The Lucic trade gives the Flames a tiny bit of cap wiggle room

The Calgary Flames made a trade on Friday afternoon, acquiring Milan Lucic from the Edmonton Oilers in a swap that saw Edmonton retain $750,000 of Lucic’s cap hit for the next four seasons. The trade helps the Flames in their effort to ice a full roster that can fit under the salary cap, but they still have a lot of work to do.

The roster so far…

The Flames have added Cam Talbot (free agency) and Milan Lucic (trade), while subtracting Mike Smith (free agency), Garnet Hathaway (free agency), Oscar Fantenberg (free agency) and James Neal (trade).

Here are the players likely to be locks for the opening night roster:

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  • F Johnny Gaudreau – $6.75 million
  • F Sean Monahan – $6.375 million
  • F Mikael Backlund – $5.35 million
  • F Milan Lucic – $5.25 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 established costs – nine forwards, six defensemen and a goalie – add up to $67.64 million. That leaves the Flames with $13.86 million to cover the remaining roster spots – five forwards, a defenseman and a goalie – plus performance bonuses.

Re-upping the RFAs

Of the remaining seven roster spots, it’s safe to say that four will go to a quartet of restricted free agents: goaltender David Rittich and forwards Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and Andrew Mangiapane.

How much will they cost? Let’s ballpark Rittich at around $3 million, and using Evolving Wild’s projections, let’s peg Tkachuk at $7 million, Bennett at $2.4 million and Mangiapane at $900,000. Adding those cap guesstimates to the existing deals, that gives the Flames a 20-man roster and a cap hit of $80.94 million.

With an $81.5 million cap ceiling, that gives the Flames $560,000 to fill out the three remaining roster spots, cover in-season injury replacements and performance bonuses. Obviously that won’t work because even the most cost effective probably roster options – Juuso Valimaki ($894,166), Dillon Dube ($778,333) and Alan Quine ($735,000) – would be far too expensive.

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Options to create more space

The easiest thing for the Flames to do to create cap space would be to buy out Stone when the second buyout window opens in August (following the resolution of the team’s last arbitration case). A buyout would open up $2.333 million in cap space – giving the team $2.893 million to cover two defensemen, two forwards and bonuses – but it likely wouldn’t be enough. Even using Valimaki, Dube and Quine and adding in Brandon Davidson ($700,000) as the seventh defender, it still wouldn’t be enough space. (They would need another $214,000 to squeeze everybody under the cap, and that would give them absolutely no wiggle room for in-season moves.)

Even if the Flames buy Stone out they need to make another move to free up another $1 million in space (if not a bit more). There are still dominoes left to topple before the end of this off-season.

  • drogon

    Reaching arbitration often builds a wall between the player and management with the player being eventually traded. Brett Kulak and Micheal Ferland are good examples. Sam Bennett is due on July 27th. I’ve read rumors the Canadiens are circling around…

        • LannyMac

          That’s not the issue 83. The fact Neal was on the payroll in the first place is the issue. The Calgary Flames May be Stanley Cup contenders if that 5.75 was spent wisely.

        • PlayitagainSam

          Ya but Calgary could have bought Neal out!! Is everyone forgetting that. No they just had to go out and get a 6 ml dollar player that can’t be bought out!! Laughable!!

          • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

            Buying out Neal costs ownership money (presuming Tre fills the cap space it provides). This deal saves ownersip 9 million over the nexy 4 years in payroll….. much easier sell. Fans care about salary cap, owners care about payroll and they are the ones who control the team. I think this move virtually assures that Stone gets bought out….

    • Getpucksdeep

      FWIW Lucic at least brings something if he isn’t scoring. When Neal isn;t scoring, he’s invisible…he brings nothing. No “what a great defensive play” calls w/Neals name attached. Lucic does play a smart 2 way game and is no longer under pressure to be a top 6 winger like he was up north. There must be footage of Lucic vs Byfuglien collisions and hits on each other somewhere. Think I’ll go hunt for some.

      • LannyMac

        @GPD and what if Neal does make a stronger commitment to the offseason and pockets close to or even 20+. Then explain to me the that great Lucic upgrade. Yes I like some of the things Lucic brings but no matter what he is done pocketing double digit goals. Not completely sure that Neal can’t or won’t yet.

    • Lanny’s Stache

      How many fights did Lucic have last year? Can and do are different things. He was invisible most games. Sure he had three hits a game, great, that’s an asset, but plays die on his stick and he struggles when the puck is in his vicinity.

  • PlayitagainSam

    If Neal was not a better player or more valuable why do you think Treleving insisted on a third round pick?? Obviously was because he thinks that Neal will bounce back.

    • HOCKEY83

      The chance that the third round pick will be awarded is extremely low due to the conditions. It was put in place to fleece holland into thinking he was putting one over on tre. Wake up

  • Lucic's_Oilers_Cap

    If he walks like an a$$hole, looks like an a$$hole, wears his Oilers ball cap at a Calgary Costco, chances are he IS an a$$hole…I mean Lucic. Chances are he’s Lucic. Getting paid a cool 5+ million per year as a Flame, but wearing Oilers fan gear? Not cool. At all.