How much cap space do the Flames have left?

Updated: August 20, 2016 at 8:00 am by Ryan Pike

Sean Monahan has signed a lengthy new contract that will keep him wearing red through 2023. Now that the ink is drying on his deal, Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving can (hopefully) finish up work on Johnny Gaudreau’s new deal… while keeping an eye on everyone’s favourite thing, the salary cap.

Don’t look now, gang, but the Flames will have almost no wiggle room this season regardless of how rich Gaudreau’s deal ends up being.

ONE-WAYS & LOCKS

These guys are going to be on the team and count against the cap.

Player Cap Hit (Bonuses)
Mark Giordano $6.75 million
Sean Monahan $6.3 million
Dougie Hamilton $5.75 million
Dennis Wideman $5.25 million
T.J. Brodie $4.65 million
Troy Brouwer $4.5 million
Michael Frolik $4.3 million
Mikael Backlund $3.575 million
Ladislav Smid $3.5 million
Matt Stajan $3.125 million
Deryk Engelland $2.917 million
Brian Elliott $2.5 million
Lance Bouma $2.2 million
Chad Johnson $1.7 million
Brandon Bollig $1.25 million
Sam Bennett $925,000 (plus $2.3 million)
Jyrki Jokipakka $900,000
Micheal Ferland $825,000
Alex Chiasson $800,000
TOTAL
(2 G, 7 D, 10 F)
$61.717 million
(plus $2.3 million)

This leaves the Flames needing to add four players (one of which will be Gaudreau). And they could send Bollig to the AHL and save $925,000 in cap space if they really wanted to. (Which they might.)

BUBBLE GUYS

Three of these players will be in the NHL, presuming the Flames carry a full 23-man roster. Four of them could be in the NHL depending on whether Smid begins the season on LTIR or not.

Player
Cap Hit (Bonuses)
Matthew Tkachuk $925,000 (plus $850,000)
Hunter Shinkaruk $863,333 (plus $212,500)
Linden Vey $700,000
Garnet Hathaway $690,000 (plus $2,500)
Brett Kulak $656,667 (plus $120,000)
Tyler Wotherspoon $625,000

If you’re like me and presume that, say, Tkachuk, Shinkaruk and Vey make the team out of camp, that puts the team at $64.205 million base salary (and $3.36 million in bonuses). That would leave $8.795 million for Gaudreau’s contract.

A note on Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR): If the Flames are putting Smid on LTIR to open the season, they first need to be cap compliant with him on the team. Meaning that he’d need to be on the opening day roster, then get placed on the LTIR. The way it works is teams are able to replace their LTIR player with a player (or players) of the same or lower aggregate cap hit (and allow them to exceed the cap, if necessary, by the cap hit of the replacement players). So Smid on LTIR would allow them to put Kulak or Wotherspoon on the roster, but it couldn’t act as a magic bullet to give the team extra breathing room cap-wise. It wouldn’t make the $3.5 million of Smid’s cap hit disappear, it would merely allow them to go over the cap by whatever cap hit the replacement bodies have for the duration of his injury. If/when Smid was healthy again, the cap problems would return.

(Oh, and Wotherspoon – let’s pretend it’s him replacing Smid for argument’s sake – would have to clear waivers before the season, go to the AHL, and then come back up once Smid was declared LTIR.)

Anyway, presuming Gaudreau gets a cap hit north of $7 million going forward, the Flames have almost no wiggle room cap-wise to deal with short-term injuries (or to add somebody at the trade deadline). When he was on Sportsnet 960 The Fan following the Monahan signing, Treliving alluded to being right up against the cap. So almost as soon as he manages to get Gaudreau under contract, expect him to start figuring out how to move out some money… and fast.