Pretty much every discussion surrounding the 2016-17 Calgary Flames involves one of two phrases: “Don’t worry, they’ll be a lot better this season…” and “Oh crap, look at their salary cap situation, they’re doomed!”
A great deal of the consternation regarding next season revolves around the impending big, big raises for Mark Giordano, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, along with the gigantic cap hits for a trio of depth players in Dennis Wideman, Ladislav Smid and Mason Raymond.
Of course, there are a few ways out from under those bad contracts. Three of them, all-told.
OPTIONS, AT A GLANCE
|Dennis Wideman||$5.250m cap
|$4.300m cap||$2.625m cap
|$1.250m 16-17, $2.000m 17-18 cap
$2.000m 16-17, $2.000m 17-18 cash
|Ladislav Smid||$3.500m cap
|$2.550m cap||$1.750m cap
|$0.833m 16-17, $1.333m 17-18 cap|
|Mason Raymond||$3.150m cap||$2.200m cap||$1.575m cap||$1.050m 16-17, $1.050m 16-18 cap|
Do Nothing: Carrying on with the player on the NHL roster, getting paid NHL money and eating up cap space, and basically being an elephant to work around.
Bury in AHL: Stick them in the AHL, getting paid NHL money but saving $950,000 of NHL cap space per player.
Retain Salary: Eating a maximum of half of the player’s remaining salary (and cap hit) for the remainder of their contract. A team can only retain salary on a maximum of three active contracts, though.
Buy Out: Giving the player the proverbial “golden handshake” by paying them out (a) one-third of their money over twice their remaining years if they’re 26 and under or (b) two-thirds of their money over twice their remaining years if they’re 27 and over.
Role: Third-pairing defenseman and power-play specialist
2015-16 Stats: 2 goals, 17 assists in 50 games
Contract: $5.25 million cap hit for one more season
Issue: Wideman is making more than T.J. Brodie, despite being much more limited than his teammate.
Given Calgary’s cap situation, and the presence of cheaper depth options like Jyrki Jokipakka, Tyler Wotherspoon and Jakub Nakladal, Wideman’s a prime candidate for a buyout. He’s just too limited and too expense for what the Flames need from him.
Role: Third-pairing defenseman and regular healthy scratch
2015-16 Stats: 0 goals, 0 assists in 22 games
Contract: $3.5 million for one more season
Issue: He’s the team’s most frequent healthy scratch.
Smid is what he is. He’s a super-expensive seventh defender, and he’s been injured and/or healthy scratched far more often than he’s actually played. The team has burnt off $1.2 million in cap space on games he was scratched. They’ll probably save cap space by buying him out and promoting an AHLer.
It should be noted, however, that Smid’s injury complicates things: teams cannot buy out injured players.
Role: Bottom-six forward and regular healthy scratch; currently in AHL
2015-16 Stats: 4 goals, 1 assist in 29 games (and 6 goals, 8 assists in 14 AHL games)
Contract: $3.15 million for one more season
Issue: He’s in the AHL.
Raymond was a decent depth gamble for the Flames when he was signed, but he’s fallen into the doghouse with Bob Hartley. He barely played this season, failed to score a ton, and got shuttled off to the AHL. He counts $2.2 million against the cap on the farm, or the team can give him slightly less than that to divest themselves of his services.