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.
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.
*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.
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.
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.
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.