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.
So @FriedgeHNIC reports players were told that if they don’t vote for cap escalator, NHL’s salary cap could drop under $70-million.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) June 5, 2016
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
Giordano – Brodie
Jokipakka – Hamilton
Engelland – Nakladal
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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