Every team has bad contracts, and the Flames are among them. With the new CBA and brief reduction of the salary cap, teams have been given a chance over two seasons - this and last - to get rid of up to two of their most troublesome contracts, at 1/3 or 2/3 the salary depending on the player's age, with no penalties against the cap. For some teams, it's a godsend. For the Flames, there's no point.
Along with having a maximum a team can spend against the cap, there's a minimum as well, and the Flames will be fighting to reach it. Based on current capgeek.com projections, the Flames need to spend about $13.4 million just to reach the cap floor.
This doesn't count the four RFAs the Flames need to re-up (TJ Galiardi, Paul Byron, Joe Colborne, and Lance Bouma - all of whom should get an extension), nor an extra forward, two defencemen, and a backup goalie. That's eight players to fill the $13.4 million, and they'll likely be cheap (unless that extra forward ends up being Mike Cammalleri, who still may yet be re-signed, and how big the Flames are able to go on UFA defencemen).
So by the beginning of next season, the Flames should be able to reach the cap floor. But it'll be close, and they'll still need their bad contracts to do it.
David Jones was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche almost one year ago alongside Shane O'Brien for Alex Tanguay and Cory Sarich. David Jones is not particularly good, and he gets paid $4 million for another two seasons to be not particularly good. He had back-to-back 20-goal seasons for Colorado three seasons ago, and hasn't reached that mark since. He scored nine goals and 17 points in 48 games for the Flames last season - he battled a lot of shoulder injuries - and was a negative possession player for the Flames in that time as well, with a -0.6% CF rel.
But hey, there's always a chance he could rebound from that. Jones saw the lowest offensive zone starts of his career at 37.1%, and still managed to finish 44.3% of his shifts in the offensive zone. And it's not like he was benefiting from luck in the years he scored 20+, although he did have the highest PDO of his career last season. But he did draw more penalties than he took - albeit just barely - and the Flames are short on right wingers. And he's, uh, big, I guess, which we all know is important to Brian Burke.
Plus they need that $4 million against the cap. So here's to a rebound year.
But speaking of O'Brien... Wow, that was a really bad trade, wasn't it?
O'Brien is in the minors. O'Brien has been in the minors since late January, and he isn't likely to resurface. He was apparently sent down because he wasn't buying into the hard work culture the Flames were trying to instil. Also he just isn't very good.
O'Brien's contract is a one-way, which means he's getting paid his NHL salary no matter what. This upcoming season, he's due $2.2 million; management has the chance to save a couple of bucks if they just get rid of him right now (although the baby Flames don't have too much going for them on defence). In the meantime, he only counts $1.075 million against the cap, so the Flames should still be able to reach the cap floor without him. He's the strongest (probably only) candidate for a Flames compliance buyout.
Dennis Wideman is currently Calgary's highest-paid player. He's due another $5.25 million annually over the next three seasons. He was a free agent signing, so that inflated his value a bit, but he isn't really worth it, despite the All-Star nod he received in 2012. Injuries plagued him this season, but he still only scored four goals and 21 points in 46 games for the Flames this season - fourth in Flames defencemen for scoring - all the while being less than stellar on the defensive end, a problem for someone who is titled as a defenceman (62.2% of his shifts started in the offensive zone last season, 49.8% ended there. He was sheltered and seemed to have a hard time with it).
Wideman may not even be in the Flames' top four anymore. Of course, once you get past Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, and depending on how much you love him, Kris Russell, the Flames don't have much of a top four to speak of, so he could certainly work his way back into it. Wideman had a relatively decent start to the year before he was first injured. When he came back, his play dropped off a cliff, and his minutes went way down.
Still, a team like the Flames can't afford to be picky with who they have on defence: if there's a chance Wideman rebounds (and there is), he could still help out. And his enormous cap hit is actually an asset for the team.
The Flames traded for Smid this past season, so the chance of him getting bought out are incredibly tiny. Smid is probably here to stay.
After this season, though, and with another three years at $3.5 million, Smid's contract doesn't look all that great. There is, however, reasonable hope he'll rebound.
Smid spent the last four seasons with the Oilers with a respectable CF% rel, hovering around even. He didn't necessarily drive possession for the Oilers, but he wasn't a problem for them, either. For some reason he plummeted this year, though, going from -0.2% to -7.1%, numbers he hasn't seen the likes of in at least five seasons. He should at the very least be a capable bottom pairing defenceman.
Now, $3.5 million for a fifth defenceman is a little pricy, but there's reasonable hope for Smid to rebound. This last season was uncharacteristic for him, and it was also his first on a new team (although he did have more than enough time throughout the season to adjust to that). And again... his cap hit helps.
Besides - since I'm probably going to bring this up every time I talk about Smid - you can't buyout someone with dance moves of this quality.