Roger MIllions: Flames Not to be a Cap Team Next Year

Kent Wilson
June 04 2012 12:02PM

 

 

SNET's Roger Millions dropped a bit of a bomb on twitter today. He claims the Flames will operate significantly under the NHL salary cap for the upcoming season:

If true, that change can have some wide ranging implications for the club.

For those who missed it, Bob McKenzie recently reported the new (potential) cap for the upcoming season would be about 70.3M, absent any new CBA alterations. The Flames already have about $51M committed to next season, so a self-imposed $55M shrinks their roster budget from just north of $19M to about $4M, give or take.

That amount includes only 8 forwards total and only 3 defenders you would classify as top-4 guys. So Calgary has significant holes to fill and, if Roger's assertion is accurate, virtually no budget space to do it.

That means the club will have to be dealing at least one of the big tickets this summer: Kipper, Iggy or Bouwmeester. I floated these possibilities by Millions and he responded:

The implication is that Jay Bouweester is on the block heading into the draft. So of the the three big ticket players, the Flames are apparently looking into trading the (admittedly overpaid) 28-year old, rather than the 35 -year old forward on the last season of his current deal or the 36-year old puckstopper who has had one notably good season in the last four.

This obviously worries me. We're still dealing with rumors and speculation, but Millions is sufficiently close to the team that we can say there might be a fire below all this smoke. I have no principled argument against the club trying to keep budget costs around 50-60M (that's a lot of cheddar) but looking to move JayBo ahead of the other guys smacks of a marketing rather than hockey decision - he is a far better bet to be sustain his current performance level than the other guys.

Bouwmeester has become a whipping boy in town because of his lackluster offensive totals and huge cap hit, so his departure would be met by cheers in many quarters, but he remains far and away the most capable defender on the Flames blueline. His ouster would leave a giant hole on the back-end and, because of meh output and big salary, it's likely the team won't get concurrent value in return should they move him. Moving him for some futures represents a faily big gamble, particularly because the team is adamant they won't be "rebuilding" any time soon.

Of course, what this also means is the team should get aggressive about deleting other inefficient salaries for players that aren't nearly as essential as Bouwmeester. Anton Babchuk (2.5M) and Matt Stajan (3.5M) come to mind.

Conclusion

Beyond the particulars, deleting that much cap space from the budget simply means the Flames will have a lot less flexibility going forward. If true, a $55M will pose a significant challenge for Feaster, particularly as the club continues to try to ice a competitive club in the short term. Calgary was facing anu uphill climb in that regard going forward anyways, so doing so on the cheap (which the team hasn't attempted since the salary cap came into effect) will be, um...interesting to say the least.

I expect the Flames will have a response to this report within the week. We'll update as more info is released.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 the-wolf
June 04 2012, 12:07PM
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Huge hole is right. That would leave Gio as the only legit top 4 D in my books.

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#2 marty
June 04 2012, 12:08PM
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Rog has already posted on CP that 55 was a guess and it could be around 60 and he isn't sure. IF the flames moved a salary (jbo or stajan) 60-63 would still leave alot of cap room and they could improve the team so im going to take the wait and see but if they do become a cap floor team and my season tickets went up the 5% i will be one upset STH but all murray and king are worried about is $

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#3 Colin
June 04 2012, 12:08PM
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Doesn't really surprise me in the least, however, I think it more has to do with economics. For the sake of simplicity, the Canadian dollar is trading at 95 cents to the US dollar, so that number go lower, thats a really bad thing. Lets use as an example 90 cents.

At 90 cents our 55 million budget would acutally be 60.5 million, drops another 5 cents to 85 cents and our 55 million budget becomes almost 64 million.

Still not a good thing, although that could also signal to what the owners feel will be closer to the cap for next year after the outcome of the CBA negotiations as well. Calgary will stay at 55 and wait out the CBA which will probably bring the cap way down.

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#4 Subz
June 04 2012, 12:14PM
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I’m hoping Jay is not on the trading block, I may be one of the few that doesn't mind his contract, he is overpaid but by half a million or so, it’s not the worst contract in the NHL. I doubt an adequate return will be sent back in exchange for him

I have issue with management not spending to the cap, I doubt our ticket prices will reflect lower spending by owners.

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#5 Casey
June 04 2012, 12:24PM
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Given the dearth of UFA talent available, and the cap going to $70M (in theory anyway) it could actually be *difficult* for the Flames to spend to the cap. None of our RFAs are really due for a big raise, and it appears that most of our UFAs are either going to walk (Jokinen) or re-sign for the same or substantially less.

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#6 the-wolf
June 04 2012, 12:26PM
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Jay will probably throw in our 1st round pick to get it done.

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#7 Baalzamon
June 04 2012, 12:34PM
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Bravo. Clap...Clap...Clap...Clap.

what happens if the Flames trade Bouwmeester? Minnesota happens.

Although, laughably, the Flames without Bouwmeester are still better than the Wild. They would at least still have Giordano. Wild got nothin' since Burns left.

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#8 suba steve
June 04 2012, 12:41PM
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Management have pointed out the Flames lack of mid 20's (year old) assets, so naturally they would want to deal their 28yr old franchise D-man? Doesn't sound quite right.

But, I guess we should not have any untouchables. As I've said here before, the Flames will not be hoisting the Cup any time soon anyway. So, if JBo brings a nice (young) return, why not. However, trading #4 while keeping older stars is, in my opinion, a mistake. If you are cleaning house, clean the whole damned house.

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#9 Casey
June 04 2012, 12:46PM
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Bouwmeester may not be putting up 40+ points anymore, but he still eats 25+ minutes per game. If anything he is overpaid by 1-1.5M, and that was a given since we clearly paid a UFA premium to keep him from hitting the open market. You have to take into account the circumstances under which he was signed.

We have nothing even approaching a top 2 defender aside from Giordano, and there are virtually no UFA options this year. And if there were UFA options, you would be paying a ridiculous premium for them.

Our defense is subpar now, take away Bouwmeester and we are a defensive laughing stock. It might even be too late for that...

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#10 Tach
June 04 2012, 12:49PM
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While I don't doubt that Millions heard something similar to what he is reporting, I also have some serious doubt as to his level of sophistication in dealing with the CBA and the salary cap calculation that would lead me to treat this particular interpretation with scepticism.

For example, if the Flames spend $55 million in actual money this year, and assuming every other player they sign would be matched cap hit to salary, Calgary's likely cap number would already be $59.5 million due to the following sub-cap hit contracts:

Kiprusoff: $0.83 million Cervenka: ~$2.7 million Stajan: $1 million Glencross: $.05 million Bouma: $.14 million Bouwmeester: $.08 million Giordano: $.52 million Brodie: $.2 million Total Cap over salary: $5.5 million

Only guy on the other side is Cammy who will be paid $1 million more than his cap hit of $6 million.

The other possility is that Millions has, unbeknownst to him, received word on what the post new-CBA cap hit is going to look like and that $55 million is the number with some kind of salary roll-back.

While many might say that the player's are not going to take a $15 million rollback on the salary cap, unless you have some actual data on how much of the current HRR actually was paid out to players after the distribution out of escrow (which we can't possibly know as the playoffs are not over), that $55 million may not be that big of a roll back.

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#11 Vintage Flame
June 04 2012, 12:51PM
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I too share your concern Kent.

If the Flames are looking to become a Cap team then it makes no sense whatsoever to me to hold on to guys like Kipper and Iggy. If what Roger says is true, then the thing that Calgary should be looking at is the exact opposite. Hold on to J-Bo and trade BOTH Kipper and Iggy.

This is an odd development to say the least.

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#12 Tach
June 04 2012, 12:53PM
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And I missed Baertschi, Nemisz and Horak as cap hit higher than salary guys who, combined, would have cap hits about $1 million over their salaries if they all played full seasons with the Flames next year.

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#13 Graham
June 04 2012, 01:00PM
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If this team was rebuilding (trading Kipper and Iggy) spending well below the cap may make sense. It 'help's' you race towards the bottom of the pack, and a top five pick.

Not rebuilding, keeping the status quo with Iggy and Kipper, trading Bouwmeester in a fire sale, AND spending a lot less is hardly a receipe for success. It sounds like a race to the bottom without having to rebuild.

Honestly, Bouwmeester and next years second round pick for 'which' no name prospect?

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#15 suba steve
June 04 2012, 01:06PM
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JBo and our #14 pick to Oilers for #1 pick on June 22. Does this make sense? Sure, would probably require some tweaking. Would the Oil deal that pick to Calgary? Rex?

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#16 Kevin R
June 04 2012, 01:27PM
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I hope we get some "intellectual honesty" in the forthcoming near future. I weathered the Young Gun era where we were nothing more than a farm/development team for the the richer clubs. I will not support this with Seasons Tickets like that again.

After a deep breath there are too many contradictions. If you want to be a cap floor team, you have to be a continual rebuilding team like the Islanders & Columbus & currently the Oilers. Declaring that they are not rebuilding and saying this is just idiotic. Now if we go in rebuild mode, I can see us just by logistics be well below the cap while the young players take time to develop.

The next thing that simply doesnt even make business sense is that they are planning on unveiling this incredible new building. Its one thing to build it but they better put a product out that will fill it.

I am shocked, I would totally expect there are some details missing & if the current ownership is having trouble spending the $$$ to have a competitive team, they better find some new or additional owners that do want to win a Cup before the 30th century.

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#17 kittensandcookies
June 04 2012, 01:34PM
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Some of the FAN960 crew seem to be absolutely adamant that JBlows will be traded. They probably know something we don't.

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#18 RexLibris
June 04 2012, 01:36PM
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@steve

In a word: no.

The Oilers would rather add a franchise player who, in the worst case scenario, could be traded in three years' time as a heavily restricted RFA for a king's ransom. Getting a middle-of-the-road pick and a defenseman who, while unquestionably more talented, has skills that were to some extent duplicated in Tom Gilbert, in exchange for the above-mentioned player, doesn't add up.

Not to mention, it would be to a divisional rival.

I believe the Oilers right now value that pick in the range of a Ryan Johansen plus the 2nd overall. It is an extreme overpay, but if you have the asset, little pressure not to use it, and everybody is calling, you can set the price at whatever tickles your fancy.

The Flames don't have the assets of the required variety to interest the Oilers, in my opinion. In the same way that the Oilers would like Toronto's or the Islanders' pick but aren't willing to offer, or don't have, the assets to interest those clubs.

Sorry, but I think the Flames are going to have to earn their first 1st overall the hard way.

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#19 kittensandcookies
June 04 2012, 01:36PM
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Oh yeah, considering what Alberta crude is selling for these days, and CNQ's stock getting its arse kicked for the last while, it's no surprise that the Flames won't be spending to the cap.

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#20 Domebeers.com
June 04 2012, 01:45PM
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Kent,

You don't have any objections to a team that charges top 5 prices not spending all they can on the team?

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#21 RexLibris
June 04 2012, 01:46PM
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When I first read the headline I was encouraged. The free agent crop is poor this year so it would indicate good management to restrain spending and use cap space later on in the season in trade negotiations (Gomez + for Stajan, as Kent earlier opined).

Now, having read the rest of the article, I am beginning to wonder if the Flames ownership are having financial issues that would put the team's spending into the spotlight.

My thoughts on this are essentially that, the cap is there to restrain spending. The Flames have nothing, really, to spend on this year. They are unlikely to land Suter or Parise and what sense would it make to spend to the cap if the team has to overpay substandard talent to do it?

Being a cap team may seem like something is being accomplished, but out of the top-ten payroll teams from last season four failed to make the playoffs. Two of those are a mess and one is drafting in the "lottery range" this month.

I'll wait to see what the Flames do with this cap space, but deciding not to spend money when it needn't be spent sounds like a good idea for this team right now.

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#22 kittensandcookies
June 04 2012, 01:48PM
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I don't think there's any sort of financial problem with the Flames, they're just hedging their bets on a possible lockout, dropping oil prices and dropping interest in the team.

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#23 Baalzamon
June 04 2012, 02:00PM
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in an effort to make sense of the nonsensical, what about Bouwmeester to Philly for the rights to Carle and their 1st rounder (20th)?

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#24 JF
June 04 2012, 02:03PM
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Does Millions even realize that 55M would basically make them a Cap Floor team? I can buy that the Flames will leave some money available come opening night but I doubt that they're going from Cap Ceiling Team to Cap Floor team over the space of an off-season.

In fact, I imagine that it's more likely that the space they leave (if any) is more probably in the 2-4 million range then the 10-15M Range.

I mean obviously whomever he talked to didn't give him specifics so as far as we know ol' rog just pulled the 10-15 number out of his butt.

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#26 T&A4Flames
June 04 2012, 02:26PM
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This could be a very smart move if... if they decide to keep that cap space open only to have available in case another team is desperate to move out some salary and we get a good deal to take on salary. But, I do agree with those that are saying, losing Bouw with out and adequate replacement REALLY hurts our D.

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#27 vowswithin
June 04 2012, 02:26PM
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Philly was my first thought too, ;-) Great minds?

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#28 xis10ce
June 04 2012, 02:39PM
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Just came from a flames lunch that had KK, Feaster, Rolly and Conroy on stage taking questions and this tweet was brought up. KK said that it's news to him that the owners group thinks this team will not be a cap team. Feaster and KK both said that they will make as much funds needed as possible upwards to the cap, but at the same time overpaying players to be a cap team provides no value, so I wouldn't be surprised to see some cushion in the cap come the start of the season. I would be surprised if they traded Jay Bouw.

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#29 xis10ce
June 04 2012, 02:39PM
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@ Kent Wilson

Exactly, see above what I posted.

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#30 Justin Azevedo
June 04 2012, 02:49PM
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I want this to happen and then I want the team to be bad for like 5 years so the owners see it as a sinkhole of money and sell it to someone not named murray edwards

also lol at the fact they want a new stadium to be built with public funds. if that ever goes to council, expect me to be there.

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#31 negrilcowboy
June 04 2012, 03:13PM
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trading jbo and keeping iglatowski and kippa is perplexing.

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#32 Tach
June 04 2012, 04:17PM
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@ Kent Wilson (seriously, the reply button never seems to work when I am logged in)

That's kind of my point. Even if the Flames are "spending to the cap" (and, frankly, I don't see that they need to do so this year unless they are picking up a Suter or Parise) they are not really "spending to the cap" unless they take on some back ended deals, bury guys in the minors etc.

I could easily see someone with a passable knowledge of the Flames contract situation I noted above saying to Millions "Based on the way our contracts are set up, it doesn't look like we will be spending to the cap" and Millions not being sophisticated enough to pick up on why such a statement was extraordinarily ambiguous.

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#34 JayD54
June 04 2012, 04:29PM
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What is most troubling to me about this is that I have always figured Millions to be, relative to others of his profession, somewhat credible.

If it develops that this bullet is not true, that credibility evaporates.

As a journalist and one who has material and serious followers even on Twitter, I submit that it remains incumbent that he has his facts triangulated correctly.

If this bullet IS true, then kudos to Roger for the heads up. As someone who bleeds Flames red pays hard green for seasons tickets, this would (with the caveat outlined below) be a troubling development.

I can see this $55 million figure being a number that management would take the payroll to until such time as a new CBA is done. The rumor mill has the cap at $70 million for next year. Making commitments up to $55, then, once all the details on the CBA are known, work on fleshing out the roster from there would appear to be a rational strategy. Maybe I am in the minority, but I have a lot more confidence in ownership and Feaster and Company that they have this in mind going into a summer with a lot of unanswered CBA/NHLPA questions.

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#35 MangoTanker
June 04 2012, 04:32PM
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So the Flames wanna trade a 28 year old guy that provides them with an elite shut down ability and a ton of minutes rather than dealing 2 guys way past their prime?? Yup, sounds exactly like what this team would do.

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#36 Gary L
June 04 2012, 04:39PM
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@RexLibris

I agree. I could see that trade for Johansen, but like you said, it would be a HUGE overpay by the BJs. But hey, Scott Howson isn't exactly a genius when making major trades "cough*Jeff Carter*cough"

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#37 wienerboo
June 04 2012, 04:46PM
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With a cap on the teams spending limit, I guess we can count out the flames pushing for free agents, such as Suter, Parise, etc. Were boned.

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#38 RexLibris
June 04 2012, 05:02PM
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@GaryL

If Yakupov's last name was MacDonald and he stood 3 inches taller they might bite, but I believe that the result from Howson's work last spring/summer has chastened both he and ownership enough that they will simply accept what the lottery gods gave them this year and stink next season.

Of course, this being Columbus, Mason will likely stand on his head and steal them 12 or 15 games, sending them spiralling out of the "McKinnon" lottery.

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#39 RKD
June 04 2012, 05:04PM
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If I had to rank who would be traded, I would do it in this order

1. Jay-Bo 2. Kipper 3. Iggy

Feaster has always been a staunch supporter of both Iggy and Kipper in the past, haven't heard the same kind of support for Jay-Bo.

I think they won't trade Kipper unless Ramo was ready to come to Calgary at the start of the next season.

We all know ownership refuses to trade Iggy and we have heard Feaster say Iggy is part of the solution and not the problem. It is early, but no talks of an Iggy extension could indicate Jarome would be free to walk on July 1, 2013 and by not trading him management won't look like the bad guy. This would be foolish because they would not get any assets for him.

Trading Jay-Bo really wouldn't make any sense unless they could get Suter or another high end top 2 guy to sign here. I guess we will see what happens.

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#40 Austin
June 04 2012, 05:44PM
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I would expect that there would be more desire for Kipper than JBo. Kipper's contract is FAR more manageable to send away. Kipper would be easier to deal from our standpoint since his NTC goes away. I think we should only trade him if it gets us a first round pick. As in 6-12 overall.

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#41 FireOnIce
June 04 2012, 06:00PM
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It looks like St Louis is doing a good job of signing their young guns. Tarasenko and Rattie both signed ELCs in the last couple days. Man they are going to be uber scary if even any of these one young players can score 30+ goals a season. Jon Davidwho?

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#43 RexLibris
June 04 2012, 06:39PM
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Looking over the Blues roster, though, there aren't many elite game-changing talents available. Pietrangelo is an excellent defenseman, and Oshie looks very good, but I am left wondering if the Blues are going to race back into the NHL only to hit the same ceiling they did prior to their post-lockout rebuild.

One player that I would have interest in from their system is Cody Beach. Not so much from the Flames perspective as his talents would do nothing for the organization as a whole, but the Oilers could certainly use some of what he may bring to the table as a prospect.

Playing behind appropriate talent Beach could provide a physical presence that would have the opposition thinking about him instead of his more skilled teammates.

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#44 Kevin R
June 04 2012, 07:24PM
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@RKD: If you keep with the bottom feeding floor cap franchise, then siddenly Kippers & Stajans contract look fabulous, cap hits higher than actual salary. Maybe we should trade for Gomez.

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#45 Franko J
June 04 2012, 10:42PM
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Wow the way I see it no matter 50, 55, and / or 60 million salary cap hit this team will have next season, that is plenty of dough for mediocre performance and uninspired play. If it wasn't for Kiprusoff playing the way he did for the majority of last season Calgary could be drafting between 5 to 10.

I consider Cammelleri in the mix as well as jbo, Iggy and Kipper. Tanguay as well. Plenty of money is coming of the salary cap on July 1ST, but there is still plenty of salary eaten up by the big four.

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#46 Trevor
June 04 2012, 11:30PM
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With 2013's UFA class being SIGNIFICANTLY better than this year, maybe owners and management want to keep money available for some big signings next year. There are a lot of good players, including some good centers. Maintaining the status quo until then and then making a big splash could be a good way to revamp the team.

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#47 Tanner
June 18 2012, 11:05AM
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Trade kipper for a prospect at next year first rounder trade jaybo give a big push for suter. Bomb next season draft mackinnon play are prospects next year do a 1 year rebuild and have a team that can contend

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