With training camp about 6 weeks away the Calgary Flames sit at about 2.3 million over the salary cap (according to Cap Central). If you count the signing of Andre Roy, which was actually a one-way deal at 550,000, it puts the Flames nearly 3 million dollars over the cap.
GM Darryl Sutter has been seen on Canadian Media and read throughout local papers saying he's done making moves. What you see now is what you'll get come training camp. The players currently on this roster will vie for the available positions.
Which begs the question; just which positions are actually open?
Sutter has two options.
1) He can continue to build this team as he has the previous three seasons, adding veteran depth and leadership to a team with Stanley Cup hopes, or...
2) He can switch to the youth movement.
Addressing the latter; Sutter has said this off-season that he wants to get this team, bigger, younger and faster. His first few days of moves on the open market showed that he was very serious about doing that. Since then, it's been a completely different story as he revealed Marcus Nilson, Anders Eriksson and Rhett Warrener would not be bought out, then he signed 33 yr olds Todd Bertuzzi and Andre Roy.
In today's Calgary Herald, Bruce Dowbiggin had this to say of the signing of Roy in his weekly column, I Don't Like Mondays:
"Flames GM Darryl Sutter announced the signing of professional hockey escort Andre Roy to a one-way contract, saying there's still a need for this type of player (read: goon) in the NHL. Quick, someone tell Red Wings GM Ken Holland before he embarrasses himself again by winning the Stanley Cup without one. . . ."
I couldn't agree more.
So, in what started as an offseason of change for the Calgary Flames has suddenly taken a turn back to the old style, a way Sutter just can't seem to quit.
Which way is Sutter going to go?
The bottom line is that he has the options available to him. He has developed prospects that are itching to play with the big club and there are a handful of one-way NHLers with contracts that are just asking to be moved.
Here is a list of current prospects who, judging by what Sutter has been saying recently, have a chance to make it with the Flames for next season.
Mikael Backlund, C
Kyle Greentree, LW
Jamie Lundmark, C
Matt Pelech, D
John Negrin, D
Adam Pardy, D
At least one season away: Dan Ryder, Kris Chucko, Gord Baldwin, Matt Keetley, Leland Irving
With that list of prospects in mind, here is a look at players who may be moved in order to stick to the cap number, and some who may have trade value.
Adrian Aucoin, 35, D, 4.0 mil (final year), 10g 25a 35pts +13
His biggest problem is his footspeed. If he was a little faster, he'd be fine. Aucoin had a solid season last year with numbers nearly as good as the likes of Joni Pitkanen, Jay Bouwmeester and Duncan Keith... the big difference between Aucoin and those listed... his age. I don't see Aucoin going anywhere.
Rhett Warrener, 32, D, 2.35 mil (final year), 1g 3a 4pts -2 31GP
Another slow D-man who's adjustment to the post-lockout era of the NHL has been all but smooth. He's even slower than Aucoin and has no talent with the stick. I don't see much trade value for Rhett and see him as a strong candidate to be sent to Quad Cities. The only other hope for Warrener to see NHL time is if the Flames allow someone to pluck him off re-entry waivers, although that would leave us accountable for half of his salary.
Anders Eriksson, 33, D, 1.5 mil (final year), 1g 17a 18pts -5
Was horrible last season and even worse in the playoffs. For some reason Sutter has a soft-spot for his turnover-prone D-man. His price tag leaves me to believe that he may be the 6th/7th defenseman this year, splitting time with Mark Giordano and Jim Vandermeer. Zero trade value. Should have been bought out.
Marcus Nilson, 30, LW, 1.0 mil (final year), 3g 2a 5pts +2 47GP
I just don't see any room on the team for Nilson. Of the 3 players waived by Sutter, he was the one I didn't understand. But, since the draft and UFA period, the Flames have a bevy of C/LW and I would put them all ahead of Nilson. He may join Warrener in Quad Cities, but if he remains waived, I fully expect him to return to Sweden. He has minor trade value as he is more than capable of contributing at the NHL level, just not on this club.
All of these players listed are in the final year of their deal which makes them nearly risk-free, but just the thought of that being a reason for value makes me envision an NBA-like trade period for the NHL... which scares me.
Will we see more trade action out of Sutter, not likely, based on the above information. I'm not saying it won't happen, he may make a couple more minor-league deals, but that's going to be the extent of it. There's not going to be a Mathieu Schneider or Jay Bouwmeester gracing Cowtown with their presence. Simply because that would require us to move either Iggy, Phaneuf, Regehr or Kipper. And that's not going to happen. Go ahead and attach "untouchable" to each of those players... and Langkow too.
At nearly 3 million dollars over the cap, we're going to see some roster movement. As much as we all love trades, it looks like its going to be of the waiver/minors variety. We're either going to see a shwack of new faces like Backlund, Greentree and Negrin... or the same-old, same-old in Nilson and Warrener. One thing I don't see happening for this year is having 5 scratches on any given night. If the Flames need to fill injury holes, it's going to come from Quad Cities...
Finally, a step in the right direction... well, kind of...
Later on this week I'll discuss what it takes to build a winner in the NHL, and where Darryl Sutter's Calgary Flames are in that regard.