Pretend, for a moment, that you're an NHL general manager. One of the Flames major or minor rivals in the Western Conference, for instance. You wake up this morning, have a coffee, read the paper and check a few emails. Things are slowing down after the draft and initial flurry of UFA madness. You'd like to maybe add another piece or two up front, but you blew your wad on some shiny bauble on July 1st. Besides - there isn't much left to choose from anyways.
So you talk to some scouts, your assistant GM, maybe a few agents and you learn the Flames have yet to re-sign 22 year old Dustin Boyd. You check some numbers and find out he's still trying to find his footing in the big leagues, but has the track record and the pedigree to develop into a potential 20 goal, top 6 forward. Then you check the Flames cap numbers.
Looks like they're right up against it. Less than a million bucks worth of space.
This, you'd likely conclude, is advantageous. Obviously Calgary is trying to get the kid as cheaply as possible and it's causing some friction. An offer sheet, say in the 4 year, 1.9M/season range, would cause significant problems for Calgary for a couple of reasons:
1.) Boyd signs and the Flames match the offer. Now they're spending about $1M/year more on the player than they feel comfortable doing AND it forces them over the cap. You don't get the player, but you throw a monkey wrench into the Flames plans.
2.) Boyd signs and the Flames don't match. Now you've stolen a young, burgeoning NHLer who will likely provide value in the latter half of his contract and all it's cost you is less than 2M per year and a third round draft pick.
Obviously this is a far fetched scenario and not one I expect to actually occur. Still, if you were Lowe (er...I mean...Tambellini) or Gillis or Fletcher or any one of the other NHL GM's that would like to see the Flames fall why wouldn't you do this? Perhaps some don't want to poison the well with Sutter and scuttle future potential deals while others may not like or need Boyd...but you'd think someone would follow the path I laid out above to it's logical conclusion.