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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Flames have a ton of cap flexibility moving forward

Following the signing of restricted free agent Sam Bennett to a two-year contract, the heavy lifting is done for Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving… and just in time for training camp, too!

While there are always going to be murmurs about the various players that the Flames might add before the season opens – Jaromir Jagr and otherwise – at this point it’s probably useful to sit back and really appreciate the flexibility that Treliving’s built into his roster both for this season and looking ahead.

The 2017-18 Flames

Locked into spots, primarily by virtue of contracts, performance and waiver status, are (cap hits via NHL Numbers):

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  • Goaltenders Mike Smith ($4.25 million, 25% retained by Arizona) and Eddie Lack ($1.375 million, 50% retained by Carolina)
  • Defensemen Mark Giordano ($6.75 million), Dougie Hamilton ($5.75 million), T.J. Brodie ($4.65 million), Travis Hamonic ($3.857 million) and Michael Stone ($3.5 million)
  • Forwards Johnny Gaudreau ($6.75 million), Sean Monahan ($6.375 million), Troy Brouwer ($4.5 million), Michael Frolik ($4.3 million), Mikael Backlund ($3.575 million), Matt Stajan ($3.125 million), Sam Bennett ($1.95 million), Kris Versteeg ($1.75 million), Micheal Ferland ($1.75 million), Curtis Lazar ($950,000) and Matthew Tkachuk ($925,000)

The locks add up to about $66.082 million, plus the cap overage from last year’s performance bonuses ($600,000) and the three buyouts (Mason Raymond, Ryan Murphy and Lance Bouma; $1.817 million). All told, the commitments and locks are $68.56 million – leaving $6.44 million to fill three forward spots and two defensive spots.

The rub is this: basically everybody who would be in the running for the empty spots have really, really low cap hits. On the blueline there’s Brett Kulak ($650,000), Tyler Wotherspoon ($650,000), Matt Bartkowski ($612,500), Oliver Kylington ($730,833) and Rasmus Andersson ($755,833). Among forwards, aside from Mark Jankowski and Spencer Foo’s entry level cap hits ($925,000), there are cheaper bodies like Marek Hrivik ($650,000), Garnet Hathaway ($650,000), Luke Gazdic ($650,000) and Andrew Mangiapane ($705,000). The Flames could have their most expensive bubble players make the main roster and still have millions of dollars left for wiggle room.

(So yes, the Flames can probably afford Jagr, though they’d probably go bonus-heavy if they signed him just to maintain some mid-season wiggle room.)

The summer of 2018

Here’s how cap hits for contract extensions work in the NHL during an active season. A team can sign extensions for the following season and add cap space based on a specific formula: Current Cap Space plus the Cap Value of Expiring Contracts. The Flames are reportedly hard at work at an extension for Backlund, who’s one of five projected main roster players with expiring deals – also Stajan, Versteeg, Lack and Bartkowski – worth a combined $10.44 million. Thus, the Flames have ample wiggle room to sign Backlund to an extension. Heck, if you simply take Stajan’s expiring value ($3.125 million) and give some of it to Backlund the Flames probably still have wiggle room to add over the summer.

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Every big piece is signed through 2018-19 except for Backlund, who they have the cap space to keep, and Lack, who they are probably hoping to replace with a younger, cheaper backup from within the organization (*cough* Jon Gillies or Tyler Parsons *cough*). With everybody important (except for Backlund) signed, the Flames have about $17.8 million in cap space (assuming a flat cap).

The summer of 2019

Following 2018-19, four key contracts expire which will probably lead to some decisions being made. Bennett, Tkachuk, Ferland and Smith will all need new deals – or new addresses.

But here’s the list of names signed until the end of 2019-20: Gaudreau, Monahan, Brouwer, Frolik, Giordano, Hamilton, Brodie, Hamonic and Stone. Backlund will be on his new contract and there’s a chance that the Flames will have finally figured out their goaltending succession problem that’s persisted since the day Miikka Kiprusoff hung ’em up.

In other words…

The Flames have everyone signed for this season and have cap space remaining. They have more than enough money coming off the books after this season to have Backlund’s extension settled well before the season is over. And even though several key deals are up in two seasons, they have enough time and cap flexibility that they probably won’t be bumping up against the cap ceiling for a little while.


  • FuNky ANGER

    I honestly can’t believe how lucky the Flames are to have Treliving as our GM. The man is as astute as they come. Love how he makes his decisions based on how it will affect the club for years to come without hoping the salary cap rises (looking at you chareli) to offset an overpay. I hope he is our GM for the next decade or more.

  • ?

    As far as Jagr, if he’ll sign here, sign him. I can see not wanting him cause he would take up development of one player. That said he would add development to how many other young guys on the team? In one year think of what he could teach? If one year in the A stifles a prospect… not much of a prospect.

  • moodyblue2

    I met Jankowski down at the Dome last year in preseason. Came away thinking, this guy is all class. Been reading these blogs last few years and have a feeling a lot of guys are going to be eating crow on this guy. Yea I know he is not a top 10 draft wonderkid, but I suspect he will make the team this year and BT will have no problem paying him When his contract is up. Mr. J is going to be an important part of our run here! Blue

  • The Doctor

    Off topic I know, but has anyone here seen Scott Cullen’s piece on TSN today where he projects this season’s top 300 scorers? Except for Gaudreau, my God does he ever sell the Flames short. Basically he has the Flames making zero progress over last season. I just think he’s nuts. Especially regarding Tkachuk and Backlund, but really just about everyone except Johnny. I realize I’m grossly biased, but personally I think the Flames are going to be a 100+ point team this season, and they’re going to score more and give up fewer goals. They’re set to improve in every phase of the game, and their young guys are a year older, wiser and better.

      • oilcanboyd

        Considering most scribes considered the Flames to be one of the winners in summer transactions, that is bizzare and they are coming off a 94 point season.

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      Scott Cullen has a very strong dislike for the Flames, always has always will… I stopped taking his “reporting” serious about the flames years ago… Never a positive thing to say or forecast on their future.. Scott Cullen is simply a joke when it comes to the Flames.

    • Just a Fan

      I thought the projections where pretty realistic. Every flame scoring about what they did last year. Suggesting that someone is going to break out and have a career year is not a projection. It is a dream.

      • The Doctor

        I’m not talking about everyone having career years; I’m talking about the team having and showing steady improvement and progression. Cullen’s numbers would basically mean stagnation. Anything can happen, obviously, but I don’t see that happening.

      • Just.Visiting

        The point projections weren’t too out of line-a bit light on Tkachuk and Ferland relative to where I would put them. They had Foo projected on the first line, Ferland as LW on the 4th with Lazar on the RW and no Janko. Bart as number 6 on D and Gillies as backup. They were showing Gillies as top prospect, with Parsons 2 and Kylington 3. Klimchuk was 20 and Poirier 23.

  • Lucky 13

    Matt Stajan. It saddens me to know that this will possibly be his last season. Ever.

    I know there are some who would like to see him replaced with our youth this year. I get it, but you couldn’t ask for a better man than Matt. He exemplifies perseverance, respect and humility.

    Matt Stajan has forever captured my respect for the courage and strength in which he plays the game of hockey. He’s not the fastest or the most skilled, however he gives his best, every game.

    If there’s anyone who has had to adapt to role changes on the team, it has to be him.

    He went from a top six forward, (hard to imagine now) to a 4th line player, never once did he question his usage. That’s one classy player and speaks to his ability to adapt.

    I hope we get to see him play his 1,000 game. It would mean a lot to me, as a fan of hockey. He needs 65 games to reach that milestone.

    I hope he achieves it. This fan wouldn’t have a dry eye if that happens!

    • Not Ryan Pinder

      Great post! I agree, Stajan has fit any role he has been put in and i’m sure he will fit nicely as a mentor this year to players like Bennett and Janko.

    • hank 57

      Matt is a class act , true example of how professional hockey players should carry themselves , he has been a valuable
      person on and off the ice for the flames and the community and i hope when his playing days are over he stays with the flames organization in some manner

      in some manner .

    • Intercourse the Penguins

      The 80’s and early 90’s were incredible. Alberta was “Death Valley” for every other team and Calgary was “the Land of the Giants”.The 85 86 Smythe div final was The Best Hockey Ever Played. We do not approach that yet but it definitely looking so much better,

  • UpTkachuk

    The Calgary Flames are two players away from being NHL elite. A legit, goal-scoring forward (preferably right wing) and a bona fide puck stopper. The depth is there and needs a bit of seasoning. The question that I have is “Do they have the two players already in the system?”

  • canadian1967

    Bennett was saying on 960 this morning that he doesn’t really care whether he plays wing or center.
    Maybe that way we can have a killer top 6 and put Janko on the 3rd line with Steeger and Ferkland.

    93 23 13
    19 11 67
    79 77 10
    18 20 36

    • Styxx

      GG likes to roll 4 lines when possible. Also Tre said in a long interview this afternoon with Kerr that they want to build strength down the middle, essentially indicating they’ve invested time in Sam and he will start at Centre.

  • Off the wall

    Lucky 13 has made me sentimental, damm him.

    One thing that I can say is I love this game of hockey.
    Having started my life in Scotland, I had no idea of what hockey really was.
    I remember my parents bringing us to Canada and trying my 1st pair of skates at the age of 10.
    They were really old, hand -me -downs, the ankles were so bad in them that I had to use cardboard inside to stiffen them up.

    We couldn’t afford new skates, at the time we had 6 kids in our family, 5 more yet to arrive.
    I kid you not!

    Every Saturday we watched HNIC. Being on a farm in Northern Ontario, there wasn’t much else to do. We cheered the Leafs, go figure, but it was our team.(We are talking 1970’s)
    My older brother, whom I’ll call Dick, cuz he was to me ,would put me in net and blast balls at me. No protection other than his worn out baseball glove.
    We had a gravel driveway, so often I would get a few stones thrown in for good measure, every shot. I wanted to be just like Mike Palmateer, he being Borje Salming. He was 4 years older than me (Dick) and already had facial hair. He scared me, especially with each windup.

    If I somehow got lucky and saved one of his patented “Salming” shots, he would step-it-up a notch. It usually ended up with me either injured or bleeding, sometimes both!

    Dick would say, ” you tell anyone (parents) and I’ll mash your face” That was good enough for me to remain silent.

    I forgot what my point was, yeah, I love hockey and I’m glad we came to Canada.
    I may be a bit harsh at times, or outspoken, don’t take it personally. I had to learn to survive amongst a large family.
    FN is my hockey family and I’m grateful I get to share my thoughts with you… even if you don’t agree.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    I don’t think there’s been a franchise with this rosey of a picture in a long, long time.

    It truly is up to Gully and the players, now. Brad’s done his job and THEN some.

    They literally have no excuses.

    • Pizzaman

      Uhh, guys the team looks better than last year, but realistically this team is still missing the stud RW and “goalie certainty”. The BT question now is: “is this team built to beat the Oilers?” which is an 80s flashback if there ever was one. At some point we have to beat the Oilers in the playoffs to get to the finals.

  • everton fc

    I know we all want guys like Lomberg, Poirier, Klimchuk, “et al” to maybe break into the team this season… But for 4th line/LW, Daniel Winnik might be worth a PTO. Winnik/Stajan/Brouwer wouldn’t be a bad 4th line. Hathaway and Hamilton the two extra forwards. Winnik 1 yr/league minimum.

  • Sterls

    Just throwing this out here. I look at Calgary down the middle and I don’t see space for both Bennett and Janko. Seeing Bennett in a 3rd line C role long term or Janko in a 4th long term seems like a waste of potential for these two players. I’ve said previously I think Bennett is suited better to the wing, he’s hard on pucks, strong in the corners, goes to the dirty areas, high energy guy, but lacks the natural play making typically important in offensive center men. I don’t know a lot about Janko, but my impression is he is a pure C, and lacks those gritty wing attributes but he would potentially make the ideal 3rd line C for us behind Monny and Backs. I think we need to give both Bennett and Janko equal time at 3rd line C this season to see who is better suited for this role (I predict it will be Janko). If it is Janko, Calgary should either accept it and convert Bennett to the wing or trade him for a premier RW to play on our top line. Bennett and another piece (likely one of our D prospects) should be able to land us either Nylander/Marner out of Toronto, Pasternak out of Boston, or pretty much any RW we might want. Long term the other team will likely win the trade, but it would bring balance to our forward ranks and complete our top 6.

      • Sterls

        I’ve often wondered how Bennett would do centering a line with Johnny. That could be an interesting experiment, plop Bennett into the top line C role and shift Monahan to the right wing (too bad he is a left shot too….).

  • freethe flames

    BT has suggested that the Flames will bring in some PTO’s; it will be interesting to see who. I wonder if Winnik will be one, The next few days at Penticton should be interesting.

  • b

    Not related to this article, but a suggestion for one leading up to or during main camp: what is the actual story with assigning waiver eligible players to Stockton early to avoid waivers – is that a real option or wive’s tale? By my count for forwards we’ve got 2 or 3 (if there are 14 forwards) open spots and these waiver eligibles:

    Shinkaruk
    Poirier
    Hathaway
    Hrivik
    F Hamilton

    Does this situation potentially block the likes of Jankowski or Foo (hopefully not if they earn their place) due to not wanting to lose someone on the wire?

    Thankfully things aren’t so bad on defence.

  • Eggs Bennett

    If I were to ask an Oilers fan and a Flames fan at the beginning of the summer what they thought was a reasonable cap hit for Draisaitl and Bennett, respectively, I think one would have guessed 7.0 and 2.5, respectively (source: edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/nhl/cult-of-hockey/a-fair-contract-for-leon-draisaitl-eight-years-at-7-0-million/amp). At 8.5M, Draisaitl got 20% more than a ‘fair’ amount and at 1.95M, Bennett came in at a 20% discount. Need I say more to conclude which team has a better GM…? This kind of frugality is why we aren’t in cap hell.

    It’s too bad… EDM was finally turning a corner and are now shooting themselves in the foot with bad contracts all over. Sure, it’s just $1.5M extra here and $1M extra to Russell, but you could almost have had a Jagr for that extra cap…

    Or, instead of a Jagr, EDM can always fill in their roster with cheap depth players down the road like Puljujarvi and………..

    …wait I’m drawing a blank here guys, help me out. Which prospects do they have down the pipe again?

    • Sven

      —“At 8.5M, Draisaitl got 20% more than a ‘fair’ amount and at 1.95M, Bennett came in at a 20% discount. Need I say more to conclude which team has a better GM…? “—

      or perhaps – which city is more desirable to play in …:

      April 6 / 2017

      “ESPN conducted its annual poll (insider link) of which NHL cities are the most unpopular among NHL players. This year the Winnipeg Jets took the top slot, with the Edmonton Oilers placing second and the New York Islanders finishing third.”

      (and note that the Oil place second to last AFTER completing their new rink and after drafting that kid from Richmond Hill)

      big bribe needed to convince Draisaitl to commit to Redmonton –

      obviously easier to get Bennett to stay in YYC

      this speaks volumes non?

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I am likely alone on this one, but I think the best Center for Johnny is Backlund. He is fast, has vision but has the defensive prowess to keep the line from being pinned in their zone for extended periods. Too many times Johnny and Sean spend a big chunk of their shift trying to break out of their zone. Johnny and Backlund rarely play together but when they do, like in OT, there is magic.

  • oilcanboyd

    PENTICTON Games Broadcast (from Darren Haynes):

    Here is Calgary’s game schedule, all times listed are MT:

    Friday, Sept. 8 – 5 pm MT vs. Edmonton
    Sunday, Sept. 10 – 3 pm MT vs. Vancouver
    Monday, Sept. 11 – 11:30 am MT vs. Winnipeg

    All games will be streamed online with Sportsnet’s Pat Steinberg calling the game in partnership with his broadcasting peer from the opposing team. All of the games will also be available via Sportsnet960 radio with Derek Wills handling play-by-play duties.

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    Man, u guys r a sad sack group of fans, apologizing to each other for “harshness” of comments and saying how much better the flames are then the oilers and camps havent opened, dont count your chickens before they hatch. As for Franson, any smart fan, non analytics believer, knows he is too slow and big and doesnt hit, Im glad the Hawks got him and the oilers didnt. The flames still have too many holes up front and goaltending questions, the changes were lateral movements, not really an upgrade especially with Lack and your defense is still overrated. You’re the same team as last year, even with Hamonic and minor changes is goal, ill b suprised if u hit 94 points.

  • freethe flames

    “A ton of cap flexibility” is quite a headline. What the Flames have is a number of question marks needing to be filled by young guys who need to push the pile. I am hopeful that a number of them can do so and that the coach is open to rewarding those players who earn a job based upon preseason and not their NHl experience and pay stubs. If the likes of Stajan, Brouwer and even FHamilton have great preseasons and are clearly better than the prospects great but don’t just grant them jobs because of their history. There are plenty of guys in line waiting for a chance: Lomberg, Hathaway, Poirier as energy guys, solid 2 way players like Klimchuk, Janko, Mangaipane and guys who might have the skills to be offensive players like Foo, Shinkaruk. Give them a chance to earn a job. Then there are the even younger guys who also need a look. Hopefully tonight in Penticton we start to see how good some of these young men are.