Thursday, July 02, 2015

Breaking Down the Flames 2015-16 Roster: How Things Look as of September 10

Editor's Note: This article was originally written July 2. It was updated on July 24 to reflect Drew Shore's qualifying offer and the signing of Lance Bouma and Josh Jooris. It was updated again on July 26 to reflect the signing of Paul Byron. It was updated again on September 10 to include Micheal Ferland's newly signed 2-year contract.

The elevator that runs from the press box to the dressing room areas at the Saddledome has a capacity of around 12. It's not unusual, however, for 17 bodies to squeeze in there after a game with team personnel, building staff and media all urgently trying to catch a lift.

When it's overly crowded like that, it's a suffocating and uncomfortable feeling.

Well, welcome to one of the Flames roster conundrums. With the signing of highly sought-after UFA right-winger Michael Frolik on July 1, Calgary is left with 17 forwards that could or at least should be in the NHL this season.

As you know, you can only play 12.

Factor in two extra forwards the team will likely carry on its roster and at this point, you still have three too many forwards for the number of available jobs.

It's a similar situation between the pipes where the re-signing of Karri Ramo has left the team with three goalies at the moment. There's only one net.

With the first day of free agency in the books, it's time to take stock of the Flames roster and see exactly where we're at. Below is a look at how I view the roster as of right now. Obviously, there will be changes to come as I have 28 players listed and a NHL roster can only be 23 players maximum.

Note that age listed is as of October 1, 2015 and dollars are cap hit figures per General Fanager.

2015-16 NHL Salary Cap$71.4M

2015-16 Flames Roster (28) - $72.44M

Here is the breakdown by position. As you can see, team payroll is slanted very heavily towards the defence although that will change quite a bit a year from now.
  • Forwards (17) $33.93M
  • Defence (8) $29.61M
  • Goalies (3) $8.90M

Now let's drill down further and take a look at each position as it stands today.


Forwards (17) - $33.93M

Starters (12):
Gaudreau 22, $925K - Monahan 20, $925K - Hudler 31, $4M
Colborne 25, $1.28M - Bennett 19, $925K - Frolik, 27, $4.3M
Bouma 25, $2.2M - Backlund 26, $3.58M - Jones 31, $4M
Ferland 23, $825K - Stajan 31, $3.13M - Jooris 25, $975K - 

Extras (5):
Bollig 28, $1.25M, Byron 26, $900K, Granlund 22, $768K
Raymond 30, $3.1M, Shore 24, $851K


What's Next?

Instead of addition, now it's time for subtraction as they need to whittle down the number of bodies to 14. There are a few different options for doing this:
  • Trade - Jiri Hudler and David Jones are both going into the final year of their existing contracts and will be a UFA at season's end. With new contracts and big raises owed in 2016-17 to core pieces Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano, It's hard to envision the club having space to fit either Jones or Hudler and definitely not both of them. Thus, the time to look at a deal for one or both might be right now. In addition, other players could also be traded with Mason Raymond -- two years left at $3.15 million AAV -- being someone that comes to mind given how he was used (or not used) last year.
  • Demotion to AHL - While his eligibility to go to the AHL without clearing waivers will expire soon, Markus Granlund may go back down again simply because it's easy to do. Micheal Ferland must clear waivers now so given that and considering his coming-out-party in the playoffs and his one-way deal, it's safe to say he'll be in the NHL and on the opening roster.
  • Place on IR - The unknown is a player or two could end up hurt and if so, that helps alleviate the logjam. There's no guarantee of this but it seems inevitable that at least one forward will get nicked up and start the year on injured reserve.
  • Place on Waivers - If fans were making the decision, Brandon Bollig would top the list for this option. However, they're not and the guys in charge like Bollig and the character, toughness and playoff experience he brings. Instead, Drew Shore would more likely be the guy to be put on waivers. Let's not forget they only gave up Corban Knight (so essentially a fourth round pick) to get Shore so if he gets claimed, it's not the end of the world.  

Prediction?

With the season less than one month away, my guess as of right now on how the Flames get from 17 to 14 is Shore ends up on waivers for the purpose of being assigned to the AHL. One more player TBD will end up on the IR. Lastly, with Bennett shifting to centre, Granlund also ends up being demoted to the minors.


Defence (8) - $29.61M

Starters (6):
Giordano 32, $4.02M - Hamilton 22, $5.75M
Brodie 25, $4.65M - Wideman 32, $5.25M
Russell 28, $2.6M - Engelland 33, $2.92M

Extras (2):
Wotherspoon 22, $925K, Smid 29, $3.5M


PTO (1):
Wilson 28, TBD


What's Next?

As for Ladislav Smid, I would not be surprised if he starts the season on the IR. I know he's feeling better but two neck surgeries in a span of five years is going to make being cleared for contact a more complicated matter. If Smid opens season on long-term injured list, that would also subtract his pricey cap hit and open up some space.

Meanwhile, everything we've heard the club say about Tyler Wotherspoon needing to win a job tells me that they will bring in some experience to be that No. 7 guy with Wotherspoon destined to begin the season in the AHL again unless he really impresses at camp and can 'earn' his way into the top seven.

That's where Ryan Wilson may come in. If he is healthy, I can see him signing a modest deal with the Flames to try and get his career back on track.

A wildcard is Czech defenceman Jakub Nakladal. He's 27 and is coming off one season in Finland and three seasons in the KHL prior to that. He could surprise at camp and win a job although he's on a two-way deal and has never played in North America before so it would make sense to start him in the AHL to give him time to adjust to the smaller ice surface.

Prediction

My guess is Smid opens on the IR and they sign Wilson to split the 6/7 role with Engelland. If there's an injury to someone on defence to open the season, Nakladal also makes it with Wotherspoon remaining in Stockton.


Goaltenders (3) - $8.9M

Starters (2):
Ramo 29, $3.8M
Ortio 24, $600K

Extra (1):
Hiller 33, $4.5M


What's Next?

Re-signing Karri Ramo to a one-year deal came as a bit of a surprise. Also raising some eyebrows was the $3.8 million he received in getting him to sign just two hours prior to when he would have become a free agent. Aggressively pursuing the 29-year-old and offering that type of loot to keep him off the open market strikes me as part of a bigger plan that may already be in the works. My sense at this point is Calgary prefers Ramo and will look for an opportunity to unload Jonas Hiller, who has one year left on a deal that pays him $4.5 million.

What I think is safe to assume is it will be Joni Ortio and one of those two vets moving forward, not both of the vets. Ortio is on a one-way contract deal for 2015-16 and while the $600,000 amount is modest and they'd gladly pay that to him in the minors, he has to clear waivers in order to be sent down and I doubt he would. After grooming Ortio for as long as they have, after he looked so good in that five-game stretch last January and with him just 24 years old, I just cannot see the team risking losing him for nothing.

Prediction

Goalie situations around the league can change rapidly once training camp and pre-season games begin. Perhaps a team loses their No. 1 goalie to injury or concerns grow about the readiness of a prospect expected to be the back-up. If waiting for a goalie need to develop elsewhere means they carry three goalies into October and maybe even into the regular season, that won't be ideal but it can be tolerated for a short period.

However, I still think it's ultimately Hiller that ends up leaving town although Calgary will likely have to eat some some contract, perhaps up to $1.5 or $2 million.


Busy Summer Wrapping Up

For general manager Brad Treliving, his RFA work is finally done, the Giordano extension is complete and his next moves will likely involve the three veteran skaters (Jones, Hudler, Russell) heading into their UFA seasons, extensions could be in the offing and/or trades could be possible if negotiations don't go well and/or the team may just decide to run a couple of them out to the end and potentially lose them knowing that having them this year gives Calgary the best chance to win.

For a young prospect like 20-year-old right winger Emile Poirier and other prospects looking to make the jump from the AHL, it sure looks like he will be destined for a second season in the minors and that's perfectly fine. Having the luxury to not rush prospects is the type of depth the NHL's best hockey teams have. Calgary finding itself in that situation is a positive sign.



By the way, have you liked Flames From 80 Feet on Facebook yet? Go there and do so now. It's just another way to be alerted to new Calgary Flames articles that I've written.

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8 comments:

  1. Fantastic summary of what to expect!

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  2. When it comes to Hudler, Jones, Hiller...I hope Treliving turns those expiring contracts into assets. Even if they are mid round picks in the case of Jones and Hiller. Personally I see Smid and Raymond as the biggest albatross' on this roster. I am curious as to what is really wrong with Smid, I hope he is okay. But his spot on the roster is no longer required. Raymond has simply been passed by almost every prospect we saw in April.

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    1. Raymond could be tricky and who knows, maybe he stays and can find his game again if top nine winger spots open up with the dealing away of one/both of the aforementioned players. As for Smid, he's had a couple neck operations now, one earlier in his career also. You just have to wonder what the long-term prognosis is. A good dude though, so you pull for him, but I don't think a return is imminent.

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  3. I agree with the D lines you have, and they look great. I Think Schlemko earned a contract, what’s more Boomer has already found the guy a song, so how could you not resign him. Wideman/Widedog started last season with one foot out the door. He looked like a guy that wanted to play somewhere else, now if ever a player had bought in its him. I like his character, and skill, if not his age. I would hate to see him go. That said, I would hate even more to lose him with no return. I think he’ll be moved to a contender by the deadline. Hudler, considering he doesn’t get banged up to much, could play 5 more years. If they can extend him for a reasonable amount they should try to do so. I believe the Flames will keep the first line as is, unless Hudler is moved. The second line I had Bouma on the LW. Bennett is a hell cat at center, I’d want to keep him away from the boards as much as possible. I had him centering the third line, with Ferland to keep him company, and Jooris on the RW for speed . Stajan with Bollig, and Colborne for the fourth line. I see from numerous comments that Bollig isn’t going to sell a lot of Jerseys. Like Wideman at the start of the season he seemed like he would’ve rather been just about any place other than Calgary. As the season wore on he seemed to find his place on the team. Now I really think they would miss him. LW on the forth line is about as close as you can get to the door, but I think he’ll be there game one.

    Hats off to our GM he has defiantly lived up to the billing, and more so. I for see a time in the not so distant future when other GM’s tremble at the sound of their phones ringing. I had not doubt Ramo would stay in Calgary, given he was offered term. No way he was staying on a one year deal. So I am never going to live out the dream of being an NHL GM. I’ll just have to live vicariously through Tre, the great thing is I could be living in Boston, or even more likely, Vancouver.

    Thx for the insight Darren I love reading your column, even more so in the dark days of summer when we are all just struggling to get by. Oh please Mr. T sign Geo, and Brodie soon if for no other reason than the fans need a fix lol. GFG

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    1. Love the interaction, thanks for leaving your thoughts. Bennett will be a very good centre and I can't disagree about putting him there right now. He's got some edge to his personality too and I don't doubt he's lobbying for that indirectly, Every kid wants to be centre, right? It starts at age 5 and never stops. Gio extension will come but wow, what a curious contract it will be. There finally appears to be some depth building in the pipeline for this team on the blueline. It will be interesting to see the make-up of the blue-line in two years as they can't keep everyone. As for Hudler, I'm not sure they'll be able to fit what he'll ask into the salary structure. That's my hunch. I don't doubt he'll be good for a few more years but can they afford him as well as everyone else? You nailed Wideman as well. Was quite a cantankerous sort from my perspective but last year was quite different. Guys are naturally happier when they're scoring, playing more/well but there's more there. He's that guy that has that sense of humour that takes a while to figure out and can rub people the wrong way if you haven't figured him out. But not sure for what he makes there's a spot in the line-up beyond this year. The sooner you move him, the more you might get. They still need NHL-ready D and need two of Wideman gets moved, but need cheaper versions. Cheers.

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  4. Thanks for the report and outlining what the future may hold for the Flames. Treleving has some big decisions coming up.

    I was prepared to see the Flames go with basically the same team that finished last season. Then, Tre surprised me by getting Frolick and Hamilton. Are these replacements for Hudler and Wideman who both had an excellent past season?

    I can't see the Flames parting with Huds, who has great chemistry with Monahan and Gaudreau.....but this is a business they say!

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    1. Management has talked about ways to speed up the rebuild and bringing in two high profile players without surrendering any prospects or players is certainly one way to do that. They're going to bump up against the cap in no time so there will be some vets that get left behind. I'm not sure the team can afford to keep Hudler. They love the player but it might be one of those business decisions.

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