Only two teams face worse salary cap crunch than Flames next season

May 12 2023, 6:50 pm

The Calgary Flames may have some trouble turning things around after a tough 2022-23 season, at least from a salary cap perspective.

After winning the Pacific Division a year ago with 111 points, the Flames regressed in a big way. Though they were in the fight until the end, the Flames ultimately missed the playoffs in a year where they had sky-high expectations.

Many believed that their struggles had to do with coaching, and the organization seemed to agree, choosing to fire Darryl Sutter at the beginning of the month. The Flames have yet to name a new head coach and also find themselves without a general manager in place after Brad Treliving chose to walk at the end of the season.

While having new faces in charge will provide a breath of fresh air, this Flames team is in some cap trouble entering next season. With the cap limit set for $83.5 million, the Flames will have very little wiggle room, as they are currently sitting at $82.25 million.

The Flames’ $1.25 million in cap space is the third lowest amongst all NHL teams, with only the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vancouver Canucks set to have less. What makes this even more troubling is that they only have 16 skaters (forwards/defencemen) under contract.

Given how tightly pressed they are, there is a good chance that a few of their younger prospects, such as Jakob Pelletier and Matt Coronato will be given real opportunities to crack the Flames’ roster. It could also force their yet-to-be-named GM to make some moves.

A potential option the Flames could look at is trading one of their two goaltenders in Jacob Markstrom ($6 million) or Dan Vladar ($2.2 million). Prospect Dustin Wolf appears to be more than ready to play in the NHL having won the AHL’s goaltender of the year award in consecutive seasons and will carry a much lower $813,333 cap hit.

Other scenarios could include moving a player or two who are entering the final year of their contracts. The Flames have plenty who meet this criteria, as Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, and Dennis Gilbert are all currently set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of next season.

While there are some solutions to help ease their salary cap burden, whoever takes on the Flames’ GM role will certainly have his hands full.

Colton PankiwColton Pankiw

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