During his tenure as Calgary Flames general manager, Brad Treliving has done a lot of tweaking to his team’s roster. One tool he’s used to add to the club is free agency. Ignoring the low-risk signings of players on entry-level deals, he’s lured 17 unrestricted free agents to town with contracts of varying lengths and dollar figures.
Here are the 17 Treliving UFA signings, ranked from worst to best based on team need, risk, cost, and how much would have to go right to justify the signing.
17. Mason Raymond
Three years and $3.15 million annually for a guy coming off one good season (with the Leafs) after two flat seasons with the Canucks (following a big back injury in the playoffs). It was too expensive, too long and he was buried in the minors and bought out before it was all done. The Flames are still on the hook for his buyout cap hit next season.
16. Devin Setoguchi
Not quite as long or as expensive as Raymond, but Setoguchi was uninspiring on a one-year, $750,000 one-way deal. He was a frequent healthy scratch before getting buried in the AHL.
15. Corey Potter
His contract was a cheap ($700,000) two-way deal and so he could’ve been buried. Instead, he hung around on the NHL roster for awhile and blocked younger players from a roster spot.
14. Nicklas Grossmann
The contract itself, while unnecessary, was largely painless: $575,000 on a one-way, and it allowed the Flames to maximize their long-term injured reserve (LTIR) cap relief. But his presence on the roster led Glen Gulutzan to actually use him, which was just a disaster.
13. Sena Acolatse
A useful AHL player who was on the farm all year on a $700,000, two-way deal.
12. Tom McCollum
A useful AHL player who was on the farm all year on a $612,500, two-way deal. The deal wasn’t so much “bad” as much as it was unnecessary; the Flames already had plenty of goalies in the system and he was only signed to meet expansion draft exposure requirements.
11. Brad Thiessen
A useful AHL player who was on the farm almost all year on a $550,000, two-way deal.
10. Linden Vey
A pretty low-risk signing, Vey had a $700,000, two-way deal and spent a bit of time on the NHL roster. He’s probably not a full-time NHLer these days, but he was decent in limited duty and a strong role player in the AHL.
9. Troy Brouwer
It’s hard to place Brouwer any higher than this. At four years and $4.5 million per season, his deal is too long and too hefty for a guy that’s basically a complementary player and beginning to see his production decline. Every signing from here on up on the list are all definitely NHLers, but Brouwer’s deal isn’t good.
8. Deryk Engelland
In the same vein as the Brouwer signing, Engelland’s deal was announced via a Bob McKenzie tweet when he had to clarify “No, it’s $2.917 million per year, not total.” Three years at $2.917 million per year is hefty for a depth defenseman, but like with Brouwer the Flames overpaid for attributes they liked.
7. Raphael Diaz
Signed after a strong training camp try-out, Diaz was useful for the Flames as a depth defender on a $700,000, one-way deal. If he sucked, he would’ve been easy to bury in the minors.
6. Jonas Hiller
Hiller was expensive ($4.5 million) and inconsistent over his two years in Calgary, but he also came to town with a good reputation and stole several games while he was here. The investment was worth it.
5. Matt Bartkowski
Signed for expansion draft exposure requirements, Bartkowski’s two year, $612,500 two-way deal is economical and easy to bury in the minors. He also proved to be a perfectly acceptable replacement-level NHL defenseman and was an upgrade over the Dennis Widemans and Jyrki Jokipakkas of the world.
4. Derek Grant
It’s a bit of a shame that the Flames were so log-jammed at center when he was here, because Grant was really useful as a bottom six option. On a one-year, $700,000 two-way deal he was a very good AHLer and pushed for NHL time during his stay with the Flames. He was a very good find.
3. Chad Johnson
Coming into Calgary with a reputation as being a really good backup, Johnson had a fairly affordable $1.7 million deal for one season. He was never bad, he was usually pretty good, and his November turned around their entire season. A very good investment.
2. Michael Frolik
Frolik had a reputation for being one of the better two-way players in the league. While his $4.3 million price tag (for four years) was a bit hefty, and probably can’t be justified by just his offensive contributions alone, Frolik has become a big part of what makes the Flames tick over his tenure. The high end of this list is filled with “bargains,” but Frolik is proof that you get what you pay for.
1. Kris Versteeg
Think about all the attributes that the Flames were touting about Brouwer when he signed: a leader, good in the room, veteran experience, Stanley Cups, and so on. Versteeg brought all of that and was a force in a lot of the games he played in, and did so for a fifth of the price tag ($950,000 for one year).