After the unveiling of new goaltender Cam Talbot, Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving chatted with the assembled media on Sunday at Winsport. Among the topics he touched upon was the club’s rather tight salary cap situation so far this off-season.
“We haven’t done a lot this summer just from the sense because it’s just the math,” said Treliving. “You can take the contracts that are on the books, what we expect that the ones aren’t on the books will cost and for us, we don’t have a lot of flexibility at this particular time. We’ve been active to try to create it in different forms and manners. We haven’t been able to. So, we continue to work at that. Like I said, we’ve been trying to get our internal business done. We’d like to tweak our team, we haven’t been able to do anything of that nature. It just hasn’t come our way. We haven’t been able to find things that fit. The good news is we’ve got a pretty good hockey club. But this may be a process that’s going to take us the lion’s share of the summer. We’ll continue to work at it.”
You can dig into the team’s cap situation over at PuckPedia, but the gist is this: the Flames need to make some moves to re-sign all their restricted free agents. Our projections have the team roughly $2.1 million over the cap if they re-sign everyone at roughly market value. But Treliving has reportedly been busy, kicking tires on everything from moving James Neal, trading TJ Brodie to Toronto, and potentially moving Michael Frolik – all while serving the two masters of the salary cap and improving the hockey club.
Though it likely doesn’t seem that way from the outside, the fact that four of the team’s six unsigned RFAs filed for salary arbitration is a good thing – whether through negotiations or the arbiter’s edict, all four will be under contract by early August. By sheer coincidence, having arbitration cases gives the Flames access to a second buyout window that they might need in order to creep under the salary cap ceiling.
That leaves two players without arbitration rights as the bulk of Treliving’s unfinished business: Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk.
“We’re still working away on it,” said Treliving, regarding Tkachuk’s pending deal. “Saw Matthew was riding a horse yesterday, so we were trying to run behind him here. Nothing new to report there other than the dialogue continues.”
Treliving has made four first round selections as general manager. His previous three signed fairly soon after their selection – Sam Bennett (2014, signed July 25), Tkachuk (2016, signed July 7) and Juuso Valimaki (2017, signed July 21). But given the number of irons the Flames have in the fire right now, don’t be shocked if Jakob Pelletier’s deal takes a little bit longer.
“No real rush right now,” said Treliving. “We’ve got some other things that are taking up our time right now. That’s not to say we will or won’t, but right now isn’t a focus point. We’ll see how that progresses later in the summer.”