The Calgary Flames’ cap situation is tight right now (but they gain flexibility soon)
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By Ryan Pike1 month ago
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We’re into the lean weeks of the 2023 off-season, friends, as clubs throughout the National Hockey League do important things like hire assistant coaches for their minor league teams, cement loan agreements with European clubs, and make sure their hockey operations personnel get their vacations in before training camp.
The Calgary Flames likely have a minor move or two left ahead of them because of a fairly tight salary cap situation, but their cap room opens up quite a bit over the next two seasons.
The 2023-24 season
The cap ceiling for 2023-24 is $83.5 million. The Flames have $82.95 million committed to 21 players.
- 12 forwards: Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund, Blake Coleman, Elias Lindholm, Yegor Sharangovich, Dillon Dube, Matt Coronato, Jakob Pelletier, Walker Duehr and Adam Ruzicka
- 7 defencemen: MacKenzie Weegar, Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Oliver Kylington and Jordan Oesterle
- 2 goaltenders: Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar
- And the burial penalty for Kevin Rooney
Can the Flames ice a cap compliant roster without any further moves? Sure! But they would have just $549,167 left over to deal with injuries, illnesses, trades, or just to call up an extra forward. That’s not enough, so something else will probably need to happen.
As discussed non-stop this off-season, the Flames have six prominent unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2024: Backlund, Lindholm, Hanifin, Tanev, Zadorov and Kylington. They also have three fairly prominent restricted free agents: Dube, Pelletier and Ruzicka.
The 2024-25 season
A roughly 5% cap increase is expected for 2024-25 – it’ll be the first season after the players’ escrow debt is finally paid off – so the cap will bump up to $87.5 million (rounding down do the nearest half-million for simplicity).
The Flames have 11 NHL regulars locked in for 2024-25:
- 7 forwards: Huberdeau, Kadri, Mangiapane, Coleman, Sharangovich, Duehr and Coronato
- 2 defencemen: Weegar and Andersson
- 2 goaltenders: Markstrom and Vladar
There’s $52.05 million committed to 11 players, leaving the Flames roughly $35.45 million to re-up five defenders and six forwards. (That’s an average of $3.22 million per job opening.) It’s doable, but (yes) new deals for the likes of Lindholm and others in the 2024 off-season obviously would tighten things up a bit.
The Flames have four UFAs in summer 2025 (Mangiapane, Sharangovich, Duehr and Vladar) and one RFA (Coronato).
The 2025-26 season
Finally, for 2025-26 there’s another projected 5% increase, up to $92 million (again, rounding down for simplicity).
The Flames have six established NHL players signed for 2025-26:
- 3 forwards: Huberdeau, Kadri and Coleman
- 2 defencemen: Weegar and Andersson
- 1 goaltender: Markstrom
The Flames have $39.2 million committed to this six-pack, leaving them $52.8 million to sign five defenders and 10 forwards (an average of $3.52 million per roster spot).
The Flames’ cap situation for 2023-24 is a bit challenging as projected right now. However, they have a lot of flexibility starting next summer, and it seems likely that most of that flexibility would remain even if they threw a monster contract at Lindholm. (If we assume Lindholm gets $9 million per year, that reduces the average salary available to fill out their roster in 2024-25 to $2.645 million and for 2025-26 to $3.13 million.)
They have some work to do, but an overhaul of the team isn’t a financial necessity.
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