Looking at the Flames’ arrivals, departures and depth early in free agency
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike8 months ago
It’s been a rather eventful start to the National Hockey League’s free agent season for the Calgary Flames. Star forward Johnny Gaudreau is now a Columbus Blue Jacket. And the Flames added five new faces to the organization on a busy opening day of free agency.
Here’s a rundown of their comings, goings, and how the cap math looks so far.
The Flames added five new players to their organization (and also have four more players entering their entry-level system).
Joining from elsewhere are goalie Oscar Dansk (Dynamo Moskva, KHL), blueliners Nicolas Meloche (San Jose) and Dennis Gilbert (Colorado), and forwards Kevin Rooney (NY Rangers) and Clark Bishop (Belleville). All five have NHL experience, a combined 345 games. Two-thirds of that is Rooney’s, and he’s probably the only one of the five that’s guaranteed an NHL gig next season.
But if the idea was to insulate the club’s youngsters with some vets – to give Dustin Wolf a veteran backup, and to give AHL up-and-comers like Connor Mackey, Juuso Valimaki, Adam Ruzicka and Jakob Pelletier somebody to battle for possible NHL spots – then Treliving’s moves on Wednesday fit the bill.
Joining the entry-level system full-time are defenders Yan Kuznetsov (2020 2nd-rounder) and Jeremie Poirier (2020 3rd-rounder), and forwards Rory Kerins (2020 6th-rounder) and Ilya Nikolaev (2019 3rd-rounder), as well as free agent addition Adam Klapka.
The Flames have 34 players under contract for 2022-23 and another six restricted free agents. They typically operate with between 45 and 47 players under contract, so it would be reasonable to expect another five-to-seven signings.
Leaving the organization and landing other gigs are goaltender Adam Werner (Malmo, SHL), defenders Erik Gudbranson (Columbus), Kevin Gravel (Nashville), Andy Welinski (NY Rangers) and Johannes Kinnvall (Brynas, SHL), and forwards Johnny Gaudreau (Columbus), Byron Froese (Vegas), Glenn Gawdin (Anaheim), Luke Philp (Chicago) and Eetu Tuulola (Ilves, Finland).
Unrestricted free agents who haven’t yet found a home – and may return, you never know – are goalie Tyler Parsons, blueliner Michael Stone, and forwards Calle Jarnkrok, Justin Kirkland, Brett Ritchie and Ryan Carpenter.
In terms of contracts-in, contracts-out, the Flames are down a goaltender, down a defenceman, and down five forwards compared to the end of the season. (They added two forwards at the trade deadline, though, so functionally they’re probably down three forwards compared to where they “normally” end up contractually.)
The cap and roster situation
We promise to keep the math to a minimum, but here’s roughly where the Flames sit in terms of their cap situation as of early Thursday:
- Goalies : Jacob Markstrom ($6 million) and Dan Vladar ($750,000)
- Defencemen : Noah Hanifin ($4.95 million), Rasmus Andersson ($4.55 million), Chris Tanev ($4.5 million), Nikita Zadorov ($3.75 million), Juuso Valimaki ($1.55 million), Connor Mackey ($912,500), Nicolas Meloche ($900,000) and Dennis Gilbert ($762,500)
- Forwards : Sean Monahan ($6.375 million), Mikael Backlund ($5.35 million), Milan Lucic ($5.25 million), Blake Coleman ($4.9 million), Elias Lindholm ($4.85 million), Tyler Toffoli ($4.25 million), Dillon Dube ($2.3 million), Kevin Rooney ($1.3 million) and Trevor Lewis ($800,000)
The way off-season cap math works is this: anybody on a one-way deal, you assume they’re in the NHL. They’re all included here, plus Vladar, who’s on a two-way deal but was in the NHL all of last season. Combined, these 19 players account for $64.05 million in cap space.
The Flames also have to have cap space available for the three qualifying offers for NHL regulars Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington, whose QOs combine for $12.213 million. (They will all probably make more than their QOs, but that’s another problem.)
The cap commitments plus qualifying offers equates to $76.263 million in commitments. The Flames have to be below the $82.5 million cap ceiling as of Oct. 10, so they have $6.237 million to work with under that ceiling. But teams are allowed to go 10% over the cap during the off-season, so the Flames could spend up to $90.75 million at any given point as long as they get under the actual cap when the season begins. So in that sense, the Flames could spend another $14.487 million on top of their current commitments without breaking any rules.
It’s worth noting that the Flames’ cap commitments don’t really reflect their cap realities because, including Kylington, they have nine defenders pencilled in right now on one-way deals. They probably won’t carry more than seven, so a couple players may be waived (and/or traded) and their cap space likely shifted towards spending elsewhere – most likely to boost their forward ranks. (Their cap situation remains a bit muddled, though, until their three major RFAs ink their next deals.)
In short: are the Flames done? Nope. Based on history, they’ll probably sign another five players or so between now and when the season begins. Do they have cap space to make NHL-level additions, particularly to their lean forward group? Yes, they definitely do.
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