The 2017-18 season is firmly in the rearview mirror for the Calgary Flames. It’s far enough in their rearview that their salary cap situation, in terms of performance bonuses and such, has become clear.
The good news is they’re in pretty good cap shape, both for this season and the next.
2017-18 performance bonuses
Two Flames players received performance bonuses, but the players were in very different situations when they did so.
Sophomore Matthew Tkachuk received two Schedule A bonuses as part of his entry-level contract worth a combined $425,000 – $212,500 for scoring 20 goals and $212,500 for finishing among the top six Flames forwards in ice time.
The oldest player on the team, Jaromir Jagr, received two bonuses for games played totalling $350,000 – $250,000 for reaching 10 games and another $100,000 for reaching 20 games.
Based on our calculations, the Flames finished the season with approximately $1.538 million in remaining cap space and since their bonuses only total $775,000, they won’t have any bonus overages eating into next year’s cap space. It’s the first time in a few years that no penalties will carry over, as in each of the past two seasons they’ve had fairly big overages – $630,000 in 2016-17 and $660,000 this past season.
2018-19 salary cap outlook
Depending on if the NHLPA uses their full salary escalator or not, the 2018-19 salary cap will be somewhere between $78 and $82 million. For a benchmark, let’s go with $80 million.
Here’s a projected lineup. The players in italics are restricted free agents, with projected cap hits (noted with asterisks) via Matt Cane’s projections. (His average error in 2017 projections was $593,000, so he’s usually pretty close all things considered.)
|TBD Extra D||Brett Kulak
|TBD Extra F||TBD Extra F||Buyouts
This projected roster has a cap hit of $67,518,618. That leaves $12,481,382 in remaining cap space to (a) fill the three open roster spots for the extra bodies and/or (b) upgrade some existing positions. In the event the Flames elect to take the plunge and buy out Brouwer’s final two years, that would push their cap space up by $3 million to $15.48 million and leave them four roster spots to fill.
How to spend the remaining space?
The projected roster has eight right-shot players of any stripe, just one right-shot center, and only four guys that have played center reliably at the NHL level. It probably goes without saying that any upgrading Brad Treliving does this offseason will involve improving his scoring depth, but also keeping an eye on providing Bill Peters with more options in terms of centers and handedness.
Beyond that, the Flames could opt to fill their remaining spots by promoting players from Stockton, or they could go via trade or free agency. What should be their priority when looking at their remaining ample cap space? Sound off in the comments or hit us up on Twitter with your suggestions.