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Sam Bennett’s new deal tightens the salary cap situation

The Calgary Flames re-signed Sam Bennett earlier this week to a two year contract worth $2.55 million per season. The deal is fair to both sides, provides good value, and definitely tightens their salary cap situation.

A quick look at the roster

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

  • 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 Sam Bennett – $2.55 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 – 10 forwards, six defensemen and a goalie – add up to $70.19 million. That leaves the Flames with $11.31 million to cover the remaining six roster spots – four forwards, a defenseman and a goalie, presuming they carry a full 23-man roster.

Three RFAs left… and barely enough space

And now, let’s watch the cap space the Flames have rapidly disappear! Let’s start with $11.31 million with six spots to fill and use Evolving Wild’s projections to fill things in:

  • Andrew Mangiapane gets $900,000; there’s $10.41 million left for five players.
  • David Rittich gets $3 million; there’s $7.41 million left for four players.
  • Matthew Tkachuk gets $7 million; now there’s $410,000 left for three players.
    (Tkachuk might get even more than this, but a three year, $7 million cap hit seems like the most likely inexpensive option the Flames may have.)

If we assume the Flames want to carry some extra bodies but will err on the side of cheapness, four depth players are set to make the league minimum of $700,000: defensemen Rinat Valiev and Brandon Davidson and forwards Buddy Robinson and Ryan Lomberg.

Keeping even one of them on the roster would push them $290,000 over the cap (21-man roster), two would have them $990,000 in the red (22-man roster), and a full roster of maximum cheapness would be $1.69 million over the cap.

Well that’s not good…

As we’ve repeatedly stated, the Flames need to move salary out. The easiest person to axe would be Michael Stone; he’d open up $2.333 million in cap space, but he’d also need to be replaced. Ignoring handedness Juuso Valimaki is the logical replacement for Stone, in which case that swap would net the Flames $1.439 million in cap space.

Simply buying out Stone and replacing him with Valimaki wouldn’t make the Flames appreciably worse on ice and would buy them some breathing room, but it would make it tough to carry any extra bodies – even if they chose the ones with the lowest cap hits. (If Davidson and Lomberg are their designated healthy scratches, for example, that’d leave the Flames with just $449,000 in space. My preference would be to nudge Alan Quine and Dillon Dube onto the roster whenever possible, but both of them make north of league minimum.)

For the curious, here’s the Flames roster presuming they buy out Stone and go cheap on the fringes:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Czarnik
Mangiapane – Ryan – Lucic
(Extra: Lomberg)

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Valimaki – Andersson
(Extra: Davidson)

Rittich
Talbot

This brings us to…

Bonuses!

The cap went up just $1.5 million from 2018-19 to 2019-20 because the players are concerned about escrow and chose to barely nudge things up. Scuttlebutt is it will likely have a similarly small nudge up in 2020-21, likely to somewhere around $83 million, in advance of a larger anticipated jump in 2021-22 with the new American TV deal (and presuming no lockout).

The Flames are in the midst of what they feel is their best shot to win a Stanley Cup in decades. They cannot afford to burn off any cap space without getting value. If they go over the cap this season, it eats into the cap for 2020-21. Andersson, expected to be a regular this season, has $82,500 of bonuses in his deal tied to games played. Juuso Valimaki has up to $425,000 in bonuses on his deal and if Stone gets bought out, he’s likely an everyday NHLer and have a shot at achieving them.

This is to say: if the entire plan to get under the cap is to (a) buy out Stone and (b) use the cheapest spare bodies possible, it’s still likely that bonuses paid to the team’s youngsters will still push them over the cap ceiling at the end of the year. (And this is ignoring in-season trades, tweaks or injury recalls.)

Once Rittich’s arbitration case is solved – via a signing or a hearing – the Flames open up their second buyout window. But they better also be open to getting creative with other moves, because simply making one buyout won’t do enough to allow them to maximize the 2019-20 group’s potential.

That said, they don’t have to be cap compliant until 3 p.m. MT on Oct. 1, so there’s still lots of time.

        • The Red Knight

          Bennett was also on the ice way longer than Nurse , also Bennett rocked him with a huge hit before that , Maybe watch all Bennett s fights , you’ll notice he fight players 30-40 pounds bigger than him unlike Nurse who goes after players smaller than him , Bennett is a bully beater and plays a clean game too .

          • True enough, remember Benny’s first game against the Oilers, hit everything that moved and no response because we still had our p*ssy squad, turn the other cheek roster, Benny ran our show and the Flames won. If he just turns out to be a solid 3rd liner, so be it, have to fill those lines out as well, in Edmonton, if you are not a superstar by age 20, we dump draft picks even though they are usable elsewhere in the lineup. Lots of changes but K Lowe is still lurking in the background along with Scott( I have had five different titles and failed at them all ) Howson. Then when the press pushes him about poor player development, he states he has nothing to do with player development. His Title VP of player development. When Mac-t was pushed on some of his very poor hockey ops decisions, he claimed to be running Bakersfield. His Title VP of hockey ops. The farce shall continue until these useless hangers on are dealt with. Imagining another year of shutting off the TV halfway through the first period due to lack of compete. Pity Ty Rattie, moves halfway around the world to get a paying hockey job, and Mac-T will be his coach. Cant make this stuff up , the hilarity ensues.
            Mac-T: Dealt with , but still on Oilers payroll?
            Howson : Should have been canned for poor performance in all titles he has held.
            Bob Green: Demoted but should have been canned for the Rienhart fiasco.
            Paul Messier: Allegedly a scout, hard to do when you are running your brothers resort in the Bahamas.
            Dustin Schwartz. Goalie coach hired from Oil Kings (More nepotism) and every goalie under his tenure has regressed, most notably first shot Talbot (New record with 28 of those)
            Point being, until ALL of the cancer is cut out, the song shall remain the same, McDavid is probably close to, I have seen enough of this nonsense, get me out of here.

          • With Respect

            Nurse will challenge anybody including Lucic before he was an Oiler he does not strike me as a guy who only goes after smaller players. Bennett is one tough hombre himself for his size and probably has Nurses respect. Great contract for him and team.

        • Rudy27

          God Everton, did you forget what colours Edmonton wears? The only hit after the refs moved in was the sucker punch Nurse through while the refs were holding both players!

      • Who is Alberta’s team?

        “Note nurse left that exchange frustrated” lol is that because the linesman jumped in and saved Bennett? Even my grandma knows that much about hockey. It was like the Peluso Lucic fight. Peluso was also pissed that the linesman jumped in. Duhhhh

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Based on how so many here are now expressing love for Lucic, it is safe to say that if Nurse became a Flame he would be the toughest hombre this side of Clark Gillies, eh?

    • Camosack

      That’s a beauty. Sam took a lot of S & A before retaliating. I guess he thought Darnell was going to draw a penalty. Held his own against a bigger feller…

  • everton fc

    Buyout Stone, move Czarnik, move Frolik, add Dube…

    If we keep Brodie, Klyington’s in the “A”. I like Kylington up here, but that’s a lot of kids and inexperienced players, on our backend. Including Rittich.

    If they tried to move Brodie for Kadri, I bet they still try and move him. If we could also punt Czarnik, and hold onto Frolik, whilst adding Dube, to replace Czarnik, I’m okay with this…

    • oilcanboyd

      I agree to moving Czarnik; Dube is rated above Czarnik in my books; Czarnik is one-dimensional and a waste of a roster spot. Quine would be a better extra forward.

  • The Red Knight

    Flames must be pretty certain they can still trade someone , Not sure how you figure Rittich is the bonafide starter ? Talbot has atleast as much of a chance or more , Rittich has like maybe 50 NHL games on a team that was one of the tops in offence , he never stole any games and lost his job to Smith that everyone s now glad that’s gone . What could happen is what Smith at what may be a good contract have a decent year and we end up signing Rittich to 3mill ?, (50 games) that’s ubsurd, Rittich could easily get lit up all the sudden and prove to be an AHL goalie at best ,he’s still unproven and I haven’t seen him steal games yet ,he’s not a number 1 until he can . And Valimaki could easily be an upgrade over stone ,stone may never play in the NHL again he’s been out so long .

    • The Red Knight

      This could be a strategy by Trevling and co. To sign TKACHUK cheaper because they appear to have limited cap space,sign TKACHUK for a reasonable 7-7.5 , then make a few more tweaks , if they bought out stone ,maybe trade czar and replace with Dube , would be upgrade and save ? Not sure guessing 300,000-500,000 .

    • oilcanboyd

      Agreed on Rittich, could be another Koskinen. i.e. given too much responsibility and $$$$ on such a small sample. Is his second-half struggles all physical or half-mental? Don’t know for sure yet. Not convinced that Talbot is the answer either. Hoping that by splitting half the games between them we get decent goaltending. Rittich is worth about same salary or slightly above Talbot’s salary.

  • drogon

    If we do trade TJ Brodie, it’ll be a hockey trade. Late in the summer, there’s still a few possible trade partners:
    Penguins: main asset coming back could be Nick Bjugstad
    Lightning: main asset coming back could be Tyler Johnson
    Canadiens: main asset coming back could be Brendan Gallagher

    • CowboyBob

      Trash a way if you will. I waited until the emotion of the playoffs subsided and recently watched all 5 games again that I had saved on PVR. MT was even a worse skater than I remembered, poor edge control, short ineffective strides, too much body roll and head movement, limited acceleration in first three strides, limited lateral mobility. I realize he brings other things to the table, but you can’t be elite and be in the bottom 10% of skaters in the league. I have seen posters on here commenting that MT didn’t show up for the playoffs, after watching the games again I actually think the problem wasn’t showing up it was keeping up. Please do not overpay this player. $5 million short term, $6 million long term is the ceiling for me.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        Why would you put yourself through that again. My take on players like Tkachuk, Monny, and Ras that lack the explosiveness and work hard to improve it in the offseason’ is they lose their new found pace as the season winds down. They lose some of the muscle and size through the grind of the season because they can’t train the same way.

        • CowboyBob

          Great observation. I guess I’m wondering if they are working on improving their skating in the off season. I sure hope they are, burn maybe they are playing Fortnite all day and clubbing all night.

        • CowboyBob

          Being a better skater for than Lucic wouldn’t mean that MT is a good skater. They are the two worse skaters on the team, Monahan rounds out the bottom three.

      • PlayitagainSam

        The problem is when the intensity of the playoffs ramps up Tkachuk just has a problem keeping up. Two years in the playoffs and he disappeared both times.

  • HarveysFleaCollar

    Here it is boys..

    Trade Frolik to the Devils for 2021 2nd round pick and Micheal McLeod.

    Trade TJ Brodie and the Flames 2020 3rd round (conditional pick..becomes 4th if Brodie resigns in Detroit)to Detroit for Anthony Mantha.

    Buy out Micheal Stone.

    Savings
    Frolik 4.3
    Brodie 4.65
    Stone buy out 1.16x2years

    In
    Mantha 3.3

    Roughly 6.66 in savings.
    Sign
    Tkachuk to 5 years x 8.5
    Rittich 2 years 3.5
    Mangi 2 years 900,000

    Gaudreau Monahan Mantha
    Tkachuk Bennett Lindholm
    Janko Backlund Dube
    Lucic Ryan Mangi

    Gio Andersson
    Hani Vali
    Kyl Ham

    • Trevy

      Not bad, I’ve always liked Mantha. The only part I don’t see happening is getting a 2nd and prospect for Frolik. He only has one yr remains and unless we toss in a sweetener, we’ll be lucky to get a 3rd

    • Herringchoker1971

      Ok Harvey, that is a plan and a lineup that I can get 100% behind. Its realistic even if Frolik only gets us a third or a forth….who cares. Even if you don’t buy Stone out and let him walk at Seasons end, you still get everyone signed and you free up Stones cap hit next season if you need to tinker a bit more. Good job.

      • HarveysFleaCollar

        I think this team is better without Brodie. If they choose to Brodie and Frolik, they need someone to come play top 6 minutes. Frolik is not a top 6 guy if the Flames are going to be successful..the same as Backlund. The 2 are perfect for a third line..shut down line with a little scoring.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Very down with these trades. The only thing I would say is that lets have the line up look like this:

      JG-Mony-Mantha
      Chucky-Linda-Benny
      Mangiapane-Backlund-Czarnik
      Lucic-Ryan-Dube

      I am not sure what happens to Jankowski here. I know a lot of folk don’t like Czarnik, but I really think he will put up some points this year. The MMA line last season put up some really good numbers. But either way, I really see Mangiapane with Backlund this year. Time will tell.

      Gio-Andy
      Fin & Ham
      Vali-Kyl

    • DJ_44

      … and Yzerman and his Detroit re-build would do this because …. they want to trade a 23yr old, close to 50 pt cost control winger with size to Calgary for a 29 yr old, bottom-4, soon to be UFA defenceman just to help Calgary out?

      Here is a better one, Lucic and a third for Larkin.

      Has about as much of a chance as the Brodie proposal.

      • Who is Alberta’s team?

        Lucic and a 3rd for Larkin?

        Can you imagine that conversation for the Detroit gm.
        – “Hey boss we’d like to trade our fastest skater Larkin.”
        – “for who?”
        – “Lucic”
        – “You’re Fired!!!!”

  • MDG1600

    I see a lot of people want to move Frolik to create cap room. My concern is that it makes Calgary worse on the ice and weakens an already thin top 6. Makes more sense to trade Brodie and buyout Stone since they have much better replacements for those players (Val & Kyl) than they do for Frolik.

    • everton fc

      I like Frolik. So I tend to agree with your thoughts, above.

      I also think Kylington’s ready. And I like Valiev, over Davidson, but Davidson’s your typical “#7”.

    • HarveysFleaCollar

      Why would the Flames not want to move Frolik? If he stays, he leaves as a UFA after this year..his agent caused ripples and he doesnt fit in Peter’s plans.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      I agree. Especially with how Frolik looked toward the end of the year. People talk about Benny and Smith showing up in the playoffs, but Frolik was literally the only guy forechecking that entire series on our team. He also slayed in the world’s. I think hes got another 15-20 goal season in him. He was driven by Peters, which is good. Hopefully he won’t be driven out.

      But yeah, see ya Brodie.

      JG-Jankowski-Monahan
      Chucky-Linda-Bennett
      Mangiapane-Backlund-Frolik
      Lucic-Ryan-Dube/Czarnik

      ?

    • IUsedToHaveAName

      Wholeheartedly agree. If it comes down to either Brodie or Frolik to be traded, I would go Brodie every time. Brodie only seems able to play at a high level when paired with Gio. Gio can make anyone play at a high level. Frolik has been good to great with everyone he’s played with so far on the Flames.

  • BendingCorners

    Trade Frolik for a pick. Problem solved. Then work on actual player upgrades through other trades, if possible. Or accumulate space till the TDL and rent somebody, if the Flames are having a good year andstill playing well at that point.

  • Chucky

    If the Flames buy out Brodie they get 2.325 cap space and that gives them some room. They could then turn around and sign Brodie for 2.325 and put Stone on LTIR. That way the 2.325 that they pay Brodie does not count against their cap space.

  • drogon

    BT is really good at cap & assets management.
    Frolik has to go, last piece of the locker room cleaning operation.
    Brodie, Stone & Hamonic all have less than 1 year left to their contract. Brodie, Stone will be gone before that. Not sure about Hamonic.
    Oliver Kylington will be traded as well, he’s not part of the 3D that will be protected for the 2021 expansion draft.

  • Chucky

    If the Flames buy out Brodie they get 2.325 cap space. They could then turn around and sign Brodie for two years at 2.325 each year and put Stone on LTIR. That way the 2.325 that they pay Brodie does not count against their cap space. Brodie gets an extension at his current salary and if they are looking to trade him in the off season his cap hit is low.

    • supra steve

      Or, if Flames buy out Brodie, he immediately signs a long term/big money deal with some other club of his choosing. Which way would you go if you were Brodie?

  • Camosack

    Supply and demand. Two to Tango (tangle). No guarantee of a dance partner for Fro. If a good deal materializes for Brodes, it will be him. Same for Fro. A number of trade options exist, even if a guy is not being shopped. Czar, Janks, even Dubes, Mang, and Shill if the price is right. All good guys. The key is, what is coming back.

  • KootenayFlamesFan

    Just read an article predicting Calgary’s protection list for the expansion draft on The Hockey News.

    The writer has us protecting Gillies over Rittich! WTF!!!!!?????

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Well we all know why the Flames are this mess, Tre signing another old UFA whose best days are long gone. You’d think after the Brouwer fiasco he would learn his lesson, but no, repeats the same mistake again.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Getting rid of Neal for the worst contract in the NHL is as bad as it gets. Great example of from the frying pan into the fire, though. If the Flames either fail to make the playoffs or are again a quick out in the playoffs, Tre needs to walk the plank.

      • Herringchoker1971

        Listen Guys, the comments trashing Tre over the Brouwer and Neal contracts are idiotic. I know there was concern when Brouwer was signed that he was past his best before date. If you remember though……we were desperate for a right shot RW with some toughness and Brouwer fit that mold. He was overpaid….yes but, he cost us nothing in prospects and his numbers suggested he would be add something we really needed. Same thing with Neal. It was one bad season. Thats not on Tre. He can’t make these players earn their pay. Both players were hired to be top 6, 20 goal players. Both players did not live up to their contracts and were essentially fired in a hockey way. Now when Neal finds his scoring touch in Edmonton we will blast Tre for firing the player. Where is the common sense?

  • Garry T

    I commented a short while back that we sign Tkachuk for anywhere from $4.5 to $5.5 mil per year until he reaches UFA status. He signs or sits with no arbitration rights. He is not here beyond that anyway. The bright lights and tax havens call for these guys now. The dynamic changed four years ago and that was a major error on part of the GMS and Owners. You will never get that horse back in the barn.

    If Tkachuk will not sign , trade him for players and picks right now. He is
    Not irreplaceable. His loyalty is with his wallet and it is a shame.

  • Jobu

    Brodie isn’t going anywhere until either the trade deadline or until his contract expires. Two reasons.

    His partner just won the Norris. Do you really think Gio wants to play with someone else? They clearly have chemistry. Gios best years have been with Brodie.
    2. Tre will want to keep Anderssons next contract to a reasonable number. If he plays top pairing and is lights-out… We can’t afford to pay him more than Brodie money the following year. He’ll be bridged as an “unproven” guy and THEN get his shot with Brodie gone.

    • Herringchoker1971

      Jobu, I think there’s a good chance Tre will trade Brodie if something presents itself once he sorts out his cap situation. I’m betting that would be his first choice. It would be very risky to wait to trade Brodie at the deadline especially if you are a top team again. You will for sure go for it and lose the player to FA.

      You are 100% right……Brodie brings out the best Gio. When they played together in the past…..Gio was in the Norris conversation. Thats not coincidence.

      I do get what you are saying with Anderson. I dunno that Hockey guys think that way though. They want these players to be their best selves ASAP. They will fight the cap situation as they have to. They only have certain windows to win.

      My only thought is I think it would take a Kadri like trade for the Flames to move Brodie. I can’t see Tre trading Brodie for cap relief only. I think they resign Hamonic unless it gets you a RW out of Winnipeg. The cap casualties will be Frolik and Stone.

      I still would like the Flames to add some toughness on the defenceman who can still skate.

      I think having Lucic on this team is going to be a bigger game changer than everyone thinks. I know he fell off a cliff but, realistically…….HE PLAYED FOR EDMONTON. I’m sure his I don’t give a crap meter was pretty high. If he comes in and gives 100% and can make some of these softer bigger flames players play taller then to me thats a big win for me.

    • Albertabeef

      That 11mil number is short a few players. There are only 10 forwards, 6 D, and 1 goalie. The 7.42 number(I’m not looking at it) most likely includes the players on the roster during the playoffs like Dube and Kylington, as well as Gillies and his one way contract. But that’s my complete and total assumption 🙂