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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.

  • The GREAT WW

    Trade Brouwer to the Oilers for Kassian.

    GG loves him.
    Brouwer would accept this trade; close to home.
    Back with GG.
    The Oilers are thinner than the Flames in the right side.


    • Who is Alberta’s team?

      So weak and desperate WW. Only In your dreams the oilers would take that plug and give up Kassian in the process? Remember it’s the flames who like to scoop up ex oilers and not the other way around. Hence Smid, Staois, Versteeg.

      I heard O Reilly is available. Then again he might be hesitant to go to a amateur team like the flames who almost surrendered 3 first round picks to NOT get him LOL. That’ll be on TSN’s top 10 biggest gaffs in the history of professional GMs for a longgggg time.

  • Skylardog

    The problem with not diving in and making some key trades now (and not 2 years down the road) is that the core is in its prime and is fully capable to make a run in the short term. To start planning for a run in 2 years means that Gio is too old, Backlund is in decline, and everyone is 2 years closer to a injury or a new UFA contract. We have had the luxury of many of out core guys being RFAs. That is coming to an end.

    With that in mind, they should be buying out Brouwer now, moving out one or 2 of the top 5 defensemen, and looking at moving out 1 or 2 good forwards to bring in 2 top, top forwards. That will take cap space at the end of the day.

    Using CapFriendly, with a Brouwer buyout, I have the current cap space at $7.6 million, which is 1 top 3 forward. To get the second, you need to move a Brodie or Stone, and trade out Bennett, Ferland or similar. Hate to do that, but it is the price to bring in top scorers.
    Leave Brouwer in the lineup and you just get some scoring – and go nowhere.

  • Sven

    Good luck trading anyone with a no trade clause to Edmonton

    “ESPN conducted its annual poll 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.”

    I’m thinking each and every no trade clause written in the last two decades includes:


    somewhere in the contract

  • WillyWonka

    Troy needs to be kept around as a depth player, because when the post season starts, not only do you need experienced bodies, but his size and toughness are in short supply on this team. Just keep him off the power play, and allow him to cycle in and out of the lineup trading places with Dube or Mangiapane, or whichever prospect is ready for NHL duty.
    Troy still has plenty to offer this team if he can embrace a different role than he was signed for. Sure it is an over pay but doesn’t mean he is useless.

  • buts

    Trade or bury him in the minors…..no buyout. Want to know how bad he is….if he wasn’t given all those PP minutes he would have had close to zero goals and less than 10 points

    • The GREAT WW

      Not at all Buts; you are selling him short; Brouwer is a power play specialist and would fit in really well on the Oilers!
      Exactly what they need…


  • loudogYYC

    I went to the Flames STH luncheon on Monday and brought up buyouts to KK during one on ones. I asked what the teams appetite was like for these and he said it’s not something they’re looking at now because there will be money and enough cap space next season, and that the penalty is rather high. He also said he knew who I was talking about (Brouwers name wasn’t mentioned).
    In fairness, I don’t think it’s a good idea to buy out a $4M+ player with 2 years left. Buy him out next summer or trade him at 50% RS. His NTC clause expires next month so there’s a little more flexibility for Tre moving forward.

  • FL?MES

    I think we know how this is likely going to play out. BT is fiscally responsible and will keep TB around to see if BP can make something better out of him. If nothing else we need a few extra bodies in the popcorn box. After this season is over It will be easier for BT to justify buying out his contract to the owners.

    If TB is such a good presence if the locker room he should great in a #13/14 role.

  • 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.

  • herringchoker

    I hope Tre has learned based on these buyouts……stay away from free agency. Its not worth it. Our best hope this year is Brouwer gets packaged somewhere. I’m also a realist. He will be in the lineup next season for shizzle.

    My hope is Foo and Mangiapane both come in to camp 10lbs heavier and with some real jump. I’m actually truely hoping Pourier signs and takes a giant step this off season and comes into camp with the attitude that he’s taking someones job. His first season was so promising. We like to blame Huska but, Huska played Gully’s and Hartley’s NHL systems. I think Huska made bad player management choices just like Gully by playing Pourier on the 3rd/4th line. The kid is still only 22/23. It boggles my mind. He’s not small……has some speed and plays RW. Thats the exact style the NHL has gone. I dunno………

    • Stockton's Finest

      If Poirier would play a 200′ game then I am with you. But watching him last year, he seems allergic to the defensive zone. Would like to see what he does under McLain, as he does have potential. But he needs to prove he can play on the full sheet of ice and not constantly looking to cherry pick stretch passes.

  • Off the wall

    Ari, I like the” Bryout” comment.
    That was clever.

    I’m sure that if we keep him off the Brouweplay and Brenaty kill, we will have a better season.

    Like WW, I’m hoping he misses his pal GG and we move him up north. I know, it’s not going to happen.

    Wait a sec, aren’t houses less expensive in Edmonton?
    I’m sure Brouwer would love to build a nice new house in Edmonton, he could have GG and family over for BBQ’s and lattes. Sell it to him Tre!!!

  • 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.

  • Honkydonk

    Last time I checked goals scored wins hockey games still and he does not do that.

    A buyout I say no! A trade and half retained I say yes! Less we forget we have a surplus of bottom feeding forwards that also have problems keeping the puck out of their own zone let alone score.

    Everyone talks about rolling four lines. Everyone talks about opening spots for prospects.

    Tell me how keeping Brouwer in the same vein as Hathaway accomplished any of our goals?

    Trade him half retained he will be taken by someone.

  • Skylardog

    Brouwer is not tradable, under any circumstances. Even retaining 50% salary, he still costs someone $2.25 for 2 seasons as a 4th liner that takes a spot away from one of that teams prospects.

    All the reasons we don’t want him, are the exact reasons other teams won’t want him.

    Of coarse you could trade him, retain 50%, throw in a 3rd rounder we don’t have, in return for a seventh rounder no one cares about.

    • The Fall

      His roll makes sense for a team like Vancouver. They have roster and cap space. They also have very few experienced forwards who can play 15 mins a night. Vancouver also seems to manage horrendous injuries every single season…

      • We have cap space but no need or roster space for Brouwer. We have at least 10 returning wingers (Boeser, Baertschi, Goldobin, Virtanen, Granlund, Gagner, Eriksson, Gaunce, Leipsic, Boucher). Petterson will likely win a spot and Dahlen may also as well. Add fringe players like Archibald and you can see we have more than enough (too many) wingers. Furthermore, we’re already pretty sore about signing Eriksson (signed at the same time as Brouwer), who was paid $16M over the last 2 years ($6M cap hit) and only delivered 47 pts over 115 games.

        If you want to swing a hockey trade with Vancouver, you’d need to offer something we desperately need like Top 4 defencemen or Top 9 scoring centres. If it’s a salary dump, you’d need to offer some decent draft picks because we’d otherwise need the roster spots for our younger players.

  • cjc

    The main reason a buyout makes sense is to free up a roster spot for somebody younger, cheaper and ready. Mangiapane comes to mind first, but I could also see Dube getting a shot. And what about Foo or Klimchuk? The whole point of a Brouwer buyout is to get better now, the cap isn’t so much of an issue (though overall they would still be better off buying him out).

  • 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.

  • Cheeky

    As much as I’d like to see Brouwer gone, a buyout doesn’t make business sense (it also would highlight the horrible signing). If we can somehow trade him (whether for a bag of pucks / salary retained), it would free up a spot for someone worthwhile. If nobody bites then he either turns it around under Peters or we have found our 13/14 th forward…

  • Off the wall

    My birthday is June 16.
    Other than reminding me I’m older than a deck has cards, I’d really love to read that the Brouwer conundrum has been dealt with.

    Thanks Treliving!

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • Atomic Clown

    Other than Tavares, there’s no one in the free agency market I’d like the flames to go for. Perron is inconsistent, Neal is getting older, Kane already signed, flames don’t need Carlson. Moving out one of Stone/Brodie is a must for Andersson. Combining the $10 million left over plus the savings from a Brodie/Stone trade, you can make a $9-$11 million push for Tavares. Makes no sense to buy out Brouwer this off-season. Next season however, I’m be disappointed if the flames didn’t

  • Vernon30

    BT’s job is on the line if there’s another failure like last year, so even if no buyout, he MUST use Brouwer in a 13/14 role. I’m fine with that…provided it happens.

    • Raffydog

      BT should’ve been fired at the end of this season. He took what was looking to be a promising, exciting, young team and loaded it up with fourth line scrubs that wouldn’t make the roster of any other team in the league. For some reason there is a fan base that has a blind devotion for Treliving, but other than the Hamilton trade he has done nothing to improve the team in his time here, If anything they are getting worse, just look at the results from this season for proof of that. It wasn’t that everbody on the team had bad luck, it is just a poorly constructed team.