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Flames off-season - setting the stage

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With the season reviews out of the way, it's time to start looking forward. Not surprisingly, I find the most interesting part of the off-season is playing armchair GM: identifiying roster holes, cap issues, potential UFA targets, etc.

Calgary was one of the most expensive clubs in the league last year, with a lot of that weight carrying forward into next season. On one hand, the Flames won't be facing potentially catastrophic turn-over like the Habs this summer. On the other hand, they're going to have precious little room to manuevre unless they somehow eject one of their big tickets.

Let's take a look at the Flames theoretical depth chart as it stands right now:

Forwards

Bourque (1.35M) - Jokinen (5.25M) - Iginla (7M)

Glencross - (1.2) - Langkow (4.5M) - Moss (1.3M)

Nystrom (688k) - Conroy - 1M - ? (Boyd)

? (Greentree) - Primeau (1.4M) - Van Der Gulik (487k)

(Sutter 537k)

UFAs: Bertuzzi, Cammalleri, Roy, Lundmark, Peters

RFAs: Boyd, Greentree, Chucko

Total - $24.712

Defense

Regehr (4.02M) - Sarich (3.6M)

Phaneuf  (6.5M) - Giordano (892k)

Vandermeer (2.3M) - (Pardy) ?

Pelech (850k)

UFAs: Aucoin, Leopold, Pardy, Warrener

Total - 18.162M

Goal

Kiprusoff (5.833M)

?

Total - 5.833M

Team Total - 48.707M

The situation becomes a little clearer now, I think. The Flames have about 48M tied up in next year's club with at least 5 holes to fill. Let's further clarify the picture by assuming the Flames sign some of the obvious free agents - Boyd (850k), Greentree (900k), Pardy (850k).  That plugs three holes and adds another (approx) 2.6M for a 51.307M total. Add in Mr.Back-up at 500k and Calgary is pushing 52M (51.807M), assuming, of course, the team doesn't pursue someone more veteran (and therefore expensive) to sit on the bench next year.

At 52M, the Flames have Bourque, Glencross and Moss in their top 6, two rookies on the 4th line (as well as a rookie 13th forward), a second pairing of Phaneuf and Giordano, a rookie as the 7th defenseman and the cheapest possible back-up for a goalie that played at replacement level this season. Assuming the cap ceiling stagnates, the club probably has < 5M to play with (because I can't see Der Sutter spending to the hilt right away again). What can we take from this?

- Cammalleri and Aucoin are long gone.

- One of Leopold or Bertuzzi are potentially re-signable, but probably not both.

- Lundmark is potentially re-signable, depending on other moves and his asking price.

- Flames could be in the market for one more mid-level ($2-4M) UFA at either forward or defense, but not much else.

- The left side looks like the most obvious place for Sutter's annual gap-filler/reclamation project. Kyle Calder? Keith Tkachuk?

- Does this club look better or worse than the most recent iteration? It's the latter for me given the addition of Jokinen, subtraction of Lombardi and Cammalleri and promotion of Moss/Glencross and Nystrom. However, these are broad strokes from 50,000 feet so there's a lot of room for error.