With Johnny Gaudreau opting for different pastures in Columbus, the Calgary Flames’ salary cap will look vastly different next season. Brad Treliving did not make any major roster moves on the first two days of free agency, signing just two potential NHL bodies in Kevin Rooney and Nicolas Meloche, but there is still plenty of business left to complete on his checklist this offseason.
At the top of the list is new contracts for three restricted free agents (RFAs) Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane, and Oliver Kylington.
To shift away from the doom and gloom following the Johnny Gaudreau situation, let’s assume that Tkachuk chooses to sign in Calgary long-term, and he gets a raise from his current qualifying offer salary up to $10M per season.
There are a few strong comparables for Mangiapane’s next contract and he will likely come in around Adrian Kempe‘s new number with the Los Angeles Kings. Let’s call it somewhere between $5M and $5.5M per season.
With only one year of experience, Kylington is probably looking at a deal somewhere between $2M and $3M per season. For the purposes of this salary cap analysis, let’s assume Tkachuk comes in at $10M, and Mangiapane/Kylington come in at a combined number of $8M. We’ll use $5.25M for Mangiapane and $2.75M for Kylington (the same AAV as Brett Kulak signed for in Edmonton).
Here is what the Flames’ salary cap and roster looks like at this point with these assumptions for the RFAs.
- Mikael Backlund – $5,350,000
- Milan Lucic – $5,250,000
- Blake Coleman – $4,900,000
- Elias Lindholm – $4,850,000
- Tyler Toffoli – $4,250,000
- Dillon Dube – $2,300,000
- Kevin Rooney – $1,300,000
- Trevor Lewis – $800,000
- Sean Monahan – $6,375,000
- Andrew Mangiapane – $5,250,000
- Matthew Tkachuk – $10,000,000
- Noah Hanifin – $4,950,000
- Rasmus Andersson – $4,550,000
- Chris Tanev – $4,500,000
- Nikita Zadorov – $3,750,000
- Nicolas Meloche – $950,000
- Oliver Kylington – $2,750,000
- Jacob Markstrom – $6,000,000
- Daniel Vladar – $750,000
The Flames still need two forwards and one defenceman to round out the roster. For this exercise, it doesn’t really matter who we assign to these open roster slots, it’s just the cap hit that will be important.
For maximum cap flexibility, the Flames could opt to sign players for league minimum salary, like they did with Lewis and Stone last year. They likely want to have the option to elevate players within the organization though, so let’s choose players who have a good chance of cracking the NHL roster next season.
- Matthew Phillips – $800,000
- Adam Ruzicka – $950,000
- Juuso Valimaki – $1,550,000
Phillips is also an RFA but it’s probably safe to assume he gets around $800K on his next deal. Ruzicka is also an RFA, and should command slightly more than Phillips due to having more NHL experience.
Valimaki is the most expensive option to round out the defense corps and even though Connor Mackey may have a better chance to make the roster, let’s stay optimistic and assume Valimaki has a resurgent season and returns to form.
That leaves the final roster looking like this:
Forwards (13) – $52,375,000
Defense (7) – $23,000,000
Goalies (2) – $6,750,000
Total – $82,125,000
With the current salary cap set at $82.5M, that leaves the Flames with $375,000. This isn’t enough to even sign a league-minimum contract.
Of course, there are options to open up more cap space.
- Run a leaner roster – the Flames could opt to just carry 12F and 6D. With their AHL team in Calgary this season and going forward, they should have a much easier time calling up bodies to their top squad. It’s risky, especially when they are on the road, but it’s an option. This could open up around $2M in cap space.
- Trade Lucic – there are reports the team is looking at potential trade partners for Lucic. He has a modified no-trade clause which allows him to select eight teams he can be traded to, which does limit the Flames’ ability to trade him.
- Trade Monahan – there are similar reports that the Flames are looking to trade Monahan. This would Monahan also has trade protection, he has a list of 10 teams he cannot be traded to.
- Buy out Monahan – this is an option we’ve talked about quite a bit, and it makes a lot of sense. The Flames would open up $4M in cap space and result in just a $2M dead cap hit in 2023–24.
If the Flames do want to add another big name to their club via free agency or trade, they do have options. But, without some additional work from Treliving, the Flames’ roster is basically set right now.