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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.



  • The GREAT WW

    Nope.
    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.

    WW

    • 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.

  • 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…

      WW

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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

  • CalgaryBornandRaised

    While I think he should be bought out, he has not lived up to the contract in any way, if the Flames don’t I hope that BP holds people to standards and slots them correctly ie do…..not…..play….him…….on……the…PP

  • 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!!!

  • 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.

  • Off the wall

    Come to think of it, Brouwer’s a pretty good fighter when he drops the mitts.

    Maybe Rebar can turn him loose and channel his nasty side!

    Rebar can whisper “minors” in his ear before each shift.
    That’ll channel his inner Brouweful..

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Guys like Brouwer and Lucic will continue to try and drop some weight and improve their respective quickness but I am afraid you can’t get blood from a stone. Neither player was fast when they broke into the league but their lack of speed is really evident in this faster league. Both organizations will exhaust all option to get value from these contracts. Brouwer’s contract looks good compared to Lucic’s albatross.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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:

    ‘DO NOT TRADE ME TO EDMONTON’

    somewhere in the contract

  • Off the wall

    Ari do I have this correct?
    Trying to simplify the math..

    Scenario 1. We keep him two years, he cost us $9M (yuck)

    Scenario 2. We buy him out this year, we save $6M, but have 1.5M in penalties for 2 extra years.

    Scenario 3. We buy him out next year and save $3M and one year of penalty at $1.5M

    Scenario 4. We trade him, retain half salary that costs us $4.5M and replace him within or pick up an alternative at $1M per year.
    Total cost- $6.5M, including replacement

    Scenario 5. We convince him to waive his NTM- C and find a trading partner.

    Which scenario would you choose if you were the GM and had ownership to report to?

  • Nick24

    To those advocating Brouwer being sent to the minors: he has a No Move clause. He can’t just be sent down. The best course of action is just to sit tight with him unfortunately. Bite the bullet. The Flames will have cap space going into the offseason, so swinging for a forward and trading Stone/Brodie is probably as good as we’ll get. The Flames can still be competitive with Brouwer in the line up, as long as Peters doesn’t have the same appetite for the Brouwer-Play that Gully did.

    • Baalzamon

      he has a No Move clause

      Actually no, he doesn’t. He has a No Trade Clause. A NTC does not protect against waivers, nor does it protect against demotion (or the expansion draft).

  • cjc

    All, buyouts make more business sense. Instead of paying Brouwer 9 million for 2 more years, you pay him 6 million over 4. The difference (3 million) is negligible, and roughly equates to another player on an ELC each year. They can’t say it doesn’t make business sense.

    • Off the wall

      I agree with you cjc, I think Ari was making the logic of signing Tkachuk to his next contract (18-19) a future consideration to keep in mind. Perhaps that $1.5M is important to hang onto just in case..

      • piscera.infada

        I posted about this a few days ago, so I’ll just repeat the salient point here. If the argument for buying-out Brouwer is a cap-savings one, then not buying him out is the logical argument to make. Better to eat the cap-hit when you know you have the space to do so (now), then deferring that hit when you aren’t sure (two years from now).

        On the other hand, buying out Brouwer only makes sense if you’re doing so because you want to prevent the coach from making the mistake of overplaying him. I have time for this line of argument. We shouldn’t conflate the two though.

        • TurkeyLips

          This is a very good point. Buyouts are most appropriately used to create a vacancy on the roster. The problem with Brouwer is this league had passed him by, merely playing him is a compromise the Flames’ can ill afford.

  • 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.

  • Ramskull

    I think a buyout is the only real option or you have to keep him on your roster for another year and hope he can find his game (for the 3rd year in a row). I feel a bad contract for bad contract swap isn’t very likely. There’s two types of bad contracts. One where the player is still an NHLer but just overpaid and the other is the brouwer like contract where the players game has declined to a point where they are ineffective and their future as an NHLer is highly questionable.

  • 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!

  • Jobu

    If its true that he is not liked in the locker room, then get him out… NOW! We need some team unity up in this bizwatch! Same goes for anyone else who isn’t on board.

    If his salary gets in the way of signing a Tavares PLUS another quality player, then its an easy choice; buyout.

    If none of the above, then I’m willing to let him try a new role under Peters. Only if he shows some actual grit and determination this year!

    For Jobu, its not so much the cap hit as it is the roster spot. There are plenty of younger guys who are hungry for that spot and would probably be as good, if not better than “I, Brouw.” And if not, then there are cheaper equivalent or better players like him in free agency.

    • Baalzamon

      IF it’s happening (and that’s a big if) my bet is the Flames called about O’Reilly and the Sabres responded with “GIVE US THE DOUGIE!!!!1!”… at which point Treliving hung up.

    • supra steve

      If such a trade were to occur…My line of thinking says the Flames need to get ROR plus for Hamilton.
      Dougie is 2+ years younger and has a better value contract ($5.75M X 3yr) than ROR ($7.5M X 5yr). Dougie is a top pair D man and ROR is probably best in a 2nd line C role.

      So my question is, in a Dougie for ROR plus extra deal, what could the plus be?

      • supra steve

        I don’t think anyone WANTS to trade him, it’s only a matter of filling other holes in the roster. IF Brodie could step back into that first pairing role with Gio, then Hamilton could be available if and only if he is used to fill a couple of other needs.

        • piscera.infada

          I don’t see why you need to acquire both ROR and Tavares–if that’s even on the table, which it isn’t. Moreover, none of that solves the issue that trading Hamilton leaves you needing Hamilton.

          • Fat Tony

            I agree. We can’t trade Hamilton, however, if a deal can be struck for Brodie, he is a guy who can be replaced with a prospect ready to make the jump. That being a said we have a better chance of acquiring ROR than we do signing Tavares. Getting both, like you said is not on the table, it’s a pipe dream.

          • supra steve

            Sorry, wasn’t aware we had acquired Tavares. 🙂

            IF Brodie can fill that spot beside Gio (that’s a decision for the GM and his coaches), it creates a hole elsewhere, a hole that we are expecting to be created anyway with the much discussed trade of Brodie. This creates space for kids to try to fill, I think that’s a good thing.
            Meanwhile, ROR comes in and takes 1A/2 C duty on a line with Tkachuk. Backs moves down to his natural 3C position, Shore at 4C. Reinhart potentially takes the #1 or 2 RW position.

            I don’t WANT to trade Hamilton, but if he could fill a couple of other holes… Additionally a hole in the D needs to be created anyway, to make room for Andersson etc.

          • piscera.infada

            I think both was the original post. I don’t necessarily disagree, but I also think Hamilton is much better (to say nothing of being younger) than Brodie–even pre-Dougie. I like O’Reilly but I’m (personally( not willing to trade Dougie to acquire him.

            The only way I trade Hamilton is if I’m getting back what essentially amounts to Dougie, plus. I fear the organization feels differently.

          • supra steve

            Fair enough. But then, how do we fill the other holes? Brodie’s value is probably lower than it’s been in the last 5 years, not exactly the ideal time to sell, so how much can the Flames expect in return? A #2 RW? More?

          • piscera.infada

            I’m probably one of the few people that doesn’t think the Flames need to acquire a top-line RW–and I’m sure everyone will jump all over me for that, but go ahead. I think that goes doubly for trading Hamilton to do it.

            I also think the whole “only trade players at peak value” is a fundamentally flawed theory. It sounds like a fine idea, but how realistic is it in practice? Gaudreau is at peak value, maybe we should trade him because he’ll likely bring back a winger, fill a hole, and get a draft pick. Those are all needs, right?

            The problem with trading Hamilton is exacerbated with every year Giordano ages. Let’s imagine you trade Hamilton this offseason, get back whatever forwards, and then Gio falls off this year. Now what’s your top pairing? Sure, Gio falling off will be an issue even if you still have Hamilton, but Hamilton mitigates the risk to some extent.

          • Baalzamon

            Yeah, Calgary’s top six is actually pretty fearsome if you consider the facts that 3M’s on-ice shooting was in the toilet and Monahan and Ferland finished the season broken. The problem is in the bottom six and second defense pair. Get a better third line and something resembling shooting luck for the second and suddenly the burden is off of Gaudreau and co. and the Flames are a complete nightmare to match against. Fix that second pair and who knows.

            Hopefully Mangiapane or Dube (or Foo?) can be the guy that brings balance to the Force… uh, to the bottom six (or even top six, causing Frolik to fall down and fix the third line?) and there’s always trades for that too. A guy like, say, Kapanen could conceivably be a good fit for the third line as well, and much easier to trade for than that #1RW.

          • Kevin R

            The Hamilton available for trade seems to be popping up everywhere. Two fold is that is what a lot of other teams covet & would make for that blockbuster juicy trade the analysts love to drivel about. Brodie is better on the RH side but we have no room to move him there. Trading Hamilton accomplishes that but what a huge gamble on two fronts. That Brodie can elevate his game back up to a top pairing level with Gio & that Andersson & Valamki transition well, & I mean better than Kulak. I just dont see it & I really would love to get RoR. If Buffalo dangle RoR & Middlestat for Dougie, I do admit I would have a tough time saying no to that.

            Then again, Tre may be dangling Hamilton at some whacked out price to teams looking for D & then bait & switch at the draft & say well, we dont really want to move him but Brodie could be had for a way cheaper price that looks like a bargain compared to Hamilton price tag & we get excellent value & need for Brodie. Tre has done the unexpected at the last few drafts.

  • Bawcos

    Read the article but not the comment section. Yes to wait 1 year, CGY not in need of an extra 3mill this year so why not wait? 1.5mill could be useful in later years… thought we learned that already