The Calgary Flames have directly and indirectly been impacted by the impending contract of Matthew Tkachuk this entire off-season.
In order to sign the rising star to a contract that suits both parties, moves and decisions have been made by general manager Brad Treliving all summer to accommodate.
Friday’s buy out of defenceman Michael Stone, once again, was a reflection of that.
The 29-year-old right-handed rearguard was placed on waivers Thursday for that exact purpose and, after clearing 24 hours later, he became a free agent. He still remains on the Flames’ payroll but instead of a US$3.5-million cap hit, Stone will be on the books for US$1.167-million for 2019-20 and 2020-21.
That gives the Flames some flexibility, about US$7.75-million in cap space, although Tkachuk’s impending contract will, most definitely, require more than that.
Meaning Treliving will have to continue to crunch the numbers to make something work for No. 19. The Flames also need to re-up left-winger Andrew Mangiapane who is in line for the team’s fourth line role this fall after impressing last season.
The buyout of Stone was somewhat predicable for anyone that can do basic math, but also when observing the emergence of Rasmus Andersson on the right side in 2018-19 and how Stone was utilized when he was healthy upon recovering from a blood clot he suffered this winter.
Stone was limited to 14 games last season, played a full 82-game campaign in 2017-18, and dressed for 19 contests in 2016-17 (and four playoff games that spring) after coming to Calgary in a trade-deadline deal with the Arizona Coyotes.
He signed a three-year contract extension in the summer of 2017 worth US$10.5-million which was set to expire at the end of the 2019-20 season.
He was a solid depth piece, but becoming too costly for the team’s roster.
The Flames are now down to three right-shot defenders in their system: Andersson, Travis Hamonic, and Alexander Yelesin who was signed out of the KHL this springtime (although it’s unknown how his skills will translate into the NHL).
The left-shooting TJ Brodie plays on the right side on the team’s top pairing with Mark Giordano but Andersson could challenge for that spot this fall. Brodie, too, has been mentioned in trade rumours with nothing materializing as of yet.
Including Brodie, the Flames blueliners this fall are Giordano, Noah Hanifin, Hamonic, Juuso Valimaki, and Andersson, leaving the seventh spot wide open for either Oliver Kylington or Brandon Davidson, who was signed to a two-way deal earlier this summer.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019