What does the Flames cap situation look like going forward?

The draft has come and gone. While plenty of new faces have been added to the organization, and plenty more could still come yet, some could be on their way out. Meanwhile, others must be retained. 

The Flames have just three unrestricted free agents this year, however; and with them, just three players they may be saying goodbye to. They also have 13 restricted free agents: players they need to decide whether to keep in the fold, or to let go.

The Flames’ situation has changed just slightly over the draft weekend, but it was a huge change. They acquired their starting goaltender, and he carries just a $2.5 million cap hit.

Now, the Flames need six forwards and one goalie: and they have a little over $21 million to get them.

The big re-signings

Just over $21 million (assuming Mason Raymond is on the main NHL roster) is a lot for seven players – until you realize two of those players are Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, and they could take up roughly two-thirds of of that cap space. That leaves just $7 million left to split between four forwards and one goalie: doable, but perhaps a bit tight.

But I digress; let’s go back to the kids. “Hopefully it gets done sooner rather than later,” Brad Treliving said at the draft, referring to their new contracts, which are still in progress. No problems are anticipated, nor are any offer sheets for Monahan. Treliving did talk to him a bit Friday night, when both were welcoming Matthew Tkachuk to the Flames. 

Both players will be re-signed. There are no concerns to be found here.

The free agents

But what of the Flames’ upcoming free agents? The acquisition of Brian Elliott likely makes Karri Ramo redundant, but both Jakub Nakladal and Derek Grant became fan favourites over the course of the season. They’re not essential to the team’s success, but both are working towards being quality depth pieces who will one day help (perhaps most importantly, for cheap).

“We’ve talked to his agent and we’re gonna talk to him again tomorrow. We really like him,” Treliving said of Nakladal. “How all the pieces fit together we’ll see, but he’s a good player.”

The Flames have seven defencemen already on NHL contracts, one of whom is Ladislav Smid; and while he will need to be fit under the cap before the season starts, he likely won’t take up a roster spot, due to the various injuries he’s suffered over the years. That leaves the Flames in need of at least one extra defender.

Enter: Nakladal, who can fill that role for a fraction of the cost. In all likelihood, he could be brought back for around $1 million or a little more. The organization likes the player and has a need for him; as long as the player likes the organization, there should be a fit – so maybe we can expect to hear an extension for Nakladal in the coming days before free agency.

Grant is less certain of a pursuit: a depth player, the Flames have yet to make a decision on him.

Round out the rest

If Monahan, Gaudreau, and Nakladal are all retained for the roughly estimated amounts, the Flames would have just $6 million with which to sign a goalie and four forwards.

It’s doable. Joni Ortio is a restricted free agent, and one the organization likes and has faith in; he should come in at under a $1 million cap hit, leaving a little over $5 million for four more forwards.

This is where things get tight (and where Grant could potentially be a fit). Josh Jooris will likely be qualified and re-signed as well for reasonably cheap, leaving a little over $4 million for the remaining three forwards. Kids on entry level deals could fill them – but the chances of going after a big-name free agent seem slim. (Hell, even re-signing Joe Colborne may not be possible; not if they want to carry a 23-man roster.)

To help with the cap situation, buyouts are at least being considered. “We may or may not,” Treliving said at the draft, when asked about utilizing any. “We have an idea what we’re going to do, but i’m not ready to make any proclamations at this point.”

That extra money this season could give the Flames some space, however; entry-level contracts may be able to do just the same.

And remember: if Smid has to go on LTIR, then the Flames have an extra $3.5 million to play with once the season has started, assuming he remains unable to dress. It’s fitting under the cap beforehand that’s going to take some maneuvering.

  • freethe flames

    This article sounds a lot like what I have been saying since we acquired Elliot.(Flames got what they came for in Buffalo #8) We can get under the cap with the guys we have but there is little left to go looking at during FA unless we move Wides or buy out Raymond. Can an injured player (Smid) sign off on not being injured and then be bought out? If so he still gets his salary and gets to retire. That would be a win win for both Smid and the Flames. I don’t know if that is doable?

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I said in the last FN article that Smid makes the most sense to buyout, if he’s cleared to play. I bet Raymond is on the big team this year. New bench boss, that has emphasized speed and the fact that the Flames need more RW support’ points to Raymond’s return. It becomes even more clear, if Colburne is moved out.

      Lots of intrigue this off season.

      • freethe flames

        He gets paid to be retired? A lot depends exactly on his health. He might want to move on from hockey and it might be better than sitting on the LTIR. I don’t know the man. But it was idea to be floated. I also don’t doubt that it was discussed with him. They float lots of ideas that I’m sure get shot down.

        • Nortimer

          Yes he does get paid when he is bought out. He takes 2/3 of his salary split across double the amount of years left on his contract. So again, why would anyone voluntarily take less just to say he is retired. Especially if he actually does have a serious injury and can remain under care of top quality team doctors until his contract runs out.
          Why do you think guys like Pronger and Savard stayed on LTIR for years after their injuries?

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I really hope the Wideman to Edmonton rumours are true and that trade comes to fruition. It solves the Flames cap issues immediately, doesn’t solve any defensive issues for Edmonton (although he may provide value on their PP). And quiets all the obnoxious Oiler fans/trolls that ferociously attacked Wideman’s character last year.

    GM Brad Trelliving, please make this happen!

    • The GREAT Walter White

      And if the Oilers sign Kris Russell; their top pairing would be complete!

      Especially after all the articles how he is one of the worst D in the league before the trade deadline to sewer our return on a trade…


  • Nortimer

    Wonder if we could unload Wideman to Boston. He’s played there before and likely would waive his NMC to go there. Might cost a middling prospect like Kenny Morrison plus a 2017 second rounder if we kept a portion of his salary, say 1.5 Mil.

  • wot96

    Not to be a spoil sport about this but why would anyone take Wideman at $2.5m (Flames retain half) until after they take a run at Nakladal in FA? And why would Nak daddy take a million a year when most teams would love to have a hard shooting rhd on board? Especially when some can afford to pay more than $1m to get him.

    I suspect Tre may have to peddle Nakladal’s rights rather than sign him.

    • Nortimer

      Wideman is also a hard shooting RHD with over 750 games under his belt. He’s still attractive to teams as long as the price is right. Hence Calgary retaining some salary to ship him out for the last year on his contract. Nakladal has 30 nhl games played. Can’t imagine he’d cost much more than 1 mil.

  • Bananaberg


    What is the exact treatment/cap hit of a player who is assigned to the AHL for the season? Raymond and Bollig are candidates for this. Based on what I’ve seen in the CBA and on cap sites like General Fanager, that cap hit disappears. Only players with a No-Move Clause or who are over 35 years old can shut down being assigned to the AHL.

    Curious to know how the math works, if that isn’t the case. It’s a useful option to free up a decent chunk of coin unless there’s some sub-clause that I’m missing.

    And what is the latest update on Smid’s physical/injury status? He has qualified for LTIR salary treatment in the past.

    For whatever reason, this comment is unpopular on FN, but it’s logical:

    Engelland is statistically the worst regular defenseman on the roster (check out Ownthepuck.com, Corsica, etc. for useful stat measures that don’t include “grit”, “angst”, “beard thickness”, etc) and is a worthy buyout candidate.

    With Jokipakka, and Wotherspoon ready for 6/7 role and Andersson and Kylington worth a serious look at training camp, CGY can also bring back Schlemko for $1-1.3/yr to round out a much more effective d-group (ie. better at skating, moving the puck north, shooting, and suppressing shots). Engelland buyout will save $1.84 in Year 1, so with Schlemko brought in, the actual net replacement savings are at least $0.5 this year. And you’re putting a better player to work in that position.

    Finally, we should say no to buyouts of any contracts over a year in length. We don’t need 4 year cap hits for our worst players.

    • Baalzamon

      Burying a contract only gives you something like 900K of cap relief. If you were on General Fanager, no doubt you noticed that Raymond still counts against the cap at around 2.2M even though he’s a “non-roster” player (the “Buried” contract heading, just under the goalies).

      • Bananaberg

        Engelland buyout: http://www.generalfanager.com/buyouts/360

        Net Saves $1.84 in year 1
        Net Costs $0.917 in year 2

        I believe you’re looking at the “buyout cost” per year ($0.917 in both year 1 and 2).

        If we sign Schlemko for $1.2/yr, then the “net cost” is:

        Year 1: Net Savings of $0.64 (basically like having Schlemko for $0.56

        Year 2: Cost of $0.917 + $1.2 = $2.1.


        Average Cost of Schlemko with Engelland buyout:
        = ( $0.56 + $2.1 ) / 2 years = $1.338/year

        RE: Raymond / burying in AHL

        I think you’re right. That said, I’m not sure we had the full hit during the season (General Fanager is showing what it looks like today; Flames moved a bunch of guys up/down late season to get some experience).

        That’s why I was asking the question — what is the exact treatment? Can you offload some salary by telling Bollig that he is playing the AHL for the entire year? I’ve reached out to the good people at General Fanager for more clarification.

      • Ari Yanover

        $950k, to be exact. At this point it’s probably better to just keep Raymond in the NHL. Burying him yields barely any savings, he’s still probably an actual NHL player, and he’ll get a shot under a new coach.

        Re: Smid, I don’t believe anyone asked about him at the weekend. Buyouts were brought up a couple of times and each time Treliving just said they hadn’t really made any decisions about that yet. They’ve got a couple of days.

  • Bananaberg

    Creative and fair value way to offload most of Wideman’s salary:

    Three-way trade with CLB and BOS. Could like something like this:

    CGY Gives: Wideman (retain $2.0) + Bouma (retain $1)

    CLB Gives: Hartnell

    BOS Gives: 4th round pick in 2017 draft


    CGY Gets: Hartnell ($2.5 in extra cap hit)

    CLB Gets: 4th rounder + Bouma + $3.55 in cap savings

    BOS Gets: Wideman ($3.25 in extra cap hit)


    CGY can afford to do this (by assigning Raymond, Bollig and buying out Engelland) to add a bonafide Top 6 winger who actually has shown improving underlying statistics over the past 3 years, contrary to his age)

    CLB gets space to re-sign their franchise dman (Jones), while also adding a depth forward at $1.1/yr.

    BOS gets a RH, PP shooter Top 5 dman who they already know at just $3.25/yr (ie. cheaper than FA market) and for the cost of a 4th round pick (Sweeney would do this deal all day, he loves trading picks).

    • EhPierre

      That would be interesting and a move I would definitely be happy with however I believe we’d have to add on top just because Yak is younger and has the “First Round” pedigree even though Wideman and Yakupov’s stats this season were pretty similar which I find hilarious

      Wideman for Hayes is a move I’d be thrilled with but once again, I’d think we’d have to add on

  • Kevin R

    I think unfortunately our ability to dump a contract won’t happen till after July 1 & the prize UFA’s are signed up. There are always teams that miss out because of the goofy salaries being thrown around & then realize they need someone to fill their roster. Until Stamkos, Erickson, Lucic & any other bigger ticket UFA’s get picked, the teams with the unused cap space will look to bargains in the trade market. So teams like Boston, Detroit, Jersey, even Carolina & Ottawa could make use of a Wideman at 3.0mill.

    Agree with Ari, Gaudreau/Monahan will eat $14 of the remaining $21mill left. So Jooris, no brainer(1.0mill), Ortio, Nakladal & Colborne are all players I imagine Flames will want to keep. They might fit fit into that remaining 7.0 mill. I think the Flames will buyout 1 player, if Smid is healthy (been quiet on that front, anyone at FN get any intel on his injury status?) he would be the 1st choice, then Raymond (because I doubt Arizona will give us any party favours the way they did for Detroit) & take him with a 3rd round pick.

    Prediction: Colbornes new deal won’t happen until later July, he’ll probably get his 3.0 mill but the term will be shorter than what he wants. Nakladal will get a 3 year year deal at $1.5-$1.8 per & both Ortio & Jooris will be under a mill each.

    Will be an interesting week to see who goes on waivers if anybody.

    • Abbyfan

      Stajan makes 3.5 mil? Scored 4 goals? Great leader? At some point the young guys become leaders and the old grizzled leaders are no longer needed. I would say that time has come. Buy out or try to trade Matt, and sign Grant who will do the same job as 4th line C, save at least 2 million, and may score WAY more than 4 goals.