RFA qualifying offers due tomorrow

After all the razzle and dazzle of the annual NHL Draft, it’s now time for all the excitement of procedural restricted free agent qualifying as teams begin to figure out their contractual and cap hit situations as they approach free agency on July 1.

All potential Group 2 (restricted) free agents – players whose contracts have expired but aren’t 27 yet, basically – have to receiving a qualify offer by their NHL club by 3 p.m. MT on Monday for their rights to be maintained.


A qualifying offer is functionally
a token contract offer issued to maintain a Group 2 player’s rights.
Sometimes the player accepts the qualifying offer straight away, but
most often it’s used as a starting point for negotiations on a longer

And based on a player’s prior salary, a qualifying offer typically builds in a raise.

(A) if the Player’s prior year’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary is less than or
equal to $660,000 for that League Year, 110% of the prior year’s
Paragraph 1 NHL Salary.
(B) if the Player’s prior year’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary is greater than
$660,000, but less than $1,000,000 for that League Year, 105% of his
prior year’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary, but in no event to exceed
(C) if the Player’s prior year’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary is equal to or
greater than $1,000,000 for that League year, 100% of the prior year’s
Paragraph 1 NHL Salary.

This is part of the
risk for a team. If the escalated salary in a qualifying offer is too
rich for your blood, you can get stuck with the player at that rate if
they accept the qualifying offer.


As mentioned, the Flames have 13 potential RFAs:

  1. F Kenny Agostino
  2. F Bill Arnold
  3. F Joe Colborne (one-way qualifying offer)
  4. F Turner Elson
  5. F Johnny Gaudreau (one-way qualifying offer)
  6. F Freddie Hamilton
  7. F Josh Jooris (one-way qualifying offer)
  8. F Sean Monahan (one-way qualifying offer)
  9. G Joni Ortio (one-way qualifying offer)
  10. G Kevin Poulin
  11. F Drew Shore
  12. F Bryce Van Brabant
  13. D Tyler Wotherspoon

The “fun” quirk of this year’s RFA class is that every single one of them has played NHL hockey, with all but Poulin having done so with the Flames. The other “fun” quirk is two of Calgary’s best players being RFAs at the same time.


    Some of the Flames potential RFAs have arbitration rights. Per the CBA, players are eligible to
    elect salary arbitration if they meet the following qualifications,
    based on the year they signed and their years of pro experience.

    Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 2.52.16 PM

    Based on the CBA, Agostino, Arnold, Colborne, Hamilton, Jooris, Ortio, Poulin, Shore and Van Brabant have arbitration rights.

    Under the CBA, if an arbitration award is $3.5 million or higher, the team has “walk away rights” – in that they can say “Nope!” to the award and let the player become a free agent. (The amount of $3.5 million is subject to inflation from the average NHL salary, so it’s definitely higher than that by now.)

    The high threshold for walking away from an arbitration award may be a potential problem for the Flames.


    The Flames have $19.133 million in cap space right now. Let’s presume that Gaudreau and Monahan combined get $14 million and that leaves just $5.133 million in cap hit for the remainder of the team (a goalie and four forwards). That’s not ideal.

    Joe Colborne: Colborne scored many, many goals last year. In March and April, when the games didn’t matter. And he rode a sky-high shooting percentage. He’s bound for a Lance Bouma-style crash, and he’ll get a big raise if he goes to arbitration. But he’s not going to make enough in arbitration to give the Flames walk-away rights. Unless Colborne settles with the Flames for a teeny, tiny amount – like, sub $2 million – he’s going to hamstring the team’s cap space. (If he gets an award in the Bouma vicinity of $2.2 million, the Flames will have very little cap space remaining for anything else.)

    Kevin Poulin: An AHL goalie at this point, Poulin’s roster spot in Stockton has already basically been given away to David Rittich. Mason McDonald’s going pro and Jon Gillies will be back. There’s nowhere to put him.

    Drew Shore: Shore’s basically in the same spot as Poulin. He played a bit of NHL here and there, but he hasn’t really established himself, the Flames have more promising prospects going pro this season, and his qualifying offer ($893,000) is a bit pricey. If he accepted his qualifying offer, he’d basically price himself out of an NHL roster spot.

    Bryce van Brabant: Van Brabant earned praise this season from the AHL coaching staff but, again, like Poulin and Shore he doesn’t seem to have an obvious path to the NHL (and his qualifying offer is $917,000, which seems really steep for what he is).

    • First Name Unidentified

      Sign Grant and let Colbourne walk. Grant is a way more versatile asset than Joe.

      on this issue, i will keep sounding like a broken record

    • everton fc

      Colborne won’t crash like Bouma. We should sign:

      F. Hamilton

      Maybe Elson. The rest let walk.

    • Baalzamon

      I’m not Colborne’s biggest fan, but 2.2M isn’t a bad number for him. Even if he regresses, he’s a better player than Bouma. Paying 2.2 for a large ~30pt winger who can move up and down the lineup if need be isn’t a bad deal at all.

      If that’s the cap number for him, I say pay it and ask questions later.

      • freethe flames

        I think he gets more in arbitration than 2.2m; Wilson in LA just signed fro 2m x4 years I believe and his stats over the last 3 years are not as good as Joes.

        • Baalzamon

          No such player exists. Do you mean Trevor Lewis?

          Borderline players are often signed to dumb contracts. See Bouma, Lance. Stajan, Matt.

          All I said was 2.2 is a good number for Colborne.

          • Matty Franchise Jr

            I disagree that Colbort can play anywhere in the lineup. I mean, he can physically be played in those spot, but the only place he succeeds is on Mickis’ line. Everywhere else, he is not NHL good.

          • freethe flames

            You are right I did mean Lewis, my apologizes. I would love if Colborne signed for 2.2m I just think it’s going to be higher. Closer to 2.6m+ but not 3m. While I don’t think Colborne will drop off like Bouma did I do expect him to be somewhere between the last 2 seasons point total for the forseeable future. In many ways he is the ideal 3rd line lw with Backs and Frolik but if he could be moved to acquire say Hayes I would be pleased.

        • Flamethrower

          If we can’t afford to sign him, trade bouma…oh ya no one wants him…ok trade bollig… oh ya no one wants him…ok trade raymond…oh ya no one wants him… well big Joe may have to take a bridge offer till we create some cap room next year. Oh ya put him in a trade to the Rangers for Kevin Hayes…oh ya!

    • Trevy

      I’m not a huge Colbourne fan, but he has a lot going for him right now. He’s 26, 6’5″, 221lb natural center and trending upwards every year stats wise. Sure he has some flaws to his game, but I believe with a new coach like Gully, he can become even more valuable. However, the price has to be right and fair for both sides. I’m sure the fact he’s a Calgary kid and really wants to stay will factor in.

      Looking at what we have to work with money wise and the amount of spots that still need to be signed/qualified, a buyout will surely be needed to create breathing room and perhaps an additional free agent. We can also save a cool million or close by demoting Bollig to the minors despite what BB says. Gully and BT are all about speed and I don’t see Bollig in this picture. BT will get it done, if not, Colbourne becomes a good trade chip.

    • Baalzamon

      What’s peoples’ appetite for trading Colborne’s rights in a package for Rickard Rakell’s rights? The Ducks aren’t in a bad cap situation, but they do need to sign Lindholm to an extension, and that won’t be cheap. They also need to sign five forwards and a backup goalie.

      Replacing Rakell with Colborne might give them a small cap reprieve. Assuming they’re willing to do a trade of any kind with the Flames, which it seems they aren’t.

      • OKG

        Rakell is a pipe dream. We’re talking 2017 1st as a starter for any such trade. Rakell would automatically slot in as Sammy’s right wing on the top line




        That would be… amazing. A top 9 that can hang with the Penguins.

    • KACaribou

      I don’t think it is fair to say, unquestioningly, that Joe Colborne (44 points last season) will crash to earth this year.

      Everyone keeps saying Bouma crashed (34 pts in 2014/15), because he couldn’t maintain the pace of the year before. That may be true to a point, but don’t forget that Lance was crippled with injuries and couldn’t get any footing last season.

      Everyone’s so willing to give up on these guys. And on the other hand, so quick to give a free pass to a guy like Daniel Pribyl without ever having seen him play hockey.

      You can’t just have a team of Johnny Gaudreaus, some guys have to bring their lunch buckets and do the dirty work too. And if you replace these guys, the question is: with who?

      Answer likely, a bunch of guys who everyone will want to get rid of next June.

        • KACaribou

          By grinding along the boards, protecting the puck, hitting, checking, and being a presence in front of the net. You need guys who will do that, and not everyone can.

          • That’s fair. The one part of Colborne’s game that I really like is his work on the boards in the offensive zone. I’m definitely not as sold on his net presence as you are though.

            I’m also worried that anything over 2 mil is going to put the club in dire straits as far as the cap, and you know his agent is pushing for at least three.

            • KACaribou

              I agree. I am not saying Colborne is the next Tomas Holmstrom, but at least he will do it. Ferly too.

              I am not saying how much they should or shouldn’t pay Colborne, I will leave that to the GM. But it seems to me at FN, people are so quick to get rid of our guys. I like our guys.

              You can only have so many stars, and the rest can come and go. I understand that. It seems at FN though, they think the new guy will suddenly become the next Wayne Gretzky so let’s shuffle out the old and cross our fingers.

              My point is that the league is full of “the rest” and you’re always going to have them. Your Stajans, Boumas, Colbornes, etc. The names just change.

              I say give our new coach a chance. Let him determine the best ways to use Colborne and Bouma. You never know it might just spark something. But you make a valid point, for sure.

            • The problem with not factoring contract size into a player’s worth is that that’s exactly what determines their value to a team in this salary cap era though. Colborne’s great value with the right numbers. The same goes for Bouma and even Wideman. Teams that are contenders are filled with contracts that are good value. Let’s be one of those teams.

    • Colborne’s unsustainable 19% shooting percentage has me inclined to agree with Pike. If he was making magic happen without much powerplay time or against tough competition, it’d be different. Move him if you can. And if you can’t: prioritize it well behind most of your other RFA’s.

      • freethe flames

        In regards to Colborne’s shooting percentage you are probably right it will likely drop but lets not forget a number of other things. Last year he came into camp significantly heavier and more prepared to play. Over the last three years his game has progressed: 3 years ago 80 games 28 points, 2 years ago 64 games 28 points(significant injury) last year 73 games 44 points. Progress being made; his numbers may go down but not IMO significantly. However in saying this if a good deal comes up to meet a team need then you need to be willing to move him.

      • KACaribou

        What if he produced more shots at a more reasonable shooting percentage? Wouldn’t the end result be the same? What makes you think he will have the exact same number of shots, or opportunities? A lot of his goals were because he was taking the abuse in front of the net which is why the percentage is high.

    • Slowmo

      How can any one predict how a player will play in a season to funny. OKG who in there right mind would move JH and Mono off the same line that is just crazy they are producing more points than almost any line in the NHL and when they have there RW player perhaps Tkac it could potentially be the highest scoring line ever to play in the NHL. And before every one tries to jump all over me for what I said I did say potentially. That is with a lot of Bios being a Flames fan

      • OKG

        Who in their right mind would move Crosby, Malkin and Kessel onto their own lines?

        Who in their right mind would move Toews, Kane, and Sharp onto their own lines?

        Oh, right, the last two cup winning coaches.

    • Primo

      Colbourne wants to retire a Flame. He will negotiate a longer term for less dollars within the Flames range. The fact that Joe’s dad’s net worth is in excess of $3B is totally an unrelated topic. I won’t even mention it but it will factor into Joe’s ability to grant the Flames a home town discount….

      • Jeremy

        I don’t know about that. Mike Comrie held out on the Oilers yearsago. His Dad, Bill Comrie , was at the time the owner of the Brick. They ended in a standoff as I remember and he was traded to Anaheim if my memory is correct.

        The point being that if you have lots of money, it doesn’t mean you give hometown discounts.

    • I love 23

      CALGARY, AB — The Calgary Flames announced today that the following four players have received qualifying offers from the club:

      Johnny Gaudreau (LW)

      Freddie Hamilton (C)

      Sean Monahan (C)

      Tyler Wotherspoon (D)

      The following players did not receive qualifying offers:

      Kenny Agostino (LW)

      Bill Arnold (C)

      Joe Colborne (C)

      Turner Elson (LW)

      Josh Jooris (C)

      Joni Ortio (G)

      Kevin Poulin (G)

      Drew Shore (C)

      Bryce Van Brabant (LW)