Jakub Nakladal and the cap space dilemma

It’s September, the World Cup of Hockey tournament is about to start for real, and the Calgary Flames still have to sign Johnny Gaudreau. But an underlying and rather valuable asset remains unsigned as well: Jakub Nakladal.

After his well above-average showing to close out last season, the Czech blueliner is among a small contingent of capable NHLers who may warrant a PTO or a contract – whether it’s in the NHL or overseas – that can help improve a team immediately.

The value in Nakladal: driving play

In the past, we’ve explored why signing Nakladal is imperative. But with additional data available, and some newer ways to contextualize the results shown in his 27 game sample we get a richer perspective:

defenseplaystyle

Using Sean Tierney‘s visualizations and Ryan Stimson‘s Passing Project data, when looking at primary shot contribution data (shots and shot assists) we see a rough concept of how each defenseman looked in terms of their PSC results. 

defensesample

The major and obvious caveat here in this would be Nakladal’s sample size tracked in this project. Even though he has a limited sample, it’s still very promising and it validates a lot of Nakladal’s value and why he’s a guy this team needs. Nakladal’s tracked results at 5v5 prove he helps contribute to the team’s shot generation. When married with more modern metrics the picture is even clearer (via Corsica Hockey):

nak5v5

Down the stretch to the end of the season, Nakladal was one of the better Flames blueliners in driving play. With all of this information, the portrait of what Jakub Nakladal becomes more vibrant. And this is strictly 5v5 play, with what some may regard as softer deployment (33.55% OZS), though it still indicates he was able to take advantage of that deployment to provide a positive impact while on the ice. 

When deployed on the Flames’ power play, Nakladal didn’t put up groundbreaking results, but his ability to distribute the puck and his shot make him an asset for second unit minutes. Whether or not he can potentially be used on the penalty kill is an uncertainty, but it’s an opportunity that could be explored.

Any team would be lucky to have him on their roster given what he could do in an extremely limited sample.

The team itself, the cap situation, and how to proceed

With the current salary cap structure on this Calgary Flames team, finding a way to sign Nakladal (with whatever room is available after Gaudreau) becomes extremely tricky. The bulk of it is the vast majority of money wrapped up in players who either don’t justifiably deserve or warrant their existing deals, or whose results have dwindled well below acceptable terms of how they should be paid.

The blueline situation itself accounts for $11.66M in money that could be better served elsewhere. Jyrki Jokipakka, who was acquired in the trade for Kris Russell, wasn’t included in this amount because there is still some distinguishable upside in him.

  • Dennis Wideman, who with age has become further and further one-dimensional; the impact of which is a long and well-documented tale. You can shelter him, but his play in his own end will be a train wreck more often than not. His trade value is significantly diminished since his suspension and that ordeal is still ongoing.
  • Ladislav Smid, who at the moment may be fully incapable of playing at the NHL level due to health issues. Again: another black hole on-ice and financially. Playing him in any capacity – with medical clearance – is a foolish decision.
  • Deryk Engelland, who may very well be the only serviceable option in this trio, but make no mistake: he is best suited for usage as a sixth/seventh man.

This doesn’t even touch the well-documented issues with the forward group and the money wrapped up there.

The bulk of this can be summarized as follows: beyond Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, and Dougie Hamilton there are a lot of question marks.

Finding defensemen who are capable in moving the puck but also finding defensemen who can suppress the opposition (but aren’t the classic shutdown defenseman archetype touted by flawed narratives) are the future. But more importantly, they’re the types that you want in the Flames’ future. Oliver Kylington, Rasmus Andersson, and Adam Fox should fit this group, though all three are some time away from this point.

Brett Kulak and Tyler Wotherspoon had positive showings in their extremely limited usage in 2015-16, but whether or not they can fully make the jump this season remains questionable. Though when compared to Nakladal we have a clear idea of who the right choice would be.

That said, all of this remains to be seen as the current financial restrictions limit what can be done to manipulate the roster composition for the best results for the season. Right now, finding some way to keep Nakladal around on a PTO or with some sort of verbal agreement would be huge for this team. It would save them the ordeal of another capable asset being waived or signing elsewhere.

But more importantly it would give further parity to this maturing team looking to take a positive leap forward this fall.

  • deantheraven

    We definitely could benefit from NakDaddy replacing one of the above mentioned albatrosses. At this point it becomes more a question of how little Treliving gets for one of them that anyone willing to accept. I’m in the late-round pick camp.
    Damn the return. Wideman and Engelland were UFA signings. Any return is still gravy.

    Unfortunately with Johnny Hockey’s new deal pending, we can’t even eat some of Wideman’s salary and still sign Nakladal. Best case in this case is to find a team with cap floor issues and unload Wideman. Sadly, hopefully, Smid is LTIR or retires. What a situation. Smid can’t be LTIR until the season starts so his numbers count against the cap. I’d be happy to pay him to retire, but that ain’t exactly legal as per the CBA, and if he’s cleared and still has the fire to play… I’d even be happy to take the over cap penalty next season since we’ll be rid of a lot of dead space contracts because all of ’em are UFA’s.
    I Like Smid, feel bad for his injury woes. But he’s shown he can’t play at this level anymore. Maybe a KHL team would take him on.

    Ideally, two go so that Nakladal and one of ‘Spoon or Kulak makes the jump full time. Engelland would be fine as a 7th and the young’uns would be given the chance to grow into a role.
    Sure don’t envy BT…

    • RedMan

      Lose ANOTHER one?

      Did tbe Flames lose someone to Edmonton? I guess Edmonton must have taken Wideman, with Calgary retaining some salary so that you can finally get a decent defenseman that can put up some points. Or maybe you guys have Russell? Anyway, there ought to be the odd cast off from the Flames here and there that Edmonton can pick up. It won’t be long and they’ll finally have an NHL team, even if it is bottom tier. Hey, just wondering, how many games will the Oilers have to lose before you and the other boiler fans start looking forward to the draft again, salivating over the next first overall pick. You think you’ll make it to Christmas this year?

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    This is a comment section about Nakladal and that’s who I am talking about!! I don’t think Calgary will have the money to sign him and Edmonton does and they need a guy like him .
    So quit being a baby and if you don’t like what I say don’t read and respond!!

    • Arminius

      Just wondering why you’re on here more than ON ? For what purpose..judging by your inflammatory remarks it’s obvious. Mods take a look at this guy. I know I’m new here but I don’t expect this here.
      There’s a forum for Coilers yeah? Goof

      • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

        You don’t like what I say because it’s not of your opinion?? Really ? I don’t think he is gonna sign here and that’s my opinion. If you don’t like it skip by my comments!

        Calling someone a goof is nothing more than your jailhouse lingo coming through !

        FN MODERATOR: It has been so peaceful for a good long time, why do you feel the need to goad others into fighting? Show some restraint.

  • wot96

    Said it before, and I’ll say it again.

    Johnny signs after the season rosters are announced and Smid officially goes LTIR releasing extra cap space. I may be wrong and Tre may sign Johnny earlier as he does have the cap space if Johnny relents and lowers his demand.

    Either way, I think Nak signs after the season starts unless someone offers him way more than what the Flames are prepared to offer him.

    The advantage to this WCH stuff is that the players do at least get some games in and play at a high level, so it doesn’t matter so much if they miss training camp.

  • freethe flames

    Based upon these stats and the eye test I am surprised that Nakdaddy is not yet signed as there are many teams that could use him. It makes one think that maybe just maybe there is a gentlemen’s agreement with the Flames or that his demands are way out of line.

    I have been a advocate of getting him signed and think that he and Gio could be quite a very good pairing allowing Dougie and TJ to be a dominate pairing. Even if he and Gio don’t work out he would be a more appealing option on the third pairing than either Wides or Engs.

  • ronipedia

    The Flames have more money invested in D than they do on forward this season and it’s still a serious problem. Even if they could trade Wideman, he has a no move. (damn you Feaster).

    The more I look at the Brouwer signing the more I hate it. 4.5mil + NTC for less points than Colborne and all the cap space is gone. Meanwhile Hudler signed for 2 mil.

    Anyways. I like Nak but if they end up with Wotherspoon as the 7th D at least we’ll start to see if he can play in the NHL.

    • smatic10

      I agree that the dollar value hurts a little, but that’s what happens in free agency. Also with Brouwer you get a good locker room guy who plays physical, plays right wing, and is a proven playoff performer. I love Hudler as much as the next guy, but he’s clearly lost a step. We’ve moved on from him at the right time.

      • Troy Brouwer is a proven playoff performer?

        If you exclude this past post-season, he had 19 points in 78 games. In fact, the playoffs prior, Brouwer had 3 assists in 14 playoff games.

        .33 points per game in the post-season isn’t anything to write home about for someone of his age, especially with the players he’s played with.

        • supra steve

          Why exclude Brouwer’s best playoff performance (which is his most recent playoff too, by the way) in evaluating him as a playoff performer? Would make a lot more sense to me to exclude his first playoff with Chicago where he scored 2 points in 17 games as a rookie. Your method of excluding the most recent playoff, while it supports your conclusion, makes little sense.

          • supra steve

            So, you think including his rookie season, while excluding last season, was solid evaluation of the numbers?

            I also have some problem with only using his points in determining that “he hasn’t really contributed much”.

            I don’t pretend to know a lot about this player, but I look forward to learning in the coming months.

          • Yeah, I probably could have framed my initial point better and I’m not going to hide that.

            But the basis of why we’re having this conversation right now is I don’t believe the concept that he’s a proven playoff performer when year-after-year his results don’t exactly match that.

            This past season with St. Louis seemed to be quite unusual given his track record of individual shot metrics and point totals. Possession wise, in 2012-13 he was riding shotgun in the first-round on the top-line with Ovechkin.

            Beyond that, most of his playoff performances were average if not somewhat below average. His overall aggregate results still paint that picture.

            There’s enough data to suggest (with coverage done here, on other blogs, and on stats sites) to strongly indicate that he’s a 3Ler.

          • supra steve

            Well said. You may be right, but we all hope you’re wrong.

            Just always seems wrong to me when anyone excludes one outlier, without excluding the outlier on the other end of the spectrum.

          • Burnward

            This is a guy I can’t judge until he plays here.

            Always seems to overachieve though. To me, that shows a little bit of clutch in him.

            That extra 10 percent he strikes me as giving is the right 10 for a young team.

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          I must admit that there is a lot of negative comments for Brouwer, a player that has yet to dress for Calgary. From what I saw. In the playoffs last year, he was one of his team’s best player. Once the Oilers signed Lucic, his signing was even more crucial. I am looking forward to his role on the team….which I see as a bit of everything.

  • Prototype369

    Im waiting for the annual November 7+ losing streak the oilers will go on, so I can go over to OilersNation and rub it in their annoying faces. Im actually salivating thinking about all that trolling

    • supra steve

      Well how can you possibly re-sign this guy before next season after that performance? Must be looking at $7-8 million per year after that performance. 🙂

          • Brent G.

            McDavid is currently sitting pointless with a big -2 on the board. Generational?

            Looks like the Oilers have started the process of destroying another one.

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            You guys really want to believe that eh?? If that’s what makes you sleep at night. 3/4 of the first overalls have been a success . Hall , NUGE and McDavid are all proven players . So who is it that you are talking about?

            What about the four open nets that his linemates missed last night on perfect set ups.
            If I remember correctly last year he was pointless in his first four games and then got four against Calgary and ended up with the 3rd most ppg in the league .

            When all is said and done he will be the engine pulling the NA train

          • cberg

            25% “proven players” success rate for 1OA is pretty pathetic. McDavid isn’t “proven” as anything more than a player yet either, it remains to be seen. And proven NHL players is a low standard. How about remaining as top picks after 5/10-year out re-drafts? 100% failure on that standard….

            PS: As far as Nakladal goes, I think he already has a deal, but waiting on Gaudreau and Smid LTIR.

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            I don’t think any player is going to wait on a verbal agreement. If they already have a verbal agreement then sign it.
            Players need to look after themselves and verbal agreements don’t cut it. Would you take a verbal agreement at your workplace which is essentially a maybe , over a signed contract?

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    I thought this post was about Nakladal ? So why when I make a comment you guys always talk about Edmonton. Nakladal will get about 1.5 /year from the Oilers.

    • supra steve

      Perhaps has something to do with your comment #33, you brought it up. Then you became all defensive when I compared Drai’s upcoming contract to Gaudreau’s current negotiations with the Flames. Sorry for pointing that out to you.

      • Greatsave

        Actually started with comment #2… and I quote:

        You have NO money!! Treleving made sure of that! He will be another one you lose to the Oilers!!

        (Emphasis mine)

        I saw how the mods warned him in the next article and felt it was one-sided given our own trolls, but having come back to read this thread I understand where the mods are coming from. Still, some of the commenters from the Flames’ side have said things that are uncalled for. I hope the mods will handle things equally regardless of allegiances.

        • supra steve

          Train is here to try to stir things up, at least part of the time. Funny thing is that he is pretty easy to get stirred up in return, but for the most part he’s harmless. Not entirely sure why he’s on this site as much or more than me, but he’s easy enough to tolerate if you just don’t take a lot of what he comes up with too seriously…but a lot of readers do take him too seriously.

        • His comment history on ON is really not that different. The good thing is I don’t think 97Train hasn’t really broken any of our real rules which is nice to see.

          Regardless:

          Man, I really love Jakub Nakladal. He’s like Schlemmers 2.0!

        • FlamesFanOtherCity

          Versteeg was pretty quick in signing a PTO. They could have signed him to a contract less than $2m and he would have jumped. Instead, he will get less than that. So they don’t really take time for players that are interested.

          On the Flames, he would not be expected to carry the mail and then get traded after the inevitable Trade Deadline house cleaning. In EDM, that is a given. Sign a vet and expect too much (Ference, Nikitin, Fayne), then demote or buy them out. Make deals with future Norris D-men, but ignore the better player and trade him to Montreal.

          EDM will try to bring back Gryba on a PTO.

  • MontanaMan

    As a steady #4ish defenceman, Nak would have been picked up by someone if the Flames hadn’t made an informal commitment. My take is that he has an agreement in place with BT to sign once JG’s contract is finalized and once some money is freed up. And I’m guessing that Nak and his agent must be confident that both will be accomplished very soon.