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Friday, June 30, 2017

State of the Roster: On Eve of July 1, Flames Needs Down to Perhaps Just One Piece



One player needed and $3 million to spend.

That's what I've got things whittled down to as Brad Treliving has been operating lately like he's got some serious plans for the Canada Day long weekend and is anxious to hit the highway.

A barrage of transactions by the general manager over the last couple weeks has the Calgary Flames 2017-18 roster rapidly coming into focus. That, plus a glimpse into the future.

On the eve of the NHL's annual July 1 free agent frenzy, here's a recap of the parade of players that have joined (or re-joined) the organization lately:
  • June 17 - Traded for G Mike Smith to be the team's starter
  • June 23 - Drafted D Juuso Valimaki 16th overall in NHL draft
  • June 24 - Traded for D Travis Hamonic to round out the top four
  • June 27 - Signed highly-touted college free agent RW Spencer Foo
  • June 29 - Re-signed veteran RW Kris Versteeg
  • June 29 - Traded for G Eddie Lack to be the back-up
  • June 30 - Re-signed D Michael Stone

That's a lot of significant pieces in a short period of time.


Happy to be Back

Stone's decision to re-sign was the latest announcement and it was also one of the simplest decisions. For one, his wife is from Calgary and they spend their off-seasons in the city. Secondly, he knows the calibre of team Treliving is constructing.

"A goal right when I got traded here was to stay in Calgary and not only for the fact that we're close to family, but it's a really good hockey club," said Stone, who just turned 27 earlier in June. "That's something I haven't been part of a whole lot."

For Friday's announcement, Stone stopped by the Saddledome in person with his wife and adorable, wide-eyed nine-month old twins -- one boy and one girl -- both outfitted in red knitted Flames sweaters.

Stone says for himself, recalling when he first arrived in town last March, it is rejuvenating to be on a competitive team again. He added that it will be no different for his once-again teammate, the ultra competitive Mike Smith.

"When I got here, it felt like a new season, a fresh start, we were pushing for something," Stone says. "In Arizona, it was like let's get through the rest of the season.

"Not mailing it in, but you know you're out and there's a bunch of uncertainty. Coming here, you get a jolt of energy and it's exciting to come to the rink every day."

With the injury history for Travis Hamonic, who the last four seasons has missed 13, 11, 10 and 33 games, and with Calgary clearly determined to become a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, Stone's arrival gives the Flames tremendous depth on the back end. In addition to being a solid third pairing presence, he is also a guy as he demonstrated last season that can be elevated into the top-four in the event of an injury.

You need that type of depth if you view yourself as a contender and that security comes at a price. Stone's deal pays him an annual average value of $3.5 million over the next three seasons.


Remaining Need

As for the type of player the GM still has remaining on his shopping list, coach Glen Gulutzan peeled back the curtain a little bit during a radio visit with Dean Molberg and Ryan Pinder on Sportsnet960 radio on Friday morning.

To summarize their conversation in case you missed it, Gulutzan hinted that the team is looking for a bottom-six winger, who is a right-hand shot and can take draws. Not necessarily a centre, but more so a winger who can take face-offs in certain situations, similar to what Troy Brouwer does in sometimes taking the draw when he's on his strong side.

With that information in mind, I set out to build the rest of the 23-man squad that would surround that one missing piece.

The website Cap Friendly is a phenomenal tool and I use it all the time. But at the same time, the presence of pending RFAs and players listed in the minors when they should be listed on the NHL roster (and sometimes vice versa) still leaves me scribbling out a bunch of additional math on the napkin beside me. In an attempt to crystallize the team's situation right up to the moment, I have taken a stab at building the Flames roster as it might look on Oct. 4 when Calgary visits Edmonton to open up the regular season.

This includes projections as to who will be on the team and who will not -- and my view likely varies from yours -- and don't get too hung up on the actual line combinations as we know those are likely to change. I also had to stickhandle around a handful of restricted free agents.

Determined to attach a dollar figure to each of them, highlighted in yellow is my guess at what their AAV may come in at this season. In some cases (e.g. Bennett, Ferland), I factored in big raises. In other instances (e.g. Lazar, Kulak), I basically assigned them their qualifying offer.

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NHL Salary Cap in 2017-18
$75 million

Flames Current Payroll 
$72 million
(22 players - 13 forwards, 7 defencemen, 2 goaltenders)

Available Cap Space
$3 million 
(1 player - 1 forward)

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Breakdown by Position

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Forwards
$38.17 million
(13 spots taken, 1 spot to fill)


Starting 12

Gaudreau (L) $6.75M - Monahan (L) $6.38M - Ferland (L) $2.1M?
Tkachuk (L) $925K - Backlund (L) $3.58M - Frolik (L) $4.3M
Versteeg (R) $1.75M - Bennett (L) $2.55M? - __________ (x) $x
Stajan (L) $3.13M - Lazar (R) $875K? - Brouwer (R) $4.5M

Extras

C/RW Hamilton (R) $612K
RW Hathaway (R) $715K?


Other Candidates
 (not factored into the payroll)

RW Foo (R) $925K
C Jankowski (L) $925K
LW Shinkaruk (L) $863K


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Defence
$25.78 million
(7 spots taken, 0 spots to fill)


Starting Six

Giordano (L) $6.75M - Hamilton (R) $5.75M
Brodie (L) $4.65M - Hamonic (R) $3.86M
Kulak (L) $660K? - Stone (R) $3.5M

Extra

Bartkowski (L) $612K


Other Candidates
 (not factored into the payroll)

Andersson (R) $756K
Wotherspoon (L) $800K?


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Goaltenders
$5.63 million
(2 spots taken, 0 spots to fill)


Tandem

Smith $4.25M
Lack $1.38M


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Other Expenses
$2.42 million


Buyout Costs
$1.82 million
(Raymond $1.05M, Bouma $667K, Murphy $100K)


2016-17 Bonus Overage
$600,000

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UFA Names to Watch For

Once you drill into it, there's aren't a whole lot of high-end names out there amongst the UFAs, who meet the description of what Calgary is looking for. At least not many big-name impact types.

Here are five names to consider:
  • Shane Doan, 40 - Has the Arizona connection, but may be too old for what Calgary is building.
  • Jarome Iginla, 40 - See above. A nostalgic thought by longtime Flames fans, but I don't see it.
  • Patrick Marleau, 37 - Ticks all the boxes but may be too pricey. Plus a return to SJ beckons.
  • Patrick Sharp, 35 - Limited to 8 goals and 48 games last season, but did score 20 the year prior.
  • Justin Williams, 35 - Mr. Clutch would be a nice add but rumblings are he wants to stick out East.

Of course, there is always the trade route, which Treliving admits he's been more focused on this off-season. But Calgary has jettisoned a lot of draft picks out the exit already in assembling the current roster and their lottery ticket supply is getting awfully thin.

If they don't find the right deal either, being a few million under the salary cap isn't a terrible thing. It's incumbent on Treliving to not fear that spending burning a hole in his pocket. Save it for later. The Flames would then look to promote one of their prospects already in the system and knocking on the door (e.g. Spencer Foo, Mark Jankowski).

So are you ready for hockey to start up again? We may still be a few months out from the games beginning, but the roster is looking pretty darn close to ready.



By the way, have you liked Flames From 80 Feet on Facebook yet? Do so now! It's another way to be alerted to new Calgary stories I've written, other articles from my colleagues I enjoyed and I'll also sometimes use that space to weigh in on the news of the day.

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Recent Flames Reading:




      23 comments:

      1. What about Vrbata? Connections with both GG and BT, Signed a 1 year deal for $1m and bonus's last year.
        DPG

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        1. I did not list Vrbata because while he lacks the face-off element that Gulutzan identified. But Vrbata does have the Arizona connection (two separate stints) and is a right-hand shot, how can score. So I certainly wouldn't rule him out.

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      2. Give Foo a chance and I want to see Jankowski make it

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        1. The mindset will not be give someone a chance. If they earn a spot on the team then fine, but no freebies. I need to see more of Foo before I say too much more so development camp will be a bit of a preview but the rookie tournament will be when we really see if he has a chance to step right into the NHL line-up. Same for Jankowski, opportunity should be there if he is assertive and goes out in camp and wins one of the jobs.

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      3. Thanks for the write up Darren. Always an interesting read. I like what Treliving has done. Little much $$ for Stone but tough year UFA wise-got to pay. Defence looks strong. Hope the goaltending comes through and they give a couple young guys a chance up front. Should be an interesting year.

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        1. Keep in mind Stone just turned 27. If he can get back to the player he was on track to becoming before his knee injury set him back, that will be a low AAV for a guy going through his prime. Injuries on defence are inevitable and someone of his ilk was a must-have insurance policy if this team wants to make some noise. Treliving has talked a lot this week about his philosophy of building up the middle -- solid core at centre and then continue that on the blueline. He's made it a priority and now we sit back and watch and see if the plan comes together.

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        2. Darren, here's how I view the Stone signing and the overall impact to the organization. After re-signing Kulak, our total cap hit for next season for the Defence will be around $26M. Looking at other rosters, that is very close to league average spend for your 7 Dmen. We have not overspent on Defence relative to the thinking of some folks, yet we certainly now do not possess league average defence, we possess elite defence, possibly the best top 5 in the league.

          That puts things in perspective for folks, we are in great shape on the back-end and in reality have not broken the bank to do so.

          Great work Treliving

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      4. Haynes you have Brouwer's AAV incorrectly referenced as $4.0M in your math above, rather than $4.5M...so reduce your current "available dollars" total by $0.5M to correctly account for this, doesn't leave much left. Checkout NHLNumbers.com as well, their website lays the flames cap situation out better than Cap Friendly IMO.

        I'd prefer they let the best prospect that earns it in camp grab the final forward spot, likely Jankowski.

        Treliving must just be dying for summer to start, what an absolute beast that guy is...I don't think he ever sleeps. He's got my early vote for the GM of the year at this point.

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        1. Oh snap, I F'ed that up. Thanks for the note. This is where creative thinking can solve anything. I just dialed back my estimated Ferland + Bennett new deals by 500K and we're good. Cheers!

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        2. You shifty guy Haynesy

          I have an article idea for you, to help alleviate any stress Flames fans may have about Stone's contract being an "overpay" for a #5 Dman.

          Compare his contract to recently signed, ex Flame Kris Russell.

          I think factoring in the UFA Dman market and the rumoured $4M-$5M offers for 4+ years STone had on the table...and the fact Stone is 3 years younger (and is better than Russell) will give Flames fans some context to relax and breath easy knowing we noe, arguably, have the best defensive depth in the league...something essential considering the question marks around Smith and Lack heading into next season. Stacking the back end with five very good defenders should help mitigate the risk and uncertainty in net for next season.

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        3. Full disclosure. When I got your note, I was sitting at the pub. My repair options were limited, but the potato skins were delicious.

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        4. Do not apologize Darren, its a sign of weakness. Plus alcohol consumption as the reason behind your crafty quick fix absolves you of any guilt or wrong doing.

          Enjoy your Canada Day weekend libations

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      5. I think the Flames are done adding players for now, excluding pto's. Their roster as it stands has room for 1 prospect at both D and F. If none of the Flames prospects earn a spot then you'll see pto's fill those spots or one of Kulak, Bartowski or tspoon (sorry but I love that nickname) on d and a Hathaway or F. Hamilton at F. Out of Kulak, Wotherspoon, Andersson and possibly Kylington(sp?) on D one would hope one can make the roster and have one of Kulak, Wotherspoon or Bartowski as the extra. At forward the Flames have Shinkaruk, Poirier, Jankowski, Klimchuk, Hathaway, Hamilton, Mangiapanne, Prybll, Foo and Lomberg fighting over what looks like a 4th line spot. Again why bother adding at this point? Unlesss it's Hartnell, if he takes Buoma money for 1 or 2 years I'd be down with that. Between Stajan and Lazar(or Brouwer for that matter) they can play lw , c or rw so whomever wins the spot can play their natural position. As things stand now the Flames have wiggle room to prevent bonus based cap overages or to acquire someone if a tdl pickup makes sense.

        For what it's worth you have Brouwer listed as 4rw I know that's where he ended up last season but I'm pretty sure he'll start next season in the top nine, unless Lazar beats him out.

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      6. After the weekend and inevitable stupidly high cost high term deal the Coilers will dump on the league tomorrow, I would love you to point your genius at a column comparing the two teams depth and cap across the lines. McDavid and Draisaitl are going to put a team bordering on cap hell right into the cesspool with no way out but a lot of buyouts to come.

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      7. How about another trade? Like.... Kevin Hayes to get back with Johnny Hockey? His brother is certainly available from Boston. Brian Boyle could be another thought. MORE SIZE is ALWAYS good.

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        1. Trades are fun. I like trades. I'm just not sure we're going to see more as I'm not sure who they would shuttle out the door. They're not trading a D as they've worked hard to build up the depth they now have. What are you prepared to give up in any of those deals. But I agree that size might be the thing that worries the brass. No Engelland this year and they haven't replaced that. Hamonic will play rugged but a different player. Ferland, Tkachuk and maybe Hathaway to lead the way up front, I suppose. That package of skill and size are hard to come by.

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      8. I think Treliving is on the record that Jankowski is projected to make the team. I think he will play centre on the 4th line and have Stajan on his wing this year to tutor him. Lazar moves to right wing and he and Brouwer play 3rd and 4th line interchangeably. That also addresses the desire to have someone, Lazar, on the wing who can take faceoffs. It also allows Lazar to build up his confidence by playing wing rather than centre. Treliving then goes into the season with cap room to take advantage of an opportunity that reveals itself.

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      9. Jaromir Jager? 1yr 1MM?

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      10. Predictions are inherently flawed but I think BT might wait till September to see who is still available or even till the TDL to pick up a rental. As built, and including BrettK and MarkJ, this team looks like it has a top-10 forward group, a top-5 defense, and a top-10 goaltending tandem with prospects available in case of injury. They could go deep in the playoffs next year and any team that makes the final four has a shot at the Cup.

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      11. I would really like to see our prospects fight for the open spots, I think Jankowski earned a chance given his play in Stockton last year. I would like to see both Kulak and Wotherspoon as the 6 & 7 defensemen. They could interchange and allow the Flames to have a 3rd pair like 1 and 2 where you have an offensively minded defenceman playing with a stay at home defensemen (Kulak & Stone)
        Against bigger teams they could play the combination of Wotherspoon & Stone which would / could give you 2 large physical shutdown defensemen to play a heavy game and clear out the big bodies in front of Calgary's net

        I'm sick of every year seeing the Flames cut bait on prospects that they highly touted when drafted then simply discarded.

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        1. This happens with most teams; especially with picks outside the the top 10. But like you I hope the Flames give the young guys a chance. IMO the ideal situation for Janko would be to start the season on the LW with Backs/Frolik as this would allow him to play his game and get up to NHL speed; later in the season he could move to center on a relevant 4th line. If we started the season with these lines I would be okay with it. Johnny/Monny/Ferland (lots of Ozone starts 1st PP unit), Janko/Backs/Frolik (Dzone starts and PK duties), Tkachuk/Bennett/Versteeg (regular shifts 2nd PP unit), Stajan/Lazar/Hamilton. With Brouwer and a kid in the press box. This is of course if they don't sign another RW.

          On D I basically agree with you. The only caveat I have is if Andersson out plays either Kulak or Tspoon then I say go with him.

          DPG

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      12. Darren: Do you see any forwards in the remaining UFA's that BT would pursue?
        Thanks DPG

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      13. It seems to me that Stajan enjoys being a mentor, and would have a greater opportunity to find fulfillment in Stockton. The extension he received was out, either in dollars, or term. Am I correct that sending him down results in a cap decrees of 900,000?
        I know they really want Bennett to play center, maybe they need to revisit that, and if not, give him some time with Gaudreau. They have got chemistry, that was obvious from the first game they ever played together. There is no point in moving him down through the lines, decreasing his ice time, and giving him pylons to play with; that is not going to get you a first, or second line center.
        If they do absolutely want him at center, and will not move Gaudreau on to his wing, play him with backs and Frolik on his wings and give him a chance to be that guy. I don’t think it’s a matter of his being to small I am sure given a battle between he and Backlund who would come out on top, physically at least. He needs time to develop on a line that can Backs him up lol.
        I like so many, would like to see Jankowski don a flaming C this season, but not on a forth line. If your not prepared to give him a third line then leave him in Stockton, and let Stajan take the ten minuets a game of ice time.
        Fans need to realized why a guy like Lazar was traded to Calgary for a second after starting out as such a high prospect. You cant play talented guys in supporting roles, and expect they will score twenty plus goals. They are not generally surrounded by talent, and they get reduced Ice time. That is exactly what has happened to Bennett.

        Love the D Tre now please fix the forwards.

        Man we are worse than baby birds lol; Its Canadian ey.

        GFG

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