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FlamesNation Mailbag: Offseason anxieties

With that clinching business out of the way, let’s look forward to an offseason that will have tough decisions caused by a cap crunch. Sounds fun!

I’d probably throw out all concerns about an offer sheet right off the bat. A team hasn’t attempted one since the Flames’ ill-fated attempt to pick up Ryan O’Reilly in 2013, and only two other offer sheets have been signed this decade. Teams have had the opportunities to pick up great players for reasonable amounts of money. NHL GMs are risk-averse and the prices to pay are pretty steep, so it’s a rarely used tactic.

But if you really needed that bit of extra stress, let’s work through this. What could a Matthew Tkachuk offer sheet look like?

Tkachuk is probably going to be somewhere in the $7-9M range, which takes out several teams right off the get go based on pick compensation, according to CapFriendly. A quick glance at cap situations, pending free agents, and some back of hand calculations whittles the list down to Carolina, Detroit, Florida, New Jersey, the Islanders, the Rangers, and Ottawa.

Detroit, New Jersey, the Rangers, and Ottawa are rebuilding and probably won’t fork over the high-end draft picks they have when their problems are larger than what one player could solve. The remaining teams could feasibly do it, but there’s also a number of high-end UFAs that could do the same job without additional costs. If they want to spend Tkachuk money, they can do so without forfeiting the picks.

The Flames will undoubtedly match an offer sheet should one pop up. I think the only number the team would walk from would be over $10M, mostly because it would be an impossible situation for them. If someone really wants to offer him $2M more than what the market says, they can forfeit the four first rounders that come with it.

(Also: Tkachuk has to accept the offer sheet, which I think would be unlikely for any of those teams. Why go from one of the best teams in the league to mediocre and below?)

Will C asks:

I think this is a legitimate question… With cap concerns next year, do the Flames consider a sell high scenario with Brodie to get some money off the books and to make way for Andersson, Kylington and Valimaki?

I think it’s a tempting thing to consider, especially given how well the Dougie Hamilton trade has worked out for Calgary. The Flames bet that Mark Giordano was good enough to thrive regardless of his partner, making Hamilton a fine piece to dangle for what they needed. Brad Treliving loves his draft day blockbusters. Perhaps lightning could strike twice.

But there are some differences between the Dougie trade and a potential TJ Brodie one. For one, the Flames don’t have the same glaring deficiencies as they did last summer. They desperately needed a bona fide top line RW and were willing to pay big for one. Now their top six is pretty solid (and if the Jason Zucker trade eventually materializes, even more so), their bottom six is functional, and they still haven’t seen the best from youths like Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube. The defence, as mentioned in the question, is also young and getting better.

I think management’s perspective will be that trading away a key asset like Brodie should net more than just draft picks and cap space. Yes, they need room to sign Tkachuk, but they are going to hesitate to throw away one of their top players to get it done. The team has an improvement-first mindset in place: if the trade doesn’t make the team better in the immediate future, why bother? The Flames are ready to win now. It’s harder to do that if they’re trading away players who helped get the team to that place.

The only position that could definitely use an upgrade is goaltending, but the team still might not go for it. They are already first in the West despite goaltending being an obvious problem since day one. Mike Smith has posted an .896 SV% in 36 games this year, how hard can it be to replace those performances for under Smith’s cap hit? Even if the team wanted to go all in on a goalie, which potential trade partners would trade a good, young goalie who can play a 1A/1B role for an expiring UFA defenceman that’s approaching 30?

The final thing that makes this a less than desirable proposition for the GM is replacing Brodie. One of the key contingencies to the Hamilton deal is that Calgary knew that they could go back to the Brodano pairing, which served them well in the Bob Hartley era. If Bill Peters’ blender is any indication, Rasmus Andersson will likely be the guy to play up with Giordano should Brodie disappear. That’s a lot of faith to put in a rookie, and especially a rookie who has only played ~180 minutes at 5v5 with Giordano. With Brodano, they had substantial evidence to believe it could work again, and it has. With Andersson, it’s almost entirely faith.

The Flames are probably going to make a sacrifice to the salary cap gods to pay Tkachuk and David Rittich, but Brodie might not be the one moved. There are other assets making more than they should that can hopefully be thrown onto the pyre to make those deals work.

If it should happen, I think New Jersey could be an interesting destination. They have defensive deficiencies, cap space, a few interesting prospects, and a load of top 100 picks that could make this work. St. Louis will move into their post-Jay Bouwmeester era, and do have a few cheap forwards to spare. The dream is to Nashville for Juuse Saros. I don’t think the Preds would want another defenceman on their already loaded defence for a cheap, young, and reliable backup. But it is just a dream, after all.

Well, there’s a defensive logjam because that they can’t send anyone to the AHL, so Valimaki is probably staying in the AHL.

Which is fine. Oscar Fantenberg is holding down the 3LD spot perfectly fine, and Oliver Kylington could step up if needed. Valimaki has been doing just fine with Stockton for the time being. If the Flames don’t really need him, it’s probably best for him to get good minutes in the AHL.

Fantenberg’s been just fine, which is all the Flames need. It’s been seven games, but he has a 59.76% CF which is pretty good. Given his tenure in LA, I don’t think that lasts forever (both sub-50% CF seasons), but as long as he isn’t doing any noticeable damage he’s fine. He’s the Derek Ryan of defencemen: not going to make the decisive play, but he’s not going to make a bad one either. You can do much worse than Fantenberg.

If the Flames keep him around (2018 deadline acquisition Nick Shore didn’t stick around despite some decent hockey) he’s probably the 7D for next season. He can come in, play some minutes, and provide cover for injuries or players going through slumps. I can’t foresee him stealing a job or being a long-term piece, but I’m fine with him sticking around. He’s the cheap depth that helps teams win in the cap era  He’s a more functional Dalton Prout.

Vegas is a very scary team to run into if the Flames don’t clinch home ice. Mark Stone has helped their scoring woes (I had to double check when writing this – Alex Tuch is currently the leading scorer on a team with Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault, and William Karlsson), and the Knights are only starting to look better and better. They’re 8-2 in their last 10 and haven’t shown signs of slowing down. Also, the whole “haven’t won in Vegas” thing adds a superstitious edge to this.

  • withachance

    STL or NJD for Brodie are interesting. They definitely need the defensive help.

    Would STL give up Kyrou and/or Thomas? Palmieri would be a dream get from the Devils, or a package including Miles Wood and draft picks

  • Jobu

    Senators couldn’t get Valimaki in a Stone Deal so they instead traded him to our toughest competition for much much less than Valimaki.

    Spiteful. Trade relationship broken after that move.

    That, combined with the Zucker fall through must have made Treliving absolutely livid. I’d be having a beer or two (or twenty) after that deadline too.

    • withachance

      I wouldnt say much much less than Valimaki – Brannstrom was rated extremely high within the scout circles. He was one of the top players not in the NHL before the trade.

      That said it’ll be that much sweeter when VGK gets knocked out this year having sold a big part of their future for Stone.

        • withachance

          I guess I meant they had to give away their best prospect for Stone. A dman when their d corps are filled with meh defencemen (barring Schmidt and Theodore) – they’re gonna need to replace Engelland, McNabb, Merrill and probably Miller

      • withachance

        Apparently Zucker was pissed and went to management and said he wanted to stay. Not sure if that happened before or after though. Also heard it mightve been an error in submitting the trade slip to the league

  • Skylardog

    Ran the cap numbers at cap friendly trying to figure out where we are without moving anyone, signing the guys that we need to (Benny, Ritter, Mangiapane, and Matty) as well as a back up goalie (I used Anders Nilsson for an example to fill the spot). Even using just $7.0M for Matty, and signing goalies for a reasonable $6.5M, we are real tight, and that is assuming an $85M cap as some TSN analysts are saying may happen, not the $83M that is more commonly being estimated. I used Ritter at $4.0M based more on Edmonton screwing up the goalie market, but even so, the backup price at $2.5M is a bit low to get a good one.

    The fact is, the cap is extremely tight, even if Tkachuk signs for just $7.0M. If comes in at $83M, we will have to move parts just to get guys we have to keep signed. If he wants $9.0M this gets very difficult.

    I could see a $9.0M offer sheet just to put pressure on the Flames to sign him at near market value given Tre’s history. Who wouldn’t want the Byng in a rebuild to put in your stable for the next 7 years.

    And all of this is before we try to pick up a top 6 forward.

    The facts are that Frolik and likely Brodie need to go just to free up the cap space we need. Stone is likely untradeable given his health scare, position as at best a 7th DMan, and his only playing 12 games. Are you as a GM taking Stone on for any asset or price? They won’t take him to help get the Flames out of cap hell.

    To upgrade the top 6, you probably need to move Brodie and Frolik, and then move Janko and or Mangi plus picks to get a good top 6 forward. No use messing with marginal upgrades here, we need high end guys for the window of 3 more years.

    My capfriendly assessment was done about 2 weeks ago and is here:

    https://www.capfriendly.com/forums/thread/208409&post_id=773739

    • withachance

      Yeah, I think Tre also knows he’s going to have to move some pieces around at the draft this year. Definitely too close for comfort. Also think Czarnik will be in play as a packageable asset. I think Brodie is enough to get a top 6 winger considering the positive season he’s having, Frolik moved for cap reasons, and maybe a Stone buyout as well. Along with Smith coming off the books hopefully that should be enough for resigning RFAs and upgrades.

      I agree with Tibieri in the article here regarding offer sheets though, Tkachuk himself has to sign an offersheet, its not automatic. A 9M offer sheet, if it goes through, if Tkachuk agrees to sign, would cost the team around 4 first rounders. I doubt any team would be willing to risk that much asset capital just to “pressure the Flames”. Offer sheets are still pretty unlikely at this point, just due to the obscene amount of first rounders you have to give up IF a player agrees to a huge contract

      • Skylardog

        $9.0 as I put out would cost 2 firsts, 1 second, and 1 third. The range on that cost is roughly $8.118M to $10.118M AAV.

        Having said that, if we get to July 1, does someone offer him $8.1 AAV that would only cost 1 first, 1 second, and 1 third, especially if we have a cap problem because no one gets moved before the draft? What if we don’t have the cap room to sign him at $8.1M?

        Really need to get him signed before July 1 to keep control of this.

        • Honkydonk

          Stop freaking out about Chucky. He has had a good season and is a good player but he has deficiencies like his skating needs to improve.

          Everyone talking about $8 million. He will get $7mill

        • withachance

          Ah I see thanks for clarifying. The picks associated with the offer sheets are really confusing!

          That said, yeah I also hope it will be done faster than the normal Tre negotiations. I do trust BT in shuffling the current assets to make it work though!

        • FlamesFanOtherCity

          The wrinkle to the OS is the term. The maximum years that factor into the AAV is 5 years. A 5 year deal would be benefitial for the player because it buys less years of Free Agency. That’s where the OS becomes hard to manage. A team wanting to get the best valueand have CGY not match has to look at 7 years. If a team were to sign him to an OS of 7 years for $56m, that’s over $11m over 5 years. Flames would likely match getting him for 7 years at $8m. The OS team would have to give up 4x1st rounders.

      • Skylardog

        Yet when Mony goes out, they put Ryan in his spot, not Janko. He also got passed over for PP duty in the 5 periods Mony was out in favour of a kid that has 7 NHL points.

        Are you sure the Flames believe he is a second line center? All actions say they don’t. His stats say he isn’t either.

        • withachance

          I think they believe in Janko as a player overall, at least management does. He’s been in the system for a long time, so clearly they like the guy – will take a good deal to deal him i believe

          • Skylardog

            I like Janko and believe he has not been given the opportunity he needs to show what he has. He can snipe that puck.

            He is a Feaster guy though, not one of BT’s guys. We have seen some inclination to move those guys out.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      You’ve given pending UFA and PK specialist Garnet Hathaway a $50,000 raise. Hell, Johnny and Monny have bigger bar tabs than that! I noted what Ball said about how Hathaway has fed on the Rangers this year and it’s not a stretch to think they want him to join them so he can stop beating them. Flames shop should not overpay to retain GH, but I don’t think a $50,000 raise keeps him here.

        • Skylardog

          Whoops – read it again. If he goes then I have signed Quine to fill in. These guys are just minor parts. It can be any low cost UFA or prospect that fills a hole.

          • BlueMoonNigel

            Don’t forget that Hathaway also brings toughness. How often have many of us continue to wail that we want tough guys who can also play. Hathaway can. I don’t think he is as easily replaceable as you might think. It’ll be interesting to see what his grit and toughness looks like in the playoffs. A long run for the Flames with Hathaway as an unlikely playoff hero might mean his bidding price starts closer to $2M come July 1st.

            Quine might be able to replace Hathaway on the PK, probably is more skilled offensively, but doesn’t play the same rugged style as Hathaway. I don’t know if he can. No, Buddy Robinson is not the new Hathaway as he is a career AHLer.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          You had him listed at $900,000 on your cap simulation for next season, which is $50,000 more than his current salary. I think he might command in the neighbourhood of $1M to $1.2M next season. A raise like that by itself ain’t breaking the bank , but when its cumulative effect will drive the cap dangerously close to the ceiling as no way does Chucky sign for your optimistic $7M.

          • Skylardog

            I am a big Hath fan and have been well before the season started (even last year). Me and everton have been backing him for a long time.

            There is about $400,000 in cap space in the simulation if I remember to sign him at what you guess he is worth.

    • HOCKEY83

      I don’t think they flames are anywhere near cap hell as some other teams. It will all depend on what Matty signs for and I believe your goalie totals are too high as well. The only reason the flames have to try and make space for a top 6 winger is because you say they need one. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they go with a combination of gillies rittich and possibly offer smith one more discounted rate year to help rittich out and maybe trade away gillies…who knows but you seem to want to believe it’s all gonna go bad. There are far worse cap strapped teams than the flames right now. The flames are one of the luckiest teams in the league when it comes to skilled players and contracts.

    • BendingCorners

      You guys worry too much.
      The RFAs will be signed for less than you are predicting.
      The UFAs will be allowed to walk and if they are not still available later in the summer then cheap equivalent players will be signed.
      BT -may- buy out Stone as a precautionary move in case Tkachuk ends up costing more than I think he will.
      He needs to find a second goalie – a starter in my mind or at least a 1B but they’ve done well this year with only one and a half goalies so maybe a lesser goalie will be good enough.
      I expect several trades over the summer but I do not believe they will be cap driven. The roster turns over 6 or 7 skaters each year so any of the non-core regulars could be on the move.
      But it’s spring and the playoffs are coming so let’s just enjoy the ride.

      • Kevin R

        Going to be interesting summer but yeah everyone is getting too freaked out over this stuff. I think Chucky gets a 6 or 7 year deal at 7.5mill, I think both Brodie & Stone will get moved as we have to open up room for Valamaki & Kjill.
        Team is really really high on both Andersson & Valamaki, pencil them in. Hanifin & Hamonic are a given, I think Hamonic will sign a real team friendly contract to stay here too. They need to make room. Have to wonder about Frolic being moved too.

  • Herringchoker1971

    I think part of Tre’s job with players is to determine what they bring to the team today and what they MIGHT bring to the team tomorrow. Take Janko or Bennett as an example. Guys on this board look at points to determine the quality of the player. We look at his age and determine that at 24/25 he’s done progressing. Tre looks at Janko and says year two…..his points are up even though he really struggled for the first two months. He’s become a PK specialist and a solid player with more upside yet . Why would you sell on that at his price tag. Bennett…..same thing. He was absolutely wrecked by Gully. he had no identity. He’s now become our only true version of functional toughness. I still wouldn’t bet against him to have another gear next year. Plus without him we play tiny. Imagine if Neal was having a normal Neal season. How many more points would Bennett and Janko have. I know this board likes to try and virtually trade these guys but, that would be a big mistake. We need some more functional size on this team. I think the playoffs will show that. I’m not saying we should be happy with 26 points but, at the very least we need these guys at the lower dollar to fit in the bigger dollar guys. We can’t have all top guys on 4 lines. Try and remember this when your complaining.

    Re: Brodie…..I think this team needs to start rebuilding the prospect cupboards. I think we can afford to see him leave. Same with Stone and same with Frolik.

  • MiamiRedhawks

    It would be interesting to see Alex Stalock under BP. He is naturally an aggressive puck handler which would fit into the scheme. His stats are not impressive thought.

  • Flint

    I see the solution to our cap problems being fairly easy:
    Trade Brodie (save 4,65mil, and perhaps move on from Czarnik another 1,25mil).. basically 6mil, .. then try and upgrade of RW position with the extra cash. I’d keep an eye on Tanev and Donskoi as they might fit into the RW slot that we need. Try and get a guy like that for around 4ish… and you’ve got 2mil free.

    Then you gotta get Rittich in around 3mil and find a backup for less than 2. We need the two goalies to come in less than 5 mil.

    Obiviously Tre knows more about the inner workings than any of us, but I’d be happy if he did the above.

    • withachance

      Tanev and Donskoi really arent upgrades though… I’d rather Frolik than both those guys with Backs and Tkachuk. Going to need legitimate upgrades, at least on par with Zucker’s scoring

        • Flint

          In fact, Donskoi seems to be on the outs with the Sharks, and I bet he could be had at a bargain. You looks at his skillset and his advanced stats and he reminds me a lot of Lindholm.

          He’s a 2.0pts/60 player, 0.9G/60, 53,9 Career corsi…. all at even strength.

          I think he’s a guy that a change of scenery and he could be pretty good. Maybe Tanev not so much, but I also have trouble knowing what we’re looking for. James Neal screws up everything at this point cause he should be a top six RW but he plays like a bottom six to date.

  • everton fc

    Random thoughts;

    1. I’d want Miles Wood from, the Devils, at the least, for Brodie. It’d have to be a four-player deal, or a deal w/prospects or picks, as I wouldn’t move Brodie straight-up, for Wood.

    2. I’d be talking to the Leafs, about Brodie. Ditto the Red Wings.

    3. Salary dumps: if we can move Neal, somehow… Frolik would be the other. And Brodie. Maybe even Czarnik. We need to obviously re-sign Tkachuk and Rittich. I’ll add Bennett and Hathaway, to that list.

    4. Tkachuk’s worth 9mill/season. That’s what he’ll get.

    5. I’m okay moving Jankowski and Mangiapane, but I’d be very cautious moving Jankowski. Yet.

    6. Move Stone to Vegas. Reunite the brothers. Make it happen, for tuppence!

    • withachance

      Interesting thoughts:

      1. Wood + picks/prospects for Brodie. Picks and prospects can also be flipped for further upgrades in another package
      2. Leafs have no cap space to sign their own players – theyr’e getting rid of Gardiner who has the same cap hit as Brodie to potentially keep all of Jonsson Kapanen and Marner
      3. Cant move Neal. Teams wouldnt take him without heavy incentives unless he goes off in the playoffs, in which case we wouldnt offload him anyways
      4. God I hope not… He’s worht every penny but that’ll really screw up the team’s cap situation. I dont think he has the same pedigree as Mark Stone, yet.
      5. Gonna have to enticing for the organization to move a player they’ve groomed for years and is actually contributing in meaningful ways – maybe next year if Dube explodes on the scene
      6. YES (Engelland 2.0)

    • Kevin R

      I would be talking to the Canadians about Brodie. They need someone like him badly. I would be targetting one of two of their young goalies in Lindgren or this Primeau kid looks like a real good goalie as well & has shined with the US junior team.

    • cjc

      1. Flames don’t need another middle six forward. It creates a problem elsewhere in the lineup, plus his production is about on par with Bennett’s.

      2. Leafs have the uber-advanced stats guy at the helm. My guess is that he’d take one look at Brodie’s WOWY’s and walk away. Red Wings are rebuilding, and have enough dead salary to reach the floor anyway. And Brodie, let’s remember, has a 10 team NTC that would surely include the Wings and New Jersey.

      3. Neal is unmovable with that contract. Frolik has been excellent once again. Pro-rated to the full season, he’d be sixth in forward points. He’ll be in the last season of his contract, so if he underperforms next year, not a huge risk. Bennett could be traded, particularly if another middle six winger is brought in. Hathaway, whatever, he is fine for what he provides, but he’ll want a raise.

      4. Highly doubt it. Tkachuk is still only the 4th highest scoring Flame (he was third last year). He will break the internal cap, but not by that much. Look at what Nylander pulled, with better counting stats. It could mean shorter term though.

      5. Jankowski, yes, Mangiapane deserves more time.

      6. One can dream.

  • MarbledBlueCheese

    How about Brodie for Kapanen? He is a RFA this year, coming in for a raise from his $900,000+ AAV contract. Not sure how much his next contract would be but he’s a good player now, plays RW, and the Leafs have known defensive deficiencies and a spot for guys who play the right side.

  • HOCKEY83

    If Fantenberg is ok signing with Calgary knowing he’s only going to be the 7, 8, 9 or 10th D man on this team it tells you a lot about him. Just in it for something close to a mil doesn’t care if he plays. I’m sure he’d rather test the market for a team he’d rather get ice time on.

  • cjc

    I’m like 50/50 on whether a Brodie trade will happen, but since a lot of the talk has focused on trading him it’s nice to see some cold water thrown on the idea. Thank you for that.