Is Freddie Hamilton going to make the Flames?

The Flames performed a bloodletting when it came to their restricted free agents. They only kept four, two of whom were obvious (Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau), one of whom was probable (Tyler Wotherspoon), and one of whom probably could have gone either way (Freddie Hamilton).

It took them a while to re-sign Hamilton, but when the Flames finally did, the contract was surprising: a one-way, two-year deal. Now he’s played in two preseason games to date, and while everything preseason must come with a grain of salt, he has scored two goals so far.

Even more so, though, is that there are forward spots to earn on the Flames. Maybe 10 are guaranteed, which leaves another three or four up for grabs. And it sure looks like Hamilton wants one of them – and might just get it.

The elder Hamilton isn’t a particularly impressive player, but he isn’t a bad one, either. He adds more to a lineup than Brandon Bollig, for example; he doesn’t sink possession, and he scores at a higher rate (or at least, he did in the AHL; if he gets to play another 200 games to come close to Bollig’s totals I’m sure he’d have more than 23 career points, though).

Here’s the really important thing, though: he’s substantially cheaper.

Let’s talk cap

Hamilton’s $612,500 cap hit is the cheapest out of every player the Flames have signed. (For that matter, Tyler Wotherspoon’s $625,000 is the third cheapest; Nick Schneider falls in between the two, but he’s already been sent back to Medicine Hat.) For a team that’s going to be cap-strapped no matter what, a depth forward with potential at that price is definitely going to be of some use.

Say the Flames stop screwing around already and re-sign Gaudreau for $8 million. We’re going with the high end estimate here for the purposes of safety; the Flames are going to have to tread cautiously for the time being.

If they do that, then a 22-man roster – one that includes Matthew Tkachuk and Linden Vey, but sees Hunter Shinkaruk start the season in the AHL, for the record – sees the Flames over the cap by almost $100k. (Remember this includes Ladislav Smid’s $3.5 million, which counts until after he can be put on LTIR.) That can’t happen; the Flames have to be cap compliant to start the season.

But.

Say the Flames have Bollig ($1.25 million) start the season in the AHL. If they then call up Hamilton in his stead, then they have roughly $240k in cap space (and probably upgrade their roster, while they’re at it).

And that’s without having to send Sam Bennett to the AHL on a paper transaction. (Though if the Flames are afraid of losing Wotherspoon to waivers, then they could do that to keep him up.)

Even with the overage penalties, Gaudreau’s ask is affordable to the Flames. It pushes the Flames right up against the cap, but not over; then, once Smid is put on LTIR for the year, the Flames have all the room they need to play with call-ups.

Hamilton’s contract

The Flames clearly see something in Hamilton. They could have probably easily signed him to a one-year, “show me” deal like Wotherspoon, but they didn’t: they elected to give him two.

Daniel Pribyl is the only other player the Flames signed to a two-year deal over this offseason: another young kid with potential who hasn’t had the chance to show anything, really, at the NHL level. A certain amount of faith goes into a contact like that, and it would appear Hamilton has the faith of the Flames.

The early preseason success certainly helps matters, too. But as things go right now – taking into account the Flames’ financial situation, the contract they re-signed Hamilton to, and how he’s doing right now – I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hamilton make the Flames’ opening night roster.

And if not then, then maybe a call-up won’t be too far behind.

  • OKG

    Given the slim pickings, he’d be my pick for Gaudreau/Monahan’s Right Winger. Take some right side faceoffs for Monny, can skate with Johnny, and can shoot the puck well enough to beat NHL goalies IMO. As a line last year they clicked but not much sample size (13:19 TOI / 1GF / 0 GA / 15 CF / 3 CA / 22.2% OZS )

  • everton fc

    I’d take Hamilton over both Vey and Tkachuk, at this stage. Tkachuk needs one more year of junior to reign himself in and mature, both on the ice and in the head. Vey has looked better than Chiasson. Pribyl plays a year in the “A” to see what he offers.

  • KACaribou

    OMG Ari. I heart-stoppingly agree with you! (I know you never agree with me either).

    “Say the Flames stop screwing around already and re-sign Gaudreau for $8 million… ” THANK YOU ARI. WISH TREE WOULD QUIT PISSING THIS FREAK-SHOW KID OFF AND JUST PAY HIM AND BE GLAD HE’S WITH US.

    Not to mention that Johnny Hockey is 10x more important than many, many guys the Flames are paying $3 million or more!

    Further, I have seen a lot of guys in pre-season I thought were locks but then had to check my vision once the reg. season began and then even more 20 games into the season.

    Freddie is having a good exhibition, but again, that’s no guarantee. It’s kind of like how some people on FN have written in Kulak after a 2-goal +3 exhibition game. I have hopes for him, but wouldn’t pencil him in at number 6 because of one game.

    Pribyl? Not one person at FN has even seen him play exhibition against NHL players. How can he even be a consideration at this point?

    I hate talking money on a sports site. But don’t blame Johnny Hockey because the GM has messed up his calculations. The kid is a genius on the ice.

    • Stu Cazz

      Paying JG or any second year player $8M who has not taken his team deep into the playoffs nor won a championship is ridiculous! The number is certainly higher than Giordano’s but no where near the $8M…..

      • EhPierre

        I don’t really get the whole “taken his team deep into the playoffs nor won a championship ” argument. This isn’t basketball where you really only need one star studded player to take you all the way. Hockey is a team sport and it’s impossible for one player to win a team a championship.

        The way I rationalize giving Gaudreau 8m is I take a look at the team and see if we have any players, or if there’s a trade that can happen that will give us a player(s) of the same or even greater ability and thrill that JG gives us. There isn’t.

        I understand saving 500k or 1m goes a long way in the future but it’s not worth it if your star player is gonna be angry at the team and fuel his desire to leave the team once his contract is done.

        If JG goes, you can say goodbye to the thoughts of flames becoming a championship team.

        • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

          “The way I rationalize giving Gaudreau 8m is I take a look at the team and see if we have any players, or if there’s a trade that can happen that will give us a player(s) of the same or even greater ability and thrill that JG gives us. There isn’t.”

          I want the thrill of having a winning team that can win the Cup and beat Edmonton. The Capitals have had a guy for the last 11 years who is thrilling and gets people excited, but hasn’t won a damn thing. If Johnny doesn’t want to be part of a team where everyone has the goal of ALL making a good wage and winning together, then he can bugger off back to the States and we’ll take whatever comes back in return.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        So, if it was McJezzub would you say the same thing? Of course you wouldn’t. Gaudreau has delivered a NCAA championship, a WJC gold and the Flames only playoff win in many many years.

        Personally, I think the $8m and $6.75m is a range that Francis came up with, and has been quoted on more than anything else. I think he signs for less than that, so in reality, the difference is between $7.5m and $6.75m.

        What bothers me is that EF make statements like they are fact, and strings along readers for periods of time. How much did he say Russell was asking for last February?

        • KACaribou

          I more or less agree with you, but I think EF has a lot more knowledge than anyone who writes here… so there’s that.

          At least he associates with players, coaches and other hockey types, and professional sports media people. His knowledge is a lot more accurate than things you read here.

          With that being said, yes he jumps the gun at times and looks foolish. But if you held up predictions people make here as biblical tablets we’d all be under far worse scrutiny. EF is also quite right many times.

  • The Fall

    I hate how Johnny is the story right now. Whatever, let him sit on his moms couch and watch hockey in his own time zone or whatever the hold up is.

    The number of young players holding out, or demanding trades is an unsettling trend.

    • supra steve

      “The number of young players holding out, or demanding trades is an unsettling trend.”

      More players making $6-8million means even more players making league minimum (or not much more than). I hope the 8 million dollar guys will be paying for dinner when out with the league minimum guys.

    • KACaribou

      I kind of agree with you. The poor baby might only make $7,000,000 every year! Boohoo.

      On the other hand I see NHL players who couldn’t hold his jock strap talent-wise making a great deal of money, and guys who have a similar amount of his incredible talent making much more.

      He’s the straw that stirs the drink in Calgary. If we got our guy for $8 million; while Chicago plays their straws $10, Washington $10, Nashville $9, Pittsburgh $9.5 & $12, Anaheim $8.6 & $8.25, Rangers $8.5, Philly $8.25, AND Edmonton $$$$$… I think we may have a bit of a deal long term.

    • Parallex

      Why is it unsettling?

      Relative to their NHL peers young NHL players get screwed. A bunch of businesses collude to artificially suppress your salary and dictate who you can work for (with the required consent of the union that is supposed to later represent you)… I’d want to claw back as much control over my professional life as soon as as I could so good on ‘um for doing it.

      • The Fall

        Two years in the league and they get to call their own shots? Reeks of entitlement.

        Those rules were put in place to stop big sexy clubs from luring all the young talent. Do you really want to go back to the 90s era of Alberta hockey?

        • Parallex

          They’re abiding by the rules, rules which are heavily stacked against them from the get go. Why wouldn’t they do that? After having basically no rights for 3+ years they… *gasp*… assert what few they gain.

          • Greatsave

            Not sure why you feel the need to publicly criticize or belittle your team’s biggest star because he doesn’t make life choices the way you think he should. I take it you’re in that “athletes should be grateful for playing a game for a living” camp.

            In any case, it’s his contract, his livelihood, you can call him “entitled” but he is at the very least entitled to have a say over his job. If he does hold out for a year then hey he loses a year’s worth of salary *and* a year of his scoring prime that could have served to build up further value and leverage toward his next contract, so… that ought to teach him, right? No need to let your jealousy or bitterness get the better of you.

          • The Fall

            I’m a fan first and foremost. Not sure if it’s jealousy or bitterness, but I’m certainly pissed off.

            We are watching a ton of skilled kids working their ass off to make this team, and he’s chosen to sit out so far.

            He has played two season on a bad team and put up points. Most players who make $8M have done more.

            Johnny knew playing that one game after college put him a year closer to his second contract. For better or worse, that was his deal. He puts up 100 points next year, then back the truck up for him. But he thought he could do it after two. Now there’s doubt on the table.

            Yeah I’m a Flames fan going on over three decades and it sucks to constantly hear about Johnny and whatever talking head or blogger thinks his salary should be. His potential is amazing, but he hasn’t done anything for this team yet. If he wants out of the city: let him go. He wants to stay: let him play.

            I hope this is all moot and he signs for whatever amount, I don’t care. I care to see him play

      • cberg

        While you make a bunch of good points, to which I don’t really disagree, there are other things that would also have to happen to balance out both sides. The primary thing would be non-guaranteed contracts. With those changes, sure let the players go for all they can, but if they don’t perform or the team has to make changes then they should also be able to. This would balance things out, though would severely impact player and team loyalty and fan LT support for your “key” guys. Nothing is foolproof and although you might think something is a great idea, there are always unforeseen ramifications.

  • The Fall

    The Brad Marchand extension is interesting. Here’s an undersized, 20-30 (37) goal scorer, first line, all world, Stanley Cup champ who signs long term (all UFA years) for just over $6M…

    Does this make Johnnys contract go up or down?

  • freethe flames

    Back to Hamilton; he is the only forward to score so far in preseason; the other 4 goals are by defenders. Using that as a measuring stick maybe he does deserve a chance.

  • Just.Visiting

    I read a book on negotiations once in which the author addressed negotiations within our most important relationships. Here’s the passage from “Getting to Yes”:

    “In most instances to ask a negotiator, “Who’s winning?” is as inappropriate as to ask who’s winning a marriage. If you ask that question about your marriage, you have already lost the most important negotiation-the one about what kind of game to play, about the way you deal with each other and your shared and differing interests.”

    There is an amount where the Flames are hurting the ongoing relationship. There is an amount where the Flames are making it easy to find a way for each side to get to yes. And there is an amount where JG would be hurting the ongoing relationship and his own brand by holding out.

    To me, the right number is around $7.5MM with term.

    “But Tarasenko isn’t a fair comparable.” You’re right-hardly noticed him in the tournament, but we sure noticed JG on almost every shift, didn’t we? In fact, every fan watching the tournament did.

    Having a happy JG at $7.5MM sure beats having an extra $600K to help bring Kris Russell back, seeing the JG term being a year less than what could have been the case or having JG carrying around baggage about how he feels he has been treated.

  • Newbietwo

    Johnny has some absolutely amazing skills and therefore a ton of upside and when he is on he is on.. That being said I feel there are gaps for an $8million a year player.. It’s not biase or jealous or anything as such to me it’s just facts.. The reason I feel this way is because I feel he has not brought his full potential. Two year in the league and he recognizes first and foremost he is a smaller player and he hasn’t gained muscle or made that a priority in any way and therefore he still cannot take a hit and when he sees it coming he has had a few moments like that where he lost the puck and stumbled..

    Furthermore when you look at him defensively he plays the position well but when it comes to pressuring the puck holder he can’t do it.. Now in terms of his points a fair amount of it came on the power play and yes if we are honest he had a number of lucky ones.. Look at recent World Cup his first coal was lucky.. His second goal he hits it behind the net and it takes a lucky bounce.. He gets two breakaways and scores on one and then the real Johnny comes out in over time with a hell of a pass. I’m a huge fan don’t get me wrong but to be paid in the top 5% of the league is stand on your head dominate..

    What makes it hard though is I believe he will dominate in the future two years from now if he adds muscle is stronger on the puck and more comfortable in your face defending.. That’s how I justify $7million a year.. Hell is love to see 8 years signed as follows
    $6.5 mill 2016/17 $7million 2017/18 to 2019/20 and then $8million a year from there.. Let’s face it he still has a lot to learn and thus you can see there is a lot more to come with him.. That’s how I justify it and honestly it makes sense get it done.. Anyone that even considers you can trade him and do better think again.. Look at Bostons history mistake after mistake trading kessel, sequin, Hamilton.. No folks we lock him down and move forward

    • Newbietwo

      Just another comment if you think of our cap it actually makes sense to pay Johnny more next year and the year after and to drop from there making it front loaded rather than scaled upwards.. Why because we have a ton of cap at the end of this season so why not do $7 mill his year then even $8.5 next year and the year after and from there balance it off for the remainder 5 years at $7.5 mill

  • Dan the flames fan

    OK, let’s be real about what JG is and has brought to the team. Every one brags about his skill during the season, and yet at contract time the goal is to portray him as less then adequate? Get real! This young man has never had a regressive season, so logically, we can project him as improving his totals again. In his second year of NHL experience he was top 10, and almost top 5 in scoring in the NHL! Are we seriously going to complain that he’s not defensive enough in his game!? He was never drafted for his defense. He was drafted and made the team to put numbers on the scores sheet, which he’s done in spades. We have to look at what he’s done, and what he can bring to the team in value, game excitement, etc. He may not be a defensive asset, but he sure as heck is not a liability! I like 7.25 and even up to 8 million if we can get 7 to 8 years. If we can’t do that now, I can foresee, with inflation, us looking at 10 to 12 million in about 4plus years if he does what everyone hopes he can do.