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:
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.
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.