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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Is this the time for the Flames to buy out Troy Brouwer?

On July 1, 2016, the Flames signed free agent right winger Troy Brouwer to a four-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.5 million per. Now halfway through, it’s probably safe to say Brouwer has not lived up to the expectations such a cap hit holds, and he probably never will.

Does that mean this offseason is the time to expunge Brouwer from both the lineup and the cap? Or would it be beneficial to wait a little longer?

Disclaimer: if the Flames can get anything other than a bad contract back from another team in exchange for Brouwer’s services, then they should do that without question. However, recall that he has a modified no-trade clause as well. (As wonderful people in the comments have pointed out, this expires on July 1!) His cap hit and lack of production makes one wonder just how easy he could be to move, though.

Which turns to the next most obvious solution: a buyout. The window will open June 15 – just over a week away, and when the 2017-18 NHL season will be officially over – and there’s really only one player of consequence who fits the bill.

Recent buyouts

The Flames have utilized the buyout a couple of times lately: on June 30, 2017, they bought out both Ryan Murphy (who they had just traded for in the Eddie Lack deal) and Lance Bouma (who they re-signed to a three-year, $2.2 million AAV deal following a 16-goal, 15.4 shooting percentage season he mysteriously was unable to replicate). They saved roughly $2.2 million in cap over 2017-18, and will incur an extra $904,167 on the cap over the 2018-19 season.

Earlier, following the 2015-16 season, the Flames bought out Mason Raymond when he still had one year remaining carrying a $3.15 million cap hit; they saved $2 million in the 2016-17 season, and were hit with an extra $1.05 million penalty in 2017-18.

What would a Brouwer buyout (or Bryout) cost?

The purpose of a buyout is clear: save some coin, save cap space in the immediate, and trade that off for an extra cap penalty later. The Flames could, for example, simply not buy Brouwer out at all, and be completely free of his cap hit in two years’ time. He’ll carry a $4.5 million cap hit over those two years, but once they’re over, that’s it.

If the Flames were to buy Brouwer out this offseason, they would save $3 million in cap space over the next two seasons, but carry an extra $1.5 million in penalties over the following two seasons (2020-21 and 2021-22). Though not as great a cap hit, it’s still a bigger penalty than they’ve been willing to incur in recent years.

If the Flames were to keep Brouwer on the roster this season and buy him out in a year’s time, then they would save $3 million in cap space only in 2019-20, but only carry that extra $1.5 million penalty in 2020-21, with 2021-22 being left off the hook.

When will the Flames need cap space?

You don’t buy Brouwer out for the sake of buying him out. Is he overpaid? Yes. Is he going to come within spitting distance of 20 goals or 40 points again? Probably not. Is he the worst hockey player of all time? Absolutely not. Can he serve as a decent enough depth player? Yes.

The only reason to buy Brouwer out is if the Flames are short on cap space and need it sooner rather than later.

The NHL currently has an upper limit of $75 million. For 2018-19, that may jump up to $80 million.

For 2018-19, the Flames – including Brouwer – currently stand at $62.5 million, with another eight players still to sign: five forwards, two defencemen, and one goalie. The goalie and defencemen can likely be had for cheap – David Rittich and/or Jon Gillies shouldn’t be too expensive to re-sign, neither should Brett Kulak, and Rasmus Andersson’s entry-level contract comes in at an easy $755,833. If we’re generous and giving the other two parties $1 million each, then that’s still just under $15 million left to sign five forwards.

Of those forwards, it’s easy to see a bunch coming in at cheap prices: Nick Shore, Garnet Hathaway, Mark Jankowski, and a Spencer Foo or Andrew Mangiapane (or both?) can likely all come in together at around $5 million, which could leave the Flames still with $10 million in cap space – and that’s without a Michael Stone or TJ Brodie trade, and with Brouwer still on the team.

Now, that definitely won’t be good enough – the Flames need to upgrade their forward group – but with maybe $10 million to spare, if you wanted to dream big and pick up John Tavares, well, it’s doable, even without the extra $3 million a Brouwer buyout would grant.

There’s one other very good reason to hold off on a Bryout, and his name is Matthew Tkachuk.

After the 2018-19 season, the Flames will have a trio of forwards set to become restricted free agents: Sam Bennett (hasn’t shown enough yet to prove he deserves a major raise), Micheal Ferland (ditto), and Tkachuk (has 97 points through 144 games, all while playing hard minutes on a primarily defensive line and only just starting to get major powerplay time, is already making a case to be named the heart and soul of this team even though it’s only been two seasons, is very very very very good). Sure, an extra $1.5 million probably isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things, but mistakes add up – and considering how Tkachuk could already very easily end up looking at a $6+ million contract like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, why spend even more on cap when Tkachuk is getting paid?

On the other hand, the only players currently signed for the 2020-21 season – the first year of cap penalty a hypothetical Bryout would incur – are Gaudreau, Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Mark Giordano, and Dougie Hamilton. That leaves a lot of room to fill up over the near future, and of course, there’s no chance any costly mistakes will be a part of that.

Ultimately, though, the Flames likely won’t be that desperately in need of an extra $3 million in cap space in 2018-19 – so why get rid of someone who can still be a serviceable player while adding unnecessary cap to future seasons? The entire discussion changes if the moves they make over the offseason require that extra $3 million, but they should have plenty of room even without it.

    • supra steve

      I had mentioned him earlier as a piece (along with Hamilton) to acquire ROR and Reinhart, so I was considering him unavailable. Would love to keep Janko, but if Backs does end up back at #3 C, do we want Janko at #4C?

  • BendingCorners

    If BT can get Tavares and/or ROR somehow then buying out Brouwer is probably necessary, in spite of the cap overhang dragging into the next CBA.
    Otherwise just waive him to Stockton, he can provide scoring and leadership there while the new WHL graduates develop.
    I doubt he can be traded for anything we would want, but would certainly not object.
    And only a fool would trade Dougie for anything less than a franchise player.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Get over it everyone, Brouwer isn’t going anywhere. Who in there right mind would take him with his poor production and high salary.
    He’ll make a decent 4th liner, 2 more years then he’s gone.

  • Korcan

    I’ve mentioned this before: Brouwer is the one player on Calgary’s roster where addition by subtraction actually works. He is so overpaid that the Flames could improve the team by taking the penalty in $ incurred from buying him out, because what $ is left over could easily get them a more effective player at his position. In the end Calgery would be spending the same amount, or even less, on salary and still have a stronger roster. It is classic addition by subtraction.

    ‘IF’ Brouwer was a more intimidating presence, willing and able to drop the mitts to defend a teammate (a la Deryk Engelland), he could actually have some value for the team. He’s a big guy who is capable of winning fights. But the way he plays intimidates no one and I don’t see him, at this stage in his career, embracing a different role and risking getting hurt when he’s already making 4.5M per.

    So my view is take the $ hit and make the team better now. With so much parity within the league, and with a brand new coaching staff, why not go for it now rather than waiting another one or two years. Give the team their best chance now.

  • freethe flames

    The idea of a RoR for Hamilton trade is interesting and yes the Flames would need more. RoR would help at the center Ice position and could play in our top but he is not the ideal fit. So if I’m in this negotiation I also want a RW and as Reinhart is likely out of the question how about 2 of these 4: Pu, Fashing, Baptiste or Bailey.

    • Korcan

      I love RoR, but if Tre is considering trading Hamilton, an elite rhs defenseman, it had better be for a definite #1 center or an elite forward (i.e. Marner) . I would be more open to O’Reilly for a package including a blue chip prospect (I.e. Fox) and a roster player (I.e. Jankowski or Brodie). He’s a great forward, but he’s at his peek and will not be getting any better. Plus, he carries a heavy contract with him. RoR is Baclund with a little more offense and better faceoff skill. If he were on Calgary’s roster he would likely be their #2 center.

    • The Real Slim Brodie

      With that kind of hitting power I wouldn’t trade brouwer lol. I say we keep him and see how he reacts to a new coach. I have a gut feeling brouwer is going to be the one to score a clutch goal to advance the flames or catch fire in the playoffs. No joke

      • The Real Slim Brodie

        If buying out brouwer isn’t an option this year, keep him on the 4th line and alternate him in and out of the lineup. I think he could prove useful as depth in the playoffs if he can recover even a fraction of his usefulness under a new coach.

    • The Real Slim Brodie

      Nice goal but did anyone notice both hits were almost directly to the head? Wow that was lightning in a bottle too bad the oilers spent it all on one series. Oh well a few more top 3 draft picks and they can try again.

  • Just.Visiting

    The real question to me isn’t the cost in the financial sense between keeping TB and the buyout option. It’s actually the “opportunity cost” of what the Flames can’t do because they have TB around.

    I do not see him as a particularly helpful piece if we envision the Flames as trying to position themselves as being a serious contender next spring or the following season. He’s slow, and gets moved up in the lineup because of his veteran status for roles he shouldn’t have at all.

    The reality is that he is eating up minutes that would better be invested in Foo, Mange, Dube, Klimchuk, etc. to initiate them into a role that would allow them to contribute at a higher level than TB in due course and, in the immediate sense, add some badly needed speed to the forecheck.

    What we had didn’t work. That’s why the thinking has to move beyond trying to keep TB around as a salvage choice and continuing to look at Backlund and Frolik as a second line tandem.

    If buying TB out gives serious pause about pursuing marginal veteran free agents in the future, I don’t think that’s entirely a bad thing at all.

      • Ramskull

        Spezza. There actually a lot to like. Good face off %, good possession metrics, he had a rough year shooting % wise, if you him put on the wing he wouldn’t have as much heavy lifting, he’d give a RH option on the pp and at the dot, he’s kinda goofy. I wonder if we could get a 40 pt season from a 35 year old Spezza.

          • Ramskull

            That would work too but unlike a lot of folks on this site I don’t think we are signing Tavares nor do I think we’re trading Hamilton for RoR. I also don’t think Phillips or Dube are going to make this team out of camp and fill in one our RW holes. So if there was a year we can carry a bloated 1 year contract it’s this year. We have big holes to fill on the right side and Spezza is still a serviceable NHLer and would slot nicely onto the 3rd line. I’m just not sure you could take a 35 year old who’s played C his whole career and turn him into a winger but if we could turn Brouwer into Spezza at no additional cost I’d take that deal. I’m not sure dallas would though.

  • FL🔥MES

    When you look at the game day lineup and think “oh …., not him”
    that’s a simple way to tell if a guy should be bought out.

    The finance side of me understands why it makes sense to keep TB for at least one more season but the fan side of me thinks “oh …., not him.”

    • Off the wall

      I wouldn’t give a nickel to support a buyout for Brouwer.
      However, if you decide to go fund me for $4.5M, I promise never to comment on FN again!

      Or you could buy me a beer too, that would be nice.

      Cheers

  • paperbagprince

    “the Bryout” has to be up there as one of the most annoyingly frustrating topics on FL… along with WW vs Backs, Train97 vs everyone, Lambert vs everyone… yadda yadda… been reading for a long time too. I just wish it was all a bad dream. Please go away.

  • oilcanboyd

    If the max salary cap goes up, doesn’t the min salary cap go up too? Isn’t there any teams left that could use a 4.5 million dollar cap hit to reach the minimum??

  • freethe flames

    I was reading on a Habs site that they are also interested RoR as well. The thing is with all these rumors out there one has no idea what to expect. I’m hoping Washington wins tomorrow so the rest of the league can get about it’s business.

  • oddclod

    Peters is already dead on arrival in my books for mentioning the Brouwer fossil dig in his presser over the Sam Bennett revival project.

    This franchise knows no end to one step forward 2 back.

    IMO Peters is the better coach but this reeks of management tampering / interference. Perhaps that’s why Gulutzan really tossed sticks. Guaranteed they kept the Brouwer play in motion to spark any value for a trade and it failed miserably and cost them the season.

    Yes the season. If that powerplay ticked they woulda been in contention for a spot over LA. They did it before.

    Blech. Calgary Hockey. Hopeless. Glad I shot my seasons into the sun 4 years ago. Paid for a nice music production studio instead and hope to play the dome someday and wear a Brouwer jersey for dark satire. @oddclod

    • The GREAT WW

      Let’s see if Brouwer is here at the start of the season….
      Let’s see if Brouwer has an “A” on his chest….
      Let’s see if Brouwer is on the PP……
      Let’s see if Brouwer is on the top 3 lines……
      ….Before jumping to conclusions.

      WW

      • oddclod

        The initial coach presser was a pretty strong hint at a full on fossil dig Wilt. Conclusion rendered. Full on management tampering. Even Torts said it. That’s what happens in technocracies. Utter stagnation.

  • SeanCharles

    I agree with the ppl saying his roster spot is the most valuable aspect to free up.

    I’m so sick of him on the team and want to see a young player take his spot. I hated the signing the second I heard about it and the 2 yrs since has made things even worse.

    He’s the only real troublesome contract on the team, which is nice, but unless they demote him or scratch him regularly I want him gone by any means necessary.

  • Kevin R

    Sounds like the Brouwout could be a solid basis for the next CBA battle. If “Guaranteed Contracts ” were gone by the way of the dodo bird, we wouldnt have to have these kind of articles. Here’s a big trade, Owners get rid of the Cap & players get rid of the Guaranteed Contracts. :->

  • redwhiteblack

    He is not a cog that makes this team go. It is inevitable he is gone so why wait. I said the same thing about GG. Cut the losses and move forward. Stating he is of value is BS. Don’t fear buying out bad contracts. It would be a positive move for the fan base and culture.