The Calgary Flames ended 2022-23 with salary cap breathing room, but have decisions to make

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
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The Calgary Flames have completed their 2022-23 season. And while the season was disappointing, the Flames managed to avoid injuries and deftly manage their salary cap situation for the season.
But challenges appear on the horizon from a cap perspective.

2022-23 rundown

Here’s a rundown of how the Flames spent their cap space over the regular season. The cap ceiling was $82,500,000, and the Flames ended up with about $24,523 left over after anticipated performance bonuses.
PlayerNHL DaysCap Hit
Nazem Kadri (F)185$7,000,000
Jacob Markstrom (G)185$6,000,000
Jonathan Huberdeau (F)185$5,900,000
Andrew Mangiapane (F)185$5,800,000
Mikael Backlund (F)185$5,350,000
Milan Lucic (F)185$5,250,000
Noah Hanifin (D)185$4,950,000
Blake Coleman (F)185$4,900,000
Elias Lindholm (F)185$4,850,000
Rasmus Andersson (D)185$4,550,000
Chris Tanev (D)185$4,500,000
Tyler Toffoli (F)185$4,250,000
Nikita Zadorov (D)185$3,750,000
MacKenzie Weegar (D)185$3,250,000
Oliver Kylington (D)185*$2,500,000
Dillon Dube (F)185$2,300,000
Trevor Lewis (F)185$800,000*
Adam Ruzicka (F)185$762,500
Dan Vladar (G)185$750,000
Michael Stone (D)184*$745,946
Connor Mackey (D)143$705,338
Brett Ritchie (F)143$579,730
Troy Stecher (D)42$567,568
Kevin Rooney (F)59*$533,784
Jakob Pelletier (F)87$406,000
Dennis Gilbert (D)98$403,919
Walker Duehr (F)71$317,581
Nick Ritchie (F)42$283,784
Radim Zohorna (F)26$105,405
Matt Coronato (F)18$90,000
Matthew Phillips (F)15$60,811
Nick DeSimone (D)13$53,581
Nicolas Meloche (D)1$5,135
Dustin Wolf (G)1$4,396
Some notes:
  • Michael Stone signed on the second day of the season, hence 184 of 185 days on the roster.
  • Oliver Kylington was a non-roster player all season. He was eligible to be placed on the long-term injury reserve, but the Flames never required the cap space so they never did so.
  • Trevor Lewis’ contract carried an $800,000 base salary and $200,000 in performance bonuses, believed to be (but not confirmed to be) games-played bonuses. Since Lewis played in all 82 games, we’re presuming he hit his bonuses.
  • Kevin Rooney was sent to the AHL after 59 days on the NHL roster, but the Flames carried a reduced cap hit from him as a burial penalty for the remainder of the season. (They could only bury $1.125 million of his $1.3 million cap hit.)
  • Over the 185-day regular season, the Flames carried approximately 24.8 players on the cap each day. That’s essentially a full 23-man roster, plus an injured player and Kylington for the entire season. And that’s with the Flames not getting hammered by injuries all that much – they only had about 71 man-games lost due to injuries, the second-least in the NHL.
  • The Flames began the season with $81.125 million in cap commitments (and a 22-man roster) and ended up needing to spend another $1.35 million in order to get through the rest of the season, in terms of injury replacements, recalls and trades.
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2023-24 outlook

The current expectation is that the cap ceiling will be bumped up to $83,500,000 for 2023-24 – a jump of just $1 million from 2022-23.
Here’s a quick rundown of the Flames’ current anticipated cap commitments.
PlayerCap Hit
Jacob Markstrom (G)$6,000,000
Dan Vladar (G)$2,200,000
MacKenzie Weegar (D)$6,250,000
Noah Hanifin (D)$4,950,000
Rasmus Andersson (D)$4,550,000
Chris Tanev (D)$4,500,000
Nikita Zadorov (D)$3,750,000
Oliver Kylington (D)$2,500,000
Dennis Gilbert (D)$762,500
Jonathan Huberdeau (F)$10,500,000
Nazem Kadri (F)$7,000,000
Andrew Mangiapane (F)$5,800,000
Mikael Backlund (F)$5,350,000
Blake Coleman (F)$4,900,000
Elias Lindholm (F)$4,850,000
Tyler Toffoli (F)$4,250,000
Dillon Dube (F)$2,300,000
Adam Ruzicka (F)$762,500
Kevin Rooney (buried) (F)$150,000
(We’re assuming that if Rooney didn’t stay on the NHL roster in 2022-23, he won’t be on the roster in 2023-24, so his only impact here is the burial penalty for his contract.)
So, good news and bad news!
The good news is that the Flames already have all of their significant players under contract for 2023-24. The have two goalies, seven defencemen and nine forwards under contract.
The bad news is that, assuming they start the season with 22 players like they did this season, they would need to add four forwards to their roster. And they only have $2.175 million to fill those spots with, and with the league minimum rising to $775,000 in 2023-24, the only have enough cap space to fill two roster spots. Filling all four roster spots with league minimum players puts them $925,000 over the cap. The most likely candidates for those roster spots also probably aren’t league minimum players; they’d be folks like Jakob Pelletier ($863,333) or Walker Duehr (RFA).
If you assume that whoever is general manager – Brad Treliving or otherwise – will want to have somewhere around $2 million available in case of injuries or other in-season moves, the Flames have some work to do to move out at least around $3 million in cap hits.
(Again, the X-factor for 2023-24 could be the status of Kylington. If he remains sidelined for next season, in theory the Flames could place him on long-term injury and get cap relief. But that only works as a solution if he’s going to miss the entire season, and creating a cap relief plan based on a player being absent all season seems like a flawed solution.)
Even if the NHLPA and NHL concoct some kind of deal that boosts the cap up by more than $1 million (without impacting escrow), the Flames will have work to do as they attempt to shed salary while simultaneously improving a hockey club that narrowly missed the playoffs.

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