The Flames’ blueline overhaul continues with Stone acquisition

The Calgary Flames jumped into the trade market in a pretty significant manner yesterday by acquiring Michael Stone from the Arizona Coyotes. It’s the second move to add to their defensive group in the past five days and if that didn’t tell you everything you need to know about how they view some members of that group, I don’t know what does.

So what are the immediate ramifications of the move from a hockey operations standpoint?

The cap and roster moves

In terms of the salary cap, the Flames were already at $73.28 million on their roster – they’re allowed to spend up to around $76.4 million due to Ladislav Smid’s long-term injury cap exemption. While Stone’s making $4 million this season (and has $1.089 million left against the cap on the season), the Coyotes are reportedly paying half his salary through the end of the season.

That means on a cap hit basis, the remainder of Stone’s deal is just $544,000. The Flames end up paying a bit extra for Stone on a daily cap hit basis based on the notion that he’ll be replacing somebody like Jyrki Jokipakka or Matt Bartkowski on the active roster, but adding him at half-cost gives them cap space to make other moves. (If Jokipakka heads to the minors, the Flames will have roughly $2.8 million to work with at the deadline. If it’s Bartkowski, it’ll be around $2.7 million.)

In terms of what’s happening roster-wise, allow me to direct you to Article 16.12(b) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement:

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 3.38.52 PM

Since the Flames are over the 23-man roster limit by virtue of making a trade, they’ll be able to declare whichever player they decide to waive (probably Jokipakka or Bartkowski) as non-roster to stay under the 23-man roster limit. All that means is they don’t need to rush somebody to the minors to create a roster spot for Stone while they waive somebody else. The process is, thankfully, simplified.

In terms of draft picks, the Flames have all of their picks in 2017 (aside from the third rounder). They have also added a fourth rounder in 2018 (from Florida in last year’s Jiri Hudler deal) but could be losing two conditional picks that year if either of Brian Elliott (a third to St. Louis) or Stone (a fifth) re-sign.

They also have eight defensemen in Stockton right now, pending whichever player the Flames demote there, so expect somebody to get bumped down to the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder pretty soon.

Why him?

Ever heard the phrase, “Better the devil you know”? Well, the Flames hockey operations department has a ton of connections to Stone which may make them feel comfortable with him down the stretch:

  • He played for Brad Treliving (and pro scouts Derek MacKinnon and Don Maloney) in the Arizona organization.
  • He played for Flames player development coach Ray Edwards in the AHL.
  • He played with Chad Johnson in Arizona and in the minors.

In other words, there’s a level of familiarity with Stone that probably doesn’t exist with many other available rental defenders that convinced the Flames that he’d be successful here. Adding a right shot defenseman likely bumps out another right shot defenseman from playing and, given that Deryk Engelland’s been playing with T.J. Brodie (and playing a lot), everything points to Dennis Wideman getting bumped out. This is seemingly a companion move to Bartkowski’s signing and while that move was seemingly designed to upgrade the left side of the blueline and bump Jokipakka to the sidelines, this move does the same for the right side.

While I strongly doubt they’ll be able to trade him before the deadline, Arizona retaining salary on Stone allows the Flames to potentially retain salary on a potential deal that sends Wideman out of town (which may still be unlikely given his no-move contract).

Where things sit

After this move, the Flames temporarily have eight defenders on their team: four left shots and four right shots. They still have considerable cap space and have, in theory, upgraded their blueline group by adding a couple of different bodies.

With eight days until the trade deadline, aspects of this deal (such as the Coyotes retaining salary) make me believe that other moves are probably coming before March 1.

  • Arminius

    +6 in the last month (14 games) as opposed to -11 in the previous 31. For someone who has struggled coming back from a bad Injury that’s rather encouraging as his game by all accounts has been picking up lately.

    98 hits in 45 games is also all good in my books.

  • Arminius

    +6 in the last month (14 games) as opposed to -11 in the previous 31. For someone who has struggled coming back from a bad Injury that’s rather encouraging as his game by all accounts has been picking up lately.

    98 hits in 45 games is also all good in my books.

  • Arminius

    Coming back off a bad injury Stone hasn’t been the same as preinjury however his last month has shown that his game seems to be coming around.

    +6 in his last 14 games as opposed to -11 in the previous 31 definitely bodes well and 98 hits in 45 games is all good. Looking forward to seeing him in Flames silks jumping into a stretch run. Should be good for all parties involved.

    From the 1/2 full goblet of Arminius

  • The Fall

    I like this move. The cost to the team is low, and it gives them an opertunity to see if Stone and Brodie work well before possibly signing a multi year deal. Pretty sure Stone is happy for the opportunity.

    The optimist in me sees the Flames blue line as one of the better groups in the West.

  • Backburner

    This deal leaves me scratching my head.

    Bartkowski and Stone in my mind are not much of an uprgrade (if at all) on Wideman.

    They maybe add some size and grit, but it doesn’t really address the need for a top 4 D?

    • everton fc

      Bartkowski’s faster than Wideman, and may show some offence (hit the post last game). Stone is a physical grinder – Wideman is nothing of the sort.

      Wideman’s washed up. Bartkowski may be on his way (we shall see). Stone slots in a 5/6 role on many teams.

      Again, no loss to the Flames if neither pans out.

    • Torchy

      Why is it confusing that the GM took advantage of an opportunity to improve the team? If there is a top 4 d available that is a good fit and the price is right, they’re not going to pass that opportunity up.

      I can’t imagine that there are GMs slamming their phones on the table in disgust because they hoped to use their expendable Top 4 D as bait to pry away Calgary’s 3rd round pick.

  • Kevin R

    Wonder if there are any truths to rumblings of Wideman(salary retained) & Elliott for MAF. Seems to be seeping into the speculative hallways. Not that I like it but is getting kicked around out there.

  • Kevin R

    Wonder if there are any truths to rumblings of Wideman(salary retained) & Elliott for MAF. Seems to be seeping into the speculative hallways. Not that I like it but is getting kicked around out there.

  • Denscafon

    I’m a bit iffy on the trade overall. Not that we paid much but we will have issues whether this trade is deemed a success or not. If either Bartkowski or Stone can play with Brodie effectively, then we run into the issue of 1) Bartowski being taken by the expansion draft or 2) Stone is a UFA and even if we like him alot, we probably can’t sign him until he goes UFA to avoid losing him in the expansion draft.

    BT has said he’s not into pure rental players but due to the expansion draft, Stone has to be a pure rental player. A third rounder might be nothing in the grand scheme of things but grouped with other picks, could bring in other big assets.

    I’m most worried that all these moves are being done out of desperation due to BT’s lack of a contract next year and the perception that if the flames don’t make the playoffs this year, he won’t get re signed. Desperate GM’s don’t make good ones.

    • supra steve

      “BT has said he’s not into pure rental players but due to the expansion draft, Stone has to be a pure rental player.”

      I disagree. I think it is quite likely that Vegas bypasses Stone (or Stone bypasses Vegas as a UFA) this summer, and the Flames re-sign him after that…provided he plays well and fits in with the team from now to the end of season.

      Potentially good asset for a reasonable price, especially since it’s so close to the TDL.

      • Denscafon

        U missed the sentence I wrote right before what you quoted.

        “2) Stone is a UFA and even if we like him alot, we probably can’t sign him until he goes UFA to avoid losing him in the expansion draft.”

        So that still means that at this point in time, Stone is a pure rental player. Him re signing in the off season (with or without winks/collusion/expansion circumvention) doesn’t negate the fact that at this point in time he is not re signable before the season ends and hence is a rental player that can will will almost for sure at least test the UFA market. Doesn’t mean I don’t think he will sign with us, but there’s no guarantee of that happening

        • supra steve

          So what’s the alternative? If they needed to upgrade the D, as everyone on here was screaming for, what’s the alternative?

          This way does not affect their protected list in the expansion draft. Show us another way.

  • The GREAT WW

    What if we do sign Stone before the expansion draft, and Vegas takes him?

    That means the expansion draft cost us a third and a fifth round pick; that’s not bad.

    Would you rather have Kulak or a third and fifth round pick?

    (My preference is still that Vegas takes Brouwer)

    WW

  • Denscafon

    Like I said in my first post, I’m iffy on this trade. A third rounder isn’t alot but looking long term, this may or may not help us. All I said was that BT has been public about not trading for rental players, and Stone atm is the definition of one, even if the cost is small.

    In the thread about what BT would/should do at the TDL, I said that I’m more in the camp of waiting to solve our roster holes (a D man to play with brodie, A top 6 winger, a goalie) in the off season, not the TDL. Are the flames a playoff team now? Maybe but are they cup contenders this year? I’m pretty sure no one here can honestly say yes to that.

    Can they be cup contenders next year? They could have a chance to if those 3 major holes are somehow addressed especially with a lot of bad contracts getting off the books to free up a ton of cap space.

    • Cfan in Vic

      What they’ve done before the deadline this season doesn’t really affect their ability to fill holes in the offseason. So, from that perspective, I’m not sure why you’re worried about these additions.

  • jakethesnail

    Only negative I see here is that none of our prospects are good enough for a top 4D…

    $4 million contract this year…if they sign him as a UFA – $5+ milion?

  • jakethesnail

    This is what Chad Johnson says about Stone:

    “I played with him in Portland, in Phoenix’s minor league system. He’s a great skater, has a big shot, a big defenceman, and he’s a real smart player as well,” Johnson told CalgaryFlames.com. “I think he’s pretty underrated over there in Phoenix. He’s had some injuries there and he’s kind of getting himself back … he’s a great addition.

    “He’s a guy that’s willing to pay the price. He’s been in a pretty well-structured and defensive-minded team there in Phoenix as well so to bring that to this team is big for us and it’s well-needed, especially down the stretch.”

  • joey joe joe jr shabadoo

    Im not too worried about the implications of the expansion draft on this deal. If anything BT has played his hand well.

    As mentioned Stone played his junior hockey here and his wife & her family are from Calgary. If I’m not mistaken they have recently welcomed twins to the family. I’m certain this trade back to her home, close to family, has them happy. He can maintain his UFA status, the flames won’t need to protect him, & they can resign him in the offseason. The flames didn’t have to give up much for him, and the circumstances seem to point to each party being interested in one another this off season anyway.

    As for the flames, they get to test drive Stone for a playoff push to see how he fits in. 26 years old, brings some size/physicality. If he can play a steady 20-ish mind with Brodie as he did with OEL & Yandle this is a really good move.

    At the worst he’s an upgrade on Wideman for the remainder of the year & at best the flames just found a guy who could fill out you 4/5 spot on the blue line.