Aside from changing veteran goaltenders, Calgary has been relatively quiet this offseason. With several players still in need of new contracts, GM Brad Treliving’s focus has predominantly been on trying to get those deals done. However, he acknowledged to reporters, including Postmedia’s Kristen Anderson, that they have been active in trying to free up cap room but haven’t found a deal that makes sense just yet.
As their roster currently stands, they have a little under $9.5MM in salary cap space, per CapFriendly. While that may seem like a fair bit, they have several restricted free agents in need of new contracts. Winger Sam Bennett and goaltender David Rittich are the notables among those that filed for salary arbitration while wingers Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane weren’t eligible for arbitration but also need new deals. With the way the top end of the RFA market looks, Tkachuk alone will take up most of that remaining salary cap room. Bennett ($1.95MM qualifying offer) and Rittich ($840K qualifying offer) figure to get a fair bit more as well. Clearly, some movement will need to occur.
It was reported earlier this offseason that the Flames were looking to move one of defenseman T.J. Brodie ($4.65MM) or Travis Hamonic ($3.857MM). They are each a season away from unrestricted free agency and with quality young depth behind them in Juuso Valimaki, Rasmus Andersson, and Oliver Kylington, they have the depth in place to replace from within which would free up a few million to spend on their RFAs.
Calgary would undoubtedly like to get out from under James Neal’s contract which has four years at a $5.75MM AAV remaining. That would take a considerable sweetener which is something that Treliving likely isn’t going to want to do. Winger Michael Frolik has also been in trade speculation dating back to last season and is entering the final year of his deal at $4.3MM. He’s more of a realistic trade candidate of the two veterans.
The fact that four players filed for arbitration (the other two were defenseman Rinat Valiev and winger Ryan Lomberg) opens up a second buyout window for the Flames to use. There is one possible candidate that could be bought out in blueliner Michael Stone. He missed most of last season due to a blood clot but did return in April so he should be able to be deemed healthy enough for a buyout. Doing so would cost them $1.167MM per year for the next two seasons which would free up a little more than $2.3MM for this summer.
Treliving has some options and with the second buyout window only opening up after all four players that filed for arbitration sign, he has some time to work with as well. That said, the Flames will need to free up some salary cap space as the summer progresses and it may be easier to do so while there are still free agents in play over waiting until closer to training camp when most rosters are close to being set.