The Flames wasted a lot of money in 2015-16

One of the more peculiar aspects of the 2015-16 Calgary Flames campaign was some notable absences. We’ve already gone over the many, many injuries of Lance Bouma (and the other Flames) during this past season. But how often did the Flames sit out healthy bodies and pay players that were able to play not to?

Well, it turns out it happened a lot.

For the purposes of ease, each player is listed with the number of games they were paid not to play on the NHL roster and their cap hit in brackets. (In Dennis Wideman’s case, his suspension pay was calculated per day and not per game, so his cap total is different as a result.)

GOALIES

  • Niklas Backstrom – missed 13 games as a healthy scratch [$542,000]
  • Joni Ortio – missed 10 games as a healthy scratch [$73,000]
  • Karri Ramo – missed 4 games buried in AHL [$139,000]
  • Jonas Hiller – missed 4 games as a healthy scratch [$220,000]

Players that were available to play (but paid not to): 27 games of healthy scratches, 4 games buried in AHL, $974,000 of salary cap.

Here’s the real idiocy of the three goalie situation: they ended up paying for three goalies for the balance of the season – they also had to pay Ramo and Hiller during their injuries – and burnt three-quarters of a million dollars on goalies that didn’t even dress for games.

    DEFENSE

    • Ladislav Smid – missed 28 games as a healthy scratch [$1,195,000]
    • Dennis Wideman – missed 19 games due to a suspension [$565,000] (calculated per day of suspension)
    • Jakub Nakladal – missed 9 games as a healthy scratch [$90,000]
    • Deryk Engelland – missed 8 games as a healthy scratch [$285,000] (Also missed 3 games as non-roster for the birth of his child.)
    • Tyler Wotherspoon – missed 1 game as a healthy scratch [$11,000]
    • Brett Kulak – missed 1 game as a healthy scratch [$10,000]

    Players that were available to play (but paid not to): 47 games of
    healthy scratches, 19 games of suspension, $2,156,000 of salary cap.

    Woof.

    There’s a lot to digest here: Smid was paid $1.2 million of cap space to sit and watch. Wideman was unavailable by his own actions and the Flames (a) had to pay him and have the money diverted to the Players’ Emergency Fund (half of the funds were returned to Wideman after his supension was reduced) and (b) they had to pay for a replacement, therefore getting them kicked in the salary cap twice. In the grand scheme of things Engelland’s absences weren’t a big deal, and Wotherspoon and Kulak were both up on emergency recalls and sat when the injured player wasn’t too injured to play.

      FORWARDS

      • Mason Raymond – missed 19 games as a healthy scratch [$730,000], 34 games buried in AHL [$912,000]
      • Brandon Bollig – missed 28 games as a healthy scratch [$427,000]
      • Josh Jooris – missed 20 games as a healthy scratch [$238,000]
      • Markus Granlund – missed 7 games as a healthy scratch [$79,000]
      • Joe Colborne – missed 4 games as a healthy scratch [$62,000]
      • Derek Grant – missed 3 games as a healthy scratch [$25,000]
      • Lance Bouma – missed 2 games as a healthy scratch [$54,000]
      • Freddie Hamilton – missed 2 games as a healthy scratch [$16,000]
      • Emile Poirier – missed 2 games as a healthy scratch [$21,000]
      • Johnny Gaudreau – missed 1 game as a healthy scratch [$11,000 on non-bonus cap hit]
      • Matt Stajan – missed 1 game as a healthy scratch [$38,000]
      • Sean Monahan – missed 1 game as a healthy scratch [$11,000 on non-bonus cap hit]
      • Kenny Agostino – missed 1 game as a healthy scratch [$9,000]

      Players that were available to play but paid not to: 91 games of healthy scratches, 34 games buried in AHL, $2,653,000 of salary cap.

        Man, that Mason Raymond contract sure seems bad now, doesn’t it? Bollig and Jooris are likely 13th and 14th forwards on a good team – or even in the AHL on a deeper team – but man, let’s just lay it out there: Brad Treliving burnt off $1.642 million paying Mason Raymond not to play for his team. Forgive the frankness, but that’s absolutely insane.

        As with Kulak and Wotherspoon, Hamilton, Poirier and Agostino were scratched in emergency situations when injuries were less severe than originally thought.

        SUM IT UP

        The Calgary Flames spent $5.763 million paying players not to play for their team (players that were healthy and otherwise available). That amounts to 8% of the salary cap for a team that, after performance bonuses, will probably be over the salary cap for 2015-16 (and eat into the 2016-17 cap as a result).

        The main culprits? Mason Raymond and Ladislav Smid’s bad, bad contracts; combined the two players ate up $2.837 million being paid for games they missed as healthy scratches or after being buried in the AHL. Both players are still under contract for 2016-17.

        Unless the Flames want to spend another season burning money, they need to find their way out from under some of their bad contracts.

          • mattyc

            Not sure it’s fair to call Wideman’s suspension money as ‘wasted’. We can debate whether his salary is cost-effective, but money spent on players missing games due to injury/suspension aren’t the same as scratching them.

            Some context would be helpful too. Is $5.7M high relative to other teams in the league?

            • Christian Roatis

              That would be as interesting as it would be time consuming to calculate: very. I wonder if one of the cap websites has some sort of calculator for that?

          • BurningSensation

            Doesn’t insurance cover off the injured $s? Hard to consider paying an injured player ‘wasting’ money.

            It does highlight how awful the Raymond-Smid-Bollig-Engwlland contracts are though.

            • MattyFranchise

              All of those contracts are primarily bad because of term. Raymond at 3 million for 1 year rather than 3 million per for 3? Much better.

              Why Feaster traded for Smid’s contract in the first place, I’ll never know. That was a clear loss on the Flames part.

              Bollig has too much term but I don’t have too much of a problem with his 1.25 million dollar amount.

              And once again, too much term for Engelland. He is overpaid as well though but still, 1 year or maybe even 2 years and we’re not having this conversation. The guy’s still playing way more (and more important) minutes than Smid is and getting paid less for it.

          • PrairieStew

            You can dress 20 players and carry 23 on the roster; therefore, absent injuries you’d have 3 healthy scratches per game or 246 per year. You are itemizing 165, so on average the Flames had only 2 healthy scratches per night as opposed to 3.

            I recognize the money on the goaltending, Smid and Raymond are not great contracts to be scratching and needs to be dealt with.

          • The Last Big Bear

            The healthy scratches didn’t bother me at all, and I don’t think they wasted a disproportionate amount of money there.

            It was the $8.375m cap hit on the 4th line (Bollig-Stajan-Jones), and the $8.75m on the bottom defence pairing (Smid-Wideman) that is where the problem was.

            Calgary has the most expensive supporting cast in the NHL by a wide margin. I know that was part of the plan, to put some veteran meat on the rebuilding rookie bones of the team, and I was on board with that plan.

            But in execution, there has been a lot to be desired with the contracts that ended up in Calgary. They have become a problem, and will continue to be a problem next season.

            Here’s hoping Treliving can work some magic this off-season.

            • ChinookArchYYC

              Add a cap hit of $2M for Raymond to sit and an overpayment to Engelland of nearly $3M and that pushes the Flames to over $22M in poor value contracts. Sobering.

              Thankfully all the goalies bad money go away this year.

            • MarbledBlueCheese

              Article heading should be:
              Flames still have way too many bad contracts next year
              Despair despair as this will hamstring the team for one more year; no other team is eating up our awful contracts.

              Hmm, perhaps that’s too verbose for a headline.