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Post Free Agent Frenzy - What's left for the Flames

It took Darryl Sutter about two days to move Vandermeer, ink Bouwmeester, re-sign Pardy and then shore up the bottom end of the organizations depth chart with Sjostrom, Kronwall, Armstrong and Murray. According to NHLnumbers, Calgary now has 19 players @ 53.748M, leaving about 3.053M in cap space.

For all intents and purposes, it looks like the Flames are pretty much done for the summer. There are a few, nagging loose-ends that will likely need to be addressed in the near future though...

1.) Dustin Boyd is still RFA. Not sure what the snafu is here, but Boyd put in a lot of thankless hours as a 4th liner and penalty killer during his entry level deal meaning he's probably had to learn a lot of hard lessons without a lot of pay-off. It also means his new salary won't be inflated because his output this far has been lackluster. He's the type of guy that will probably out-perform his next contract if he's signed and managed properly, so I'd like to see his name on a multi-year deal @ 1M/year or less sooner rather than later.

2.) When Boyd signs, the Flames will have 20 NHL players ready for duty, (including Sjostrom and Prust): 12 forwards, 6 defensemen and 2 goalies. They'll also have about a million shaved off that 3.053 in cap room, leaving about 2M in space and the club dreadfully short in the "healthy scratch" department. The top 6 will also consist of -



Which doesn't blow anyone's socks off, but doesn't look too terrible...until one projects what the roster would look like sans Langkow, Iginla or even the injury prone Bourque. No one behind the top six, aside from perhaps Old Man Conroy, would have a prayer of stepping in adequately for any longer than a game or two (save which ever of Boyd or Glencross draws the short straw...and even that's debatable). I would suggest the PP, which was a sore spot last season, is poised to either stagnate or get worse considering the Flames lost two of their more capable PP forwards (Bertuzzi and Cammalleri) and replaced them with no one. 

Which brings me to...

3.) The roster as it's currently constructed is probably solid given the steps forward by guys like Moss and Glencross last year, but it's also walking a thin line between "decent" and "dreadful". As such, I would suggest the Flames still need to drop some salary and add at least one more capable ES and/or PP scorer. Wayne Primeau should be cut or demoted one way or the other - his 1.4M salary is obviously well out of line with his potential contributions. He could be replaced by just about anyone at about half the price (Sjostrom), so deleting him is requisite no matter what.

A lot of the UFA targets I identified prior to July 1 are gone, but a few potential guys that are still around include Jason Williams, Mikael Samuelsson, Kyle Calder and Ruslan Fedotenko. Calder is probably the worst of the bunch, but the other three would all make for adequate (if not ideal) candidates. There's also the Bertuzzi option, but let's not talk about that...

3.5M in cap space may not be enough to sign another forward and keep an acceptable amount of breathing room under the cap (which Sutter learned the hard way last year is a must), so dealing a guy like Cory Sarich for prospects or a cheaper d-man may be in order. Sarich had a good season last year, albeit mostly from the 3rd pairing, and he'd probably be able to cover his 3.6M salary from an ability perspective. The problem is, the Flames have greater need elsewhere and already have a huge chunk of tough minutes covered by Regehr and Bouwmeester (and, hopefully, Dion Phaneuf). Paying Sarich 3.6M to take on secondary or teritary competition for 17 minutes a night probably doesn't make much sense for the Flames anymore as a result. 

Darryl Sutter has had an excellent summer thus far. If he can trim the fat and address some minor, lingering forward depth concerns, I think the Flames will well positioned come October.