Mason Raymond had one year left of carrying a $3.15 million cap hit. With his buyout, he now only counts for $1.05 million on the cap this year, saving the Flames $2.1 million in cap space. He will also count for $1.05 million on the cap in 2017-18.
This is the first time the Flames have executed a buyout since using a compliance one on Shane O’Brien, and the first time since Nigel Dawes was bought out after the 2009-10 season.
The current cap situation
The Flames have $2.5 million committed to a goalie with another still to sign; roughly $29.7 million committed to seven defencemen, possibly with another to sign or promote; and roughly $20.35 million committed to eight forwards, including Raymond’s buyout hit and Sam Bennett’s bonuses, with another six to sign or promote.
That puts them at having roughly $52.65 million committed to the cap, giving them $20.35 million to spend on seven or eight more players. Two players will be Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, who could take up to two thirds of that available cap space, leaving maybe $6.35 million or so for five or six players.
Even with Raymond’s buyout, which helps, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for the Flames to spend when free agency opens.
The Smid factor
If Ladislav Smid’s injury remains serious, and his career is done, the Flames can put him on the long-term injured reserve, and his $3.5 million cap hit will essentially not count. (He’s not going to voluntarily retire to allow the Flames to buy him out for less money. Nobody would do that. There’s still Marc Savard, Chris Pronger, Pascal Dupuis now…) However, it still has to fit under the cap before the season starts.
The Flames could use some creative maneuvering to get under it. For example, Sam Bennett doesn’t require waivers, so he could be transferred to start the season in the AHL on paper, and be brought back up once Smid is on LTIR. The same could be true of any other waiver-ineligible rookies who make the team; however, the Flames still have to announce an actual opening roster.
Then, there’s the risk that Smid is healthy enough to play once again. It happened last year. If that ends up being the case, you don’t want to have put yourself in a corner by leaving yourself with no cap room.
No new Flames have appeared on waivers. Dennis Wideman is the only Flame with a no movement clause, so he’s the only one who can still be bought out. The deadline is 3 p.m. MT, but at this point, it doesn’t look likely. Buying out Wideman would have him count for $1.25 million on the cap this season, and $2 million in 2017-18.
The Flames would save an additional $4 million on the cap this season, which would give them roughly $10.35 million in cap space to work with after Monahan and Gaudreau’s extensions; they would have to carry $3.05 million in dead cap space in 2017-18 if they did, however. (Hey, still less than Smid!)
What about Joe Colborne?
Does Raymond’s buyout allow the Flames to retain Joe Colborne?
Let’s go back to his estimated ask, and take the lower end $3.5 million figure. That would leave the Flames with roughly $2.8 million in cap space to sign or promote another five forwards, a goalie, and maybe a defenceman.
So yeah, if Colborne sticks to his guns about his current reported ask, it’s not happening in Calgary. Even if he drops down to $2 million, that still leaves the Flames with only $4.35 million in cap space to sign six or seven players, which is basically an impossible task.
The Flames could still go over by $3.2 million, as the cap will transfer any bonuses Bennett reaches into next season; however, that’s then more dead space for 2017-18. So some of these extensions are possible – if the Flames want to continue to handcuff themselves with dead cap space.