Historically, the Calgary Flames haven’t shied away from buyouts or retaining salary

Photo credit:Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
Friends, during the run-up to the NHL’s annual trade deadline, you’re going to hear a lot about the potential for the Calgary Flames to retain salary on impending trades. And you might hear some push-back to the possibility of them actually doing so.
While it’s undoubtedly true that the Flames would prefer not to spend money on players that play for other teams, numbers don’t lie. Since 2010, the Flames have doled out over $14 million to pay players not to play for their hockey club.
The eight instances of the Flames busting out their cheque book to help players depart represent seven buyouts and one retained salary transaction.
(Stick taps to Cap Friendly for all the info on these. Players bought out before they turned 26 received one-third of their remaining salary, while older players received two-thirds.)
On July 1, 2010, the Flames bought out the final year of Nigel Dawes‘ contract. Dawes’ 2010-11 compensation was slated to be $850,000, and the one-third buyout cost the Flames $283,333.
On June 30, 2014, the final season of Shane O’Brien‘s deal was bought out. His 2014-15 salary was set to be $2.2 million, and his two-thirds buyout cost the Flames $1,466,667. (This occurred at the tail-end of the NHL’s final round of amnesty buyouts following the 2012-13 lockout. Despite being originally reported as an amnesty buyout, but it turned out to not be.)
On June 30, 2016, the final season (2016-17) of Mason Raymond‘s deal was terminated. His 2016-17 compensation was slated to be $3.15 million. His two-thirds buyout cost $2,100,000.
On June 30, 2017, the Flames bought out two players. One year apiece (2017-18) of Lance Bouma and Ryan Murphy‘s deals were axed. Bouma’s $2.3 million was bought out at two-thirds salary, or $1,533,333, while Murphy’s $825,000 was bought out at one-third salary, or $275,000. Murphy had been acquired in a trade with Carolina the day before.
Troy Brouwer had two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20) left on his deal when the Flames bought him out on Aug. 2, 2018. He had $9 million of salary left on his deal, and a two-thirds buyout cost the Flames $6,000,000. This was the first time the Flames had used the second buyout window, which was opened due to them having arbitration cases that year.
The most recent buyout was Michael Stone, on Aug. 1, 2019, also using the second buyout window. He had just the 2019-20 season left and was owed $3.5 million salary. A two-thirds buyout cost the Flames $2,333,333. After an injury to Juuso Valimaki sidelined him, the Flames signed Stone to a league minimum $700,000 contract on Sept. 11, 2019.
To date, the Flames have retained salary on a trade just once. On Apr. 11, 2021, they traded David Rittich to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick. The Flames retained 50% of Rittich’s $2.75 million salary. Pro-rated over the remainder of the season, the actual cost to the Flames in cash was around $320,000.
All-told, since the beginning of the 2010-11 season the Flames have spent approximately $14.3 million on buyouts and salary retention – that’s about $1 million per season, oddly enough. While each case is unique, the common threads are the Flames exhausting opportunities to extract value from those players, and trying to either cut their losses or maximize their remaining value via buyouts or retention.
All indications are that Flames general manager Craig Conroy has the green light to retain salary, and he’s mentioned on occasion that the Flames have all three retention slots available to them. While history suggests that the Flames aren’t going to shy away from using them, they probably won’t use them all willy-nilly either. We imagine that the Flames highly value those retention slots, and they would need some convincing to utilize them.
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