Who might be on the move this summer?

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Most of us are aware of the salary cap situation the Calgary Flames are going to find themselves in this summer. With contract extensions pending for leading scorers Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, the Flames are very quickly going to find themselves in a cap crunch with difficult decisions to make. As such, Calgary is going to be looking for contracts to move this summer to give them more flexibility for next season and beyond. I’ve got a few ideal candidates that fit the bill after the jump.

Why is added flexibility important? Well, because the Flames are game planning for more than just the extensions of Monahan and Gaudreau. Calgary also has to take into account Mark Giordano’s new contract kicking in this season and the daunting task of addressing their goaltending situation. Plus, if the team wants to make any other additions to help in their quest to return to the playoffs, they’re going to need cap space to do it. The Flames could make life easier on themselves by moving one or more of the following guys at some point this summer.

Dennis Wideman

For the first time since signing his five-year, $26.25 million deal in the summer of 2012, Calgary might actually be in a position to move Wideman and his contract. I say that for a few different reasons starting with how long Wideman has left on his current deal.

The 2016-17 season is the final one of Wideman’s deal that carries an average annual value of $5.25 million. While that cap hit remains a gaudy one regardless of the remaining term, it’s a whole lot more realistic to think another team might swallow it now than ever before. Even if things don’t pan out on a new team, Wideman would come off their books at the end of the regular season which certainly mitigates some of the risk.

That risk could be mitigated even more if the Flames were to decide to eat part of his cap hit. Much like a team assuming Wideman’s contract, next season would be the most reasonable time for Calgary to help out a trade partner by agreeing to pay for half of that $5.25 million. The organization doesn’t have a long history of paying guys not to play on their team, but with only one season remaining, it would likely be a much easier sell.

Of course, none of this matters much if the Flames can’t find a trade partner. I think there would be some takers for Wideman, especially when what we just talked about above is taken into account. While Wideman’s defensive game still leaves lots to be desired, you can’t deny his production, specifically on the powerplay.

Below is a list of the league’s top defencemen in terms of powerplay points over the last five seasons, not including 2015-16. I excluded this year because of Wideman’s lengthy suspension and season-ending injury.

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*Table courtesy war-on-ice.com

Wideman ranks 13th in that five season spread in terms of overall powerplay points; in terms of powerplay points per 60, he actually ranks seventh in that group. A team in need of some offence from their blueline could get a boost by adding Wideman on their man advantage, especially if there is some decent depth to insulate him at even strength.

If Wideman’s contract was a little less expensive, he’d probably draw considerably more interest on the trade market because of his offensive tools. His contract is what it is, though, so it has made moving Wideman a little more difficult in the past. Well, with his contract expiring at the end of next season, the climate has never been better to find a landing spot, even if it means splitting the costs.

Deryk Engelland

I mean, who wouldn’t be interested in Engelland after what he did to those in ugly blue jerseys last spring? But, if his Canuck battering ways don’t push him over the top, that’s okay because I still think the Flames could easily move Engelland prior to next season.

When Calgary signed Engelland to a three-year, $8.7 million contract in the summer of 2014, the news wasn’t met with universal praise. This season, though, Engelland was able to settle in decently as the team’s number six defenceman. I don’t mind Engelland in a number six role at all and I think he’d provide some nice depth for a team hoping to go deep next season.

Engelland carries some cache in other areas as well. First off, he’s a veteran NHLer who has earned respect around the league. Teams value that, especially when their aspirations are focused solely on winning a title. He’s drawn praise for being a good soldier and a team guy and has stepped up admirably at times when asked to fill in further up the depth chart. These things boost trade value.

From a contract perspective, Engelland is in the same boat as Wideman. Both guys enter the final year of their deals next season which makes taking on Engelland’s $2.9 million cap hit a little less prohibitive. Again, the Flames would probably be much more amenable to absorbing part of his hit knowing there’s only one year left on his deal.

Is it out of the question Engelland could fetch the team a pick in the offseason? I don’t think so, and the positive byproduct would be a little more salary flexibility.

Lance Bouma

Moving Bouma would be blasphemy in some circles, but it’s not a farfetched idea by any stretch. In fact, I know the Flames were in discussions with a few teams regarding Bouma right before the deadline. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Bouma moved this summer for a few different reasons.

First of all, Bouma does carry a $2.2 million cap hit for the next two years which is little high for where he’s likely going to slot in during that time. For me, Bouma is best suited to play on a fourth line with promotions up the depth chart when injuries call for it. And for some teams, a player like Bouma is exactly the type of player they’re looking for to fill out their roster.

No one is going to argue the fact Bouma is fearless. The dude would play with a stick jammed through his eyeball if the doctors would allow it. Last season he drew plenty of acclaim for blocking shots and was one of the league’s top forwards in the category.

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Guys like Bouma are often coveted by teams looking to win it all in the here and now. Not dissimilar to Engelland, Bouma would likely fit best on a team looking for a few pieces to get over the playoff hump next season. His cap hit may not be great for where the Flames are going, but other teams could make it fit if they believe Bouma was what they were looking for.

There’s one more thing we haven’t touched on with Bouma yet, either. His 16 goal performance during the 2014-15 campaign was one of the team’s biggest and most pleasant surprises. Bouma has been riddled with injuries this season and hasn’t been able to come anywhere close to those offensive totals. While I tend to believe his career year was based more on a sky high 15.4% shooting percentage, not everyone agrees. The potential of him getting back to those numbers might be an added caveat it a trade.

Flexibility is king

As we wrap it up, the most important word for the Flames going forward is flexibility. They need it for next season, the year after that, and a number of years after that. By moving one or two of the players above, they’d give themselves that in the salary department.

It’s important to note that replacing these players wouldn’t be overly difficult. For instance, is it a stretch to think that Garnet Hathaway could fill a similar role to Bouma’s for a fraction of the price? These are the type of questions Calgary needs to be asking internally as they head into this summer.

    • PrairieStew

      Raymond goes to the minors and you replace him with a guy making less than $950 and it’s a wash. If you buy him out, you save a million next year ( after replacement player) but it costs you a million in 17-18. No real advantage.

      Smid on LTIR might happen.

  • Derzie

    Engelland has earned a roster spot and we need his size and toughness. Different player since he was elevated after Gio got hurt last year. We are seeing the same with Dougie. Poor start but excellent finish.

    I’d move Bouma, Stajan, Colborne (sell high), Wideman, Raymond, Smid, Bollig. Trouble being there would not be a lot of takers.

    • deantheraven

      Smid, Bollig and Raymond are not a part of any trade deal, so moving them means only down or buyout, which means money still on the books- less, but still… These 3 are not in any conversation BT is having with anyone, except Mrs. T.
      Wideman has an NTC or NMC plus a huge cap hit, so moving him means he has to be willing and the Flames have to be able, most likely, to eat some of his salary.
      Colborne is RFA, so first you have to sign him before you can move him.
      Bouma got a nice deal last year and might not be too overpriced for some buyers, but Stajan’s hit is probably too big to trade without retaining or packaging with some kind of sweetener.

      For sure, I’d like to see them all dealt (except for maybe Big Local) but none of them will be easy or cheap to move. If BT can find a package where he can get rid of any of the above without selling the future to some extent he’ll be Man of The Year ’round here.

  • The Fall

    I agree, buuuut still think there is a place for Deryk as a 6/7 insurance/experience guy, albeit, over paid.

    _____________________

    Smid likely retires. His health is most important.

    Stajan gets a buy-out: walk-on try out with the Leafs: early retirement… the game has just passed him by

    Bollig gets waived.

    Raymond gets traded for foot massager: a really nice one.

  • Newbietwo

    What do we need as a full complete compete team?

    – Solid Top 6 RW
    – Top 4 Defensemen Right Shot
    – Top Goalie

    Something crazy I’d love to have happen but never will because life just does not work like this.. is trade Giordano and Bouma to Tampa for Hedman, Bishop and then we draft Laine at the draft. Hedman has age, size and skill so does Bishop and it helps Tampa with salary.. Then trade two second rounders for RW Valeri Nisckunen from Dallas or Richie from Anaheim.. If need be add Frolik to either deal..

    Players I’d like to see move in some cases purely business in a salary cap world and emphasis on flexibility..

    Engelland, Bouma, Stajan, Boiled Egg,

    Would these changes help us win next year no.. But it will a few years from now all primed with the right age..

    Our Top Three Lines

    Gaudreau Monahan Laine
    Richie Bennett Nisckunen
    Colborne Backlund Poirer

    Our Top Four D

    Hedman Hamilton
    Brodie Anderson or Kylington

    We have way too many risky middle of the row players.. Way too many and the method of eventually trading many of those for picks does not work it just keeps bringing in middle of the row guys unless you luck out on those picks and develop years from now..

    Get rid of everything I say to secure above mentioned..

    • brodiegio4life

      yup cause Tampa will definitely want to trade it’s #1dman for an older dman, and their starting goalie (who could win the vezina this year) for bouma

    • piscera.infada

      Generally with trades of this type: take whatever you think is palatable for the team acquiring the top-3 pick, add just enough to make it no longer palatable, and then add something else.

      These trades sound really nice as a discussion piece, but they rarely (if ever) happen. Why? Because all the teams at the top-end of a draft need the same thing: elite hockey players. What’s the easiest way for them to acquire elite hockey players? Use their high draft pick.

  • Kevin R

    Patty, I agree about Wideman needs to move but I don’t like the idea of eating 1/2 his salary to get some kind of return. Unless BT can get a home run on a goalie of the future like he did with Hamilton last draft, I think we are needing a Bridge in net. Trash away but you kill 2 birds with 1 stone flipping Wideman & a prospect or two that are RFA’s (Shore & or Agostino or Arnold) & ship to the Leafs for the 1 year left in Bernier. I know Bernier isn’t the answer long term, but he’s better than what he showed this year & resign Ortio & we just dumped a bad contract & sorted out a need. I know Elliott would be top choice but both him & Allen have 1 more year each at real reasonable contracts & I don’t see St Louis in any rush to let one go.

    I like Engellend & Flames could easily keep him for his last year.

    Smid will be LTIR, so we just have to finesse his 3.5mill in to start the season & then that cap space is ours.

    Raymond needs to go but I think he could be useful to a team like Arizona trying to get to the cap floor while the break in their young guys. They drop some of their bigger contracts & if unless they go hog wild, they need some short term spending. Raymond could still fit OK in a young lineup like theirs.

    Not sure how we move Stajan, has 2 years left, I would buy BT a good bottle of Scotch if he could find a team(sucker) to take that contract.

    But to reiterate, a Bridge goalie like Bernier for Wideman alone would take all the cap stress off BT this summer. Shop for that goalie in a year. Who knows, Ramo probably won’t get a PTO until after the season starts & he could be a band-aide solution if Bernier craps out. But I think Bernier just might do better than many think behind a heathy D like what we might have next year.

    • PrairieStew

      A bridge goalie under contract for a year or two makes sense as a return for Wideman as an alternative to moving him with salary retained for a pick. Bernier looks good, but someone else speculated Lehtonen. 2 more years at $5.9. I think the Flames might have to take on the extra year in order to move Wideman straight across. Would Lehtonen and Nakladal ( total $6.9) be a better deal for Calgary than Wideman and Ramo ( total $9 m)? I think so.

      Jimmy Howard is $600k less than Lehtonen but has a third year.

  • First Name Unidentified

    I would keep Engelland, he does a decent bottom-6 job and is a tough guy.

    Stajan has completely made himself dispensable and is in fact holding a spot away from kids. Keep him around only if he signs for a million (next season)and is willing to play on the 4th line wing. His experience and leadership is worth a million i guess. Grant would already be a better replacement for him. Also if Colbourne, Bollig, Raymond, Smid were to disappear i would do a celebratory move.

    • supra steve

      I agree, Stajan is probably worth not a lot more than a million at this point. Problem is he’s signed for 2 more seasons at $3.125 million per season. Hopefully he has a bounce back year next season.

      • Greg

        Yup, not going anywhere. The thing everyone keeps overlooking on Stajan (and Bouma) is that the flames are going to have to expose ~ $18M in salary in an expansion draft next year. Assuming the league does expand, those contracts suddenly have some real value to hang on to.

        Stajan and Bouma are the only 2 “non-core” player’s currently under contract at the end of next season. That barely gets you 1/3 of the way there, and you are suddenly looking at options like having to expose Gio to meet the minimum.

        If the league announces expansion before the draft, those 2 guys are definitely staying put this offseason, and the flames will have to sign a few more guys to 2+ year contracts that might otherwise look questionable (Joe Colbourne for 2x$2M anyone? Still not even halfway…)

        I wouldn’t even be surprised if the flames made a trade or two that brought back term. Say Wideman for an also-overpaid winger in the $4M range for 2 years? Flames would save $1M for next season, and in exchange take on a longer contract another team doesn’t want but get closer to that 25% requirement.

  • Jake the Snail

    “Engelland carries some cache in other areas as well. First off, he’s a veteran NHLer who has earned respect around the league. Teams value that, especially when their aspirations are focused solely on winning a title. He’s drawn praise for being a good soldier and a team guy and has stepped up admirably at times when asked to fill in further up the depth chart. These things boost trade value.”

    …and aren’t these the same traits that Flames management thought would help the team? and that is why they overpaid? Engelland could be a valuable piece a couple years down the road.

    Not so much: Wideman, Raymond and Bollig.

    Hathaway is a poor man’s Bouma. If Bouma gets over his injuries could return to form…

  • Honestly, buying out Wideman is probably the best option for the Flames. It comes with a cap hit of 1.25m next season and 2.0 m the season after. That assumes they can’t find a trade partner. The biggest problem is ownership don’t seem to keen to write checks for players who don’t play within in the org somewhere.

    I’d keep Raymond burried in the minors you save 1.2m cap hit roughly by doing that or to look at it another way 2.2m stays on the books counting against the cap. Honestly as sad as it is to say this Raymond not playing at 2.2m is a steal.

    Further to this I’d look at Moving Stajan, Bouma, Bolig and Engelland while leaving Smid on LTIR for as long as possible. If they can’t LTIR him then buy him out as well.

    The team is actually better without Raymond and Wideman in the lineup so paying 3.4m in cap for them not to be there is worth it. Plus then everything comes off the books in 17/18 and you have room to resign RFAs who will need raises.

    • PrairieStew

      Maybe. Assume you replace Wideman with Nakladal at a million. Buyout savings is $3 next year , but you have the additional cost in 17-18 of $2m. Net savings $1m over 2 years.

      Trade him with half salary retained and save 2.62 against the cap. Replace with Nakladal for a million – net savings of over $1.5 this year, but no liabilities going forward. Plus you might get a 4th round pick.

      I think you only save max $950k on a guy buried. If you replace Raymond with Hathaway at $700 k – then your savings are only $200k.

      You get the same deal demoting Bollig – and if you replace with one of the guys on entry level deals at $863k – you’ve potentially save $90k.

      Stajan we can wait another year on – until Sam Bennett needs a contract, then more pressure will be on.

  • It is kinda sad though that not including the Gaudreau and Monahan raises next years top paid forwards looks like this:

    Frolik 4.3
    Backlund 3.58
    Raymond 3.2
    Stajan 3.13
    Bouma 2.2

    Pretty scary cap management there.
    Throw in 7.5-8 for Gaudreau 6-6.75 for Monahan

    Things are way askew next season.

  • monafan

    I’ve really grown to like Engelland over this past season. A solid bottom pairing defender and a veteran leader for the guys.. definitely wouldn’t mind keeping him around if we can afford it

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Interesting thought:

    Flames currently have the worst goaltending in the league and are paying:
    Hiller – 4.0 million
    Ramo – 3.8 million
    Backstrom – 3.8 million
    Ortio – 0.6 million

    So for those keeping track at home that is 12.2 million annual cap hit currently being paid for the league’s worst goaltending.

    Now obviously I understand the Backstrom trade, that Ramo is injured, etc… just found it “interesting”

  • BlueMoonNigel

    If you get rid of Wideman, who’s your #4 defenseman? Team has a 1,2,3 and lots of 5s, 6s and 7s, but who is going to play minutes with Hamilton? Unless, Wideman can be moved without eating salary, he is worth more to the Flames until the likes of Kulak, Wortherspoon, Nakladal are ready to be the 4th.

    Stajan is immovable without retaining salary or taking an equally bad contract in return. Likely buyout candidate. Ditto for Raymond.

    The likes of Joris, Bouma and Bollig and their penny ante contracts are not a big deal in the bigger picture.

    Not sure I buy the go cheap idea in goal. Essentially, that is what the Flames have been doing with Ramo and Hiller–overpriced cheap goalies.

    This team needs to act boldly, do something that shakes up the lineup, makes the Flames relevant again outside of Cochrane and Airdrie. Frankly, all the moves Patty wrote about were predictable yawners. Yeah, pull them off and save some bucks. Great, but what does it do to the slumber party which is the 2015-16 Flames? Are the Flames in 2016-17 that much better without the likes of Bollig, Stajan, Joris, Bouma, Colbourn and in their stead a bunch of low-paid Heaters? Those moves are aimed at treading water, hardly the great leap forward in the 4th year of the rebuild.

    What could the Flames get if they dangled Gio? What about Hamilton? If your team gets the first overall pick, would you swap it for Gaudreau?

    Flames are one of the most conservative clubs in the league, so I don’t expect any bold moves this offseason. I also do not see this club anywhere near a playoff spot next season. They used up their 10-year supply of horseshoes and four-leaf clovers last season. In summary, the bean counters will be happy if some of the bad contracts are off the books or pared down, but the mokes who pay money to watch the games will have a hard time cheering for a team that is little more than an AHL club.

    • PrairieStew

      Your post is full of bold ideas.

      Wideman’s mobility and defensive acumen are limited. His bread and butter is offense and that has fallen off. From what I have seen of Nakladal, he’s at least as good as Wideman is currently.

      They are not buying out Stajan now – they don’t need him on the books for 4 years. Raymond is in the minors most likely to be replaced by a young player making less than a million.

      Goaltending is the biggest issue for sure, but would not agree that spending big is the answer. Certainly not locking in long term to any old guy , there’s many examples of disasters ( Bryz, Khabibulin , Miller even).

      Gio isn’t getting you anything at a salary of $6.75 at his age. Trading Hamilton is monumentally stupid idea unless it gets you McDavid.

      We know what Gaudreau is and I’m not sure I would move him even for Matthews.

    • wot96

      Did you not watch the game last night? An influx of kids handed Phoenix its ass. This was not a game that Phoenix lost; the Flames won it. Not the highest standard, I grant you, but the Flames were missing their best player and Phoenix was on roll. Mony showed it isn’t all Johnny Hockey; Ferland returned to form playing his natural wing with Bennett; Backlund and Frolik shut down everything that came at them excepting only the powerplay. No, that was a good game.

      As was posted by another, big bold ideas; but the Flames y do not need to dangle Gio or Dougie or Johnny. In fact, that would be the stupidest thing they could possibly do. Not only would it delay the rebuild another couple of years, it would trade away a key piece and show the league the team has zero loyalty to its vets and is all about chasing the newest shiny toy.

      I submit the Flames are much closer than you think. They have three defencemen that can each play top pairing and if you rotate them through with the plethora of 5 – 6 types the Flames have, you should actually be able to contain most teams and provide a decent amount of offence from the back end. Hartley won a cup that way previously so I bet that is the plan for next year.

      I suggest that the early season mishap to Brodes and the transition pains suffered by Hamilton in respect of the team, its “system” and the conference are mostly done and that next year will be a very good year from the D barring significant injuries.

      The Flames are at least one good RW and slightly above average goaltending away from being a difficult team to beat consistently. Both of those issues might be overcome this summer (though the latter will be luck based and not on good management because Goalies are Voodoo).

      Turf a couple of bad contracts and replenish the ranks with some good but cheap players and this team will be a force. Not a contender, maybe, but a real pain in the ass. Contention comes a little later.

      Optimist? Sure. Impossible? Definitely not.