A great Flames summer in just six easy steps

During the second intermission of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman revealed something key about next season’s potential salary cap.

This revelation sent Ari and I into a frenzy in the FlamesNation chat, and it eventually led us to stumble upon a handful of really simple but crucial moves the Flames can make over the next month to set themselves up – both on the ice and in relation to the salary cap – to have a really successful 2016-17 season.

RYAN: For argument’s sake, let’s say that the salary cap ceiling is $70 million next season. If nothing else, it makes the math easier. For the players locked in on contracts for next season, it shakes out something like this:

  • Mark Giordano – $6.75 million
  • Dougie Hamilton – $5.75 million
  • Dennis Wideman – $5.25 million
  • T.J. Brodie – $4.65 million
  • Michael Frolik – $4.3 million
  • Mikael Backlund – $3.575 million
  • Ladislav Smid – $3.5 million
  • Mason Raymond – $3.15 million (or $2.2 million if buried in AHL)
  • Matt Stajan – $3.125 million
  • Deryk Engelland – $2.917 million
  • Lance Bouma – $2.2 million
  • Brandon Bollig – $1.25 million
  • Sam Bennett – $925,000 (plus bonuses)
  • Jyrki Jokipakka – $900,000
  • Micheal Ferland – $825,000

Add everything up and that’s $49.067 million against the cap and just $20.933 million to sign Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Josh Jooris and two goalies.

The Flames probably need to package Wideman with a pick for the cap savings.

ARI: I can’t even think of what team would take him. If they could get something for him wouldn’t they have done it by now? His career season has already come and gone.

Where are compliance buyouts when you need them?

RYAN: I forgot that they need to re-sign Joe Colborne, too.

ARI: They literally can’t afford to re-sign him. Colborne is gone.

RYAN: My hope: Jooris just accepts his qualifying offer. It would be a cool million bucks and a one-way deal.

ARI: Jooris has little bargaining power. I imagine he’d be easy to retain.

RYAN: That leaves just under $20 million for the big guns and Colborne. (And two goalies.)

ARI: They need to sign a goalie. Colborne’s not happening. Unless they cheap out on Gaudreau and Monahan with bridge deals for the time being they can’t afford Colborne in any capacity.

RYAN: What they should do is trade Colborne at the draft and buy out Wideman before it. And maybe Raymond, too, rather than burying him in the minors again.

ARI: That’s $6.1 million in savings. (Note: Raymond and Wideman combine for $8.4 million in cap space, but their buyout cap hit next season combined would be just $2.3 million.)

RYAN: That savings would give them just over $26 million to sign their big guns and a goalie. Two goalies.

ARI: Ortio is going to cost like $600,000. Just keep him.

RYAN: His qualifying offer is $660,000 and a one-way I think. That’s decent for a back-up.

ARI: He’s an optimal piece to have: he’s cheap and maybe there’s something there with him in terms of being an NHL goalie. Ortio said on garbage bag day he can’t really justify getting much more money at this point in time.

RYAN: If I’m his agent, I say take the deal. 

How about a million bucks for Jakub Nakladal?

ARI: If they can make room for him, sure.

RYAN: That’s about what Jokipakka’s getting.

ARI: $900,000. Get these guys as cheap as you can without offending them. Imagine a bottom pairing that costs $1.9 million and doesn’t suck!

RYAN: With Wideman and Raymond buyouts ($2.3 million), Colborne traded at the draft, Jooris ($1 million) and Ortio ($660,000) taking their qualifying offers and Nakladal taking a million, that leaves about $24.373 million to sign Monahan, Gaudreau, a goalie and three forwards (presuming the team carries 22 bodies).

Heck, they could keep Colborne if they do everything else.

ARI: Good excuse to retain Derek Grant. He’d have a good chance at playing in the NHL because the Flames need cheap guys. Plus after this past season he legitimately deserves a shot.

Put Bollig in the AHL if you want and there’s another $950,000 saved. There are probably better options in Stockton that would come in under that number, therefore a net savings.

RYAN: Whoever they get at sixth overall, if he’s a forward, and Hunter Shinkaruk could fit on the NHL roster, too. I don’t mind Bollig as the 13th or 14th forward, all things considered.

ARI: Maybe swap Pribyl for Bollig when he’s ready?

RYAN: And no cap trouble, neither.

There. We gave ’em a decent blueprint.

ARI: Let’s just screencap this and say “Here!”

THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT

Here are the steps:

1) Buy out Dennis Wideman.

If the Flames could have traded him and gotten value back, they would have done it by now. Besides, moving out Wideman early in the off-season gives them a spot to use to entice Jakub Nakladal to re-sign. (Last season it was very unclear if Ladislav Smid would be healthy enough to play, and that uncertainty probably factored into David Schlemko’s decision to sign elsewhere. Why risk Nakladal while waiting for Smid’s status to become clear?)

2) Buy out Mason Raymond.

He won’t be on the NHL roster next season (judging by him being buried for much of last season), and they save cap room, an AHL roster spot and some cash by buying him out.

Flames ownership has a reputation for not wanting to pay guys not to play for them, but they’re doing it with Raymond right now anyway, and paying him and Wideman “go away” money would cost about the same on the cap as paying Raymond alone to play in Stockton.

3) Trade Joe Colborne at the draft.

He will never be worth more as an asset and it’s unlikely he’ll be worth whatever they sign him for if he sticks around. He can probably net them a third or fourth round pick, which will at the least get them back Jay Feaster’s initial investment from the trade that brought him to Calgary.

Of course, this is Brad Treliving at the helm, so who knows what he could really bring back?

4 & 5) Qualify Joni Ortio and Josh Jooris and hope they accept their qualifying offers.

Neither guy has much leverage but they could fit in valuable roles next season. One-year, one-way deals at $660,000 for Ortio and $1 million for Jooris are good value on “show me” contracts.

6) Re-sign Jakub Nakladal.

They opened a roster spot for Nakladal by buying out Wideman, and Nakladal at $1 million (on a similar “show me” deal as Ortio and Jooris) is good value for both sides.

This would leave the Flames with a roster that looks something like this for 2016-17:

Gaudreau – Monahan – ?
Bennett – Backlund – Frolik
Ferland – ? – ?
Bouma – Stajan – Jooris
Bollig

Giordano – Brodie
Jokipakka – Hamilton
Engelland – Nakladal
Smid

?
Ortio

They would have roughly $24.373 million to use to re-sign Gaudreau and Monahan, recruit a goalie, and cover the cap space of the three “?” forward spots. If the cap hits for Gaudreau, Monahan and the goalie average out to around $6 million each, that still leaves them some wiggle room to the tune of just over another $6 million in cap space for the remaining three forwards.

They could fill those spots with the sixth overall pick (assuming a forward), Grant, Shinkaruk… or maybe even a return for Colborne, or by getting to take part in the July 1 free agent festivities after all.

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  • Dale Denton

    I still don’t like the Wideman buyout. I feel like he can get a return at the trade deadline. We don’t need #1 goalie right now as we can pay pennies on the dollar right before the expansion draft

  • Brodano12

    I’d much rather buy out Smid than Raymond. Smid has shown no ability to play in an NHL role the past 2 seasons, is often injured and has zero trade value, as well as a higher cap hit. We have plenty of NHL ready prospects ready on defense – Tspoon, Kulak – and a great player in Nak needing a roster spot. Buying out both Wideman and Smid gives both Wotherspoon and Nakladal a spot, which makes our blueline much cheaper and much better.

    On the other hand, while his time here hasn’t been great, Raymond is a good vet for our young AHL forward squad (Huska really loved what he brought to the room, 15pts in 15 AHL games) and imo may be able to actually redeem himself to be a decent middle 6 winger again under a new coach (I think he just didn’t mesh with Hartley, as he’s been quite successful before). Also, he’ll be especially needed if Pribyl/Shink/Poirier all end up needing more AHL time and we are forced to trade Colborne, meaning we’ll have a distinct lack of middle six wingers.

        • supra steve

          Why would a player agree to take less $ in a buy out than he would collect just letting the clock tick on his contract while he’s on IR? There may be a reason, but I’m not seeing it.

          • Rockmorton65

            Suppose you’re Smid. The Flames come to you and tell you even though you have a year left on your contract and regardless of your health, you don’t fit into the teams plans this year. Wanting to be as respectful as possible, they have a few options for you.

            Option 1) you decide you want to play the final year of your contract. After all, 4 mil is 4 mil. The Flames tell you that, barring a string of injuries, you will be spending it in the press box. You will be required to practice and travel with the team, but won’t see any game action.

            Option 2) the Flames buy you out. At 2/3 of the remaining 4 mil on your deal, you would be owed 1.3 mil for each of the next two years.

            Or

            Option 3) You announce your retirement, surrendering your final year @ 4 mil and relieving the Flames of your cap hit. The team then hires you as a scouting consultant in Europe (or wherever you plan on living) with a generous salary of, say, 2.5 mil or so.

            Knowing your pro career is essentially over, which is the best option?

          • supra steve

            Yes, the retirement option is obviously the best for the Flames, so long as there’s no underlying rules that prohibit such a move. Let’s hope something gets worked out that benefits both Smid and the club.

            It’s been/will be a busy spring/summer for BT.

          • MattyFranchise

            Problem not solved as the flames still have to be cap compliant at the start of the season. If they are over by so much as a dollar during that brief window of time where they are unable to put smid on ltir thet will be penalized the following season.

          • Rockmorton65

            That’s easy enough. Waive and demote MayRay, Wides or Stajan (on paper only). As soon as he’s eligible, put Smid on LTIR & recall whoever you “demoted”. If they get picked up, even better.

          • Baalzamon

            In addition to what MattyFranchise said, you can’t rely on Smid being on LTIR all year. As soon as he’s physically capable of playing, he HAS TO come off the injured reserve. No exceptions.

          • Rockmorton65

            That’s an ok option, provided you’re guaranteed that he’s going to be on LTIR for the entire season (ala Pronger). If he ever gets healthy enough to get play, you need to make room.

        • deantheraven

          That’s gotta be the best option. It gives the Flames a little more cap & roster space and Smid gets paid but can still retire. If the buyout is accepted and if he’s getting paid, Smid can take time to recover completely or decide to hang ’em up, whichever. Maybe he’s completely healed, then he gives a shot to the KHL or Europe.
          If he really has to call it a career, maybe it’s better if he gets a couple years deferred payment before taking the next step.
          Wish him well, but this years goal is to get more competitive at (most likely) a lower payroll. Pretty much impossible with guys like him and Wideman, Raymond, Stajan and Engelland, 3/4 on the wrong side of 30, and all on the wrong side of $2 Mil.

  • Hubcap1

    I will say there are literally one hundred and one ways to get from A to B and all the unknown factors involved make it difficult to predict. That said you guys did a nice job of sticking with the known variables.

  • StarIV

    I would like to see Calgary sign Okposo, if we have the cap space and can get him at a decent price. It depends if Tre can Clear some cap space. I’m wondering if Bennett will go back to center this season. Monahan got Gaudreau in his second season, but I don’t see Bennett getting a player of that caliber on his wing. It’d be nice if we got someone for Bennett to play with, giving us three forward pairings: Monahan-Gaudreau, Backlund-Frolik, Bennett-???

    If all else fails, we can weather this cap storm one more year with the roster from last season, waiting until next season for the expiration of most of the bad contracts. Expansion draft may make some players, especially goalies, really cheap, so there could be an opportunity there. But at the same time, management was not happy with the result of last season, and are foreshadowing change (Hartley is gone, so some change has happened already)

    I’m really curious what Tre will do this off season. I can only make blind guesses at this point

  • GodsGotSandals

    This plan works I suppose if we traded wideman and retained salary it would be better then we d only have to pay him for next year. Even if we get nothing for him but a spare puck bag.

  • loudogYYC

    Buying Wideman out with 1 year left on his deal is ludicrous if you ask me. Why pay for him next year when he should be off the books. Worse case you trade him and retain $2.5M of his salary. Basically the same hit as a buyout without the extra year of punishment. Besides, teams like Phoenix have been able to squeeze production out of veterans like Morris & Aucoin in the past, why wouldn’t they consider Wideman at a discount too.

    Raymond is a different story. Unless the new coach can find a use for him he’s just gonna be an AHLer. No trade value even at a discount. Smid will likely never play an NHL game again, you don’t come back a 3rd time from severe neck injury unless you’re Gary Roberts.

    Trading Colborne while his value is ‘high’ is a no brainer, and I even think the Flames could find a buyer for Engelland on his last year. This is the best time to get rid of deadweight and try new options in those positions.

  • Kevin R

    There are maybe ways to address the cap crunch but people won’t like the cost.

    I still think Wideman can be shifted to another team like Dallas for a goalie like Niemi. We need a goalie, we need to expose a goalie anyway at the expansion draft, we may have no choice but to bridge that position. Who knows, maybe we get a first year out of someone like Niemi like we did the first year of Hiller. This move has a double effect on the cap, we shift 5.25mill from the blue line & open up a spot & we fill the 1A goalie vacancy. Yes I am all for re-qualifying Ortio to a 1 year at $660K.

    2/ Treliving may be able to entice Arizona with a 3rd round pick or a prospect for Raymond. Arizona is really going to be struggling to get to the cap floor this year. I’m sure the #58 pick could get rid of Raymond, just how much value does 3.0mill in cap space have?

    3/Maybe Colborne & the #35 could move us up to the 1st round. I have to think after this last year of 20+ goals his value is worth at least another 2nd, at least (maybe even a 2nd & a 3rd)

    4/Agree with Jooris & Nakladal signings.

    5/ The above allows us to get Smid on LTIR & then we have flexibility to make moves next year & at the TDL.

    Keep clear of UFA’s this year unless a real steal of a deal comes up in August where we can get a value signing on a RW. Personally, I would rather keep Cap space to get a cheap deal on someones RFA they don’t have room to sign. There are some attractive RFA’s that will be hard to fit in the cap structure of several teams, especially on a flat cap.

  • slapshot444

    I think the value of both Wideman and Colborne are being underestimated.
    While there lots of good options are being mentioned the Flames historically have been very reluctant to spend on buyouts. I don’t see things changing.
    I’m guessing Schmitt will stay on LTIR, Wideman will be moved to a new surrounding, and Raymond will finish his career in California. As for Colborne, I’d bet a toownie he’s not going anywhere. We are a year away from a big buck goalie. Too many teams are up against a wall for the cap to come below 70 mill. Don’t get your knickers in a knot just yet unless you really really need something to write about in the off season. With the Canadian dollar rising I bet that same toownie we see a 73-74 million cap. The worst case scenario never ever plays out, thats the nature of disasters.

  • Johnny onethree

    This is just an idea but what if the flames traded the 6th pick for someone like Matt Duchene. He’s a skilled winger and he’s kind of big there’s been rumours about Colorado wanting to trade him. The flames might need to add something to the trade, like wideman that way they dump his salary to pick up duchene’s he’s more expensive then Wideman but I think he’d be more useful to the team.

  • My Six Things:
    1. Flames have to sign Mony and Johnny long term.
    2. Need to let Colborne walk or trade his rights. Probably let him walk.
    3. Flames need to find a way to get rid of salary from Wideman, Smid, and Bouma/Bolig (Raymond is not a problem his useage and coaching was). That being said if they can move him to an Arizona then by all means do it.
    4. Flames need to resign Nakladal & Jooris
    5. Should go after a RW RFA on a team that may be cap strapped like Kevin Hayes or Krieder in NY.
    6. Let the Goalie situation work it self out once the Expansion draft/rules is announced there will be an abundance of choices.

    Don’t get locked into a bidding war over UFA’s this summer. Maintain the patience. This year isn’t our year but the 5 years after are.

    e.d. for Afterthought: This is the year to play things patiently and take your time and not rush into any situations. I foresee a lot fo movement in the coming months. Brad has a great chance to just calmly sit back and snag good players because of the situation in both cap managment and expansion. It’s going to be a fun 2 years I think.

    • Brent G.

      I agree, sadly. While I’m positive the Flames will be a little bit better next year, I do still believe they are rebuilding for 1 more year.

      By waiting they can take advantage of the expected expansion draft for goalies. I think they can be an above average team assuming some of their current prospects work out alright (ie Poirier, Shinkaruk, etc) but imagine if they got another top 10 pick in the 2017 draft. Sounding like an Oilers fan aside, that is when they can have extremely good depth, great top end skill, and a good chunk of cap room to add a couple UFA’s.

      Obviously I dream they are outstanding this year but just hope they recognize this situation for what it is. Stay the course, be patient and see the opportunity that is 1 year away. Fortunately for all of us Tre is a smart cookie and likely realizes this.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Re: #2: Colborne will be an RFA. The Flames can easily afford him to come back on his qualifying offer if he accepts it (he likely wouldn’t, at least initially) so they’re not going to let him walk.

      • He Has arbitration rigts though and with the end of his season I beleive he’s in the 2.5-3m range which is too expensive for the flames. They can’t afford him and Bouma one of them would have to go.

        So yes. They can qualify him at 1.5 or something he probably bawks.
        Unless he takes a huge hometown discount for a one year deal with the agreement with brad that if he performs as well this year as he did end of last year and puts up 40+ points 20+20 or something they’ll resign him longterm to a better deal next year when there’s more room then I don’t see it happening for either side.

      • everton fc

        I think Colborne knows he has a good thing ehre in Calgary, and is home. He’ll be easily resigned as an RFA. He’d be nuts to move, as there is so much potential here.

  • Juan Valdez

    Wideman is a deadbeat loser. He steamrolled a ref. I was hoping Bettman would give him a lifetime ban so I would never have to see or hear about him ever again.

    Easiest way to get rid of Wideman is to chase him out of town. Every time he touches the puck the fans should be booing him because he is a disgraceful coward just like Bertuzzi.

  • freethe flames

    The sky is not falling. Yes we have cap issues but I believe that BT has a plan and yes it includes buy outs. Despite BB objections BB should spend the entire season in the AHL, Smid if healthy should be bought out (rumor is that he did not need surgery and is healthy), Raymond should be bought out, Wide’s will be either traded or he should be bought out. Personally after hearing the news that the cap will go down unless they invoke their clause will force the PA to vote in favour of a raise.

    Imagine being Pittsburg or Tampa and hearing the news, what are their options. It will be a summer of interesting times and BT will really have to earn his pay.

  • KH44

    Anyone else see this? http://spectorshockey.net/nhl-morning-coffee-headlines-june-5-2016/

    “Brooks also cites a source claiming Las Vegas being approved as the NHL’s 31st franchise is a done deal. Teams with players holding no-movement clauses must protect those players even if their movement clauses or contracts expire at the end of 2016-17. “This means if the expansion draft is held, say, on June 21, 2017, teams will be obligated to protect players who, a) would become unrestricted free agents 10 days later; or, b) would be able to be waived or traded 10 days later.”

    So if Wideman is not bought out, he MUST be protected, despite his contract expiring. The Flames will have to waste a spot protecting him, just to have him walk. Since he has a full No Movement, the trade deadline plan DOES NOT WORK, as he could scuttle it by refusing to move. HE HAS TO BE BOUGHT OUT!

    Sorry about the caps lock, but it has to be reinforced. There isn’t another option, as keeping Wideman is damaging in multiple ways: salary cap, roster space, ice time, and protecting a player in the expansion draft.

    • Kevin R

      Personally can’t see the league screwing most teams with goofy requirements around having to protect players with NMC that are expiring because the league decided to hold the expansion draft 10 days before they became UFA’s. It would cost teams lots of $$$, owners would be livid & Bettman would find himself hauled in on the carpet. It aint going to happen that way.There is expansion drafts that will enable a new team to get NHL level players & then making it so they stack a Vegas team into being a top contender or causing owners to lose millions of $$$ buying out players for 10 lousy days. Sorry Brooks is having fun in media hype fashion.

      • cberg

        Disagree, EVERY report or indication to date has the expansion draft prior to July1. Logical doesn’t really enter into it. Of course, what’s logical of allowing teams to sign UFAs and then have an expansion draft days later?

        • Kevin R

          I think the date of the expansion draft isn’t a big deal. I think the point here is why would the league force teams to protect players when these players will be accessible to the new expansion teams 10 days later as UFA’s. I know the NHL do a lot of boneheaded things, but this is beyond that. It actually falls into the Captain Obvious category.

  • MontanaMan

    I keep reading that the Flames should ship Wideman etc to a team trying to reach the cap floor. How many teams exactly are in this position? Arizona is one but I believe there are only two or three. Imagine the deals that the three teams are going to get with teams at or over the cap. It will be a bidding war to see who can offer the most for nothing!!! Bizarre.

  • Jake the Snail

    I agree that the sky is not falling…the Flames will get through the next season come hell or high water and the sun will rise on the season after. Tre will do his best to put the team in a better position for this season.

    Just heard today (Sunday) that the salary cap might not change next season or even go down.

  • smith

    I would like to see a comparison of players around the league equivilant to Colborne and what they get paid. I think it might be surprising who he compares him too.

  • freethe flames

    Bollig sent the to minors, they save $.9m. Smid bought out, they save $2.67m, Raymond bought out, they save $2.1m. That is $5.6 m, that covers all their RFA’s except Johnny, Monny and Colborne. Then add $15 m for Johnny and Monny(I always go high for budget purposes) That leaves $5m to sign two goalies; very doable. That’s if the cap is $70m. I still believe that the players will exercise their option and the cap will be closer to $74m.