job.

      Wideman is not a guy you want talking to the refs on your behalf right now. That much, I certainly buy. However, saying that the Flames don’t want “what Wideman is bringing” is assuming a awful lot. The eighteen minutes he played in his first game back certainly suggest otherwise.

      • Könniek

        Again though, the amount of minutes he is playing is dependent on BH. I can’t see a situation where he would want wideman on this team, so unless he is moved, the buy out approach is perhaps his next best option.

  • MarbledBlueCheese

    With one year left I wonder if any team would be interested in a Wideman at 50% retained.

    And if Smid goes on LTIR, does his cap come off the books?

    Those two things would solve a lot of problems. I’ll be none too happy if the logjam of overpriced and not-good defensemen compromises our ability to re-sign Nakladal and improve at the forward position.

    Imagine, though, an alternate universe where Wideman doesn’t get suspended. The rumour of Wideman to Boston comes to fruition, at the same time that the Flames are reportedly trying to re-sign Russell and most of FN is nervously biting their fingernails worrying about this possibility. With the new cap space opened up Treliving signs Russell. Maybe we dodged one there.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Wow, the Oilers SUCK!!!!!!!!

    Is the Oilers record actually WORSE when McDavid is playing then when he is not?!

    The worst part: since his return the Oilers have not played a playoff team and lots of games were against teams that played the night before.

    Generational Suck&Luck….

    WW

  • Hockeyfan

    Simple. Unload Wides, colbourne, mayray, Engs & smid.
    play Janko, new ufa forward, ortio and maybe Gills. Slot the 2 best young d we got on 3rd pair. pick up a goalie if possible,(Reimer?).I bet Janko would make backs expendable in a hurry and we get a good return.

    • KACaribou

      Get rid of Backs???? There is only one forward who is playing better than Backs, and that is Johnny Hockey of course. Getting rid of Backlund for some unproven college-boy. Hummmm. No thanks.

      On the other hand if you were GM, I am pretty sure you’d have a lot of teams willing to take Backs off your hands… smirking all the way to the bank.

  • freethe flames

    Interesting how much time we have spent discussing bad contracts and how little discussing the to do list rather than the undo list.

    First he needs to sign Johnny and Monny which is going to be between $13-14M.

    Resigning the RFA is rather easy as a qualifying offer (Current salary + 10% is what most will cost).

    Now to the more difficult contracts: Colborne (career year), Nak, and Grant.

    Then find two maybe 3 goalies without breaking the bank. Ortio will be an RFA so for that should be a no brainer. Then where do you go: Ramo, Reimer, Anderson(via trade), Raanta or Enrothe via (UFA).

    I always wonder when we discuss bad contracts why we don’t discuss Stajan’s 2 years left at over $3m for a 4th line center whose production is dropping. (Personally I don’t have a problem with Stajan because of his intangables but from a pure performance perspective he needs to be discussed).

  • Stud Puffin

    @hockeyfan

    Wow, you win the award for the stupidest thing posted today! Congrats! Do you honestly think a goalie coming off hip surgery and barely played in the A is ready to split starting duties?

    Janko replace Backlund? I will be happy if he replaces Arnold in Stockton. Give him time to be a pro and develop, and hopefully 2 years later he can replace Stajan.

    Thank Christ you don’t work for the Flames.

  • PrairieStew

    Everyone is in a hurry to buy guys out, thinking that it solves problems, it actually just postpones them. Buy out Wideman and save $4m – who wouldn’t want to do that. But wait, you have to replace him, so you replace him with a guy that costs a million – now your savings are down to $3m, then in the following year there is a $2m charge against the cap, so your total savings over 2 seasons is $1m. Worth doing ?

    It’s even worse for Raymond. Save $2m in the first year (replace him with a million dollar guy) then it costs a million in the second. Its a wash. The alternative is keep Raymond in the minors next year, which save $950 K that you use on the player to replace him. (buyout numbers taken from Haynes’ Flames from 80 blog)

    The only real alternative is to offer Wideman and or Engeland up at half cap hits for late round picks.