Calgary’s best value contracts: 2017


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Just over a year ago, I put together my list of the best value contracts for the Calgary Flames. Knowing we’re right up on the trade deadline, and knowing how tight Calgary’s cap situation is going to be going forward, I thought I’d revisit the conversation and assess what we’ve seen during the 2016-17 season. Who’s giving the Flames the most bang for their buck this year?

The criteria on this one is the same as last year: players on entry-level deals are excluded. That means no Matthew Tkachuk, because he’d clearly be number one on this list. But even without Tkachuk and Sam Bennett’s deals part of the equation, there are still some solid values on this team. Before we get to the top three, I copped out and went with a few honourable mentions, too.

Dougie Hamilton. He’s Calgary’s best possession defenceman, he’s fifth on the team in scoring, and sits seventh overall among NHL blueliners with 39 points. He’s not bargain basement, but $5.75 million for what Hamilton is bringing this year is pretty decent.

Michael Frolik. He’s on the team’s best line, is second only to Tkachuk with a 56.0% possession rate, and is sixth on the team in scoring. At $4.3 million, Frolik might be one of the team’s best UFA signings in years.

Micheal Ferland. This is timely right now because he’s rolling, but even without his recent hot streak, Ferland probably would have deserved a mention for his season at $825,000.

Now to the top three…

3. TJ Brodie

Last year’s number one contract drops a couple spots here, but Brodie still absolutely belongs on this list. I know his -23 rating doesn’t look good to some, I don’t believe it is indicative of the way Brodie has played this season, especially over the last number of months. Plus/minus is a flawed stat at the very best and I don’t buy that he’s been the worst defenceman on the team.

In reality, Brodie has had a pretty nice season and continues to make his $4.6504 million cap hit look pretty darn good. Saddled with Dennis Wideman and his struggles for much of the season, Brodie still has 25 points in 63 games and was a big reason why the team’s powerplay improved dramatically from mid-November on. Brodie’s impact on the team is still largely positive.

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Brodie’s possession rate is still relatively strong and ranks only behind Hamilton and Mark Giordano amongst Flames defencemen. Brodie also sits second on the team in average ice time behind just Giordano and, as you can see, his minutes aren’t sheltered by any stretch of the imagination. While maybe a little less than the last two years, Brodie still sees top opposition on a nightly basis and continues to handle it just fine.

Brodie has played on the team’s number two pairing for most of the season but I still consider him a top pairing blueliner. To get that type of player for well under $5 million doesn’t happen very often, and that’s why Brodie has retained his spot in the top three.

2. Kris Versteeg

When Versteeg signed his one-year deal with the Flames coming off a PTO in Edmonton, I think many of us thought it was a bargain. Now that Versteeg has three quarters of his first season in Calgary under his belt, our initial thoughts have turned out to be on the mark.

Versteeg’s production has gone a little cold in recent games as he’s now gone nine straight games without a point and has just two in his last 15. That doesn’t change the fact that Versteeg has been a nice addition to this team’s froward ranks and has put up points at an efficient rate, especially considering his sticker price.

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Despite his slowdown that has contributed to his rank on the team dropping, Versteeg is putting up points at a pretty decent clip. To be doing this for $950,000 is a little more impressive and is the biggest reason why he cracked the top three. In fact, according to CapFriendly’s helpful points-per-dollar ranking, Versteeg sits second at $41,304 behind only Tkachuk.

1. Mikael Backlund

I promise we’re not inundating you with Backlund content by design. Instead, it just so happens that the guy is about as relevant as it gets right now. I wrote about his looming contract extension over the weekend, while Mike Fail did some more Selke tire-pumping in his Embers on Sunday evening. The fact of the matter is, though, we can’t do an article on best value deals without including Backlund.

When Backlund signed a three-year extension a few summers ago, the $3.575 million cap hit looked really good. Now it looks like robbery. Backlund’s work for his price tag got him to number three on this list last season and he’s a resound number one just over a year later.

We don’t need to go over things too, too much because the linked articles above do a pretty solid job of painting the picture. However, just so that everyone gets a chart, here’s what Backlund has done this season while matching up down the middle against the very toughest opposition every single night.

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Look, the dude has been Calgary’s MVP this season and to get that for under $4 million is unheard of. He’s anchoring one of the league’s most effective trios and has been the team’s top scorer for quite some time now. Sure, Backlund might not be number one on this list once his new deal is signed, but as it stands right now, he’s leading the pack by a good margin.

  • OKG

    Team is legit coming together into a 2010 or 2013 or 2015 Blackhawks type roster:

    Brodie is our Hjalmarsson except swift like Oduya
    Stone is our Oduya except big like Hjalmarsson
    Giordano is our Keith except a bit slower like Seabrook
    Hamilton is our Seabrook except a bit more mobile like Keith
    Backlund is our Toews except he’s not better than Malkin on the Top 100 Players Ever (…)
    Gaudreau is our Kane except adorable
    Monahahn is our Sharp except a centre
    Bennett is our Saad except a centre
    Frolik+Tkachuk is our Hossa
    Ferland is our RW Byfuglien
    Brouwer is our Bickell (…)

    • King Quong

      How bout Brodie is our Keith

      Gaudreau is our Kane

      Brouwer Is our Brouwer

      And no one else is really that comparable, as much as I’d love to say there’s more Monahan hasn’t ever lived up to those Toews comparisons he had early on when it comes to compete level and two way play, Bennett might be a closer comparison because his compete level but once again isn’t that two way force yet. Giordano could be our Seabrook but i think Gio is more important to us. What I feel like we have that Chicago never had is centre depth especially if Bennett continues to grow. I’d sure love a Hossa right now though although hopefully Tkachuk can grow into the dominant two way force Hossa was.

  • Newbietwo

    I actually see this as a team very similar to the last time we made it to the Stanley cup final vs Tampa.. we are trending at the same time, Elliot is trending very well.. this very well could be a surprise for all or a bust but it will be one or the other

    • WildfireOne

      Like the optimism, and I hope you’re right.

      But there’s no comparison, like absolutely none, between Elliott this year and what Kipper did on the Cup run.

        • WildfireOne

          I might agree with the current team having a better balanced D than the 2003-2004 Flames, and Elliott has looked better of late…

          … but I still say it’s absurd comparing Elliott to the Vezina-contending version of Kiprusoff that set modern goaltending records and reportedly wouldn’t let pucks in. At practices.

          I’m sorry, but if this Elliott is “hot” now, then that Kipper would be like, oh, the singularity of the big bang in comparison.

          Disagree with me and that’s fine, but that’s the order of magnitude I have between these two Flames goalies. I feel uneasy about Elliott outbattling just the other team’s goalie on any given night, versus Kiprusoff’s ability to win an entire playoff series almost singlehandedly.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Also no Iginla scoring 50+ goals. However, I actually think the team we have this year to be greatly superior to that team. Iginla and kiprusoff were amazing, no doubt, but the depth of that team didn’t go far past them.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    What effect on Backlund’s play does MT have? If Backlund’s having a career year, how much of it can be attributed to MT’s sterling rookie campaign?