Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Flames Most Pressing Need: Cap Space

Look people, we are not going to sugar-coat it for you: This team stinks. We shudder to think of where it would be standings wise had it not gone on the miracle run. Stinks, is of course a subjective term; This team is quite capable of battling for the 8th, 9th, and 10th position in the conference, and for some people that level of mediocrity is alright. Those people are named Murray Edwards and Ken King, and they are wrong in their assumptions.

For most people, 'stinks' would be a perfectly acceptable description of the Calgary Flames. They are not Oiler bad, but do you really need to sink that deep into the mud of hopelessness to start acquiring a smell? No, of course not. The simple act of being mediocre in a mediocre league is enough to cause flies to gather. But before we go any further, we might as well take a real look at the team, and their stinkage:

Obviously the season isn't over yet, so sample size alert, but whatever. For this season, at this point in time, this is your Calgary Flames.

Rank refers to where the team ranks in a particular category compared to the Western Conference, and Splits refers to our convoluted practice of splitting the 15 teams into 3 groups (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly). 1 means the team is in the top third, 2 means middle third, 3 means Oilers.

Now, if you look at that, you might think that the team isn't great, but that it doesn't necessarily stink either. Nonsense of the Alice in Wonderland variety. Because while those stats may paint the picture of a team that's middling, the following stats are even more damning evidence that they do in fact stink.

Ouch. Seriously, that is about the most damning evidence we could present about this team. Against the top dogs in the West, we have won two games. You still want to sit there and tell us that this team doesn't stink?

Because it is going to be important to establish the fact that this team isn't good enough to win a championship, whether they make the playoffs this year or not. You cannot go two wins fourteen losses against teams that the Flames would have to beat in the playoffs to win a championship and tell us everything is all right. Something is clearly not all right; the miracle second half is a mirage.

It's going to be important to establish that because the ownership group of this team may look at the second half of the season and convince themselves that everything is ok, that Darryl was right all along and they should keep this group together, even if that means having to give money and big term to a Curtis Glencross. It is important to try to kill this particular meme early because the team is not as good as their second half record suggests, and it needs upgrades, not simply to tread water.

Well, upgrades are expensive. Can the Flames afford them? For the purpose of this discussion, we are going to peg the cap at $62 million dollars. For no reason in particular, if you are wondering. The cap went up $3 million dollars last year, so that's where the increase comes from.

Applause, please:

Can ya'll read that? First off, thank glorious Heaven that D Moss is signed for next year. And Tim Jackman, Esq, provides crazy utility. Besides that, it doesn't look so good. Without resigning Tangs and Glencross, or anybody off this years roster, we would sit at about $5.7 million dollars in cap space (again, assuming a $62 million dollar ceiling, and you know where you can stink assumptions). Which isn't a lot, to be honest. We then went ahead and filled the roster with 'league minimum' contracts we valued at $600,000. That would leave the Flames with $2 million dollars in cap space. Or 2.6 if they were to swap out a minimum for a real player. Again, not a lot of money available to be throwing around.

Which is a problem, as we showed earlier. This team needs upgrades, not to simply retain this roster and hope for the best next year. It needs to buy odds, if you will, and you buy odds with talent upgrades. Talent upgrades cost money, and the Flames have money, but they also cost cap space, and the Flames don't have any of that.

So obviously we are talking about bringing in Brad Richards to play the White Knight. Let's just get right to that. What do you think that takes, 80 million over 10? An 8 million dollar cap hit? That's not going to work for this team as it is currently constructed. Which means Murray Edwards is going to have to step up to the plate.

Hagman and Kotalik have to go, and they should be made to disappear with a loan to a KHL team, because buying them out will hurt the cap. If you could loan those two players, that would give the team an additional $6 million dollars in cap space. Wanna do the math with us? 6+2=Brad Richards.

Stajan will have to go too, obviously. Brad Richards plays centre, and Stajan just pretends too. Who the hell is going to take Stajan? Easy. The Florida Panthers have only $16 million dollars in cap space committed for next year. They are going to have to add $20 million dollars in contracts just to make the bloody cap floor! Stajan for a box of Florida oranges seems like a reasonable trade to us.

And guess what we just did: we have added Brad Richards, and with kicking Stajan to the curb, we have added one of Tanguay or Glencross, too. If you were able to get rid of Sarich (which we may need to keep because we have little depth on the blueline) that would mean you could sign them both, if you were so inclined.

Anyways, you are going to hear a lot of people talk about how the Flames are in an impossible cap situation. This isn't true. We are certainly in a difficult cap situation. No question about that. But impossible? Kotalik can be sent down to the AHL, and Hagman will pass through waivers if we send him down. That means Murray will in effect pay $6 million in real dollars to create $6 million in cap space (which he will then have to fill with players), but when you are involved in an ownership group whose combined net worth is above $2 billion dollars, you can afford to do that. Getting rid of Stajan is going to be the most difficult transaction, but as we said, send his ass to Florida, as they need to spend big just to get to the floor. Those moves would create instant cap flexibility, which we can promptly burn up by offering Brad Richards $80 million dollars, or whatever it is going to take.

Bottom line: The cap flexibility is there for this team to improve itself through trade or free-agency if the ownership group doesn't cheap out, and Feaster thinks big.

Besides, for the price they are charging for tickets to watch a club that hasn't made the playoffs for two straight years, they owe it to the fans to take a big swing.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.


  1. P.S.

    The Flames didn't fair to well against the beasts of the east either. They beat Philly but lost to the Caps, the Bruins, and the Penguins. We scored 7 goals and gave up 16.

  2. Who else plays D? 18 and change gets you 4 guys (one of whom is Sarich).

    Theoretically possible but never going to happen.

    You sign Richards for that kind of dough and any kind of term and you basically guarantee that your squad is in cap hell until the end of time.*

    *more cap hell than they are currently in.

  3. I don't know why you would fight like hell to get rid of the cap space hogs on this team, just to replace them with another one. If this team could get 8+ mil in cap space, they should keep it for one more year, blow up the team and then spend like mad men in free agency to rebuild.

  4. Honestly, I am not as scared of using nobodies to fill the defence as I guess you are, RT. You can play JBlow 30 minutes a night if you have to, he as proved that at the least, and with Reggie, Gio, and Sarich there, you should have enough depth to go with prospect/cheap dmen for 7-10 minutes a night (swallows hard).

    And Scott, we would fight like hell to get another cap space hog on this roster because:
    Stajan: 31 P
    Hagman: 27 P
    Kotalik: 5 P
    Total: 63 P

    Brad Richards: 67 P (in 62 GP)

    That's why.

  5. Fair enough, I'm not arguing the upgrade on the top line. But who plays the 3rd and 4th lines? Bouwma, Backlund, Meyer, Koustopoulos, Jackman, and 1 more AHLer. Meaning those lines will get shredded, atleast away from the dome. In a perfect world you trade Bouwmeester for picks, and you have your cap space there. Then get rid of hagman, stajan and kotalik but replace them with guys being paid similiar, all else equal, Gio on the top line D and we hope our AHL defensive depth can come in and place decent.

  6. Having watched the Oil play this year with largely AHL talent on the blue I can tell you it isn't pretty. J-Bouw plays about 24 minutes a night.

    I'm totally in agreement with Scott. You need decent players on the 3rd and 4th line to have a winner. There just aren't enough of those who are cheap and outplay their contracts (like GlenX this year). Those that have them aren't giving them up for garbage and the Flames don't have the picks or prospects to spare.

  7. The ugly reality for the Flames now is not just that guys like Hagman and Stajan are poor value. It's that guys like Iginla and Kipper are too. The Flames are built around players who are being paid how great they were a few years ago.

    Richards is no panacea for this club. As long as the management thinks that all they have to do is build around Jarome, they'll continue to be mediocre or worse.

  8. Hey DB,

    Is Tyra Banks your Starting Goalie...if so I forgot how delicious she used to be - she is not aging well.

    I agree with Kent - we are now well past the point of building around Iginla...caught second half of CAL-LAK game and heard more crickets chirping than Iginla's name. I never understood the Iginla mystique... I think it mainly has to do with the fact that he was our only "superstar" player since '89 that hasn't bolted town, but really in looking at results (if we assume he was a world beater) what has Calgary accomplished with him? In 15 odd years - 1 advancement past the first round of playoffs (and in all reality it was Kipper and Gelinas who came up clutch to get past Vancouver in '04 - we had no business really in winning that Series) The fans need to get past Iginla because he is a Top 6 forward at this point in his career with no future upside.

    ~Frustrated Fan

  9. The team needs to ween its self of iggy sooner then later, but lets be honest, Iggy is still a top 10 scorer in this league, while half assing most of the first half. He also has played with nobody his whole career. Everyone else in the top 10 has another all-star type player with them.
    That means Iggy is a horse you can still bet on, but the dude needs help, that's better then Tanguay, real help.
    At this point, Iggy is still our best chance of winning, just look at his resume. Iggy is a winner, and so is B.Rich. Add the two together, and hopefully the city gets a winner too.

  10. i am very proud of coining the name "pocketdawes." it is one of the few true gems that have come out of hitthepost.