Three ways out from three bad contracts

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

Player Do
Nothing
Bury
in AHL
Retain
Salary
Buy
Out
Dennis Wideman $5.250m cap
$6.000m cash
$4.300m cap $2.625m cap
$3.000m cash
$1.250m 16-17, $2.000m 17-18 cap
$2.000m 16-17, $2.000m 17-18 cash
Ladislav Smid $3.500m cap
$4.000m cash
$2.550m cap $1.750m cap
$2.000m cash
$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

THE OPTIONS

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.

DENNIS WIDEMAN

Role: Third-pairing defenseman and power-play specialist
2015-16 Stats: 2 goals, 17 assists in 50 games
Age: 32
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.

LADISLAV SMID

Role: Third-pairing defenseman and regular healthy scratch
2015-16 Stats: 0 goals, 0 assists in 22 games
Age: 30
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.

MASON RAYMOND

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)
Age: 30
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.

  • SmellOfVictory

    They don’t look like bad buyouts, to be honest. Well, Smid is fine as a buyout or on permanent LTIR, whichever works for his case. I’d buy Raymond out as well.

    Wideman, depending on the cap situation, might be worth hanging onto or retaining salary in a trade.

  • knappsacked

    To think we lost paul byron and his $600k cap hit and kept raymond and his $3.15k cap. I get that raymond was put on waivers but its tough to think about.

    • slapshot444

      Gotta say i really miss Mighty Mouse in the line up. My opinion is that his loss was directly caused by the three goalie fiasco. The Habs thought enough of him to offer 3.5 over three. Good for Paul to earn that. Raymond gets not quite that in one year and is half the player. (Albeit a spectacular person)

  • Hubcap1

    Her is what I posted in the Capagedon piece:

    ‘Trade Wideman @20% discount (1.05m retained), trade Bouma, buyout Raymond (1.05m cap hit for two seasons), and tell Simd he’s injured for the rest of his career (3.5m LTiR).’

    Wideman is prime buyout candidate for sure, but I maintain that there is a market for him. 20% retained maybe too optimistic and yes I know he has a no trade clause but that can be worked around with his permission.

    Raymond is an almost for sure buyout in my eyes, yet I wonder why the Flames are risking playing him in the AHL and getting injured if they have decided on this route.

    Smid has many complication with his injury status, both for a buyout and LTIR, he can’t be bough-out if injured and if he’s not injured enough to miss the whole next season then LTIR won’t fully work to avoid paying some some the cap on his contract.

  • DoubleDIon

    Patience grasshopper. 16 million in dead cap space is available for the summer of 2017 with Bennett being the only player needing a significant raise. After this year only Stajan and Bouma are overpaid and only Backlund to take care of.

  • The Last Big Bear

    1) Wideman’s still-excellent offensive production makes him too valuable as a trade chip to buy out. I expect he’ll either be traded with retained salary this summer, or at the deadline, depending on whether the Flames make any other moves on defence this summer.

    2) Smid sitting on IR all season and never playing a game would be the best case scenario for everyone. Unfortunately, he has had a long time to rehab, and will likely start the season “healthy”, which is why the Flames should buy him out ASAP. This will prevent the worst-case scenario for everyone, where Smid starts the season with his full cap hit on the books, and then suffers a major long-term injury that negatively affects his quality of life, which is exactly what I expect to happen.

    3) Raymond can be kept in the AHL. He’s a vet who has has been a solid player in the past, and although I’m not holding my breath for him to rebound, I wouldn’t be shocked if he finds his game again. And hopefully some prospects make a big jump next season, but as of right now Raymond is posting the best counting stats on the Heat.

    My choice is to buy out Smid, and keep Raymond in the AHL, saving $3.6m for next season, and trading Wideman at the deadline for probably a pretty solid draft pick.

  • Kevin R

    Ryan, there is a 4th way. I have posted it a few times but no one is taking any of these contracts to be nice guys. So I agree. One serious option is buying out Wideman & Raymond & that will save us the 6.0 mill cap space to get us through this summer. Not sure how much ownership is going to want to write those cheques. Wouldn’t want to be the GM to get Burke to sign off on the cheque requisitions & then go to Ownership to sign the cheques. This may not even be an option. We may be a solid organization but I don’t think we are one like the Leafs where money has no meaning.

    So, what if? What if BT is told the buyouts are not an option & he needs to win spending to the cap only.

    The next step is shuffling the deck(contracts) & that means bringing back an unwanted contract that may service a need. I stand by my proposal of targeting a goalie who is comparable to Ramo that another team wants to dump. Yes you can probably score some UFA that will provide similar goaltending for cheaper but it comes from that precious little cap space we will have this summer. You still have the bad contracts. Dallas is a natural. Lehtonen is probably as good as you will get from Ramo(when healthy) So why pay Ramo 3.5 of our precious cap space when you can get maybe Dallas to unload a 2 year headache (they have Niemi for 2 years as well) & we dump Wideman & Raymond on them. I target a bad goalie contract because I don’t feel we are going to get us our franchise goalie this summer in the UFA market nor by trade without giving significant assets. Smid may be an LTIR manoeuvre next fall unless we can move him to Arizona to help them get to the cap floor.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Is there a possible trade of Wideman for an unwanted $5M (for 1 year) goalie? This new goalie could play half the games while Joni plays the other half.

    • piscera.infada

      The only one I could think of (without taking on additional term) would be Toronto. They have cap space, they have Bernier, they aren’t going anywhere next year.

      But, I don’t see there being any real possibility Wideman would waive his NMC to go to Toronto. You’d also have to add something to the package.

      • Parallex

        Why not?

        He’s originally from Kitchener, came up through the OHL, and spent most of his career in the east. Same money to play closer to home and have a lighter schedule… seems like a good deal to me.

        • piscera.infada

          Doesn’t he have 3 years left after this? At a cap hit similar to Wideman’s, why would shed Wideman’s horrible contract to pick up another for longer?

          If you’re going to spend a significant amount of (much needed) cap space on a goalie, they better be more than just a negligible improvement. I’m not even sure Howard is that.

          You’d probably be better off resigning Ramo and keeping Wideman, honestly.

          • RealMcHockeyReturns

            And we have a better goalie? What if we traded Wideman’s full salary for him? They can do that because Flames have WAY more cap space after next year and will have many decent years of cheap goalies salaries from guys like Ortio, Gillies, etc. We can easily afford Howard and he can give us quality starts, likely way more than Ramo.

          • Baalzamon

            We can easily afford Howard and he can give us quality starts, likely way more than Ramo.

            What’s your basis for thinking this? Ramo’s numbers in each of the last three years are better than Howard’s.

            So are Hiller’s, for that matter, except of course this year.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      Ben Bishop. Steve Mason. John Bernier. Ryan Miller. Ondrej Pavelec.

      All are in the $4-$6 range and UFA after next season. I’m pretty sure BT can get Jim Benning to make a terrible trade involving Wideman and Miller.

  • freethe flames

    I would have no problem with sending a couple of NHLer’s to the Heat. One thing I think has been missing for the Heat is veteran leadership. Having Colton Orr as veteran leader is not exactly the best option. If say Raymond, Bollig and one of the three high paid defenders were there you save @$2.7m and they are gone in year. Not much but enough to help out.

    If Smid retires that would be even better (LTIR would be okay except for Day 1). I wonder how close to reality the Wideman deal to Boston(so said the rumours) was. I wonder if that could be rekindled.

    Lots of interesting thoughts being developed the last few days. The discussion on the goalie one is interesting; I wonder if there is not a cheaper alternative for a starter sitting as someone’s back up. I wonder about Raanta or Enroth I suspect they would love the chance to start and I don’t think either would break the bank and neither would have to have long term deals; show me contracts.

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Goalie Target: Since its very likely that Tampa Bay certainly keeps Stamkos at $10M or more and then needs to dump a goalie OR another player due to cap issues, we pounce. So we target EITHER Bishop or Vasilevskiy (who has a very high winning percentage) depending on what they do as follows:

      1. If they keep Stamkos and all the other RFA forwards they have, we trade for Bishop.

      2. If they keep Stamkos and Bishop, they may need to get rid of Vasilevskiy plus 1 or 2 good forwards we might like such as Killorn, Johson, Palat or JT Brown…welcome to Cowtown!

      • freethe flames

        The major problem I see here is cap issues. Until BT creates some cap space all the good ideas we bash around here are fruitless. When i come up with most of my ideas it’s always with one foot in the bean pool. Cap space is so very important to any decisions.

      • piscera.infada

        Aside from the cap issues addressed above, what are you giving up for Bishop? They need to get rid of him, but it’s still likely going to be very, very expensive.

        That goes doubly for Vasilevsky, to say nothing of the ‘plus(es)’ you’re including.

        Look, I’m all for trying to upgrade goaltending, but I’m not doing it at the expense of my higher-end prospects, or my young NHLers (Gaudreau, Monahan, Bennett, Hamilton, Brodie), or my first round picks.

        You know any deal for either starts with Gilles, probably adds a first (or at least a high second or two), and likely another good young player.

        The same goes for Andersen (before that’s brought up).

      • EhPierre

        You’re silly, I like you. If you follow the Lightning you’d know just how much Cooper and Yzerman love Johnson, Palat, and to an extent Killorn. They’ve been (most notably the first two) the most consistent players for them this year and were amazing last years playoffs.

        There’s also no way they trade Vasi as the team plays better infront of him than Bishop. Bishop will most likely be available come this summer but the price is will expensive both to trade for him and to extend his contract when it retires. Imo, I don’t think its worth the cost at this stage of the rebuild

        • RealMcHockeyReturns

          Well thanks…I think. But not silly…the Lightning have WAY worse cap issues than Flames, thus sometimes you trade guys you like a lot. Does ANYBODY besides me use generalfanager.com to check on their ideas first. Most comments on here GREATLY exaggerate the Flames issues and don’t see how bad TBL, NYR, WSH, PIT, LAK, STL, CHI, DET, VAN, SJS have it for cap issues in 2016-17…. Do some research boys!!! Flames have way less problems than we think

  • KH44

    Buy out Wideman. The cap savings cover next seasons needed growth. If we can LTIR Smid, great. If not, sure let him sit in the AHL. I like the goalie idea. How about Howard in Detroit?

    What happens with the expansion draft rules will affect the Flames decisions as well. It would be ironic if the Flames finally clear all the dead weight off the roster, only to have good players taken in the draft! Heard some talking heads posturing today about signing a few dead weight characters and leaving them unprotected. I don’t expect the Flames to make any decisions until that information is available.

  • MattyFranchise

    Raymond: Buy out. Too much money to spend on a player on the farm team and likely won’t make the main roster next season.

    Smid: Hopefully retires. This isn’t a recurring knee injury we’re talking about. His neck is effed.

    Wideman: 0.5 PPG with the Flames. Career PPG is slightly less. Might be some deadline value there. Keep him, trade him for picks/prospects at the deadline in 16/17. Retain salary if needed, doesn’t really matter since this is the last year of his contract.

    With Wideman in particular he’s a bottom pairing PP specialist that can play up in the line up if needed. Teams need guys like that. His salary would only be about 20% of his cap hit if he was traded as far as real dollars are concerned so a team with an internal budget that don’t have cap issues (Ottawa, Arizona come to mind) might be interested at next season’s deadline.

    Despite his massive salary I’d hold off on buying him out to see how he plays without (fancy stats black hole) Russell at his side.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Don’t get the pro Jimmy Howard crowd at all. Team has enough bad contracts. Why add Howard’s? It is bad enough when you create your own cap hell by doling out bad contracts. It’s even worse when you trade for a bad contract. Howard’s contract and age both scream bad fit for the Flames.

    Don’t see why Wideman can’t be moved with a discount as his contract only has a year left.

    Raymond and Stajan could both be bought out but I maintain that the Flames could live with Stajan’s bad contract if the others were gone.

    Buy out a healthy Smid. LTIR if not.

    Flames should lock on Anderson. If they have to go the grizzled vet route, a goalie with no more than a year at more than $3.5M.

    As for the draft, the Flames should make Jake Bean their top choice. Screw Matthews and the Finns. Take Jake! All the kid has ever done is excel at whatever level he has played at. This is a guy whose hockey IQ is through the roof, is completely committed to improving his game, unbelievable work ethic and has the tools to be a top pairing NHL defenseman for a long time. He is not a kid who is going to take until his mid 20s to become an NHL superstar. Doubt the Hitmen will go far in the playoffs, so his stock isn’t going to rise much during that time, so he might enter the draft pegged as a mid to late 1st round selection, which is where he is now. Flames should not hesitate to draft him with a top 7 pick. Kid is going to be lights out in the NHL with the diva mindset. Given the choice of having a top pairing defenseman at age 20 or a number 1 centre of the same age, is a no-brainer. Take Jake!

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      If you go with another goalie paid under $1M then Howard makes sense as he has WAY more track record and proven success than anyone Flames own, AND you can insist Detroit (whose cap problems are dire next year) keep a bit of Howard salary and/or trade a contract or 2 smaller ones away to help pay for him. EASY!

  • Stu Cazz

    As much as we would like to see buyouts as a means of providing a quick solution I do not see BT engaging in this strategy, at least for now. Buyouts are an admission of error on your part as GM and it entails the payout/waste of millions$ from the owners pocket as a result of your poor signings. Other than buyout of Stajan’s contract in the final year of his contract you will not see this practice employed by the Flames. Worst case is an exchange of bad contract(s) for another in hopes that the incoming player turns his career around in your favour….such is business particularly when the $$ are limited in a tough Oil industry that Murray Edwards depends on…..

  • FireScorpion

    Poulin and Ortio the whole way next year!

    Yeehaw let’s see what happens. Might as well, need to kill a year to ditch the last of the garbage contracts as well as Jack Adams anyways. And they’d be cheap.

  • freethe flames

    So I did some simple math (GF is my source for salary purposes).
    for 2016 Currently signed 32 players $48.8m
    Johnny&Monny 2 $14m
    all our RFA’s(QO) 11 $9.2

    Thats $72m and it does not include Colborne. Nor does it include a Goalie outside the system, nor does it include a 1st round pick, nor does it include signing Janko,Hickey and Mangiapane.

    Why do we need to move at least 2 of our burdensome contracts is obvious. Also why we can’t really explore some of the high end UFA’s as options as suggested by many here.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Don’t forget the 4th way to get out of a bad contract: claim that a player has done something so bad that his contract is void because he has shamed the organization and NHL.

    That cross check on the official was really bad and definitely qualifies as a reason to void the remainder if Wideman’s contract…..

    WW

  • Frankly. I’d try to retain salary and trade wideman for peanuts. Basically any draft picks you can get.

    IF that option is not something other GM’s are willing to do then you buy him out.
    Buy out Raymond.
    Put Smid on LTIR and or bury him in the AHL with the bet he’s gonna get hurt every 12-20 games and go on and off LTIR.

    That should save you some money.
    HIller, Hudler and Jones’s contracts are gone there’s another 12 million.

    Between the 6-10M in savings from the aforementioned solutions and those contracts being gone next year. Should be enough to give Monahan Guadreau their raises, cover Gio’s raise and have a bit left over for Bennett.

    You look at moving Engellend over the summer and Stajan around trade deadline hoping a team needs that veteran 3/4th line centre experience.