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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary Flames re-sign Michael Stone

Wonder no more about what the Flames’ defence will look like for 2017-18.

When the Calgary Flames traded for Michael Stone at the trade deadline, they did so with the intention of upgrading their top four defence. When they traded for Travis Hamonic at the draft, it was the exact same story. Now, they’ve re-signed Stone, apparently intending to bolster that defensive core.

At a price, though. Stone’s contract is for three years, with an annual average value of $3.5 million per.

There are a couple of ways to look at this.

If you’re a believer in Stone, then this gives the Flames a comically stacked defensive corps. You have a top pairing of Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton, a second pairing of T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic, and now a guy who is presumably a top four player – and has been used as such for a number of seasons now – playing on the bottom pairing. This also gives the Flames a certain cushion of depth should any of these five guys get hurt.

If you’re a believer in Stone, then you’re a believer that he will rebound. And really, this isn’t much different than Hamonic’s situation. Both Hamonic and Stone were two of the worst defencemen in the entire NHL by corsi metrics this past season; however, 2016-17 was an outlier for both players, and they both played on two teams that fared incredibly poorly, both in general and possession-wise. If one will rebound, why wouldn’t the other?

Speaking of Hamonic, though, Stone’s cap hit is just under his. Remember when Deryk Engelland was a bottom pairing defenceman making $2.9 million per? Well, now the Flames have added an even more expensive bottom pairing defender. They just got themselves out from under Lance Bouma’s contract – the cheapest of the $10 million fourth line – to make sure they’ll have a bottom pairing creeping up on $5 million, depending on what their sixth defender – presumably Brett Kulak – will make. Is that a better allocation of cap?

Speaking of Kulak, he’s a prospective Flames defenceman looking to crack the NHL. The Flames have a number of high quality defensive prospects, though none probably quite as close to making the big league as Kulak is. So… when they are at a level to make it, how exactly are they supposed to break in? Brodie, Hamonic, and Stone will now be occupying three roster spots until 2020. Is Rasmus Andersson three years away? Is Oliver Kylington? Is Juuso Valimaki? Is Adam Fox? I don’t think it’s likely that all of the Flames’ highly-regarded prospects are that far off from making the NHL, but now, the Flames have left virtually no room for them whatsoever.

In short, this re-signing is perplexing. The Flames’ bottom defence pairing is now bloated by default. There is extremely limited room now available to a talented group of prospects, and it will be like that for years. And if Stone can’t rebound from his career worst season, then the Flames have just anchored themselves for no reason – mere days out of finally getting out of a bad contractual situation on defence.

That said, this signing does have the potential to have a massive payoff, but skepticism is probably warranted. Make no mistake: the Flames are officially entering their contention window. They want it now.

Calgary now has roughly just under $10 million to re-sign Sam Bennett and Micheal Ferland (and Curtis Lazar, if you’re so inclined), and add two more forwards and a defenceman.

By re-signing Stone, the Flames have also forfeited their 2018 fifth round pick to the Arizona Coyotes.

  • RKD

    I like it, the season is a grind and this really deepens the depth. If Hamonic or Brodie got injured i would feel better with Stone there. This d is totally stacked. Looks like Tre is following Poile’s methodology and banking that this group of six can get us further in the playoffs.

  • OYYC

    For Treliving’s next trick, I can see him packaging a youngster (or even 2) + the abomination known as Troy Brouwer’s contract for a draft pick or two. Not so much because he even needs the picks at the current stage of this bold production, but he wants to free up cash and TB’s roster spot.

    “George? Yeah, Brad out in Calgary. Have I got a deal for you my old friend…”

  • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

    Just had s good laugh .calgary Flames are the highest paid defense in the league lol. Better hope they perform to the top of the league.
    Haven’t you guys been down this road before??

    • Puckhead

      Did you squeeze out a Hershey squirt during your rolly polly laughing episode? If so, let Chia know and he’ll sign it up as your #5 D. Does it shoot left or right? Maybe Tre will do something else laughable to help you round out your D tomorrow.

    • cjc

      While I think you have a point, those who live in glass houses should not cast stones… Only last year, did Edmonton not trade one of the best LW in the league for a middling 2nd pair guy, then sign Flames cast off Kris Russell to a 4 million per contract?

        • Deadmonton Exile

          4 game sweep, big deal. We 5 game swept you guys two years ago, and were we starting every comeback with that fact? No, because the oilers were pathetic. Enjoy your “dominance” for now, next year is a different story altogether.

    • Newbietwo

      Good luck trying to put a winning team together after locking McDavid and drai.. I bet you $100 flames beat the Oilers next year both in games and standings

    • Kevin R

      Well here is ice cold reality, McGreedy & Drysaddle + Lucy 6.0 mill & Rusty 4.0 mill is equal to 45% of the cap on 4 guys. Good luck with that. Hope McGreedy knows how to play top 4 D as well as Centre & can be double shifted. Glad it’s you guys that will have to pay Drysaddle 10.0 mill per for 1 year of actual performance/results.

  • Guest

    Absurd. This will be a buyout in a year or two. It’s basically a 10 million Dollar insurance policy and that their massive d core of prospect defenseman is a huge failure.

    This is so reminiscent of Bouma and Brower I’m sick to my stomach.

  • Cheeky

    Not looking at the contract this is a great addition. On paper we have one of the best if not the best d. Tre is very good at additions but desperately needs to work on his subtraction game (buy outs dont count).

    • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

      I’ve heard for the last 5 years that you have the best D in the league. Play some games before you profess to be the best. It’s June!!

  • cjc

    Having read through the comments, I think people are being overly optimistic. To me, most of Treliving’s additions/signings (Smith, Hamonic, Lack and now Stone) are high risk propositions. That’s fine if they all work out, but if even one goes pear-shaped, Calgary could be in big trouble. All of these guys save Smith are coming off down years, so expecting each to rebound is a tall order. Plus, Smith is old and fragile and a historically average goalie. Expecting him to be a world beater at his age is asking much.

    Whenever the word best is followed by the words “on paper”, you need to be suspicious.

    I was actually okay with Murphy on the third pair, so was frustrated to see him bought out. I

    Insurance seems to be the word of the day,

    • TheoForever

      It’s ‘on paper’ because they haven’t played together yet.
      Murphy wasn’t NHL player. Stone was good once out of Arizona.
      Legend sucks. Smith is good. Hamonic is 26 and was injured, should get better.

    • Guest

      You can keep pointing this out ad nauseam. The difference between guys like Stone and guys in the minors is neglible. Except for the waste of money. Teams signing middle of the road guys to high contracts for years always lose. I’m a huge Flames fan. These Bouma, Brouwer, Bolling, Stone contracts are losers from day 1. Save the money and look for value. Every one of these guys is sub average across the board with a name. Just terrible.

      • TheoForever

        No point arguing, they are in minors for a reason. I like to see them with big club but outside of Kulak, they are not ready. And if one of top 4 gets hurt we are back to Bart and what Murphy as 3rd pairing, that’s a disaster. Stone is a solid 5 and a decent 4, but whatever. He can be traded next year, Anderson could be ready by then. On open market Stone is getting 4×4.

  • everton fc

    I am somewhat shocked at the larger than expected cynicism and pessimism in many of these posts.

    The only RHD I would have signed over Stone was Folin. I wouldn’t have minded Wiercioch, either. But BT likes Stone, and has said many times Stone’s addition got us into the playoffs. Not certain I agree, but BT was all-in on Stone, all the time.

    “On paper”, our defence looks solid. I like Smith, as a person, and am rooting for him. His attitude is spot-on. He’ll play his heart out here, and I think he’ll find success and stay healthy.

    Lack scares me… But I am still on the Rittich bandwagon. Who knows – out of camp, our AHL tandem could be Lack/Gillies. We’ll see where the chips fall.

    Punting Bouma was also smart. Makes room for perhaps Freddie on LW/4th line, or Shinkaruk… Or Klimchuk… Or LOMBERG!!!

    (Next “play”; Brouwer to a team that needs “veteran leadership” and is barely clearing the cap floor!)

    • Guest

      The love for the Stone deal is the same as the Brouwer love last year. I remember tossing the idea in December about exposing Brouwer and got killed.

      Kids get better. Fast. Stone will NEVER be better and might get a lot worse (that’s the trend). Terrible deal. Cap space has value.

      Same as Hamonic BTW. I like him, but add in the cost of the picks and Calgary is paying 5.5mm/yr for him. Someone in this org loves right handed defenseman. I like elite right wingers for my money and my Uber talented defense prospects that cost no money.

      Stone will be a waste.

      • Eggs Bennett

        Stone is very much a teadable asset at 3.5Mx3. And Hamonic’s cap hit is 3.85. Believe you are thinking about Hamilton, first pairing dman making 5.5. I’m not fussed about any of these cap hits tbh…

  • McRib

    “Both Hamonic and Stone were two of the worst defencemen in the entire NHL by corsi metrics this past season; however, 2016-17 was an outlier for both players, and they both played on two teams that fared incredibly poorly, both in general and possession-wise. If one will rebound, why wouldn’t the other?”

    Interesting, the Flames are doubling down paying a heavy price in picks and term after both defenders had bad years last year on bad teams (for the most part). It also seems they’re doing the same thing with the goaltenders they have acquired. Apparently the Flames are big believers in taking a chance on players underperforming on bad teams, hope it works out.

    • McRib

      I don’t know if I would throw all my eggs into the same basket. That said if this goes well we’re a contender, if it doesn’t we’re basically the same team we were last year (because our top players will still carry us).

  • Burnward

    Regardless of what you think of Stone, this is yet another contract below market value. He has yet to miss on a re-sign.

    Personally, I liked him and the cap situation is well under control.

    And the fact he wants to bleed for this team makes me happy. Been a while since this was a place players believed would be worthy of that.

  • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

    It’s funny how you Flame fans think that Russell sucks because of his metrics, but yet you think Stone and Hamonic are now making you the best D in the league .
    But actually ” on paper ” Hamonic and Stone had some of the worst metrics in the league. Neither one of these guys play the game as tough as Russell either.
    You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    • TheoForever

      Both had injuries, could explain something. Especially when comes Hamonic, prior 3 years his metrics were better than Larsson’s. Stone was good with Flames. I like Russell but he isn’t better than Hamonic. Stone and Russell are about equal, but Stone is on a better contract and doesn’t have to be #4. Both Stone and Hamonic can break the cycle game, Russell cannot. Russell can block shots, he will have to because your team is bound for a step back.

      • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

        Not sure how you think Edmonton will step back? Edmontons d played really well last year. Talbot will be the same. McDavid and Draisaitl will even be better. Nurse and Benninh were solid and still will get better after a good year under them. Good size and toughness. Where’s the downfall?

  • L.Kolkind

    Wow got rid of Engelland and Wideman finally… and they get replaced by Hamonic and Stone? I can’t say for certain either of them should even be in the NHL and I definitely can’t say that either is an upgrade. Betting on bounce back years for Hamonic, Stone, Lack is fair for each of them individually, but to have given up so much for them and none of them has proven they are at least NHL replacement level is cause for concern.

    Also if they do falter Smith is 35 and not getting any better. When Brodeur hit 35 he became horrible really fast. I don’t think the back-end improved at all this year unless Kulak can carry Stone. With these acquisitions, Treliving targeted the bottom of the barrel. These new guys have the added bonus of blocking prospects from graduating. Andersson is likely NHL ready by next season and his path is blocked by Stone. Stone doesn’t even have a cheap contract for being on the 3rd pairing.

    Treliving tosses big money at Stone, and Brouwer in back-to-back years and trades two 2nd’s for stopgap goalies in back-to-back years. You guys over-analyze each of his moves to a point where you can justify them. When you simplify it the stupidity of them really stands out.

    He trades a mid to high 2nd round draft pick in back to back years for veteran goalies that are likely to falter and the team isn’t ready to compete. He then trades a 3rd and a 5th for an overpriced 3rd pairing d-man. You can literally find better d in the AHL or the UFA list whenever. You would also not give up any picks or pay more than $1.5 million for a guy with similar skill level. This trade really not worth it.

    Eddie Lack has been absolutely awful the past two seasons. Trading for him makes no sense. David Rittich or Jon Gilles should be the backup for this upcoming season. Instead, we have a sub .900 SV% goalie making $1.5 million. The upside of this trade was Ryan Murphy who hasn’t looked that great recently, but he is only 23 and for that little would have been worth a gamble on the 3rd pairing. Buying him out is a waste even if didn’t make the team he would be good depth as Calgary has only one good right shooting defensive prospect that could play up in the NHL if needed.

    Travis Hamonic was the among worst defensemen on the Islanders last season. The only category is above replacement level is primary assists. Brodie struggled when he had to carry Wideman, why would he do any better with Hamonic? The amount given up for Hamonic is also absurd. When you trade away a 1st and two 2nd’s that better be a star player. Dougie Hamilton is a great example when you trade all that for a guy who should be on the 3rd pairing that is insane. The Islanders got better simply by not having Hamonic anymore and we gave up too much for him.

    Add in the Brouwer contract and Treliving’s past two offseasons have cost a lot of assets and while receiving very little in return.

    1 – 1st round pick
    4 – 2nd round picks
    1 – 3rd round pick
    1 – 5th round pick
    1 – 6th round pick
    Chad Johnson, Brandon Hickey and Keegan Kanzig

    With all that, we should have gotten at least one elite player. None of the players we got is top of the line, and all could be easily replaced by a UFA. Why are you satisfied with these moves? If we signed the players we traded for instead the reaction would have been “meh we’ll see if he can turn it around.”

    I’m almost 100% confident that the writers would not have made any of these moves, instead, they would be targeting young, actually good, players and goalies. We would have a Raanta type goalie with a cheap prospect as a backup. We would have potentially gotten an elite RW or drafted an elite RW such as Debrincat. The 4th line and 3rd pairing would consist of prospects that show potential and cheap effective players. Our 4th line and 3rd pairing consist of the most overpaid players on the team right now and Treliving is ensuring it stays that way. He blocks the development of prospects and doesn’t graduate them to the NHL. This is extremely inefficient cap wise, as well as it decreases the value of our prospects.

    Stop being satisfied with mediocre, and demand more of Treliving. None of the players I mentioned was worth targeting, let alone giving up assets for. Really a 2nd, a better goalie than Smith, and Brandon Hickey? Why does that trade make sense? We should be targeting young up and coming goalies, not veteran goalies. For the amount he has given up, we should have gotten someone amazing. We haven’t.

    • dontcryWOLF88

      Well, guess we just need to wait and see. L.Kolkind, random sports blogger vs Brad Treliving, GM of the Calgary Flames.

      This part confuses me. After making a prediction like that, do you hope youre right? Or do you hope youre wrong? I guess if youre right you get some fleeting self satisfaction…but that seems like a crap consolation prize.

      • L.Kolkind

        I hope I’m wrong, but so far I’ve been disappointed. I really like the Flames, but I keep questioning Treliving’s moves. I don’t think he has a long-term plan for success. He talks the talk of saying he loves draft picks but acts completely to the contrary. I also have a lot of time on my hands, I recently had hip surgery so this is part of my entertainment. I hope someone can prove to me why I’m wrong. So far I get downvoted, but nobody comes up with real points as to why I’m wrong.

        • dontcryWOLF88

          Nobody can prove anybody wrong. Everything about being a GM is speculation. Everything we talk about here, during the offseason, is also speculation. Nobody knows how all these players will work together as a team, or as individuals, for that matter. Its fun to guess, for sure, but its important to realize that it can work out in a billion different ways. Since none of us have likely obtained omniscience, we all just have to deal with that uncertainty.

          With a lot of what you said there I believe you have made a whole heap of exaggerations, simplifications, and misconceptions. Im not going to get into all of them but one of your opening points is that Hammonic and Stone havent proven themselves to be above replacement level AHL players. Thats an absurd argument to start with. Both those guys have significant amounts of experience on 2nd pairings. Hammonic, in particular, was used as a shutdown defenseman on the Islanders. Meaning, he has experience shutting down top offensive units in the metro division. You might have noticed, but that division seemed pretty hard to shut down last year. Now, Bartowski, as a counter example, he is an AHL replacement level player. Imagine him trying to shutdown pittsburgh, capitals, blue jackets, or the rangers top lines. Hammonic is not a replacement level guy, hence the price. If you think one of our prospects is ready to slot into that role than you are naive (so says me).

        • Flint

          Well you lost me the moment you said you weren’t sure that Stone and Hamonic are an upgrade on Wideman and Engellend. And then not acknowledging that the latter two are both just turned/turning 27 (were 26 last season) seems to indicate that you feel they cannot improve/learn/be coached? and are on the downslope as d-men? Because at 35 and 34 that’s clearly what Wideman and Engellend were.

        • TheoForever

          It’s your assumptions that could be the problem. If you accept that the injuries were the reason for downgrade in the play of Hamonic and Stone, then those are outliers and the players can rebound. If you say that those players are over the hill at 26 and 27 and they are done then that’s your opinion. Here is a fact Stone was better with Flames than Arizona. He can play on the 3rd paring and there is no reason to think he gets worse in easier situations. Stone would have gotten better contract July 1st, and he can be traded next year unless he falls of the cliff, it could happen but one could expect a similar performance as he already demonstrated it with the Flames. If he plays the same Stone isn’t blocking anyone, because he can be traded when Andersson is ready.
          Hamonic had his worst year and he is 26, one could expect a rebound in performance as it is a realistic expectation. Hamonic was thought as #2/#3 just a couple of years ago. Hamonic has better metrics than Larson in previous 3 years, so he cannot be completely bad.
          Those two guys are tough customers and Flames are butter soft without them, there is nothing on the free agent market that is better and tougher and can be had at a reasonable term and cost. Sure, we have put a lot of money into D, still cheaper and better than what we had last year, so that’s a positive isn’t it.
          Lack I will not argue about because he is just bad, and Sig isn’t fixing anything. Would like to see Rittich as the backup but apparently Tre will sleep better. Eliot and Johnson were good bets. Eliot crapped the bed.
          Smith is a good bet but with Tre’s goalie record it could get ugly.
          Murphy was bad according to Carolina’s fans/coaches/GM and Flames people. There is no upside, all our prospects are better, nothing lost there.
          What we gave up in terms of picks is not the end of the world, if Hamonic is good. Now, if he sucks and you are correct then Tre just screwed this team like no tomorrow.
          I still have my doubts about the coaches too, GG doesn’t inspire the confidence exactly.
          Having said that I expect we finish in a playoff spot ahead of Oilers.
          I’m hoping it works out but it could backfire. I too have been disappointed over and over and over, and have questioned Tre’s moves, but I think he has a plan, not sure if it is good one. One thing I noticed he is really banking on Gillis/Parsons to become the goalies of the future.
          It is late and I have no strength left to proof read this. Goodnight.

  • Master_Defenestrator

    I’m also surprised with how much cynicism there is for this deal.

    If GG plans on roling three pairings, which it seems he does, this gives him a lot of depth to work with. If one of the prospects proves that they’re ready for the NHL, Stone can be moved with a little retention for a decent return. There are a lot of teams looking for RHD. I think this deal gives the flames a little more flexibility rather than less, especially when considering how weak the UFA class is.

    • L.Kolkind

      I call it how I see it when he makes great moves such as signing Frolik or the Hamilton trade I’ll give him credit. Look what he did to our crease though, it’s been a carousel of goalies and he completely wasted Ortio, and now Rittich/Gilles aren’t being given a chance. Look at Pittsburg, Chicago, LA New York, Montreal Anaheim, Boston and Columbus all of them have great goalies that they drafted and then gave then a chance to play in the NHL. Treliving isn’t utilising his prospects for cheap efficient contracts like all the real powerhouse teams do.

      I may come across as negative but the deals he makes deserve to be criticised. Treliving is stuck in the old school train of thought and in today’s NHL that won’t work. It could get us to playoffs but injuries happen and selling off all these picks, will come to haunt us when we need some cheap really good young players.

  • Nolan

    At first i thought it was 3 years for $3.5M, thought, pretty good for a #5 d-man. Then its $3.5M PER. OMG. WAY too much for a #5 guy. Will be hard to trade if needed. Reggie never made that in his hay day.

  • Flint

    Straight facts. In terms of players we have exactly the same defense as last year except Hamonic IN and Widemand and Engellend OUT.

    In terms of Cap hit – if I’m not mistaken – just went up by 1.5 Million for Stone (in theory had ARZ paid half the whole year and not ~580k) and 3.875AAV for the Hamonic addition. Let’s round up to 5.5AAV for a small raise on Kulak. So that’s 5.5 more Cap into the Defensive system this year for 3 young D avg age 25.6yrs (to make up our 7)

    Yet we got rid of Wideman (5.25AAV) and Engellend (2.917AAV) with and average age of 34.5yrs (8.167AAV) and worse metrics than both Stone and Hamonic.

    So in our group of seven we just cut 2.5milAAV off the cap, cut 9 year off the avg age, and got better players.

    I get that it’s pricey. In a unrealistic bubble I would prefer Stone for 1.5. But people are freaking out?

    Our D is better, faster, cheaper and younger than what we had all of last year.

    • Flint

      And I’ll just save people from jumping into amnesia fueled hyperbole. Engellend played 81 games for us last year. Wideman 57. Out of a possible 164 games, they dressed and played 138 (84%). They were not just bodies of money sitting in the rafters eating popcorn. Wideman and Engellend were integral parts of the Calgary Flames D in the 2016/2017 season. WIDEMAN*. ENGELLEND*. (*Solid dudes, loved the positives you brought, Thank you)

      AND, in Game 1 last year if I could have proposed we swap Wideman and Engellend out for Stone and Hamonic for the season, all while reducing our Cap. Every last one of you #pessimistic #shorttermmemory #complainers would have said YES in a heartbeat. We’re going to have 5 young studs back there. Gio (who’s f-ing Gio) and some not bad insurance in Bartkowski. Coach ’em. Build ’em. Let ’em play. Bring on the greasy OIL!

      Just dropping a little perspective.

      • Kevin R

        Amazing. You can’t keep anyone happy, they would be complaining & ringing the alarms no matter what we did. We now have the luxury of giving Kulak a full time time as #6 knowing he has a solid partner. I’m with you, let the games begin & hope like heck we have a healthy backend going into the season.