After scoring 20+ goals three different times – twice with the Dallas Stars, once in 55 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs – Niklas Hagman’s career seems to have hit a wall with the Calgary Flames.
Hagman struggled after arriving in Calgary midway through the 2009-10 season, scoring just 11 points in 27 games. Things got worsened in a 2010-11 season in which he mustered 27 points in 71 games while falling out of favor enough to be placed on (and eventually clear) waivers.
After re-signing Brendan Morrison to a one-year, $1.25 million deal, the Flames must deal with a logjam at the forward position. The Calgary Herald’s Vicki Hall points to Hagman as a possible trade target now that the Flames have 13 forwards committed to one-way contracts without even including Mikael Backlund.
The signing of Morrison makes clear that Feaster still has moves to make with 13 forwards on one-way contracts, not including young Mikael Backlund.
Veteran Niklas Hagman ($3 million) is a prime candidate for a change in address should the Flames find a team ready to take a chance on him rediscovering his 20-goal form.
The Flames seemingly have a tendency to overlook the positive side of letting certain players’ contracts might expire. The advantage to such a situation is obvious: the team would enjoy salary cap savings once that player’s salary dissolves.
One of the most stunning examples occurred when they traded Olli Jokinen (and Brandon Prust) to the New York Rangers for Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins on March 4, 2009. Instead of getting $5.25 million in cap space by letting Jokinen’s expiring contract roll off the books, the Flames gave themselves a new (albeit smaller) cap headache in Kotalik and a player who wouldn’t serve much of a purpose for them in Higgins. Oddly enough, Jokinen returned to the Flames in 2010-11 while Higgins succeeded in Vancouver and Calgary finally got rid of Kotalik this summer.
To be fair, that strange decision regarding Jokinen happened under Darryl Sutter’s watch. I haven’t been on board with every move new GM Jay Feaster has made, but we’ll see what he ends up doing this off-season before getting too critical. Making a smart move to trim down this roster would be a good start.