Green garbage bag day has come and gone, the second round of the playoffs will end tonight, and we all get to look ahead to what should be a pair of intriguing match ups in the Conference finals. None of this matters anymore in Calgary. The 2009-2010 season for the Flames was an unmitigated disaster. so lets look ahead at what I believe will happen and what I would do if I were the GM of the Flames. (Note to Ken King. I am available if the job comes up!)
As of right now the Flames have 9 forwards (including Mikael Backlund who is certainly on this team next year) 7 defensemen, and one Miikka Kiprusoff signed for next season. However the Flames only have about $2.9M available in cap space. (including Backlund’s $1.3M) So in essence Calgary needs to fill out 4 forward spots and a backup goaltender with that cap space.
This does not take into account the RFA’s that the Calgary Flames have coming up that really need to be resigned. Ian White is the biggest concern and will likely get $3.5M in arbitration, if it goes that far. Also Brett Sutter, Eric Nystrom, Matt Pelech, Gord Baldwin, Kris Chucko, Matt Keetley, Brett Palin, David Van Der Gulik, and Cam Cunning will need to be resigned. Fortunately most of these contracts other than likely Sutter and Nystrom will be minor league deals and should have no effect on the cap.
So what do you do if you are the Calgary Flames? My best guess is that all the RFA minor leaguers will be resigned, or let go if they don’t figure into the future of the Abbotsford Heat. Which leaves us with Ian White, Brett Sutter, and Eric Nystrom. I suspect White will be offered a 4 year deal around $10M and they will hope it will be enough to resign him. Brett Sutter will get a 2 year deal around $1.5M, which leaves Eric Nystrom who will likely command about $1.5M per season, and it is rumored that the Islanders are considering tending him an offer sheet for that amount. I think the Flames will sign him to a number close to $1.5M.
But wait Shane doesn’t that put the Flames over the cap? Yup, but I can assure you that Steffan Kronwall will be buried in Abbotsford again this season so his $500K will come off the books. Which means the Flames will have to trade players for picks at the draft or bury players in the minors. Steve Staios will likely be moved at the draft clearing out his hefty $2.7M hit and will leave Calgary with $1.5M on the cap to play with. After these moves it should leave the Flames with 11 forwards, 6 defensemen and Miikka. So now what will they do?
My best guess is Craig Conroy will be offered a deal at $500K if he wants it. Otherwise someone will get a chance to make this team from the minors at that pay level. One of the young defensemen in the minors will get a chance to be the #7 defenseman at that same pay rate. And I think the Flames will try and sign a UFA goaltender at the league minimum to serve as the backup. This will put the Flames at the cap with 12 forwards, 7 defenders and 2 goaltenders. Don’t be surprised if this is the scenario come training camp.
Now what would I do if I was left to fix the mess that is the Calgary Flames salary crunch? First move is trading Steve Staios and Ales Kotalik at the draft for picks or a bag of pucks. If they can not be traded at the draft then I would bury them in the minors. It’s a terrible thing to do to a player but the Flames put themselves in this situation. Next move would be to trade Daymond Langkow for picks and or prospects (this is something that I believe could be done) with these three players off the payroll the Flames would shed $10.2M off the cap, and after signing the 3 RFA’s mentioned earlier would leave Calgary with about $8.6M on the cap having 10 forwards, 7 defensemen, and Miikka.
So now I have this money to add to the following group…
Kronwall or another young defenceman in the #7 hole.
Honestly this is a defense core I can live with. I would also sign a goaltender to backup Kiprusoff as opposed to having one of the kids wasting away on the bench. If something happened injury wise to Kiprusoff I would feel ok calling up Leyland Irving to be able to play a bulk of those games. So who is my backup goaltender? Likely I would offer Johan Hedberg a deal at $800K to backup Miikka leaving me $7.8M
Now what to do up front? First Greg Neimsz would get every opportunity to make this team in a 3rd line role he would only be paid $1M per season as well. Ok I have $6.8M left, and I am going to try and hit a home run with one of two targets. Patrick Marleau or Tomas Plekanec. Marleau would be my #1 choice and I would offer him $5.5M for 4 years which could be close. If he won’t sign for that then I concentrate on Plekanec who would likely be had for a little less. (4-5M per season I would guess) Assuming Marleau is signed at that number it leaves me $1.3M for another forward and I would offer the same league minimum deal for Craig Conroy over 2 years and let him retire as a Flame if that is his desire. So here is my roster…
Kronwall or another young defenceman in the #7 hole.
The worst part of this roster is again you are tight to the cap. (Likely around $700K to play with) However with a lot of the contracts being unmovable this may be a realistic option for the Flames. The upside is this lineup should generate a bit more offense, and Calgary desperately needs that.
When it comes to the management and big names of the Flames I would honestly be shocked if any moves were made now. The Sutter’s and Ken King will not be fired. Nor should they in my opinion. However the leash needs to be much shorter for 2010-2011. Jarome Iginla will not be traded unless Boston dangles the #2 pick in the draft in front of Calgary as much as I am someone who believes it should be considered. Miikka Kiprusoff is again someone I would consider moving because of his high value but again it will not happen.
The only thing I can tell you is Darryl Sutter will make some moves. He has to to make the cap numbers work. And as per usual with Darryl it could be anyone for anything. He has never been shy to make a move that he feels will help the team win.
What would you do if you were running the Flames?
Have a good one!
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About the Author
Written by Shane Hoopfer
Die hard Flames fan since 1980, and a closet baseball junkie. Also a big Dolphins, and Stampeders fan!