Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Flames’ salary cap outlook following the draft

The Calgary Flames made a major move on day two of the 2018 NHL Draft, sending Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and top prospect Adam Fox to Carolina in exchange for Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin.

It’s a big move that begins the most tumultuous time of year: free agency.

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How does the salary cap look?

The cap for 2017-18 is $79.5 million. The Flames have the following players locked into NHL jobs right now:

  • G Mike Smith – $4.25 million
  • D Mark Giordano – $6.75 million
  • D TJ Brodie – $4.65 million
  • D Travis Hamonic – $3.57 million
  • D Michael Stone – $3.5 million
  • LW Johnny Gaudreau – $6.75 million
  • C Sean Monahan – $6.375 million
  • C Mikael Backlund – $5.35 million
  • RW Troy Brouwer – $4.5 million
  • RW Michael Frolik – $4.3 million
  • LW Sam Bennett – $1.95 million
  • LW Curtis Lazar – $950,000
  • LW Matthew Tkachuk – $925,000

Adding in the two buyouts that are still on the cap (Lance Bouma and Ryan Murphy), the Flames have $55 million committed to 13 players – one goaltender, four defensemen and eight forwards.

What about restricted free agents?

Qualifying offers are due at 3 p.m. MT on Monday to any restricted free agents that the Flames intend to retain. The Flames have several potential RFAs in their system.

Players with “[A]” next to their name have arbitration rights.

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  • Goaltenders Jon Gillies [A] and David Rittich
  • Defensemen Noah Hanifin and Brett Kulak [A]
  • Forwards Elias Lindholm [A], Nick Shore [A], Mark Jankowski [A], Garnet Hathaway [A], Hunter Shinkaruk, Austin Carroll [A], Morgan Klimchuk, Hunter Smith, Daniel Pribyl and Emile Poirier

(Note: Pribyl has signed a contract with HC Sparta Praha for next season, but the Flames might qualify him to retain his North American rights.)

Matt Cane has forecasted the expected cap hits for pending free agents based on a model he built. For key Flames RFAs, the expected cap hits look like this:

  • Lindholm: $4.978 million
  • Hanifin: $2.336 million
  • Jankowski: $1.31 million
  • Hathaway: $1.055 million
  • Shore: $1.003 million
  • Kulak: $820,000
  • Rittich: $816,000

Presuming that any modelling errors balance out, plugging these players into the Flames produces a cap hit of around $67.3 million for 20 players. That would leave them with approximately $12.17 million to (a) fill three depth roster spots and/or (b) upgrade their roster via trade or free agency.

For what it’s worth, all indications we’ve been given are that Flames management is sitting down with Lindholm’s camp early this week to hash out a deal.

What about unrestricted free agency?

The Flames have 11 pending unrestricted free agents. While it’s unlikely that many of them will be brought back, due to the seeming appetite within the organization for youth and some fresh faces, we can categorize the Flames UFAs into two broad categories.

Won’t be back: Jaromir Jagr has signed a contract with the club he owns, HC Rytiri Kladno, for the upcoming season. We’ve also been informed that Matt Stajan won’t be offered a contract by the Flames, so he’s off to test the open market.

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Probably won’t be back: Also on expiring contracts are Cody Goloubef, Kris Versteeg, Marek Hrivik, Tyler Wotherspoon, Tanner Glass, Chris Stewart, Matt Bartkowski, Dalton Prout and Luke Gazdic. Aside from perhaps Hrivik, who was decent before getting injured, it seems unlikely that there’s a fit for these players within the Flames organization.

Sum it up

Expect the Flames to be busy in free agency. They have a big chunk of cap space available to upgrade their roster and likely still have an appetite to add some scoring. But even in the absence of that, the turnover within their minor pro and depth ranks suggests that they’ll need to be active so they can fill out Stockton’s roster.

In other words, expect a newsworthy next couple of weeks.


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  • Meister Jagr

    Expendable: Brouwer, Bennet, Stone. Needs: RW. Love to see a big name signing: Karlsson, Tavares. Why are we not in for these guys. Karlsson plays like 30 minutes a game, we would only need to dress 4 D, lol. Love to see Stajan and Steeger back at the right price!

        • Mickey O

          Versteeg is a good-in-the-room guy way above Brouwer. Versteeg only really wants to play here as well, to be close to family. The team will likely give him a PTO to see if he’s fully recovered from hip surgery.

          If he’s okay with a 13th man role who figures to see quite a few games then you could do way worse. Steeger is versatile and can play both wings up and down the lineup.

      • HAL MacInnis

        Is this a recurring injury for Versteeg? …or does he keep finding new ways to hurt himself?

        I like him though, he’s hilarious and crafty. Didn’t he yell out, “F___ you, Elliott!” in one of his games? Man, I love that cripple.

  • cjc

    Although I’m hesitant to form the Calgary Hurricanes, Derek Ryan was one of the better possession forwards on their team. He’d look very good in a 3rd line role as a C-RW, taking key faceoffs. He’ll probably want some term though, but should be relatively cheap (3 million x 4 range?). Also doesn’t have an inflated S%. Then you get something like

    Bennett-Backlund-Tkachuk (Tkachuk switches wings)
    Klimchuk (or generic 4LW)-Shore-Brouwer/Foo

    Dube, Phillips both play in the AHL, which, I am okay with unless they are blowing the doors down in preseason.

      • everton fc

        I’d take Ryan over Shore, as 4th line centre. But Ryan’s getting old. Shore’s still relatively young. But w/Dube in the wings, maybe Ryan short term, is a good bridge, until Dube’s ready? So down the middle – Monahan/Backlund/Jankowski/Ryan. Not bad.

        • cjc

          I would too, but Ryan was basically a 2b in Carolina, so dropping him to a 4th line role might not make sense. I think he’ll want at least 3 years though, so maybe there isn’t a fit.

  • Day1-Cfan

    This summers signings and the first 3 months of the upcoming season will tell us a lot about BT’s future here in Calgary. His has been backed in to a corner now, sink or swim.
    I hope that BT and BP can turn the fortunes of Flames around, but I have been hoping for the same thing every year and here I sit hoping again.

  • everton fc

    I wouldn’t mind the Flames going after Antoine Roussel, if they can get him cheap. He’d be a nice fit here, is good at faceoffs, he’s fast, he’s a good firechecker, agressive, goes after pucks, good on the PK… If they don’t see Hathaway havign value as an everyday 4th liner, but more and extra forward, and they buyout Brouwer, Roussel might be a good fit here.

  • canadian1967

    I just traded Stone and a 2019 3rd to Toronto for a 2019 2nd and 4th.
    Also traded Frolik and Gillies to Fla for Bjugstad
    Then signed Vanek, Ryan, Oduya & Bernier, and still have $5M cap space left over.

  • EhPierre

    None of the UFA’s look that great (other than JT) so I’m hoping Tre stays away. Some of the RFA’s on certain teams look real good but I doubt Tre swoops in and steals them. Just because we have the cap space now doesn’t mean we should bring in replaceable/30 yr old players just so we fill out the cap space. I rather keep the cap space and see if there are any trades to be made during the season.

  • MDG1600

    I think Flames are a lot closer to the cap than this article presents because in a year they need to up Tkachuk to probably $5M a year. Maybe they can buy out Brouwer in a year and use the $$ to help sign Tkachuk. Free Agents inevitably end up overpaid (insert pic of Brouwer) and I just don’t see Calgary being able to add the quality depth they need to be a legit cup contender. What we really need is for Dube or Mangiapane to turn in to a solid (and cheap) 2nd or 3rd liner in the next year or two.

  • cjc

    Another thought for getting Andersson some games, if they don’t move Stone: Dress 7 D. It’s an idea that has been out there in the analytics community for some time, and it’s had some success when it has been tried. The idea is, that you can double shift your high-end forwards down the lineup, boosting production from your lower lines. Even with the Hanifin downgrade, Calgary theoretically has a lot of skill on D. If benching Stone isn’t palatable, and you want Andersson in the lineup, you also get some minutes there.


  • rusty_shakleforde

    I just wonder who they’ll target in free agency…I just took a look and most are around 30 or older, and the scorers that are available are mostly in their twilight years. JvR looks really good in comparison, tho most folk here don’t seem to want him (for me personally, I would rather him than Grabner). Any other suggestions?

    Lots of goalies tho!

    • Jeremy

      I like it too, imagine

      Johnny Money Bing Legit first line
      JVR Jankow Lindholm Jankow has way more offensive talent than Backs
      Benny Backs Frolik Backs as a third line shut down is proper role
      Mangy Shore Hathaway Young cheap perfect for the fourth energy line

    • piscera.infada

      The reason you don’t want JVR is because his ask is going to be way too much to stomach–both term and dollars. Babcock also had him regularly playing fourth line minutes and qual comp. He’s basically a powerplay specialist at this point, and a ludicrously expensive one at that.

    • Off the wall

      I think we really need to address our goaltending situation as well.

      I love Smith and I make no apologies for this. I just want to see our team with a solid backup. I’m not confident in either Rittich or Gillies as backup this season. Sorry guys, you faltered down the stretch, we need someone who can hold the fort during Smiths days off.

      We really should be prepared for Smith’s eventual departure!

      • rusty_shakleforde

        We BETTER be going after Hutton. He’s looking for a 3 year deal, .931 sv%, what’s not to like? It would be so good to finally have some goaltending solidity.

        • Baalzamon

          A St. Louis Blues goalie born in 1985 who’s never been a starter and has posted mediocre results for most of his career… where have I heard that before?

      • HAL MacInnis

        I’d love nothing more than for us to have a goalie that will challenge Smith for the top spot. I’m reminded of when Ramo and Hiller kept battling it out that one year and they sure seemed to feed off each other’s performances. I can only imagine that sort of scenario bringing out the very best in an already competitive Mike Smith.

    • Baalzamon

      for me personally, I would rather [Van Riemsdyk] than Grabner

      That’s like saying you’d rather get kicked in the shin than the crotch. They both suck, but if you have to choose…

  • Baalzamon

    I still think the Flames will bring Goloubef back. If they don’t what will Stockton do for RD? Also it would make that contract he signed after the Olympics kind of pointless, wouldn’t it?

    Also, those numbers for Lindholm and Hanifin look very low. If Lindholm was going to sign for under 5 per Carolina would have kept him. And no way Hanifin gets a bridge. He’ll sign long term like Ekblad did (though he’ll thankfully get less, in spite of being a better player).

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Agreed. If Hanifin’s 3-year stats are on par with Hamilton’s first three years, then taking into account comparables, inflation and even a new team discount, the kid doesn’t sign for less than $5.25M a year. $5.25M a season is the figure Lindhom’s people are citing just to get a meaningful discussion started. Look for both guys combined to carry a cap hit of between $10.5 to $11.5M a pop.

      • Seabass

        Agree that Hanifin will get more, but I think the Lindholm number is pretty tight. To me, one of Tre’s biggest strengths is negotiating with RFA’s. Gaudreau, Monahan, Bennett and Hamilton are all examples. He may take a little longer which can make us a little nervous over summers past, but it always gets done.

        I’m thinking long term deals on the both of them. Great deals for the club as we will be buying low. My projected numbers are 6 years at 5 for Lindholm and 6 at 4.75 for Hanifin. Lindholm’s topping out at 45 points so far will keep him there and while the stat is deceptive often, Hanifin’s +- and maxing 10 points lower than Hamilton at the same stage when signing will keep him lower. Any other GM would end up paying the 2 of them an extra million total.

        Time will tell, but I would be very happy with this outcome.

  • Sven

    I like Stone-

    but i have to think that Andersson is not going to be a significant step down if we can move Mr Stone and his $3.5 M contract

    and I remember listening to a top scout prior to the 2017 draft – after being asked if anyone in the draft other than Hischier and Patrick where NHL ready at the time of the draft answering:


  • Oil consuming Flames

    $2.336M for Hanifin ? Not a chance, Stone make $3.5M and definitely down the depth chart from Noah. $3.5M is bridge deal for max 2 years, and we’ll probably end up seeing 5 or 6 years, $5M AAV. (Range 4.75-5.5)
    Lindholm lands around Backlund’s deal. 6 years $5.35M AAV. (Range 5.0-6.0)

    They should certainly try to sign Wotherspoon, if he will after developing him. He’s at best a #5, and at least a #7.

    UFA targets.
    JVR – 30 goals guy
    Neal- older 30 goals guy
    Ryan- cheaper 15 goals guy (rhs)
    Hutton- 1 / 1A goalie to push Smith.

  • SgtRoadBlock

    The Calgary Flames announced today that the following nine players have received qualifying offers from the club:

    Jon Gillies (G)

    Noah Hanifin (D)

    Garnet Hathaway (RW)

    Mark Jankowski (C)

    Morgan Klimchuk (LW)

    Brett Kulak (D)

    Elias Lindholm (RW)

    David Rittich (G)

    Hunter Shinkaruk (LW)

    The following players did not receive qualifying offers:

    Austin Carroll (RW)

    Emile Poirier (LW)

    Daniel Pribyl (C)

    Nick Shore (C)

    Hunter Smith (RW)

  • Oil consuming Flames

    Players to qualify:

    Jon Gillies – Yes
    David Rittich – Yes

    Noah Hanifin – Yes
    Brett Kulak – Yes

    Elias Lindholm – Yes
    Nick Shore – Yes
    Mark Jankowski – Yes
    Garnet Hathaway – Yess
    Hunter Shinkaruk – No
    Austin Carroll – No
    Morgan Klimchuk – Yes
    Hunter Smith – Yes
    Daniel Pribyl – maybe (signed in Europe)
    Emile Poirier – No

    Wotherspoon can’t be qualified, he’s an UFA. But he can be signed before July 1.