Photo Credit: Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports

The Flames barely touched their LTIR cap room

The Calgary Flames were snug up against the National Hockey League’s salary cap for much of this season. Because of some wrangling with the long-term injured reserve, the Flames bought themselves a bit of breathing room. Ultimately, though, they barely utilized the space they gave themselves with all of their wranglings.

The cap for 2016-17 was set at $73 million. Because the Flames opted to place injured defenseman Ladislav Smid on the long-term injured reserve (LTIR) early in the season, the team was able to spend over the salary cap by the full value of Smid’s contract minus the cap space they had at the time he went on LTIR. The early-season signing of Nicklas Grossmann (to a league-minimum $575,000 deal) allowed the Flames to use almost all of Smid’s $3.5 million cap hit as a cap exemption – less the $8,266 cap space they had because of Grossmann’s signing.

As a result of all of Treliving’s wheeling and dealing, the Flames were allowed to spend to a maximum of roughly $76.49 million this year – including entry-level performance bonuses. However, after spending $73.886 million on base salaries (and cap penalties and buyouts) and bonuses to two rookies, the Flames only spent up to an estimated $74.534 million. That left them almost a full $2 million of cap breathing room to spare.

For the curious, here are the bonuses we’re reasonably sure the Flames are paying out:

  • $212,500 to Matthew Tkachuk for earning 35 assists
  • $212,500 to Tkachuk for finishing top three among Flames forwards in plus/minus
  • $212,500 to Sam Bennett for finishing top six among Flames forwards in average ice time

(It’s possible, albeit unlikely, that Tkachuk will make the All-Rookie Team. If he does, it’s another $212,500.)

Other players with potential entry-level bonuses that played in the NHL (but who didn’t hit the performance levels specifically proscribed in the CBA) include Curtis Lazar, Rasmus Andersson, Brett Kulak, Garnet Hathaway, Hunter Shinkaruk and Mark Jankowski. It’s possible that some of these players had NHL games played bonuses included in their contracts, but they would likely be a lot smaller than the bigger bonuses paid out to Tkachuk and Bennett.

Long story short: the Flames gave themselves a lot of flexibility that they didn’t end up needing. The good news is they won’t have any bonuses eating into next season’s cap space.

  • SeanCharles

    I like that Treliving always maintains flexibility. Even if that cap space wasn’t utilized I still applaud the fact he gave himself room to make moves that would better the organization if the opportunity arose.

  • ClayBort

    To all the folks that said they didn’t sign Russell because of cap space, eat your heart out. They had the space to do it and focused on other needs. Smid was eligible for LTIR before Russell signed in Edmonton, and Versteeg and Grossman signed in Calgary.

  • Brodano12

    Good stuff. Shows that we are well managed now – we prepared for the worst (full bonuses for our ELCs) and ended up saving a couple million. Keep in mind that it would not have been as easy as just spending the extra 2 million because we had to be cap compliant after the season started, and we weren’t in a position to overspend at the deadline.

    Next season’s cap will be anywhere from 73-76 million, probably around 75. With only MayRay’s buyout of 1 million on the books as dead cap space, we will actually have a lot of space to upgrade our number 4 dman spot whether via trade or FA, even after signing our important UFAs. With Ferly taking the top line winger spot, that’s no longer an issue. If we want to upgrade our 3rd line RW for Versteeg and Bennett, we can afford that if we lose Brouwer in the expansion draft, and I’d think management is warming up to that idea.

    I am secretly hoping we end up signing Nakladal again. He deserves another shot, I think he’d be a stellar partner for Kulak on the 3rd pairing.

  • It’s a bit disconcerting that players are still being awarded bonuses for things as antiquated as +/- or individual player awards that are judged on by voters and not on merit alone. Still…get paid what you can, Matty.