The Calgary Flames took care of a lot of business this week. They announced a slew of signings at both the NHL and AHL level, unveiled the name and branding of their new Calgary-based AHL team as the Wranglers, and are already prepping the Saddledome to be ready for next season.
The Flames now have just one remaining restricted free agent to sign, Adam Ruzicka. After fighting for and earning NHL playing time last season, it’s only a matter of time before he inks another contract with the Flames. With Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington signing extensions, essentially all the Flames’ internal business is handled. Barring any trades, here is the current state of the team’s roster and salary cap.
There are currently 11 NHL forwards signed, and 12 if you count Ruzicka who will almost certainly start in the NHL next season. That includes five centres, five left-shot wingers, and two right-shot wingers.
- Elias Lindholm – $4,850,000
- Mikael Backlund – $5,350,000
- Sean Monahan – $6,375,000
- Kevin Rooney – $1,300,000
- Adam Ruzicka – ~$950,000
There are two question marks with the centre group heading into next season. The first is Ruzicka. He’ll re-sign with the team, and we’re assuming it comes in somewhere around the $950K mark. With NHL experience and a ceiling of a middle-six centre, he should earn a little bit more than league minimum. He may come in slightly above or below, but this is probably a good estimation at this point.
The second question mark is the health of Monahan. If Monahan is healthy to start the season, he will likely centre the team’s third line. If not, he’ll be on the IR or LTIR, depending on the state of the cap on opening night.
Assuming all five players are healthy and on the opening night roster, the Flames will have $18,825,000 and 23% of the salary cap allocated to the centre position.
The Flames only have two right-shot wingers on the roster. At least two left-shot wingers will have to shift over and play the right side, most likely Dillon Dube and Blake Coleman.
- Tyler Toffoli – $4,250,000
- Blake Coleman – $4,900,000
- Dillon Dube – $2,300,000
- Trevor Lewis – $800,000
There is a distinct possibility that Mangiapane slots in on the right side of the top line, in which case Coleman will probably shift to the left to play with Toffoli on the second line. For right now, we’ll assume the right side will break down like this.
The Flames have $12,250,000 and 15% of the salary cap allocated to their right wingers.
A classic Flames roster with too many left shots, there will be plenty of options on the left side this season. However, there are currently only three guaranteed left wingers signed, all among the top four highest paid forwards in the organization.
- Jonathan Huberdeau – $5,900,000
- Andrew Mangiapane – $5,800,000
- Milan Lucic – $5,250,000
The open slot on left wing is on the third line, currently alongside Monahan and Dube. It’s possible the Flames promote a farm hand like Matthew Phillips or Jakob Pelletier to fill that role, but it’s more likely they bring in another established NHLer. Names like Evan Rodrigues and Sonny Milano have been floating around Flames circles lately, and an addition of either one would shore up the top-nine.
As it stands though, let’s assume Ruzicka is the twelfth regular NHL forward. The Flames have $16,950,000 and 21% of the salary cap allocated to their left wingers.
On forward as a whole, the Flames have $48,025,000 and 58% of the salary cap allocated to their forwards.
The Flames are one of the richest teams in the NHL when it comes to the right side of their defence corps. With the new addition of MacKenzie Weegar who shoots right but played all of last season on the left side, there are simply too many top tier right-shot defenders to give everyone enough ice time. As a result, Weegar will almost certainly stay on the left side. Kylington played on the left side of the second pair last season, but will probably slot in on the right side of the third pair this season.
- Rasmus Andersson – $4,550,000
- Chris Tanev – $4,500,000
- Oliver Kylington – $2,500,000
The Flames have signed Michael Stone to one-year deals in three consecutive seasons. If they do it again, which is probable, he’ll serve as the extra defenceman on the right side. He was a great insurance policy last season when Tanev went down with injury, and it just makes sense to sign the Calgary resident to a cheap deal for extra depth. Having the Calgary Wranglers in town helps as well, Stone can easily start in the AHL without having to move his family somewhere far away like California.
The Flames currently have $11,550,000 and 14% of the salary cap allocated to their right side defencemen.
On the left side, it’s another embarrassment of riches.
- Noah Hanifin – $4,950,000
- MacKenzie Weegar – $3,250,000
- Nikita Zadorov – $3,750,000
The Flames have $11,950,000 and 14% of the salary cap allocated to their left side defencemen.
In total, the Flames have $23,500,000 and 28% of the salary cap allocated to their defence corps.
In goal, the Flames are set.
- Jacob Markstrom – $6,000,000
- Dan Vladar – $750,000
Unless there is an injury, this will be the Flames’ tandem next season. Dustin Wolf is waiting in the wings, and if he gets a sniff of NHL ice time, he might make things very interesting for the Flames. But until that happens, this is the situation in net.
The Flames have $6,750,000 and 8% of the salary cap allocated to their goalies.
In total, that brings us to the following breakdown:
- Forwards (12) – $48,025,000 (58%)
- Defence (6) – $23,500,000 (28%)
- Goal (2) – $6,750,000 (8%)
- Total (20) – $78,275,000 (95%)
- Remaining cap space – $4,225,000 (5%)
The roster has a few vacancies that need to be filled. They need at least one, but ideally two forwards, and one defenceman. On forward, I think the Flames will opt to make one free agency splash, adding a player like Rodrigues, Milano, or Johan Larsson. These are the best options left on the market in the right price range. The Flames could also turn internally to Phillips or Pelletier, but that’s about it.
The Flames have two leading candidates to be the seventh defenceman without a Stone signing: Juuso Valimaki and Connor Mackey. Surprisingly, Mackey surpassed Valimaki on Stockton’s depth chart last season, but as a high pick, the Finn may just get another shot with the big boys this season. I feel like a trade involving Valimaki is coming though. It just makes sense to give the player a fresh start in a new place, as the seventh defence slot isn’t really an optimal role for the young defender.
Let’s assume, for now, that Valimaki does make the roster. This makes our roster projection a little more conservative since Valimaki makes the most out of any other defenceman.
- Juuso Valimaki – $1,550,000
That leaves $2,675,000 to add two more forwards. The Flames could easily add one of our top free agent picks and leave one more slot for AHLers to fight for. They can run with 13 forwards most of the year and have the flexibility to have 14 if a Phillips or Pelletier forces their way into the lineup after training camp.
There is a big wild card here: Monahan. As we stated before, it’s entirely possible that Monahan does not heal up in time for the season opener, which would land him on IR. If he were to be placed on LTIR, that could open up a massive amount of cap space for the Flames to use. They could legitimately add Nazem Kadri and another free agent forward if they wanted to.
However, there is risk involved with using Monahan’s LTIR space. Since he will return to the roster midseason, the Flames could find themselves in a Vegas-esque bind if they use too much of his bonus cap room. In all likelihood, they don’t burn any significant LTIR space, and essentially operate with the assumption that Monahan is on the roster.
What comes next for the Flames?
In my eyes, there are a few pieces of business that have a high likelihood of happening.
- Trade involving Valimaki – this just makes sense to me for both the player and the team
- Free agent signing(s) – the Flames hate penciling in rookies into their roster. If the past is any indication for what’s coming, expect at least one, but up to two additional free agent signings by the team. The hope is that they sign a Rodrigues or Milano, but it’ll probably be depth pieces like Lewis and Brad Richardson last year.
- Michael Stone signing – the Flames are gonna Flame.
The offseason is far from over. Brad Treliving has been a busy man so far, and don’t expect that to stop any time soon.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire