Looking at the Flames’ cap for 2017-18

Here’s what we’re reasonably sure of right now: the salary cap probably isn’t budging next season. That means the Calgary Flames will have $73 million to spend on their roster for the 2017-18 season.

But, as always, there are some holes and some complications moving forward.

Complications

Right now, the Flames have around $3.196 million in cap space available to them by virtue of the long-term injury reserve cap relief they’ve received due to Ladislav Smid’s injury. So between adding bodies at the deadline and paying out performance bonuses to players on entry-level contracts – Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, Garnet Hathaway and Brett Kulak could receive them – the Flames can spend up to $76.49 million.

If they go over that level due to performance bonuses, whatever their overage is comes off 2017-18’s cap – their current cap number has been dinged by $630,500 because of last season’s performance bonuses. The Flames are also paying $1,050,000 to Mason Raymond against the 2017-18 cap as a result of this summer’s buyout.

Contracts

The Flames have the following players signed to deals for 2017-18:

  1. Johnny Gaudreau – $6.75 million
  2. Sean Monahan – $6.375 million
  3. Troy Brouwer – $4.5 million
  4. Michael Frolik – $4.3 million
  5. Mikael Backlund – $3.575 million
  6. Matt Stajan – $3.125 million
  7. Lance Bouma – $2.2 million
  8. Matthew Tkachuk – $925,000
  9. Freddie Hamilton – $612,500
  10. Mark Giordano – $6.75 million
  11. Dougie Hamilton – $5.75 million
  12. T.J. Brodie – $4.65 million

Tally up the cap commitments the Flames already have and that leaves them $22.437 million to fill 11 roster spots. And that’s presuming that they don’t lose somebody currently under contract to Vegas in the expansion draft, in which case they’ll have more cap space but also have to replace an experienced player.

Restricted free agents, who may be re-signed to fill spots or may be shown the door this summer, include Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland, Alex Chiasson, Garnet Hathaway, Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Kulak, Jon Gillies, David Rittich, Kenney Morrison, Linden Vey, Ryan Culkin and Tyler Wotherspoon.

Roster Gaps

The good news is a lot of money is coming off the books as of July 1 for the Flames. The bad news is that the Flames then have to replace those players. Based on the above salary figures and who’s signed, the Flames will need to find:

  • Two goaltenders (for the second consecutive summer)
  • Four defensemen
  • Four or five forwards, depending on if they plan on carrying a 22 or 23-man roster

If you look within the organization, there’s a decent chance that players like Morgan Klimchuk ($863,000), Mark Jankowski ($925,000), Hunter Shinkaruk ($863,000) or Oliver Kylington ($762,000) could slot into some spots vacated by more expensive veterans. That said, a look at the Flames’ depth chart shows a pretty stark drop-off between the handful of players who have had success in Stockton this season and everybody else. The goaltending question, in particular, is a challenge given that Jon Gillies and David Rittich have both been very good but have also faced consistency issues.

This is a long way of saying that unless the Flames have a ton of confidence in their organizational depth or simply wish to fill spots with RFAs, they’ll probably be heading to the free agent market for a lot of the things that they need. And as we saw over the past few summers, even if you’re filling a niche role (and signing a Deryk Engelland type) free agency isn’t cheap and cap space can only be stretched so far.

The Expansion Draft

As I was writing this, a thought came across my mind regarding the expansion draft. The Flames are probably going to lose one of Kulak, Jokipakka, Bouma or Stajan to Vegas on June 21. Would it be worthwhile for the Flames to send a mid-round draft selection (a fourth or fifth rounder) to Vegas to ensure that they take a specific player? Specifically I was thinking about the prospect of foisting Bouma’s deal onto Vegas and replacing him internally with somebody like Hathaway, who will make considerably less because he didn’t have a crazy goal-scoring season like Bouma did. The bottom six forward depth drops off a ton after Hathaway, but he’s a known commodity and a guy that could slot in without issue.

(The same process could work with Stajan heading out and being replaced with Jankowski, but he’s nowhere as established as an NHLer as Hathaway is so there would be arguably a lot more growing pains associated with the transition.)

In other words, my thought is: Would it be worthwhile to lose a mid-round pick in exchange for freeing up a million bucks (or so) of cap space for next season?

  • Graham

    I wonder if the mid round pick would be enough to sweeten the pot to have them select Brouwer?
    But yes, I would seriously consider giving up the pick to guarantee moving Bouma or Stajan.
    Saves cap space, but also real hard cash money.

  • DangleSnipeCelly

    I don’t know that you’d have to sweeten the pot to have Vegas take Brouwer. They do have a cap floor to hit and he would be instant captain material for the new team.

    • supra steve

      I think McPhee will be extracting all the picks he can from as many teams as he can.

      Would Brouwer be a decent pickup for the Knights…yes he would, but if the Flames want to be 100% sure of who McPhee will (or won’t) select in the expansion draft, they may need to move a pick. If Tre is not greatly concerned about who on his list he loses, then no pick need be expended.

    • Purple Hazze

      I would hope so. As a comparision, I live in Vancouver where the local media can’t stop talking about how good Juolevi is going to be and have him penciled into the lineup next year.

      In his draft+1 year, Andersson was the best defender in the OHL, and by all means is having a decent season in the AHL. Juolevi in his draft +1 year is all the way down at 15th in OHL defender scoring, not even first on his team.

      If Juolevi can crack an NHL roster, Anderson should be a lock for sure! I just hope our coach/mgmt is willing to give one of our young defenders a proper shot next year.

  • Not a First Tier Fan

    In answer to the question I’d for sure consider giving up a mid-round pick if it meant unloading Bouma to Vegas… But that extra cap space would have to be used to pick up someone in free agency and the laundry list already seems long for what is supposed to be a week list of UFAs this summer… is there someone better than Bouma out there?

  • C Watson

    I really like the idea of bribing Vegas to take either Bouma or Stajan, but do not think it will happen. Vegas might be more tempted to do this sort of transaction outside of their own division.

    I think the Flames brass should be held incommunicado behind locked doors during free agent frenzy. Everyone they have acquired in free agency has proven to be too expensive, too long term and ultimately has not helped the cause. The best of the lot has been Frolik and even he is too expensive. A team mired in mediocrity should not be spending to the cap.

    If the team is not trusting their drafting and development system then changes need to be made at this fundamental, grassroots level. The sooner , the better.

    • smith

      I agree with everything except Frolik being overpaid. This team for years has really ignored it’s youth. If you do not make the team by 20 then too bad.

  • deantheraven

    I’m tellin’ ya, Vegas is gonna sign Engelland and solve all these questions. Maybe it’ll cost us a late rounder too, but it would be ideal for all. Vegas gets a solid, mature leader who’s hometown is Vegas. We get to sort out our own contract issues moving forward with all the prospects we want to keep or move.

    • jakethesnail

      What are you talking about? Engelland is in his third year of a 3 year contract. i.e. he is a UFA at end of season! Costs us NOTHING! May get something for him at TDL, if Flames not in playoff hunt.

      • Kevin R

        Exactly, Engellend is probably one of our best UFA pending TDL chips, I would consider resigning at half as a depth D but certainly wouldn’t compete with Vegas or anyone else on $$$$

        I would think Bouma might have some TDL value, he’s an stab;ished bottom 6 forward that blocks shots like what Russell did & only 1 year left on a contract that may fit on a team like Buffalo.

        Ferland will probably get another 2-3 year deal in the 1.5-2.0 mill range (close to Bouma type on contract), Bennett will probably take a bridge deal but the jury is out on that one, but probably a 2-3 year deal at the 2.0 to 2.5 mill per year.

        Depending how things go, I would think one of Elliott or Johnson will be resigned & I would ride the likes of Rittch as back up (not so much with Johnson) but if we land someone like Bishop & get him to sign for 5.0 mill per, then definitely an inexpensive kid from the farm to back is the route I would go.

        Others to sign will leave us plenty of room to find a #4 D & it will take a major trade to score a top 6 winger, but could happen, who knows.

  • deantheraven

    I also have to believe that Flames management plans to fill some of the ‘gaps’ with our young’uns in Stockton. You gotta believe that at least 1 or 2 forwards and a D or two will make the jump.
    Elliott is probably gonna stick. Maybe Chad too. And yes, they’ve had bad patches but it looks reasonable that as a duo they can carry the mail over 80 games.Both like being here and both are well liked.
    I’ve been lobbying for one of the above to go tandem next year with one of Rittich or Gillies. Somebody’s gotta move because the crease gets crowded everywhere next season except @ The ‘Dome, with all our juniors and college netminders needing playing time.

  • everton fc

    Of this group;

    “Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland, Alex Chiasson, Garnet Hathaway, Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Kulak, Jon Gillies, David Rittich, Kenney Morrison, Linden Vey, Ryan Culkin and Tyler Wotherspoon.”

    I’d sign:

    Bennett, Ferland, Hathaway, Kulak, Gillies, Rittich, maybe Chiasson… Maybe Jokipaaka…

    The rest I’d let go.

    Losing Stajan will hurt this hockey club.

  • beloch

    It’s going to be really interesting to see what the Flames blueline looks like this time next season. Wideman will be gone, one way or another. Engelland might be gone. Jokipakka might be claimed in the expansion draft.

    On the one hand, it’s scary to see so much turnover, and it’s a safe bet anybody the Flames pick up as a free agent will be overpaid, because that’s how UFA’s roll. However, Treliving has an opportunity to work some of his patented trade magic and bring in some decent bottom three defenders, or hell, perhaps some of the farm kids will be ready to step in!

    Just adding one competent second pairing defender would really give this team a boost. Brodie’s done an admirable job covering for Wideman, but he’s really been held back this season because of that. Brodie-Wideman hasn’t been quite the disaster Brodie-Engelland was, but there is much room for improvement.

  • jakethesnail

    How far the Flames management will be willing to go with a youth movement depends on how close they are to making strides in playoff contention.

    Toronto went all-in with youth and it seems to be paying off, even this year. BUT, the coach is Mike Babcock.

    We have GG, a vast difference in experience. Under GG our young stars (exception Tkachuk) have floundered (Mony, Johnny and Sammy).

    • dontcryWOLF88

      There is a difference between causation, and correlation.

      Many players have struggled this year. GG is new. Both are obvious facts.

      However, is the relation between those facts causation, or correlation? Nobody knows yet id think.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Of that $22M cap space at the end of the season, consider how much is already spent:

    Sammy $5-$6M/ yr
    Johnson $4M+/ yr
    Versteeg $2.5-$3M/ yr

    Half of it on 3 guys. Don’t forget the true 2nd pairing defenceman the team so covets but can’t grow. He’s good for at least $3-$4M–$5M+ if Alzner. Then there is the backup goalie. If he is already NHL established, that’s at least $1M if he is under age 40 and can still bend over to tie his laces.

    Brouwer’s contract, which looked awful last July, looks even worse when looking ahead.

    • supra steve

      “Sammy $5-$6M/ yr Johnson $4M+/ yr Versteeg $2.5-$3M/ yr”

      Yeah, none of those cap hits are going to happen next season for the players you’ve named. Bennett will sign a bridge deal for far less than $5mil/yr. This is an example where burning the first year of a player’s contract has benefited the team.

  • Newbietwo

    I guarantee you Bennet doesn’t get $5 to $6 million.. he will be handled like Kadri because he’s numbers aren’t high enough to guarantee a large cap extension. Johnson won’t get $2 million plus anywhere so don’t know what you talking about

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    What a relief to see Monahan scoring. That cap hit was going to be baaaad moving forward if he didn’t start finding the back of the net, but he has. On pace now for 28 goals (rounded up).

  • Just.Visiting

    I hope the Flames have learned something from their prior experiences in “cap hell” and resist the temptation to throw big money and term around at more 30+ year old veteran depth players that fill a temporary need.

    I’d much sooner see them not spending the money than to spend the money unwisely and eat up roster spots that limit advancement options for the prospects.

    I’d like to see some spots left open so that the Stockton players have a reasonable shot at making the team if they deserve it.

    From what we saw this year, there’s no shortage of serviceable depth players available going into training camp on tryout contracts to cover the spots for a year insofar as the prospects aren’t ready.

    • BobB

      Sure. At this point any question on the defense needs to begin with: “Could he possibly be much worse/slower than Dennis Wideman?”

      We need a big body (although I don’t remember Gelinas playing a heavy game), and we need guys competing in camp next year.

      • freethe flames

        If he fell to us in the waivers it would mean we likely have to send down Kulak as he is still eligible to go down. It would also help us with who we have to expose at the expansion draft. He might well be worth a test drive.

        Big game tonight; I was at the NJ game at home where we stunk the joint out. They need to play with some fire. We are currently tied for the last wild spot but technically out of it.

  • Fan the Flames

    With the game changing on defence I think Kyshilington to get a good shot and maybe Andersson . Kulak will be there if we are fortunate enough to keep him.
    We will need Hathaway in the lineup to replace some toughness lost when England leaves . I would expect Elliott to get re-signed if he continues his strong play . Bennett will get a bridge in the 3 mil range to see if he progresses. I would expect to see Versteeg get an extension for two years . I hope Bouma is gone and we might be able to deal Stajen after the expansion draft if he isn’t taken . The game is all about speed and transition .