Brad Richards will hit the UFA market this off-season. Are the Flames in the running? (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Aside from the Brett Carson signing (one way - two year deal worth 1.15 million) not a whole lot for Flames news today but we have a close Cup final on our hands now with the Bruins tying up the series 2-2.
I've been a little disappointed in the Cup final and the low trajectory road the Canucks put it on, yes I am putting the onus on the Canucks for starting the biting, finger wagging, late hits, taunting and overall poor sportsmanship. Did the Bruins respond back in kind, you bet, but remember who took the first step to the low road.
Not the only one to notice this either as the Windy City had a scribe say the Canucks would dishonor the Cup.
The ugly Rome hit on Horton will have repercussions this off-season and it was old time ugly hockey tactics. Put one of your low end players into the line-up to take a star on the other team out of the series. The L.A. Times took notice the NHL is now considering dropping the blindside component of Rule 48 as per TSN
Former long time Ref Kerry Fraser has some comments on how to handle a series where the bad blood boils over, from the Ref's perspective. Something we are clearly seeing now in the Cup final.
In other news Kevin Cheveldayoff has been named GM of the new Winnipeg X team, did I mention here that I think the Jets are the only name that should be considered?
Gary Bettman holds out the candy of hope for Jim Balsillie getting an NHL team; if he is a good boy. No surprise to me, I mentioned in one of my other articles that one of the key take-aways of the Thrasher's relocation is that it should be seen as a shot across the bow for other teams, simply what history has shown the NHL does.
Now, I'm going to indulge in pure and total speculation here after the jump. As many folks know it has been announced that Brad Richards will NOT be resigned in Dallas.
After the jump I am going to proceed into the realm of 100% personal speculation and fuel my fantasy of how the Flames may be able to sign him and why that should happen.
Keep in mind that I googled and binged the internet to submission and came up with nothing, nada, zero as far as recent news to support my musings of Richards destined to the Flames. So there is nothing more to it than my wishful thinking. If I had a source to back it up I would probably write a separate article but I don't, so I am just going to stick it here in Hot Coals, clearly identified as my wishful thinking.
Proceed to the fantasy land of how Brad Richards may become a Calgary Flame after the jump if so desired.
M&G regulars know my view on how I have seen the Flames in need of a star Center the same way a fish needs water. I see it as the void on the Flames. The missing piece, the missing link. I have for years.
First off lets keep it real. Richards will be the hottest UFA on the market. The Flames are at best a long, long-shot candidate. Brian Burke is ready to throw the bank at Richards I am sure in Toronto. The Rangers have Torts who Richards has played for before and are another strong candidate.
The Salary Cap is projected to be 62.2 million and the Flames are up against the top, so this is how it may play out.
Make no mistake the Flames have to clear Cap, they have to move players to open up room for a player that no one would be surprised to see come in at a 7 million dollar Cap hit, even signing at the age of 31.
Ales Kotalik is all but gone formally, no one considers him on the roster for next year. Niklas Hagman is the next man to get, either put in the minors or traded. The Flames may eat his salary while he plays for the Heat but that is not enough if Richards is on the agenda.
Another player must go and this is where it gets interesting. (Of course all the NTCs / NMCs are ignored and it is assumed the player agrees to go)
Matt Stajan: Stajan has to be at the top of the list to get moved somehow. Could the Flames trade Stajan plus a conditional pick, conditional on the Flames signing Richards, to the Stars for the rights to talk to Brad Richards for a couple weeks?
Make no mistake about this, it is a salary dump but the Stars may consider it. Stajan's contract is front end loaded and the last two years are 2.5 million. For the cash conscious Stars they may take it. After Mike Ribeiro the Stars are extremely thin on Center with Richards exit. Unreal to think about but even Stajan looks better on the 2nd line than what they have at the moment.
Daymond Langkow: Given what I saw from Langkow at the end of last season he does not look done. It looked like the almost full season off actually did him a ton of good. I don't want to move him BUT the 4.5 million dollar Cap hit will open up the room for Richards.
Olli Jokinen: Given the nomadic nature of Olli and the fact he has the NTC I just don't see him waiving it for any move. He had a good second half to his season and again. ~50 points + 3 million = good value
Mikael Backlund - Not going to happen
Brendan Morrison - With or without Richards I don't see Morrison coming back. He will want a raise and the Flames can't afford it.
Alex Tanguay - A high priority resigning and who can deny the Iggy - Tanguay chemistry BUT if you have to make a choice between Tanguay and Richards which way do you go? At the bottom line Richards > Tanguay BUT the dream line is Tanguay - Richards - Iginla.
So the second big leap of faith here is lets assume the Cap issues can all be worked out.
One other little tidbit that the Flames, and the Oilers for that matter, have as an advantage, that many people forget about when it comes to salary negotiations is the Flat Provincial Tax of 11%. Alberta is the only province that does this in Canada, it does not have a progressive tax as income increases.
Brad Richards will be familiar with this as Texas is one of only a few states that has no State tax, only Federal Tax is paid on salary. Texas has a sales tax of course but when you bring in that big pay cheque you pay nothing to the State of Texas. Alberta is Canada's version with a fixed Flat provincial tax of 11%.
So Calgary can offer a lower gross amount to Brad but at his bottom line he will take more home than if he signs with Toronto or New York. There is a sweet spot there.
Third leap of faith is that Brad Richards has already done it all. He has won his Stanley Cup and he may consider playing in Canada in front of a hockey crazy fan base a positive. If he really wants that he may choose Toronto but if playing in Canada is on his agenda, Calgary has to be a candidate as well.
Fourth leap of faith is that the Rangers because of Torts may be attractive to Richards as his former coach in Tampa BUT who was the GM who loved him and was crying when he called him to tell him he had traded him to Dallas. Yes, that was Jay Feaster, so the Flames have a GM now who knows Richards.
(By the way if Feaster can pull off this magic and pull Richards out of a hat in this off-season I will fully and completely recant my previous article on him as being too soft and not being a good GM choice etc etc...)
Do I think the Flames will make an offer, yes I do. Do I realistically think they will get Brad Richards, no, sadly I don't.
The Rangers and Leafs got a lot of the buzz but at this stage in his career I think Brad will likely be going back to Tampa to play with his buddy Vinny.
But hey, it's nice to dream about him in the Flaming C with Iggy and who knows, they got that Stamkos kid. Stevie Y just may not want to put the Bolts bank account on the line and it is simply inconcievable to see Richards sign for less than 6 million.