Calgary Flames

Assessing the Calgary Flames’ trade deadline salary cap space and how to optimize it

With just 12 days until the NHL Trade Deadline, it’s easy to describe right now as the calm before the storm.

Ever since the Calgary Flames acquired Tyler Toffoli in the second blockbuster trade of the season, it has mainly been all quiet on the trade front. There have been a few deals made that are lower on the profile scale, we see you Michael McNiven, but things will slowly start to pick up over the next week.

Although there are a number of defensive and forward targets that are out there for the Flames, the team is bound to be very quiet come March 21.

The main reason would be due to the fact the Flames are rolling right now and any major team could have the potential to shake up the chemistry that has worked so well this season.

The other reason being that the Flames just simply will not have a lot of salary cap space. Let’s take a look at just how much they actually have to work with. All numbers courtesy of

Show me the money

As it stands right now, the Flames will have a projected $870,750 in cap space come March 21. Just how is that possible? It’s important to break down a few key salary cap terms before understanding how that number has come to be.

The Flames currently have a projected cap hit, which would be the sum of all cap hits at the end of the season projected using the current roster. The team currently sits at a projected $81,325,850 which gives them $174,150 of projected space. This space is determined by two components:

  1. The team’s past roster for each day and the daily cap rate of each player
  2. The daily cap rate for the remaining days of the season assuming the team does not change

Now you may think initially “the Flames have absolutely no room,” but that is where the $870,750 comes from. The “deadline cap space” comes from the total sum of cap hit values that the current daily cap hit can increase by on deadline day to remain cap compliant. This takes into account the daily moves and shakers made by the team to give them an approximate amount of money to add to their cap without going over.

Taking all of that into account, the Flames have enough for one league minimum player without making any moves.

How do they maximize it?

If the team is really interested in acquiring a player with a $900K cap hit, the team could wheel and deal some of their bottom-six players to move up and down between Stockton to “bank” their daily cap hits. How much of that would they be willing to do now? Not too much.

The system benefits teams that bank their cap hits throughout the season, which would then maximize their space come trade deadline. The team was doing this earlier this year, but after adding Toffoli most of that space was taken up with his $4.25M cap hit.

Interestingly enough, earlier this month the team also could have banked ~$32K in cap space by sending Adam Ruzicka down during the All-Star break, but instead kept him in the NHL to give him a bit more money in his pocket.

The best way to maximize this space would be to obviously send money out in a trade. Even if the team were to acquire the likes of Calle Jarnkrok, who makes $2M a season, at a 50% retention they would still not have enough to absorb the $1M cap hit. The team would need to move one of their current active roster players to make any sort of room.

What are the chances?

Although the Flames have a little bit of wiggle room, it looks to be highly unlikely that they will be able to make a significant trade without taking a player off of the current roster. With the right player and right deal, that could be done, but right now it doesn’t seem like something the Flames will be doing.

Now there is a scenario where the team could wait until the final countdown before the deadline and see what depth players are available for cheap and add them to their roster without much consequence. Some sellers may be looking to obtain any type of asset, in which the Flames could strike.

That being said, don’t expect the big names to be flying in trade rumours involving the Flames.

Photo by: Andy Clayton King – Freelancer, FR51399 AP

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