The most important pending extensions

hair-extensions

For the last number of years, many Calgary Flames fans have pointed to the summer of 2017 as an important one. The Flames are set to see a number of contracts drop off the books at the end of this season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to have a lot of cash to play with. 

Calgary has a number of important contract extensions to figure out over the next eight months or so, but two stand out more than the rest.

I know, I know, the season isn’t even 10 games old yet and here I am talking about boring contract stuff for next season already. In this salary cap day and age, though, I feel like it’s never too early to look ahead. As it stands now, the Flames have 12 contracts set to come off the books at the end of this season, as illustrated by NHLNumbers below.

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Some of the names above have no-brainer futures; I don’t think any of us see Calgary re-signing Wideman or Grossmann, for instance. For a good number of players, though, the Flames have tough choices to make and some interesting negotiations looming on the horizon. We’re going to focus on the two most important cases.

While we’ll definitely be writing more in depth about many of these players in the coming weeks and months, I thought it would be good to at the very least put these on the radar.

Sam Bennett

Bennett’s situation is a unique one because of the way he entered the league. After sitting out most of the 2014-15 season with a shoulder injury suffered in training camp, Bennett eventually made his debut with the Flames in game 82 of the regular season. After appearing in all 11 of the team’s playoff games, Bennett ended up burning the first year of his entry-level contract in his rookie season.

Because of those odd circumstances, Bennett will be ready for his second contract after just two full seasons in the league as opposed to three. From a comparable standpoint, it’s tough to find a lot of guys in similar situations.

The first name that comes to mind is his teammate Johnny Gaudreau, as he also signed his second deal after just two years in the league. The problem there, though, is Bennett’s points are unlikely to be in the same stratosphere as Gaudreau’s this season and they certainly weren’t last year. There aren’t a lot of easy roads to go down, here.

What might be more telling than anything else is what the Edmonton Oilers decide to do with the guy taken one pick before Bennett in 2014 in Leon Draisaitl. Similar to Bennett, but for different reasons, Draisaitl had the first year of his entry-level deal burnt without playing a full year in the NHL. It’s not a perfect comparison, but below is a breakdown of their career points (including playoffs), not including this season.

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Knowing how similar the situation are for Bennett and Draisaitl, it might not be a bad move for the former to wait until the latter signs. While Draisaitl’s numbers are slightly better than Bennett’s, there’s a decent chance the two deals will end up looking somewhat similar.

Contract ballpark: As we mentioned, this one is tough. Due to a lack of obvious comparable deals, any number I throw out there is going to involve a fair amount of guesswork. I think there’s a good chance this comes in with a shorter term than either of the big RFA deals signed this past summer, so I wonder if four years between $3.5 and $4.5 million per might be in the vicinity.

Brian Elliott

The chatter around Elliott is a whole lot more positive in recent days than it was through his first three starts of the season. But what has been on the radar ever since Calgary acquired Elliott in June is the fact he’s playing on an expiring contract. As a pending unrestricted free agent, Elliott’s case is much different than Bennett’s and as such carries with it different circumstances.

First and foremost, the Flames need to decide whether or not they believe there is a fit beyond this year for Elliott. I would lean towards the answer being yes, mainly because Calgary gave up a fairly significant asset to acquire him at the draft. On that same token, because Elliott has far more control than Bennett does, he still has to decide whether he sees a long term fit with the Flames, too.

But, for sake of this conversation, let’s pretend there is mutual interest in agreeing to a deal beyond this season. What would a new deal look like, then? Well, to try to answer that question, we have to make another assumption. This time, we have to assume Elliott’s numbers this season will follow, or stay close to, the trend he’s set over the last five years.

While his start to the season wasn’t stellar, Elliott has bounced back very nicely in his last two games. As I wrote about over the weekend, I’m confident Elliott is on course to have another solid season with numbers similar to the ones he posted with St. Louis. If that does end up being the case, the guy is going to be in line for a nice payday.

Below is a look at aggregate save percentage totals over the last five years both overall and at even strength (minimum 5,000 minutes). As you can see, Elliott is a top five goalie by both measures.

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Now, in most of those cases, it’s important to note Elliott has played fewer minutes than his counterparts listed, but that doesn’t take away from his impressive work. The fact he’s never played a true number one workload of 60+ games in a season might hurt Elliott’s worth a little but not enough to negate the big raise he’s in line for.

Contract ballpark: Considering what other number one goaltenders are getting paid right now, it’s not a stretch to think Elliott’s cap hit of $2.5 million right now might end up doubling, if not more. Talbot just signed a new deal that carries a $4.167 million AAV and Elliott’s numbers are better and he’s carried a larger workload. If guys like Schneider and Rask are at $6 million and above, I don’t think it’s a stretch to think Elliott would be in the $5 or $5.5 million range on, say, a three-year deal.

  • Arminius

    Bennett with as many goals as Draisaitl in 20 less games

    And of course with Bennett you also get over 50% on faceoffs, up 4% from last year as well as his physical play. Intangibles are off the chart for him. The pitbull is really coming into his own so far this season

    • Stanley

      That’s your takeaway here? I see 19 more points, a higher PPG for Draisatl and he is over 50% on the dot. He also has that coveted mix of size and skill.

      I’m not saying Bennett is a poor player just that its odd that you can look at clearly superior stats of Draisatl & somehow think that it means Bennett is better.

      • Parallex

        I think Bennett is better.

        I think the counting stats are misleading. Due to his shoulder surgery Bennett is a almost year behind (developmentally) and he’s also younger then Draisaitl (Happy 21 Birthday to Mr. Draisaitl… it’s his birthday today). Despite that Bennett’s G/60 and PrimaryP/60 are both better.

        I think Leon Draisaitl is a fine player and any team would be lucky to have him… but I think they’d be luckier to have Sam Bennett.

          • Randaman

            I tell you what, you keep Arminius, Derzie, Scorpion and a couple others off Oilers Nation and I guarantee us Oiler trolls will be here a lot less.

            We’ve actually got a real hockey team to concentrate on this year. This isn’t a mirage people. You’ll be in the rear view mirror for the next decade.

            Enjoy

          • Willi P

            7 games in and your Oil are now dominating for the next decade? Have you forgotten the last decade+?

            We have seen this before, many times, then your team comes crashing down to earth. Perhaps it would be wise to wait a bit before proclaiming your mighty “7 game” Oil ahead for the next decade.

            Actually, never mind. Who am I kidding, telling an Oiler fan to be wise. Oops.

          • Randaman

            Haha, I am trying very hard to forget the last decade. Believe me!

            I do understand the scepticism in regards to the Oilers start but as a Flames fan wouldn’t you support your team the same way or are you another fair weather fan. There’s lots of those in Calgary. I know, I lived there for 18 years.

            I never said the Oilers would dominate for the next decade by the way, They will however be ahead of your lame asses

          • Newbietwo

            I am an all in flames fan and I will say stop bagging on these Oiler fans.. it’s good that they are finally competitive because if I had to hear about any more first round picks going in their favour I’d lose it.. additionally most of them work night shift thus have time to waste lol jk

          • T&A4Flames

            “I never said the Oilers would dominate for the next decade by the way, They will however be ahead of your lame asses”

            Well that would certianly be different for everyone wouldn’t it. You guys have been choking on our dust for quite a while now.

  • Greatsave

    Man, I was just going to post something exactly like this in the comments yesterday, but Pat’s beaten me to the punch. Well done. I was thinking somewhere around $9-10m for the two of them as well.

  • Greatsave

    Pat, I was going to use Trocheck as a comparable. $4.75m AAV for 6 years, coming off a 76-game, 53-point season, after 30 points in 70 games over the prior two seasons. I don’t see Flames and Bennett going to 6 years though (coincides with Monahan’s deal expiry), and 7 or 8 will likely cost too much for the team’s liking. 5 takes us to his first summer of UFA eligibility so that’s a no-go.

    I was thinking 3 or 4 years; leaning toward 3 as that coincides with expiry for Brouwer, Frolik, and Brodie (and Tkachuk if he slides one year). Either way, it’ll allow the Flames to keep him an RFA and also lower salary. If Trocheck’s 1-UFA year deal is $4.75m AAV, Bennett should come in lower than that on a bridge deal.

    • Trochek is a good one, never thought of that. Adds a little more context to the conversation.

      Bennett’s deal just seems like a bridge to me. Long term is always going to be beneficial for the team, but knowing Bennett’s circumstances, his camp is probably going to opt for something shorter.

      • Parallex

        If that’s the case then the team should push for a 1 year deal.

        IMO It’s a bad idea to give RFA’s a long term deal that doesn’t eat free agency years… all you’re doing is paying them handsomely while maximizing their leverage in subsequent negotiations. If a players camp wants to try to maximize his reward on his next deal that’s fine… but the team should also seek to ensure that the players risk is also maximized.

        • Greatsave

          Not sure what the team gains by going for a 1 year deal as opposed to 4 or 3 or even 2 years.

          If you think a 4-year bridge deal gives Bennett potentially too much leverage for a subsequent negotiation (6 years of experience, possibly multiple 60-point seasons), I say go with a 2- or 3-year bridge then.

          If you’re giving him a 1-year bridge, that’s no different than if his ELC slid. The main advantage to burning the first year was so his body of work in this negotiation is only 2 years of NHL exp. A 1-year bridge negates that advantage.

          In terms of the team’s window, I think it peaks around 2020 and starts closing thereafter. If they can pen Bennett to a 3/4-year bridge deal, that gives them the flexibility to add other pieces to maximize their chances in that window. If they win a Cup, great, reward Bennett with a big fat contract. If they don’t, then Bennett has less leverage for his next deal anyway.

          Having seen Treliving’s re-signings though, I’m confident that, if he’s still in charge when Bennett’s bridge expires, Treliving can still keep him under Gaudreau.

  • Kensington

    Way to early to even speculate on Sam or Brian. Totally depends on how they play this season. If Brian has a save% like he did in St L. then yeah he will get a big raise but my guess is he will be in the 910 range and get resigned for a small raise. If Sam gets a three/four year deal he can have a 60+ season and get 4.5 or a 30 point season and get 2.5. That would middle at 45 point season and 3.5. Alot for him to play for!

    • Parallex

      I don’t think that would be a steal… not when you consider the likely cost of his 3rd contract. If the Flames do bridge Bennett (which is a strong possibility) I’d rather they bridge him for two years so contract #3 can still be 7-8 years and principally be prime years.

      • brodiegio4life

        I think the flames main window to contend is the next 4 years before Brodie’s cheap contract is up… get Bennett signed for cheap for the next 4 as well and that’s huge

        • Parallex

          Is 4M per for a guys mid-RFA years really “cheap”?

          If you go by ice-time he’s our third-line center. 4M seems pricey for a third line center still under team control. If you assume that in the back-half he’s the teams 2nd line center (a reasonable position to take) then it strikes me as closer to regular market value.

          I think I’d rather the team just eat a little extra now and save a whole lot extra later. Especially since I think Bennett is eventually going to be something special. Better then Monahan.

          I mean the dream should be to be a perennial contender. In a capped league you’ve got to take some risks and think long-term in order to do that.

  • Parallex

    Most of those are no brainers…

    Out: Wideman, Smid, Engellend, Grossmann, Johnson (no slight on Johnson… just need to make room for Gillies).

    Back: Elliott, Jokipakka, Bennett, Kulak, Ferland, Chiasson (although please do get Chiasson off the top line post-haste)

    Unsure: Versteeg

    The only question is how long and how much you go on those guys.

    I’d advocate taking the risk and try to get an absolute honey of a deal on Bennett… bet on Bennett and go long term and try to use the fact that his counting stats don’t pop like Monahan & Gaudreau’s did (yet) to get an ultimately sweet AAV.

    Elliott at 3×5 sounds fine.

    Cheap bridge deals on Kulak, Jokipakka, & Ferland

    1 year deal on Chiasson (probably end up going to arb).

    Versteeg… let’s see how the year goes. If he’s looking for long term then no not under any circumstances but if he does well and is willing to take a 1 or 2 year deal then I’m open to it.

  • Backburner

    Two UFA’s next year I think would be a good fit for the Flames if they have the cap space to do it:

    TJ Oshie, and Karl Alzner. Oshie could be looking for the $5 million range, and Alzner in the $4 mill.

    If the Flames can create enough room after the appropriate extensions, one of if not both of those guys should be looked at.

    I think Oshie would be the perfect top line RW.

    • Greatsave

      I largely agree. Another big name UFA is Shattenkirk but maybe he’s not as good a fit for the Flames in your eyes.

      Two things about Oshie though: a) I feel like Washington will extend him rather than let him get to FA, and b) given the deals Ladd, Eriksson, Okposo, and Lucic signed last season, I see him closer to $6m. Which is still doable for us, assuming we have roughly $10-12m left after signing Bennett and Elliott.

      On D, I know Alzner is a Hitman alum, but I’d be more interested in Brendan Smith or Kindl. Alzner’s a heck of a workhorse though. Hasn’t missed a game since 2010?? Incredible.

      • Hubcap1

        “On D, I know Alzner is a Hitman alum, but I’d be more interested in Brendan Smith or Kindl. Alzner’s a heck of a workhorse though. Hasn’t missed a game since 2010?? Incredible.”

        Seriously, though I like what Brendan Smith can bring he’s not as good as Alzner, and Kindl wow not even worth considering unless your seriously going bargain shopping next season for a 6-7-8 defensemen.

        • Greatsave

          Not as good as Alzner, perhaps, but we have to restock the blueline and adding Alzner for $4m may not leave enough to fill the rest of the spots. I’m not sure, haven’t done the math.

          Full disclosure, I haven’t seen Kindl in action much so I don’t know how his stock had fallen so far. He’s been a positive Corsi player every season, and a positive CorsiRelTM player every season since the lockout. He’s a career 1.84 GA60 player. He’s had 59.4% GF since 2011. Sure, he’s also coincidentally 59.4% OZ over his career, but a player who survives in sheltered circumstances is better than a player who gets crushed in sheltered circumstances.

          Maybe it’s a case of the numbers not telling the full story.

  • everton fc

    Perhaps “dotted-line” related;

    How about Klimchuk in Stockton! Ditto Mangiapane. Shinkaruk. Prybil. Jankowski. Even Hathaway’s scoring. (Poirier is not, by the way…) How many of these guys will be ready to play in Calgary, next season? Or even this season, if the injury-bug bites??

  • JimmyD

    All about term for me on Bennett and Elliott.

    If we can go long (7-8) on Bennett I think it will end up becoming a steal and then short (2-3) on Elliott in the hope that Gillies is ready before that deal expires…

  • Crakupov

    Bang for buck Versteeg is the best deal on the team. The flames need at least one more guy like that for the second line.

    Could consider signing Wideman for less $. Bennet is not close to draisaitl.

    • Hubcap1

      “Could consider signing Wideman for less $. Bennet is not close to draisaitl.”

      Crak-ov-crakupov with an attitude like that. /humour (backslash the new hash tag).

      What is a hash tag anyway it’s a number sign or the pound symbol.

  • Locker Room Talk

    Provided Elliott continues to play like his last two games – and a large part of his career – I’d be fine with that price tag and term. He’d be 35 at the end, right? That’s not too bad, especially with Gillies coming up. Besides, apprenticing behind Elliott can’t hurt, and Gillies can begin taking more of the work if Ells starts to slow down… provided our hopes and dreams for Gillies come true.

    As for Benny, that contract makes sense, 4 years would be alright. It would finish the same time as Brouwer, Frolik, and Brodie’s contracts do, which gives at least 13 million to work with, and I doubt we’d re-sign all three of those guys. Probably just Brodie. AND Bennett would be still be an RFA, because in his first “season” he didn’t play 40 games, but with arbitration rights, because he’ll have played more than 4 years in the league. Do I have that right?

  • Avalain

    For anyone talking about signing any UFA’s next season remember that Vegas is going to be snapping some up just to make the cap floor. Plus, they desperately need a big name to draw in fans and I don’t think that the 7th forward on any team or the 2nd overall pick this year is going to do it.

    • Greatsave

      Except UFAs can say no to Vegas, whereas players drafted in expansion cannot. But maybe Oshie and Shattenkirk can decide they want to be reunited in Vegas. Besides, Vegas has to draft at least $43.8m worth of players, so unless a large percentage of them are expiring contracts, they’re only going to be $10-15m from the floor.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    OK let’s lighten it up a bit. Don’t you think Pat should have found a graphics person to artificially color those hair extensions Flames red and yellow?