Feaster's Ace in the Hole - Cap Room

Dale MacMillan

How the Flames MAY be able to leverage back next year

There is probably no other fans in the NHL who are enjoying the Flames situation at the moment more than Oiler fans.

The fan base is bitter of recent history, nervous about the future and on the verge of 7 straight years out of the playoffs. The once proud franchise and fan base has suffered through tremendous pain, living for little more than the draft year after year.

Oiler fans are bitter. The Schadenfreude of Oiler fans to Flames fan is thick and dripping in nervousness about their own rebuild and gleeful anticipation of the Flames permanent fall from grace.

I don't think anything sums up their mindset better than this open letter to Flames fans. Oiler Schadenfreude

But hang on Flames fans, as much as some of you may want to plummet into the depths of misery and despair, *cough* Justin *cough* there is one final card to be played for the Flames this off-season.

Comparisons of the Flames situation to the Oilers is constant.

But there is one particular unique aspect the Flames have that the Oilers never did. With the arrival of the new CBA comes the distinguishing situation this off-season of a falling Cap next year and with it a buyers market for teams with Cap space.

Most teams are going to be tight against the Cap and just as the Flames were one of the few clear Sellers this trade deadline, they will also be one of the few clear Buyers this off-season and it will be in a market full of good players which in a normal off-season would have had a chorus of suitors.

If we assume that Kipper will either retire or be moved this off-season and his 5.3 million Cap is also removed, the Flames will be sitting on 28.4 million in Cap room. Capgeek

That is third in the entire NHL with only the Islanders and Jets holding slightly more buying power. I think we can safely assume the Islanders will not go on a spending spree, so the Flames will have some cheddar to go shopping with.

If there is one positive thing to be said about Flames Ownership it is that they have never been cheap. They have always been willing to spend money. It is a redeeming quality of Ownership. It is doubtful that they will hand-cuff Feaster's attempts to sign quality players in that coveted 23-27 age group.

Assuming only one of the Flames potential 1st round picks makes it AND assuming the deep pool of Goaltending prospects the Flames have actually results in a reliable NHL starter, Feaster COULD fill out the roster and leverage back to the bubble as soon as next year.

Impossible you say? Dreamy, actually no.

Unlike the Oilers dark history of snubs from Vanek, Jagr etc. And their history of players demanding trades, Pronger, Souray etc… And even players blocking trades that have been made with them Heatley. The Flames have one huge distinguishing factor.

NHL players like Calgary. They know the Flames are a quality organization (words that I am sure will send shivers through Oiler fans) but time and time again, players who have been around the NHL and played for the Flames WANT to return.

The list is long Olli Jokinen came back from the Rangers and signed at a discount. Only to walk two years older and sign at 1.5 million more in Winnipeg. He did not want to leave Calgary.

Alex Tanguay took a little trip out East to Montreal and Tampa Bay and then worked with the Flames Cap at the time to sign on at 1.5 million for a year.

Glencross with that incredible value contract of 2.5 million.

Cammy could not get back to Calgary fast enough and example after example continues to exist.

The Flames are a highly regarded franchise in word of mouth from NHL players.

They continued to conduct themselves with the Organizational Class that many of us seem to overlook. Clearly allowing Jarome to go to the team he wanted to in his trade.

Trading Jaybo and timing it carefully to protect his respected ironman streak.

And finally to the frustration of us all, even with no limitations on a trade, simply respecting Kipper's wishes to stay in Calgary with his family after the birth of his baby boy. Kipper did not want to leave the sinking ship that is the Calgary Flames this year. The Flames could easily have dumped Kipper for a conditional pick and unleashed the media war dogs of Toronto onto his door steps.

They didn't.

Sorry Oiler fans, the real thing that distinguishes the Flames from the Oilers is not just the two geographies but the class of an Organization that has for over a decade treated its players with respect and not like pieces of meat.

As happy as you all may be at the moment on the Flames demise, I would not bet at all that they languish face-down in the very gutter of the NHL for several years with the only good thing to look forward to being draft day, year after year.

Your rebuild looks risky to me. Overstocked on the forward lines and not enough on D, plus a below average young Goaltender and a GM that looks to me like he is incapable of making a big risk trade to address the weaknesses. Tick-Tock, goes the clock. Another 6 million for RNH and another 6 million for Nail the year after and you are going to be in a world of Cap issues in the future.

Enjoy the moment that is the Flames 2012-13 season because your rebuild does not look like a lock to me at all and the Flames have a unique Cap Ace in the hole this year to go shopping in a Mall that will be empty of Buyers.

Bring on the BOA because if the Flames beat the Oilers in the standings NEXT year, I would not want to be you.

This year will be the first year in almost ten years that the Oilers have managed to beat the Flames in the standings. It also may be the only one.

Savor it all while you can and get in your witty little digs, it may be the only year you can. I could go tell you all to go eat something right now, as you commonly tell us but hey, you know, part of what makes us so different from you.

Bring on a new age of the Battle of Alberta...

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