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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson / USA Today Sports

Looking back at Brad Treliving’s buyouts

On Friday, the Calgary Flames bought out Michael Stone. The move was the sixth buyout conducted by general manager Brad Treliving since joining the Flames. But while the number of buyouts sounds daunting, the circumstances surrounding them are all fairly varied.

Shane O’Brien

Originally acquired in a trade with Colorado in 2013, O’Brien had a rather blah 2013-14 season with just three assists in 45 games before being booted to the AHL. With a $2 million cap hit, it didn’t take much thought before Treliving cut ties and bought him out in the summer of 2014 rather than having a big ticket veteran clogging up the AHL for another season.

Mason Raymond

This one is sort of defensible. During Treliving’s first summer as GM (2014), he signed Raymond to a three year deal with a $3.15 million cap hit. Raymond was coming off a one year deal with Toronto where he had 19 goals and 45 points, and the concept was that signing Raymond would buy the Flames’ prospects some time.

During Raymond’s first season in Calgary, rookie Johnny Gaudreau had as many goals (24) as Raymond had points (23). The following season Raymond continued to slide down the rotation as Sam Bennett joined the team full-time, resulting in Raymond being demoted to the AHL midway through the year. As with O’Brien, it didn’t make much sense to have Raymond spend the final season of his deal in the AHL so he was bought out.

Lance Bouma

A third round pick back in 2008 (when Darryl Sutter was GM), Bouma broke into the NHL and became a regular during Jay Feaster’s regime. During Brad Treliving’s first season, Bouma exploded for 16 goals and 34 points – playing primarily on a line with Mikael Backlund and David Jones and with a personal five-on-five shooting percentage of 16.4%. He signed a three year deal with a $2.2 million cap hit and had five goals over his next two (injury-filled) seasons combined.

Faced with an expensive depth player, Treliving bought him out in the summer of 2017 (and probably vowed to avoid giving a big raise to anybody who played with Backlund during a breakout season).

Ryan Murphy

This one’s pretty simple: Carolina was likely going to buy Murphy out, but instead threw him into a trade with Calgary where the Flames were getting Eddie Lack to back up Mike Smith in the summer of 2017. Since the Flames likely have better cashflow than Carolina did, the logic was likely “You want Lack? Well, take Murphy, too.” Murphy was a Flame for less than a day.

Troy Brouwer

Coming off a few lengthy playoff runs, the Flames targeted Brouwer in free agency and gave him a four year deal with a $4.5 million cap hit – surely this gritty veteran could help put the team over the top with his veteran grittiness. Unfortunately, Brouwer never really fit with the team’s skill players.

After back-to-back seasons playing in the bottom six and putting up 20-ish points, Treliving pulled the ripcord and bought out the final two sesons.

Common threads

  • O’Brien was a problem that Treliving inherited.
  • Murphy was a player thrown into a trade that made some sense (and his buyout wasn’t that substantial all things considered).
  • Raymond was a decent enough bet, except that the young players that he was meant to buy time for suddenly lapped him and made him superfluous. (This is arguably what happened with Stone, too.)
  • Bouma was Treliving misjudging what was making a player successful – we’ve discussed the “Backlund bump” here extensively, and that’s what it was.
  • Brouwer was a bad fit, as Treliving overpaid for an attribute (veteran grit!) and then had to watch as Brouwer’s playing style and age caught up with him and relegated him to the bottom six.

Overpaying for grit is a problematic tendency that we’ve seen crop up with Treliving a few times during his tenure – Brouwer, Deryk Engelland and James Neal so far – and hopefully his buyouts and the Lucic trade will temper that tendency a bit.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Brad Treliving is merely an average GM. While he seem so to value speed and skill, he can’t see past size a reputation. He’s currently responsible for $2.67M of dead cap space for this season and next.

    • HAL MacInnis

      Average is a fair assessment. I was thinking that Lindholm might have balanced out the Neal and Brouwer decisions, but then I remembered Gulutzan. If we do well again this coming season, the Peters hire might elevate Treliving to above average.

      Funny thing is, I like the guy. I don’t want him fired. He’s swinging for the fences and connecting with a few. Calgary is a tough market to sell million dollar babies on. Do you want a rattle, a sucky or did you poop your diapers, Kadri?!

      • Albertabeef

        Ya Tre swings for the fences but almost every hit is a foul lol. He is current has a batting average of .125 with one home run in five seasons. With that sort of record he would be forced to retire from BB lol.

      • The Red Knight

        He’s been really good at contract signings and decent at trading it’s the ufa’s he needs to analyze better . Or just leave it alone all together.

    • CowboyBob

      BT has had some good success and a few mistakes along the way. Can’t fix the past, so looking forward I see three moments of the truth on the horizon. 1) do not overpay for Tkachuk, he is good but not elite. 2) did you hire the right coach, Peters inability to adjust in the playoffs is disturbing, maybe it’s a one off. 3) Can the organization develop and improve their forwards, who seem to plateau early. For example can Monahan improve his skating and physical play, can Jankowski bring an effort and physical game consistently, can Bennett figure out how to drive play and use his line mates. Lastly, can Tkachuk improve his skating.

  • freethe flames

    And yet the buyout that should have happened did not and that was Neal; instead we added a “huge” unknown who carries a huge contract that is almost buyout proof. Here’s hoping the big Lucic buys into BP’s game plan and at least provides Hathaway numbers offensively and has as many hits for us as he had for the guys up north last year. The other thing I think will happen is that BP will be less afraid to have Lucic eat popcorn b/c he is not “BT’s” latest signing.

      • freethe flames

        I know it is buyout proof the next two years but I am sure someone did a look at it and said it is less hard the last two years. Again my preference would have been to buy out Neal but I am not an owner.

  • Vinnsanity0412

    There is nothing understandable about the Mason Raymond situation…Paul Byron is gone and Cochrane’s almost finest remained only to be bought out. Brutal!

  • Herringchoker1971

    Here’s some food for thought…..how about a Pulliarvi for Frolik trade with the Flames retaining a bit. The oilers get a 40 point second/third line RW/LW which they need bad. The Flames clear out some Salary and get a reclamation prospect RW which they could use. Better than trading a good player for nothing to clear cap. Also better than letting a prospect with no value rot.

    • With Respect

      The Oilers won’t trade a guy they have years of control over for an older player on his last year of his contract even though that trade would benefit both sides. Some gm will overpay for Pulijarvi eventually maybe Chiarelli if he gets hired in Minny.

      • Albertabeef

        Jagr. No really. In just the short amount of time he was around the team, the young guys like Johnny and Chucky got big a boost from his leadership. Should have been offered a coaching stint.

        • HAL MacInnis

          He probably was offered something. Jagr would have garnered a lot of respect from the players in a coaching capacity and would have engaged the youngins.

          More likely, Jagr left on his own accord. I mean, he landed here and fell flat. He was probably a bit embarrassed. Then again, there are a lot of talented players that have zero drive to coach. Some people just plain can’t coach either. Maybe he fell into that category.

          Still, would have been something to see him in a suit standing beside Peters during games.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Holland won’t make that deal right now because the fans and media are treating him like a god. It’s a smart trade for improving the roster, but the return for a 4th overall is bad. Puljujarvi is becomng a poison pill in EDM, so at some point Holland will be able to trade him for Drake Cagiula and the fans will be happy.

  • freethe flames

    Every time I read the name Mason Raymond; I remember we lost Byron when he we tried to send both of them to the AHL.
    When I think of Byron it makes me think of Mangiapane who I see as having the same kind of top side; Mangiapane seems to me to be a cross between Byron and Cammi and I think he will have a good season this year. Give the kid a chance on the off wing on the second PP unit and I bet he snipes a few. I would have no problem seeing him on the RW with Tkachuk and Lindy.

    • mrroonie

      If Raymond hadn’t been waived at the same time, Byron would still have been waived and picked up by the Habs. Byron was a bottom six forward and the Flames had an overabundance of them at that time. The fact that people are still whining four years later about losing a bottom six forward is baffling, much the same as people still whining about trading dime-a-dozen Kulak who would have seen spot duty at best last year and would be starting the upcoming season in Stockton.

    • The Red Knight

      Byron couldn’t put in a breakaway goal when he was here ,but then put it together in Montreal,I too was thinking we should have definitely kept him ,he was getting a lot of grade A chances just needed to practice some shootouts a bit, when flames got rid of st.lious I knew Martin was a special player,and knew Flames made a huge mistake there ,man who made that trade anyway? Couldn’t they see his potential and skill despite playing on a 4rth line with a couple plugs ? Do these gems have to pass an IQ test before there hired? Same with Byron and everyone knew it bad call ! , maybe it had something to do with Burke ? Mason Raymond? Ouch I hate whimpy perimeter players ! Chalk a few up for being a first time GM but from now on Trevling I hope you figured this out by now ,

  • Derzie

    Would be interesting to see an analysis of the 31 GMs and their buyouts in the last 10 years. Especially interesting woukld be the comparison of who bought out their own contracts as opposed to a prior GM. I suspect Brad would be top 5 (the bad kind of ‘top’)

  • b

    The one thing that worries me from this article is the old “Backlund bump” – I realise Tkachuk exceeds Backlund in points, but how much of that is because of Backlund doing the hard work? As many have mentioned, ideally Backlund would be 3C with Tkachuk on the 2nd line. In terms of the contract negotiation I don’t feel we’ve seen enough of Chucky sans Backlund.

  • Chucky

    Where does Treliving fit on buyouts and salary absorbed. Bonuses not included. #12 so above averaged but not elite.

    Quite interesting where the last 4 Stanley Cup winners fit.

    1 Pittsburgh Penguins 0
    2 Saint Louis Blues 0
    3 Washington Capitals 0
    4 Winnipeg Jets 0
    5 Vegas Golden Knights 500,000
    6 Buffalo Sabres 791,667
    7 Minnesota Wild 1,216,667
    8 Montreal Canadiens 1,366,667
    9 New Jersey Devils 1,916,667
    10 San Jose Sharks 2,077,417
    11 Anaheim Ducks 2,625,000
    12 Calgary Flames 2,666,667
    13 Columbus Blue Jackets 2,708,333
    14 Florida Panthers 2,889,961
    15 Dallas Stars 3,050,000
    16 Boston Bruins 3,066,667
    17 Philadelphia Flyers 3,071,667
    18 Tampa Bay Lighting 3,233,333
    19 Los Angeles Kings 3,757,500
    20 Colorado Avalanche 4,250,000
    21 Edmonton Oilers 4,883,333
    22 New York Rangers 5,394,444
    23 Nashville Predators 6,500,000
    24 Arizona Coyotes 7,219,444
    25 New York Islanders 8,333,333
    26 Carolina Hurricanes 8,583,333
    27 Chicago Blackhawks 11,000,000
    28 Detroit Red Wings 11,704,545
    29 Vancouver Canucks 13,366,539
    30 Toronto Maple Leafs 14,863,333
    31 Ottawa Senators 16,054,167

  • Off the wall

    In a few days our family will be Vegas bound. I’m pretty excited!

    I’m not much of a gambler, so I’ll probably play the slots until I lose my Otw (cap) money. Either that or I hit it big and walk away!
    I know, I’m dreaming…

    My son has his spending money, Mrs Otw her own. We did it like that so we could ALL enjoy a little frivolity.

    I’m kinda done with the Treliving remarks. He’s a bit of a gambler, has some great hits, ( Lindholm and Hanifin) loses some, (buyouts, UFA ) and drafts well.

    I know I’ve been hard on him lately, and it’s easy for me to say what should or shouldn’t be done, but I’m not privy to the market, nor the conversations he’s had with other GM’s. This year looks like a really tough one, when you have so many teams all with cap crunching to do, and plenty of RFA’s who haven’t been signed.

    Even through all of my recent negativity, I still appreciate Treliving. He’s a far cry from what we actually perceive him as. I mean we did improve over 30 points since GG was let go. And our goal differential was outstanding , + 62.
    It didn’t happen because the players got better, it happened because we got some decent players in the offseason who fit our clubs makeup. And although Peters had a rough go in the playoffs, he got this team to rise to the top in the regular season.
    He’s also learning. But I’m still proud of being a Flames’ fan.

    The Neal- Lucic trade is a bit baffling, however I think there’s way more behind this story than we realize. Treliving probably didn’t have much choice, other than move Neal.

    I’m going to enjoy Vegas for what it is. And I’m going to enjoy each win the Flames have this season.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say, fire Treliving. The man works extremely hard at his job, and if we were in his shoes, we might have a little sympathy for how badly he wants to improve our team. I don’t think any of us can say different. He might gamble, but I’d still bet on him.

    • Albertabeef

      Sorry but if I were Treliving and made all these horrible moves, I’d expect to be fired right about now. In fact I probably would have handed in my resignation withing 24 hours of the Lucic trade.

      • Off the wall

        As a fellow Islander, you’re more negative than the rest of us who live in the most beautiful place in Canada.

        Maybe you need a vacation away from yourself Beef!

        • Albertabeef

          I’m not negative, I’m a realist. I am sparkles and joy compared to many on here. I rag on Tre more than anyone, really really can’t stand that guy. Tre lacks hockey IQ. No GM in the league would trade for Lucic and actually expect to keep their jobs, why should Tre?

          • Off the wall

            That’s great Free. Too bad I’ll be away, but I hope you have a great vacation with the family!

            I hope you’re not going to Tofino- Ucluelet. It’s a cluster with the road work going on. ( blasting rock) Some delays are as much as 12 hours!
            Though it’s been reported that they are trying to reduce the wait times for vacationers.

            We personally love Nanaimo and Parksville for camping. It’s gorgeous and about as relaxing as you can find.

            Cheers friend!

    • calgaryfan

      good post OTW, Tre had to get rid of Neal ( rumour Peters and Neal not on same page)and the owners were probably not on board with a buyout. Tre chose the only way he could move Neal and saved the the owners 10 million over the 4 years. Now we wait and see how the season goes. Enjoy Vegas!

  • buts

    Who leads GM’s I buyouts? Does anybody know? Off the subject I’m in Nashville in an over 60’s hockey tournament in the preds practice facility. FN if get get a chance come down here to broadway, the bars are insane with unbelievable music of all types, no cover and beautiful scenery. We are 2-0 after beating Nashville and minnesota (lots of dirty players on minnesota as they apparently don’t lose much). Just wish there some nfl or nhl games to see. Tootsies is absolutely a blast.

  • Jarom

    I’ve seen enough 30+ UFA’s overpaid to say I’m happy if we pass on them from now on. Cap $ is the most valuable commodity right now. Find a UFA with value or hold onto your dough.

  • Tyssed

    Completely disagree that Engelland was an overpay, the guy was a leader, protected the young guys and played solid 2/3 pairing minutes. Did he get burned once in a while? Yeah, but so does every 2/3 pairing guy.