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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

What can the Flames do in free agency?

Now that the expansion draft and entry draft have been completed, the final big piece of business for the 31 National Hockey League clubs is the opening of free agency on July 1. The Calgary Flames have arguably made their big offseason splashes already, adding Mike Smith and Travis Hamonic via trade. Can they make any other big moves? Do they have the roster spots or cap space to do so?

Let’s dive into the constraints facing the Flames as we approach July 1.

Roster spots

After all the moving and shaking of the past few weeks, here’s how the Flames’ roster looks in terms of players that look like locks (restricted free agents are noted):

  • F Johnny Gaudreau
  • F Sean Monahan
  • F Micheal Ferland (RFA)
  • F Matthew Tkachuk
  • F Mikael Backlund
  • F Michael Frolik
  • F Sam Bennett (RFA)
  • F Alex Chiasson (RFA)
  • F Lance Bouma
  • F Matt Stajan
  • F Troy Brouwer
  • F Curtis Lazar (RFA)
  • D Dougie Hamilton
  • D Mark Giordano
  • D Travis Hamonic
  • D T.J. Brodie
  • G Mike Smith

I’ve got Lazar as a “lock” because he’s subject to waivers and it’s doubtful that management would send him to the AHL. I don’t have either of Matt Bartkowski or Freddie Hamilton as locks because both guys seem like they could easily be bumped to the AHL without much concern.

That leaves two forward spots, three defensive spots and a goalie spot open. But how much do the Flames have to spend?

Cap space

The salary cap is $75 million for 2017-18. Right away, lob off $1.05 million as the last remnant of Mason Raymond’s buyout: the cap is now $73.95 million. Let’s see how it burns away.

  • The eight forwards under contract make a combined $31.75 million.
  • The four defensemen under contract make a combined $21.01 million.
  • Mike Smith makes $4.25 million.

Combined, the 13 players under contract make approximately $57.01 million. That leaves $17.99 million for the four RFAs and the six remaining open roster spots. Now watch the RFAs burn away more cap space.

Let’s be nice and presume that Ferland and Bennett get “the Bouma deal” but take a minor pay cut and eat up $2 million each, Chiasson gets a bump up to $1.3 million and Lazar signs for $1 million – that’s $6.3 million combined for the four RFAs. That burns things down to just $11.69 million in cap space for the Flames to add two forwards, three defensemen and a backup goalie. It’s not impossible, but it leaves little wiggle room.

Contracts

The Flames have 33 players under contract for 2017-18, as well as 11 pending RFAs – the Flames retain team control if they give them qualifying offers by Monday afternoon. The club also has six pending unrestricted free agents.

Needless to say, there will be some personnel changeover before next season. Deryk Engelland has already been claimed by Vegas, while Linden Vey and Ladislav Smid have reportedly accepted work in Europe. The changes probably aren’t finished, but the Flames have some contractual wiggle room under the 50 deal limit.

Possibilities

There are a few loose threads to the 2016-17 season which could play into the 2017 free agency season, particularly as it relates to three key pending free agents:

Kris Versteeg: A pending UFA, Versteeg expressed a desire to return to the team during postseason interviews. He probably won’t be too expensive, but he’ll likely get a decent raise from last fall’s bargain-basement $950,000 deal. He’s probably the UFA most likely to return.

Michael Stone: The Flames are probably still interested in Stone returning, especially since now it seems that would be as a third pairing guy. But would he be willing to take third pairing money to return, or will he opt to hit the open market and see what a right-shot defender can get?

Chad Johnson: The Coyotes acquired Antti Raanta over the weekend, and it seems that their goaltending is set with him and Louie Domingue. Will the Flames roll with an untested rookie as their backup? Or do they bring back Johnson, who seemed open to the possibility and was a good fit last year? (Does Johnson want to come back if it means he’s not the starter? Would he want to make backup money?)

  • Swerve

    Would you/ Would they… take one of the Stars’ 17 extra goalies for Brouwer (and something or maybe nothing as sweetener)? They are short forwards and need to dump a goalie. We could bury it for $2.5M TY and $1.6M next. Thoughts?

    • Deadmonton Exile

      As long as the goalie isn’t allowed to be on the bench (and stealing development time from the prospects a la Grossman) then yeah I’d be interested. Dunno if the stars would bite tho

  • Atomic Clown

    No more free agents. We’ve got enough RFA’s and expiring UFA’S as is. If management doesn’t want Gillies/Rittich to play 15+ games, resign Johnson, but then one of Versteeg/Stone walks. We can’t do an Arizona and field an entire roster of young players, but we can’t do a Detroit and not field any at all. Let’s cycle through Lazar, Jankowski, Shinkaruk (maybe Poirier and Klimchuck as well). Ditto with Kulak and Anderson. Someone disconnect Treliving’s phone lines come free agency, unless we’re selling

  • jakethesnail

    In the interview about acquiring Hamonic, Tre says he isn’t finished tinkering with the Flames lineup…looking forward to see what else he has up his sleeve, but I hope it is not free agency players. (Maybe, there is still a chance he can unload fat contract whathisname to LV for Methot, LOL)

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Sorry to Mr. Robert Cobb for not being a stick in the mud, but:
    Johnny, Mohnny, Ferky
    Janko, Mickis, Fro (3M Redux)
    Chucky, Benney, Stigalicious (thats Versteeg)
    Lazar, Matty Franchise Sr, Brouwer
    Chaisson, F.Ham extras
    Bouma to Stockton
    Fat Ras and Kulak as 3rd pair
    Danny O’Backup

  • SeanCharles

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Ferland
    Frolik-Backlund-Brouwer
    Tkachuk-Bennett-Versteeg
    Stajan-Jankowski-Lazar
    Bouma/Chiasson

    Gio-Hamilton
    Brodie-Hamonic
    Kulak-Stone
    Bartkowski

    Smith
    Johnson

    If another kid can prove his worth you can easily send Bartkowski or Bouma down to the farm to accommodate. This also leave some depth that will be valuable when injuries hit.

    I thought I heard Treliving say the plan was for Parsons to start as the starter in the ECHL which would allow Rittich and Gillies more time in the A. Even if they all play in the minors for next season they know Smith’s career is almost over so they don’t really need to rush them. In a perfect world two of them will be our goalie tandem of the future while the third is traded to recoup spent assets. But time will tell, we are lucky to have a good stable of goalie and d prospects. Monahan, Bennett, Jankowski and Lazar as young centre options with some great LW’s to boot!!

    Times are pretty good, pretty, pretty, pretty good!

    It’s tough to curb ones enthusiasm 🙂

    • HOCKEY83

      Why would you be taking Tkachuk off of the most consistent line the flames had last season. Chiasson won’t be back. Stone more than likely won’t be back with the addition of Hamonic his ice time will be drastically reduced in Calgary and other teams will offer him more ice time for more than what Calgary can offer. Bouma definitely won’t be a regular in the line up. Parsons is considered to be the top goalie prospect in the NHL at the moment. I’m sure they will try to do whatever they can to not have to send him to the ECHL. Which would mean either bringing Rittich or Gillies up as a back up or trading one away. Parsons is the flames target for starting goalie which is why they went with Smith for just 2 years.

  • freethe flames

    Is today the day in which teams must present their qualifying offers for RFA’s, after that anyone not qualified becomes a UFA. We will get a better understanding of what BT is thinking with Gilles/Rittich; I think he will qualify both so he can use one as a trade chip in a deal. I also thinks he qualifies both Chaisson and Tspoon for much the same reason.

  • TriPPiNvdUb

    I’ve been thinking about this allot and I think has has me feeling sentimental but the only move I think left to make this season is to bring back Iggy for one last run…

    Analytics are fun and all but we need a good ole hockey story, one that transcends the business side of the NHL and is just plain good for the game.

    What better story is out there then Iggy hoisting the cup under the dome?