The trade deadline has come and gone and revealed to us that Jay Feaster's multitude of moves in January were all the changes he would be afforded to make.
Many wanted to see the likes of Cory Sarich, maybe Scott Hannan and possibly also a guy like David Moss moved out. Blake Comeau couldn't be moved without first being placed on waivers and both the organization and Olli Jokinen himself had agreed to work out a contract going forward (The cost of the inevitable re-signing of Jokinen was discussed on M&G in an earlier post). The reality of that situation was that Sarich has little to no value as a 6th-7th defenseman on a fringe playoff team and I doubt that offers were pouring in for him or Hannan, who's price tag is a little more cap friendly but has shown to be not much more than an affordable penalty killer. Moss and Lee Stempniak are hurt and although the former is close to returning he likely hasn't played enough games this season to warrant a look from a contender. Feaster mentioned being in on a couple of deals as buyers but with the Flames current state as it pertains to draft picks and prospects coupled with the insane price being asked, it's highly likely the team just couldn't afford to pay the hefty price and mortgage the future any further than it already has been.
That leaves the team in a similar situation as it had facing last years off-season, with the major difference being this years squad has some lucrative expiring contracts that should (I hesitate to use the word 'will') lead to some overdue changes to the focus of the organization.
After the jump, I'll break down the roster as it pertains to the off-season and the expiring contracts. We'll locate the holes that will need to be filled and find out approximately how much money they'll have to work with. I'll discuss who is likely to return and at what cost, but we'll save the UFA and draft chatter for the actual off-season.
Free Agents: Unrestricted- Olli Jokinen, Lee Stempniak, David Moss, Tom Kostopolous, Cory Sarich and Scott Hannan ... Restricted- Blake Comeau, Mikael Backlund and Blair Jones. There are also a handful of farm hands that are restricted but we'll leave them out of the current discussion.
Cap Space: $17 million according to CapGeek.com, however, assuming a cap increase it will likely be higher. The average increase in the cap has been 4.23 million/season - let's add 3 million to keep an even number without overestimating. Cap Space: $20 million
Roster Before Re-Signing: This is a loose depth chart just to give us an idea of the holes needed to fill. The team would have roughly 20 million to sign 1/2/3 C, 3LW, 3RW, 2D or 6 open spots at an average of 3.33 mil per.
Michael Cammalleri - OPEN - Jarome Iginla
OPEN - OPEN - OPEN
Mark Giordano - OPEN
Anton Babchuk (whom I wouldn't rule out going back to Russia, freeing up another 2.5 million of cap space)
Let's fill some of those holes by including the players likely to be re-signed.
Olli Jokinen: He wants to come back and the team wants him back. On his way to a 60+ point season, he's going to be due for a raise. I'd love to see another 2 year 6 million deal but let's give him an AAV of 4 million. A nice raise with a slight market-value discount for wanting to be in Calgary and likely getting some form of No Movement Clause. He'll fill the 2C spot on the depth chart.
Mikael Backlund: With the intent of using him as a 3C and letting him continue to grow into the decent pro that many expect, Backlund will be qualified at the very least, which would see him getting a slight raise. He'll get a one-way, short-term deal with a bit of a raise. Let's set Backlund at a 1.5 million AAV.
David Moss: Moss, when healthy, brings capable two-way play, he pushes possession and can score 15-20 goals. He's had an injury-plagued season and an underwhelming one in terms of performance as well. At 1.3 million Moss was providing the team with decent value and he'd require a raise to retain his services. As a 3rd line winger, he is a guy the team should look to extend. I think he'll get between 1.5 and 2.5 million, so let's settle in the middle at a 2 million AAV.
Blake Comeau or Lee Stempniak: Given the state of the depth chart, there's really only room for one of these guys. Unless Comeau wanted to come back for 4th line duty on the cheap, which I doubt (although he doesn't exactly hold much weight in the bargaining department after this season). Comeau would have to take a hair-cut on his 2.5 mil and he's not going to be qualified. I think you could easily get him re-signed for 1.5... but is it worth the gamble? I think the team needs to target Stempniak first and use Comeau as a fall-back option before eventually exploring a 3RW via free agency (which might be the best route anyway). Stempniak has a cap hit of 1.9 million but makes 2.3 million in actual salary. If he wants to come back to Calgary, it shouldn't take much more than 2.5 million AAV to get it done, especially looking at the Glencross contract. But, with an expected shorter term on the deal, I'll give him 2.7 AAV.
Blair Jones: He's the actual 4th line centre moving forward, even though Matt Stajan is in that spot on the depth chart. I'd look at Jones to get a deal similar to Tim Jackman in the neighborhood of 2 years/1.5 million or a .750 AAV.
Total Cost to Re-Sign Those Players: $10.95 million
Only Scott Hannan may get a look of the remaining players although the team would be much better served looking in the UFA or trade market for someone who can play top-4 minutes. Sarich and Kostopolous are easily replaceable.
The depth chart would then look like this:
Michael Cammalleri - OPEN - Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay - Olli Jokinen - Curtis Glencross
David Moss - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Lance Bouma - Blair Jones - Tim Jackman
Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
Mark Giordano - OPEN
TJ Brodie - Derek Smith
Miikka Kiprusoff/Henrik Karlsson
Given that scenario, the Calgary Flames would have around $9 million in cap space to spend looking to acquire a top 6 centre and a top 4 defenseman. The option to buy out Matt Stajan/Anton Babchuk could free up even more cap space and WHL superstar LW Sven Bartschi and his impressive offensive upside will be pressuring the team for a look, although it would be great to see him get a nice look in Abbotsford before coming to the big club.
The team wouldn't be all that different from this season so I expect that many more changes will be made as it's been made clear over the past 3 seasons that the status quo isn't quite good enough to crack the post-season. I wouldn't be surprised to see none of Moss, Stempniak and Comeau re-signed, leaving the team with a bit more cap space and a few more holes to fill.
And, let's face it, 8th place shouldn't and (probably) won't be the primary goal of the club following this season.