45Sam Bennett

With Ferland signed, Flames’ attention should turn to remaining RFAs – and how much cap will be left over

With Micheal Ferland’s new contract inked, the Calgary Flames have just over $8.11 million remaining in cap space. They still have to sign four forwards and a defenceman in order to fill out their lineup for 2017-18, including a couple of restricted free agents who did not file for arbitration and are still waiting for a deal.

Let’s go through them and see if we can determine how much cap space the Flames may have once their current loose ends are tied up.

This post makes a couple of assumptions, chiefly that Sam Bennett, Curtis Lazar, and Brett Kulak will all be starting their seasons on the Flames in October.

There are a handful of other restricted free agents that will need to be re-signed, but they’re less likely to push for a spot than those three are. With Mike Smith and Eddie Lack signed, it’s unlikely Jon Gillies or David Rittich will be starting their seasons in the NHL. Tyler Wotherspoon is, quite simply, less impressive than Kulak at this point. Linden Vey is likely off to Europe, while Garnet Hathaway is an option, but probably more as a 13th or 14th forward kind of guy, if even that.

This post is also assuming that Matt Bartkowski and Freddie Hamilton will retain their spots in the NHL, albeit most likely as consistent healthy scratches. At cap hits of $612,500 each, they’re the cheapest players the Flames have on contract.

This still leaves two forward spots up for grabs – one of which would likely be a healthy scratch spot – so I’ll make one other assumption a bit bolder than the rest: Mark Jankowski will be starting the season on the Flames. He carries a $925,000 cap hit, so the Flames will have roughly $7.185 million in cap space before signing Bennett, Lazar, Kulak, and one more forward.

Just over $7 million for four players, at least two of whom should come in rather cheap. Lazar and Kulak don’t have a lot to stand on negotiations-wise, as neither has shown a lot in the NHL. Kulak has played all of 30 games, and can easily be swapped out by Bartkowski or potentially Wotherspoon. He’s probably ready for the big time – in our limited viewings of him he seems to be, and the underlying numbers agree – but we won’t know until he truly establishes himself.

Kulak’s entry deal, carrying a cap hit of $656,667, just wrapped up. He’ll likely get a raise from it, but not a particularly big one. Let’s ballpark him at $750,000. The Flames are already spending a lot on defence in an attempt to boast one of the most impressive groups in the NHL, so their sixth defenceman likely won’t be too costly, and Kulak still gets a sizeable raise. We’re now down to $6.435 million for three forwards.

Lazar can argue he had a down season in part due to mono and in part due to his general ousting from the Ottawa Senators organization – and he’d be right to – but that doesn’t change the fact that over his first two seasons, he scored 35 points over 143 games (.24 points per game). That’s not impressive. He carried a cap hit of $894,167 over his entry-level deal, and it’s hard to see that going up, if it even does (for example, when Wotherspoon’s ELC expired, he took a pay cut of $300,000). I don’t think Lazar establishes a cap hit higher than Matthew Tkachuk’s $925,000, even if Tkachuk’s is still an ELC. Let’s knock him in at $800,000, at least until he proves he’s worth more than that, which we’ll have to wait at least a season for. We’re now down to $5.635 million for two players: Bennett and a mystery forward.

And oh. Considering Bennett’s overall unimpressive results to date – he hasn’t beenย bad, but he hasn’t put up the numbers you’d expect of a fourth overall pick, either – suddenly, we’re looking at a lot of room. We can afford to even bump up Kulak and Lazar’s deals to over $1 million each and still have over $5 million remaining in cap space. Because Bennett is almost certainly going to sign a bridge deal, anywhere from one to three years in length (let’s just say two), and its highest ceiling is probably about $3 million.

Let’s talk Nail Yakupov for a second: another high pick who ended up signing a bridge deal for his second contract. Over the course of his three-year ELC, Yakupov had a points per game of .46. Bennett currently stands at .40, so not far off. Yakupov re-signed with the Oilers for a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $2.5 million, which is probably about where we can expect Bennett to re-sign. Considering Ferland’s deal, we should perhaps be expecting to clock Bennett in at a lower rate than anticipated.

If we lowball Bennett (and Kulak and Lazar), the Flames are looking at roughly $3.135 million in cap space. If we high ball all three, then perhaps, instead, the Flames are looking at $2.185 million in cap space.

With one forward to add to the lineup. Which is all to say – maybe two of Jankowski, Spencer Foo, Garnet Hathaway, and Marek Hrivik make the team, leaving the Flames with a couple million to spare. Or maybe, in the midst of building this team into a contender, they calculate how much cap space they have, and decide to go for it with one more free agent signing.

  • Parallex

    We can comfortably lowball Kulak and Lazar… the only leverage either has is the threat of an offer sheet (and that isn’t going to happen). If you want to be kind to Kulak (and offer him something concrete) you can try to have him take a further haircut on that 750K in exchange for making it a 1 way (offer him the same money as Bartkowski except his will be guaranteed). Bennett will need more… 2.5M seems pretty fair on a 1 or 2 year bridge IMO. Let’s him bet on himself.

    So yeah we should have about 3.1M available (and one open spot at forward) to add a guy *cough*Jagr*cough*. That’s 3.1M free and clear (it would leave 1M fallow to account for short-term injury replacements and cups of coffee).

  • buts

    The league has gotten faster and faster. Please don’t sign an over the hill vet. Leave spots open for the young guys. With a young guy you don’t get the consistency but in minimal minutes these players give you energy and speed, which we need.

  • Atomic Clown

    There’s no rule that mandates you spend to the absolute cap limit. Leave a little breathing room for the trade deadline, that’s a better time to address needs. Better chance of landing a top 6 winger then versus now. Imagine Arvidsson ๐Ÿ˜

  • buts

    If MT improves his skating the slightest he will fit in very well with GG and SM. Tkachuk’s hockey IQ is off the charts and with respect to Backlund and Frolik he is not a shutdown player. I think Jankowski might be the perfect player to move Bennett to the 3M line. The off season has been a very positive one now that BT’s hands aren’t tied.

  • Just.Visiting

    We are positioning to be a serious contender for a window of time, not just one year. I think it’s a big mistake to get a veteran on the downward slide vs looking hard at a Janko, Foo, etc. to try to fill one spot in the top nine. This assumes, of course, that Brouwer is anticipated to be playing on the fourth line, vs finding a way into the top nine based on salary or a belief that this would change the performance outcome materially.

    • Kevin R

      I would love to see Jagr here. To see him & Johnny on the PP setting up, something we had issues with a lot last year. But I get it & agree. Brouwer I think is still a functional NHL player, just way overpaid, like Stajan. Ijust don’t see the logistics of signing Jagr without moving Stajan or Brouwer via trade. Surely Vegas needs some depth & experienced forwards because they will get injuries too. I said on another thread, possible the cost of Shink or Klimchuk who actually have a shot at cracking the bottom forward positions on Vegas & I think Stajan or Brouwer could slot on the 3rd line there & possibly move up to 2nd line duty if needed in Vegas. A 2018 3rd round pick would be more than fair for return.

      • Flaming Glory

        “Brouwer I think is still a functional NHL player”. l laughed the hardest most genuine laugh in years! Check his possession stats man! He visibly destroys the capabilities of his teammates. He may be good as an assistant coach due to his popularity in the room but NOT as a player.

  • This is just my opinion, but Bennett should get 2 years 1.5-2.0 million. I personally don’t think he’s going to pan out here at all and he’s more useful as a sign-and-trade, but I recognize I’m in the minority.

    But he has value now and if we combine that with a prospect or two (of which we have many)…like, you might not agree, but would the return provide more benefit to the club than keeping him? Even if he does pan out?

    And out of curiosity, what do you guys think the ceiling on this guy is? Points-wise, line-wise etc.

    And don’t @ me. It’s just a discussion ๐Ÿ˜€

    • JMK

      I think the kid just had a down year, he’s been teasing to breakout over the past 3 seasons – and with a better defense to back him up I reckon this is the season. I think he still has high potential as a top 6 50-60pt two-way centre. I know that might seem optimistic after last season but he’s still very young. One of the youngest of his draft class.

    • Kevin R

      I have no idea why you think a 20 year who had better numbers in his 1st year than Monahan isn’t going to cut it. Look at Backlund, many had him written off, including B Sutter when he was coach & Feaster as well. I think Sam is going to be a star player on the Flames, I won’t say he will be elite, I hope he will be, but you will be glad he’s on our team. How many people said Backlund would be considered an elite player when he was 22-23? I have lots of time for Sam Bennett.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I still don’t see him as a 2c or 3c but I do see him as a 2w or 3w. Bennett has the type of explosive skating that can get him away from the boards to cut in the middle. When he scored 4 goals in a game 2 years ago you could see something special. Last year it seemed like he was worried about making mistakes. As a winger he can try More and make less costly mistakes.

      My take on Bennett is that he is a player that you need to win a championship but may not provide a lot of scoring in the regular season. He is worth the patience.

      If he stays at Center and works on his defense, I can see him being our best match on McD in the battle of Alberta. His grit and skating combination would be a perfect mix to get one of the better players off their game.

    • HOCKEY83

      Once Bennett finally grows in to his body he could be as good as anyone on the Flames fight now. It’s rare that a player skates right into the league and is fully matured. As hockey fans we’ve been spoiled over the last 3 drafts. The next 3 won’t be as good. How many 18 year old do you think will be competing for the Calder this season. I’m bettin none. Bennett was supposed to go number 1 in his draft class. He’s getting third line time. He’ll pick it up this year or next but he’ll get to that 50-70 point range as soon as he fully matures. Jesus he’s only been in the league 2 seasons. If Tkachuk regresses a little this season should we trade him for a bag of pucks too

    • MarbledBlueCheese

      To start, that puts us quite a lot over the cap. Salary would need to go the other way. Second, Sakic’s demands are said to be exorbitant. As in, ‘give me Brodie and a first’ or something.

    • everton fc

      I think the cost for Duchene would include Jankowski. No one wants Poirier. The Avs might want Kylington. They’d probably prefer Andersson. Or Kulak. It’d take a lot more to get either Duchene or Landeskog out of Denver. I think Sakic is nuts to even consider moving either of them – who else but Mackinnon and Rantanen do they have to socre goals??

      • Joe Flames

        I always wonder why a rebuilding team would trade good young players like Duchene or Landeskog for draft picks/prospects who they hope will turn out to be like Duchene or Landeskog. If you are rebuilding you trade your veterans and build around your young guys.

      • TheoForever

        On one of the AVS boards, they are talking Duchene for either:
        Bennett + Valimaki
        Bennett + Kylington
        I wouldn’t do it, just not big enough fan of Duchene.

        • Bawcos

          To me this seems terrible. Duchene! Seriously Duchene. We’re already head over heals on both Bennett and Janko (who almost certainly won’t make opening day without an injury). Why spend money and assets on a C who’s hasn’t done anything to show he’s the answer. Monahan, Backlund, Bennett, Stajan, Lazar, Janko and down the line Dube + Phillips. Why are we even talking about Duchene. Is he a 1st Line RW?