During his tenure as Calgary Flames general manager, Brad Treliving has gotten his heavy lifting done in the period from the annual NHL Draft to the opening of free agency. Big trades? Big signings? Opening up cap space? All dealt with during that period.
But the past few weeks have been relatively quiet for the Flames, which likely means that Treliving will need to deal with a looming cap crunch over the next few weeks.
Players under contract
The Flames made one significant addition since the season ended, signing Cam Talbot to a one year deal with a $2.75 million cap hit. Talbot joins a pretty lengthy list of established NHL players under contract for next season:
- F Johnny Gaudreau – $6.75 million
- F Sean Monahan – $6.375 million
- F James Neal – $5.75 million
- F Mikael Backlund – $5.35 million
- F Elias Lindholm – $4.85 million
- F Michael Frolik – $4.3 million
- F Derek Ryan – $3.125 million
- F Mark Jankowski – $1.675 million
- F Austin Czarnik – $1.25 million
- D Mark Giordano – $6.75 million
- D Noah Hanifin – $4.95 million
- D TJ Brodie – $4.65 million
- D Travis Hamonic – $3.86 million
- D Michael Stone – $3.5 million
- D Rasmus Andersson – $755,833
- G Cam Talbot – $2.75 million
- Troy Brouwer’s Buyout – $1.5 million
All these fixed costs add up to $68.14 million. That leaves the Flames with $13.36 million to cover the remaining roster spots, plus performance bonuses.
Filling in the gaps
The above section lists nine forwards, six defensemen and a goaltender. The Flames need to fill roster spots with five forwards, a defenseman and another goaltender.
Using Evolving Wild’s projections for restricted free agents, let’s fill in some gaps:
- F Matthew Tkachuk for three years at $7 million
- F Sam Bennett for three years at $2.4 million
- F Andrew Mangiapane for two years at $900,000
And let’s presume that David Rittich gets a deal that pays him roughly as much as Talbot, or about $2.75 million. (Evolving Wild doesn’t have goaltender contracts because goalie deals are weird and aren’t easily modeled.)
These assumptions eat up $13.05 million of the remaining $13.36 million cap space, leaving the Flames with $310,000… which would presumably be needed to cover the contracts of the likes of Juuso Valimaki ($894,166), Dillon Dube ($778,333) and Alan Quine ($735,000).
Factoring those deals in – which are the easiest and most likely deals to factor in to fill out the team’s 23-man roster – then the Flames are about $2.1 million in the hole before factoring in performance bonuses, injuries or in-season adjustments.
The obvious solution is buying out Stone. Axing him would save the Flames $2.333 million for 2019-20. If the Flames have a player file for salary arbitration, and they will, they get access to the August buyout window. But buying out Stone would give the Flames about $230,000 of cap space – which wouldn’t be enough to cover likely performance bonuses – and they’d still need to replace him on the roster.
In short: buying out Stone would help, but it wouldn’t be enough. The Flames need to make further moves to be cap compliant by Oct. 1. Treliving is going to have a busy summer making the finances work.