When the Calgary Flames began the 2016-17 season, hopes were high. Unfortunately, those hopes were almost undone by a rough start propelled by some uneven defensive play and shoddy goaltending. After spending a ton of money on their blueline group last season, the Flames have made a ton of changes to the blueline group that broke camp last fall.
All signs point to their blueline being cheaper, younger and probably better in this coming season.
The 2016-17 group
|T.J. Brodie||26||$4.65 million|
|Deryk Engelland||34||$2.917 million|
|Mark Giordano||32||$6.75 million|
|Dougie Hamilton||23||$5.75 million|
|Dennis Wideman||33||$5.25 million|
Including the cap space used on Ladislav Smid (who was on the long-term injured reserve all season) and the partial cap hits for the other blueliners they used (Rasmus Andersson, Matt Bartkowski, Niklas Grossmann, Michael Stone and Tyler Wotherspoon), the Flames used up $30.9 million of cap space on defensemen.
The 2017-18 group
|T.J. Brodie||27||$4.65 million|
|Mark Giordano||33||$6.75 million|
|Travis Hamonic||26||$3.857 million|
|Dougie Hamilton||24||$5.75 million|
|Michael Stone||27||$3.5 million|
The cap hit figures obviously don’t include Brett Kulak, who hasn’t signed yet, or the $100,000 buyout cap hit for Ryan Murphy. Presuming Kulak gets roughly $750,000, the combined cap hit would be around $25.97 million (for an average of $3.71 million).
They’re a little bit younger (0.7 years) and a little bit cheaper ($130,000 per player) than they were a year ago. But are they better?
Let’s go pairing by pairing.
- 2016-17: Giordano & Hamilton (well, eventually…)
- 2017-18: Giordano & Hamilton
- Advantage: At worst it’s a push, but presumably the built-in chemistry of these guys will get them going even faster than last season.
- 2016-17: Brodie & Wideman
- 2017-18: Brodie & Hamonic
- Advantage: Unquestionably the newer pair is better.
- 2016-17: Jokipakka (or Kulak) & Engelland
- 2017-18: Kulak (or Bartkowski) & Stone
- Advantage: This year’s pair is younger and more mobile, so slight advantage to the newer pair.
Sum it up
All in all, the Flames have quietly done a pretty good job upgrading their blueline – with the majority of the new faces in the fold being acquired since mid-February. They’ve gotten younger and cheaper, and are arguably better (or at least as good) in all three defensive pairings.
Now all they have to do is play the games.