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The salary cap implications of the Flames free agency moves

The Calgary Flames have made some moves this weekend, signing Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev (and a few others). The moves have filled some holes on the NHL roster and, more importantly, used up some of the Flames’ cap space.

So how does their roster look now, and how much space do they have left to maneuver?

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Forwards:

Johnny Gaudreau
($6.75 million)
Sean Monahan
($6.375 million)
Elias Lindholm
($4.85 million)
Andrew Mangiapane
(RFA, headed to arbitration)
Mikael Backlund
($5.35 million)
Matthew Tkachuk
($7 million)
Milan Lucic
($5.25 million)
Sam Bennett
($2.55 million)
Dillon Dube
($778,333)
TBD Derek Ryan
($3.125 million)
TBD

Defense:

Mark Giordano
($6.75 million)
Rasmus Andersson
($4.55 million)
Noah Hanifin
($4.95 million)
Chris Tanev
($4.5 million)
Juuso Valimaki
($894,166)
TBD

Goalies:

Jacob Markstrom
($6 million)
David Rittich
($2.75 million

So the locks add up to $72.4 million, and when you add in the dead cap space for the buyouts for Troy Brouwer and Michael Stone (a combined $2.667 million), that adds up to $75.1 million and gives the Flames about $6.4 million to work with.

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Let’s assume the Flames sign Mangiapane for about $2.5 million (based on our comparables) and they carry an extra forward and extra defender. So that means there’s five TBD spots (three forward, two defense) and $3.9 million left to fill them in.

In other words, they’re gonna have to go cheap (an average cap hit of $780,000).

Bearing cost constraints in mind, the three forward spots will probably go to some combination of Adam Ruzicka ($801,666), Matthew Phillips ($733,333), Byron Froese ($725,000), Zac Rinaldo ($700,000), Buddy Robinson ($700,000) and/or Glenn Gawdin (RFA). (If Mangiapane only signed for $715,000 last year, it makes sense that Gawdin’s NHL cap hit will be similarly low in an effort to squeeze him onto the roster.) If I were a betting man (and I am), I’d wager on Rinaldo, Robinson and Gawdin (at an estimated $725,000) fill out the spots barring other moves.

The defensive spots are a bit simpler. Given the space available, Alexander Yelesin and Connor Mackey ($925,000 each) are too pricey to fit in. So expect Oliver Kylington (RFA) and Alex Petrovic ($700,000) to be on the roster, with Kylington getting a similarly inexpensive deal as Gawdin (around $725,000).

With Rinaldo, Robinson, Gawdin, Kylington and Petrovic filling the last five spots, the Flames would have about $350,000 left in cap space to deal with in-season injuries or other such things.

Also, as a warning: Dillon Dube and Juuso Valimaki have performance bonuses in their deals – $32,500 for Dube, tied to games played, and $425,000 for Valimaki, tied to performance metrics. So if Valimaki is an NHL regular and is top four in defender ice time, gets 10+ goals, 25+ assists, 40+ points, 0.49+ points per game or is top three among defenders in plus/minus, he’ll get some bonuses and potentially muck up the Flames’ tenuous cap situation.

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So, in other words: the Flames have made their big additions and their salary cap situation is extremely tight going forward.