At 10 a.m. MT, the NHL free agency period opens, and teams can begin signing players.
With all of the moves the Flames have made as of late, here’s a refresher on where they stand, and what they can do with their cap.
|Johnny Gaudreau ($6.75 million)||Sean Monahan ($6.375 million)||Micheal Ferland (?)|
|Matthew Tkachuk ($925,000)||Mikael Backlund ($3.575 million)||Michael Frolik ($4.3 million)|
|Kris Versteeg ($1.75 million)||Sam Bennett (?)|
|Matt Stajan ($3.125 million)||Curtis Lazar (?)||Troy Brouwer ($4.5 million)|
|Freddie Hamilton ($612,500)|
|Mark Giordano ($6.75 million)||Dougie Hamilton ($5.75 million)|
|T.J. Brodie ($4.65 million)||Travis Hamonic ($3.857 million)|
|Michael Stone ($3.5 million)|
|Matt Bartkowski ($612,500)|
|Mike Smith ($4.25 million)|
|Eddie Lack ($1.375 million)|
This group, plus buyout penalties from Mason Raymond, Lance Bouma, and Ryan Murphy totals $65,134,210 of cap space spent. The Flames have $9,865,790 left in cap space.
A couple of spaces have been left open, indicating some room the Flames may have to add a player or two. I would expect Brett Kulak to fill the sixth defenceman spot, and Garnet Hathaway could perhaps be an extra forward alongside Freddie Hamilton, but there’s still a spot open in the top nine for somebody – whether it be a free agent, or a graduated prospect. (Also, those are assumptions; we likely won’t have a clearer idea until, well, September, but if the Flames are quiet in free agency then that may answer the question on its own.)
Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland, and Curtis Lazar’s cap hits are still up in the air, but none of these three forwards really have much justification to break the bank, so we can probably still expect the Flames to have a couple of million to spare, whether they want to use it or not.
Let’s ballpark Ferland at Bouma’s old deal, at $2.2 million, Bennett at $3 million, and Lazar at $1 million (and Kulak there as well, if you’re so inclined) – that’s an estimated $7.2 million. Assume Hathaway signs a deal for say $800,000, and the Flames will have just under $2 million left with one roster spot left to fill. (I think I’m overestimating on some of these, so I’d expect them to be able to add someone at $2 million still if they’re so inclined.)
What about 2018-19?
While the Flames may have the space to continue throwing money around for this season, will they for next season?
Expiring contracts include Mikael Backlund, Matt Stajan, Kris Versteeg, Eddie Lack, Freddie Hamilton, and Matt Bartkowski, plus the end of Raymond’s buyout, which will see $12.1 million come off the cap. Of those six players, the only one that’s really, really crucial to bring back is Backlund. While he’ll probably be due for a raise, the amount coming off of the cap is more than enough to be able to retain him.
Everyone else – except for perhaps Versteeg and Lack, depending on how their seasons go – can probably be replaced internally or brought back for just as cheap.
The 2019-20 season may be a bit trickier, as Matthew Tkachuk’s entry-level contract will have expired and the Flames will only be losing Mike Smith’s $4.25 million (with a need to have a starting goalie at some point) and just under a $1 million as Lance Bouma and Ryan Muprhy’s buyouts end; however, a lot will likely happen in between now and then, so it’s not worth fretting over at the moment.