Jay Feaster should not have been hired by the Calgary Flames without a thorough investigation of what was available to the club in terms of replacements for Darryl Sutter, but he was, and here we sit. He hasn't done anything to deserve being liberated of his GM post up to this point. However, the leash should and will be short following this off-season as the flexibility the Flames will have going forward is generally only afforded teams that intend to tank.
As a continuum to my post following the trade deadline in February, What Next?, detailing the Calgary Flames salary cap situation and what the team will likely do in the off-season, here is an updated look at where the club sits cap-wise, the holes they'll need to fill and just how much money Feaster will have to get the job done.
Feaster will have enough money to offer Brad Richards money to 3+ players. And, that's without using the old Jay-Feaster-trade-high-draft-picks-to-rid-the-team-of-salary trick. I bet his brow is covered in sweat just thinking about it.
The 2011-2012 cap was 64.3 million. The cap has raised by an average of 4.23 mil per season but I'm going to speculate it's risen to 67 mil. Add the NHLPA's riser that they can choose to invoke and the cap is likely to reach 72 million dollars. I have to apologize, I had a source on that and lost the link, for now, it's purely speculation.
At 72 million, the Calgary Flames would be looking at (roughly) 25.8 million dollars in cap space.
Without trading Miikka Kiprusoff and Jarome Iginla that already leaves a ton of flexibility for the team. Here are the holes that Feaster should look at addressing.
Three top 6 forwards.
Three bottom 6 forwards.
Two top 4 defenseman.
That seems like a lot. And, given a good top 6 forward is going to run you at least 4.5 million dollars - same for top 4 D - that money is going to get eaten up fast.
Here's what I call my:
HOPE AND A PRAYER SOLUTION
First of all, Iggy stays. I know 7 million is steep, but if Brent Sutter (or, the next Flames coach) can use him in a more offensively beneficial way, he can reach 35+ goals next season and be an effective member of the team. Plus, there aren't exactly a plethora of goal-scoring RWers available.
Offer identical 7 year, 49 million dollar contracts to Ryan Suter and Zach Parise with the hopes of selling them on being the new improved dynamic tandem for the club.(I'd consider going to 56 million on Suter for sure, maybe even Parise).
Offer Matt Carle a 5 year, 25 million dollar deal to join Mark Giordano on the 2nd pair. (I think this overpayment would stand a good shot at landing Matt Carle).
Basically, I'd give these players close to as much as they want to come join the Flames. Without a full-on re-build the team will be forced to overpay UFAs in order to bring them in. That's the nature of the beast.
I would trade Miikka Kiprusoff for one of two packages;
Either a package of picks/prospects including at the very least a mid-1st round pick and a very strong pro-aged prospect or, (think, TB, Columbus, Toronto etc)
A package that includes someone capable of playing the 2nd line centre spot on the team... leaving Mike Cammalleri and Zach Parise to battle it out for the top C spot. (think Washington)
Sign Josh Harding or Tomas Vokoun to replace Kipper. (Harding .917 SV%, .923 EVSV% - Vokoun .917 SV%, .927 EVSV%) If it's Harding, I'd go for 2 years, 3 million - doubling his salary, and if it's Vokoun I'd try to get something very close to his 1 year 1.5 deal with the Caps.
If he's ready, SVEN and his 1.5 cap hit move into the top 6, taking advantage of his ELC for as long as possible with the big club.
Curtis Glencross slides down to the 3rd line where he will become one of the top 3rd line wingers in the league, at a cost-efficient 2.5 million cap hit.
Using a combination of picks/prospects, I'd attempt to make a trade to fill the final top 6 roster spot.
Move Anton Babchuk to Abbotsford and tell him he'll be spending the entire year there. That guy would be on the first plane to the KHL (freeing up more cap space in the process).
HOPE AND A PRAYER ROSTER
Now, your Top 6:
Zach Parise, Mike Cammalleri, Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Sven Baertschi, C TO BE ACQUIRED
Your Bottom 6:
Curtis Glencross, Matt Stajan, Mikael Backlund, Blair Jones, Tim Jackman, OPEN TO COMPETITION (or possibly the re-signing of bargain deals to one of Moss, Stempniak or Comeau)
Top 4 D:
Ryan Suter, Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano, Matt Carle
Bottom 2 D:
Combo of TJ Brodie, Chris Butler, Derek Smith
Irving/Karlsson (I'd prefer Irving with Karlsson being sent to Abbotsford... no one will claim him)
In no way do I think this will happen nor do I even think there's a remote possibility of it happening. But, I wanted to show our readers that the flexibility for Jay Feaster to attempt something like this IS there. To acquire that many key players is nearly impossible in one off-season but over a two-year span this could be achieved.
So, no, we don't have the stock pile of #1 picks like our bottom-dwelling pals to the north but the great thing about the salary cap era of the NHL is that teams can turn their fortunes in a single year. Hell, the Flyers have already done it twice. It does, however, require management to make some shrewd deals, which may set the bar too high for Feaster et al... but we'll see.
Please, offer your suggestions as to how the Flames should spend their money and fix the lifeless club.