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Calgary Flames

Bad Contracts will Prevent Flames from Making Moves

They certainly won't be able to keep everyone and that's bad for a team that finished 25th in the league.



The Calgary Flames have reached a somewhat pivotal offseason for them. Arguably their two best forwards, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, will need new contracts for next season. They are important not just for next season, but presumably for the long term success of the franchise.

The Flames currently have $48,142,067 in one-way contracts to fourteen players. That comes out to about $3,438,719.07 per player. These players include:

Forwards –
Michael Frolik – $4,300,000
Mikael Backlund – $3,575,000
Mason Raymond – $3,150,000
Matt Stajan – $3,125,000
Lance Bouma – $2,200,000
Brandon Bollig – $1,250,000
Micheal Ferland – $825,000

Defensemen –

Mark Giordano – $6,750,000
Dougie Hamilton – $5,750,000
Dennis Wideman – $5,250,000
T.J. Brodie – $4,650,400
Ladislav Smid – $3,500,000
Deryk Engelland – $2,916,667
Jyrki Jokipakka – $900,000

All of this leaves $23,257,933 in projected cap space to fill out the remaining roster. Sam Bennett is almost a forgone conclusion to make the team at 925 thousand in U.S.D. Beyond that, the roster is in need of some work and many of these players shouldn't be on the team.

Players that Cannot fill a Roll
Without going into to much detail, a quick multi-variable regression analysis was performed on the top 420 forwards and 210 defensemen in minutes played using using modified expected goals for percentage, individual goals, and individual primary assists to the goals for percentage for the team with them on the ice. A similar analysis was done using the power play (strictly using production and relative expected goals for) and penalty kills (using relative expected goals against). From there each of the players were ranked from top to bottom and adjusted based on how much power play, penalty kill, and even strength time they averaged. Anybody falling out of the top 360 for forwards and 180 for defensemen fails and obviously shouldn't be on an N.H.L. roster.

The Flames had three such players that shouldn't be on the roster in the form of Raymond (408th), Bollig (417th), and Wideman (190th). That adds up to 13.5 percent of a 71.4 million dollar salary cap on wasted space on players where, if they are playing, they are a huge detriment to the team. In an ideal world, the Flames will search for some low-dollar amount players that can at least carry possession to replace them on the team, but that's still a large amount of wasted space.

Barely There Players

Wideman, Raymond, and Bollig were only the players that were bad enough to the point where there is zero case for including them on the roster, but that doesn't include the likes of Bouma (355th) and Engelland (176th) who came oh so close to failing themselves. Like Raymond, Bollig and Wideman, they both carry horrible contracts that take up additional space. They comprise a little over seven percent of the salary cap between the two of them.

Once those are added up, Calgary is closer to 21 percent of the cap just on five players that don't really have a case for being on the team. This is far from ideal on a team that really has quite a few holes to fill, and there are still more bad contracts.

The Serviceable but Highly Overpaid Last Year
The most obvious individual on this list is Stajan (310th) who is making second or third line player money to be a mediocre fourth line player. He makes up over four percent of the cap by himself, but he's not the only player on the list. Dougie Hamilton (117th) had a relatively disappointing first year in Calgary and he'll need to rebound heavily.

Many will note that it isn't fair to single out Hamilton as he never had a stable partner and Bob Hartley had zero clue on how to properly utilize defensemen. That's fair, but for the purpose of being objective he belongs on this list. With just Stajan included, the Flames have utilized over 25 percent of their cap space on players that either shouldn't be on the team or performed like fourth liners or bottom pairing guys. If Hamilton doesn't improve under a new coach, that number jumps up to over 33 percent.

Ladislav Smid

Smid is more icing on the cake. While his Corsi was horrid, his expected goal percentage was actually very good. That being said, he was only able to play about 250 minutes last year before being shut down with injury and there's concern about whether he'll ever be able to play again.

If the Flames are able to L.T.I.R. Smid it would be highly advantageous for them to do so. Taking Smid off of the books helps to mitigate Stajan's lackluster contract and brings them back down below 21 percent on bad contracts given to non-roster and fourth line players. With that being said, nearly everyone thought that's where Smid would land last year and he wound up playing, so all of that is very up in the air.

The Roster Right Now

The current roster needs a lot of work to fill out the holes. Excluding any two way contracts, it currently looks like this:

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Mikael Backlund Michael Frolik
Lance Bouma Matt Stajan Micheal Ferland
Left Defence Right Defense
Mark Giordano T.J. Brodie
Jyrki Jokipakka Dougie Hamilton
Ladislav Smid Deryk Engelland

That leaves Wideman, Raymond, and Bollig as the scratches. That takes up nearly 67.5 percent of the cap and excludes any two-way contracts or potential re-signings. Gaudreau and Monahan will almost certainly be re-signed, though they will not come cheap as discussed here. Between the two of them, the team is likely looking at another 13.5 million dollars in cap space, bringing them up to over 86 percent of their cap space used up and still more individuals needing to be added up to the roster.

Sam Bennett will certainly be on the team as well and for the sake of filling out the roster Emile Poirier and Hunter Shinkaruk were added strictly because they were the closest ones to N.H.L. ready last year. If this actually occurs, the Flames are now close to 89 percent of the cap with about eight million dollars and cap space remaining.

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Johnny Gaudreau Mikael Backlund Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett Sean Monahan
Emile Poirier Hunter Shinkaruk
Lance Bouma Matt Stajan Micheal Ferland
Left Defence Right Defense
Mark Giordano T.J. Brodie
Jyrki Jokipakka Dougie Hamilton
Ladislav Smid Deryk Engelland

With that cap space, they'll need to find a starting goalie, a backup goalie, a winger capable of playing in the top six, and either a center capable of playing in the top nine or a winger capable of playing in the top six. All that and the bottom three guys on defense are looking pretty shoddy. Yes, they could see what they have with a younger player and attempt to re-sign Jakub Nakladal, but that will take up even more cap space and put them closer to 6.5 million remaining.

Sure, they could buy out Wideman and save themselves another four million this year at the expense of two million next year, but given that next year hardly looks to be anything spectacular that might not be worth the investment. They could also trade him away while mortgaging assets, but he has a no movement clause which means he could decline it and it doesn't seem worth it to give away picks for short term cap relief. Given all of that, don't be surprised if the star goalie that everyone is demanding actually winds up to be pretty mediocre and that top tier winger winds up being nothing more than a possession darling who infuriates casual fans by never managing to score.

by Les Mavus