The Calgary Flames earned a second buyout window after wrapping up their arbitration cases, and are going to take advantage of it. The team has placed Troy Brouwer on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout, something that we suggested might happen when Garnet Hathaway settled on Monday. Brouwer has two years remaining on his current deal, and carries a $4.5MM cap hit.
Because Brouwer’s contract has no signing bonuses remaining and was not front-loaded, the Flames will save a considerable amount over the next two years. They will now carry just a $1.5MM cap hit for the next four seasons, giving them plenty of flexibility for 2018-19. Not only will the team now have around $7.5MM in cap space with only Noah Hanifin and Hunter Shinkaruk left to sign, but they also will gain a roster spot for some of their younger forwards. Hathaway, Curtis Lazar, Dillon Dube and Spencer Foo will all be battling for playing time in training camp, as the Flames try to get quicker and more skilled on their fourth line.
That lack of skill and speed was the downfall of Brouwer, who plays a physical, bruising game. While he put up consistent offensive numbers throughout a good portion of his career, those numbers dropped off dramatically since signing a four-year $18MM contract with Calgary in 2016. It was a scary contract right from the outset given Brouwer was already 31 when he played his first game in a Flames uniform, and those fears came true almost immediately. In 2016-17 he recorded just 13 goals, his lowest total since his rookie season and followed it with just six last year in a diminished role.
A diminished role is exactly what he might find elsewhere this season, as there will surely be teams lined up to sign him for a lower salary. Teams looking for leadership, physicality and plenty of experience on their fourth line will be interested in a cheap Brouwer, who can sign as soon as the Flames officially buy him out.