The Calgary Flames are carrying a 22-player active roster at the moment. When they recalled Jon Gillies from the AHL, they also sent Ryan Lomberg to the Stockton Heat. The reasoning for that is simple: cap space.
The salary cap ceiling for the 2018-19 season is $79,500,000. There are two key things to keep in mind regarding the salary cap: it’s calculated daily and players on the injured reserve still count against the cap.
The daily calculation of the salary cap works a lot like your spare change jar at home, just on a different scale. Let’s say the Flames operate under the cap for awhile; each day’s cap savings is pushed forward and can be used later in the season – this is how teams can add extra salary at the trade deadline. But like your change jar at home, you can only spend the money you have – teams can use their previous cap savings to fill roster holes, but they can’t use savings they haven’t stashed away yet and they can’t “borrow” against future cap space. The league blocks any transactions that make teams in violation of the cap ceiling.
The Flames have four players on the injured reserve – Michael Stone, Juuso Valimaki, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik – with a combined cap hit of just over $14 million, so replacing those players made things a bit tight. The Flames entered today with approximately $644,000 in accrued previous cap savings, but Lomberg’s cap hit is $710,000. With Gillies coming up, they had to make a move to stay under the cap ceiling and potentially give themselves a bit of cap flexibility down the road.
With Backlund potentially returning on the upcoming road trip, the Flames should gradually get a bit more breathing room underneath the cap ceiling. But for now, they’re operating with one extra healthy body (Dalton Prout) because they don’t have the cap space to carry more bodies.