Ladislav Smid

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Flames d-man Smid signs in Czech League

Ladislav Smid isn’t ready to call it a career yet.

Smid, the 31-year-old defenseman that missed all of last year with a neck injury, has signed with Czech League team Liberec, the club announced on Tuesday.

He just wrapped the last of a four-year, $14 million deal with a $3.5M average annual cap hit.

Smid’s last NHL action came in ’15-16, when he appeared in 22 games for the Flames. The end of his tenure in Calgary was marked largely by injury and lineup absences, this after being acquired from Edmonton in 2013 (and scoring eight points in 73 games in his first full season with the Flames).

At one point considered a high-end prospect — the Ducks took him ninth overall in 2004 — Smid is probably best known as one of the pieces Edmonton acquired in the infamous Chris Pronger-to-Anaheim trade. He leaves North America with over 500 NHL games on his resume, and represented the Czechs at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The Flames’ future looks awfully bright

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In a salary cap age, locking up your core isn’t cheap. The teams who can sign players affordably – thanks to RFA leverage, timing and other factors – can enjoy some significant advantages.

The Calgary Flames are in a tight financial situation heading into 2016-17, with about $500K in cap space … but after this season, things really open up.

It wasn’t easy, but things look really promising for the Calgary Flames after signing Johnny Gaudreau to a very reasonable six-year deal.

Cost-efficient core

Take a look at the most important Flames contracts that cover multiple years:

Gaudreau: six years, $6.75M cap hit
Mark Giordano: five years, $6.75M
Sean Monahan: seven years, $6.375M
Dougie Hamilton: five years, $5.75M
T.J. Brodie: four years, $4.65M
Troy Brouwer: four years, $4.5M
Michael Frolik: four years, $4.3M

You can quibble with certain deals – that Brouwer contract is a little worrisome – but there are some huge savings there. Those bargains could look even more significant for certain younger players; Gaudreau is 23, Monahan’s just 21, Hamilton is 23 and Brodie is 26.

Dead money soon dissolving

The Flames will also see some shaky contracts leave their books soon.

Dennis Wideman‘s problematic $5.25 million might get moved for all we know, but if not, it ends after this coming season. Deryk Engelland‘s near-$3 million mistake and Ladislav Smid‘s $3.5 million will wash away after 2016-17, too.

Flexibility in net

Some of that money may eventually go to Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson, but the beauty of the situation is that the Flames get to choose.

Elliott’s likely to get a big raise from $2.5 million, yet we’ll see if it’s with Calgary. The Flames may very well decide to go with Chad Johnson (currently at $1.7 million) or someone else instead.

Plenty of teams are locked down to questionable goalie deals. The Flames could benefit greatly from what may end up being a buyer’s market.

(Perhaps Ben Bishop will merely end up in Calgary a year later?)

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With Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk among those likely to be considered core players sooner rather than later, Calgary has room to pay them as they grow.

The Flames already looked pretty promising before the Gaudreau deal, but now they’re the envy of a healthy chunk of the NHL. Or at least they should be.

‘Too big of a risk’ — Smid to sit out season with neck issue

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Ladislav Smid will not play this season for the Calgary Flames. The 30-year-old defenseman is still dealing with a neck issue, and he doesn’t want to jeopardize his life after hockey.

“At this point it would be too big of a risk, I feel like, to try to play through my neck issues,” Smid said, per NHL.com. “I think the year will help me. Hopefully my neck will settle down a little more. I’m only 30 years old, so I would like to be out there helping the team, but it is what it is. You have only one health. It’s not like I’m retiring. But for this year, I’m going to have to sit out.”

Smid is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He only played 22 games for the Flames last season, and just 31 the season prior.

The Flames are reportedly bringing veteran defenseman Nicklas Grossman to camp on a tryout. If necessary, they could also consider bringing Kris Russell back, or explore signing another free agent like Dennis Seidenberg.

Report: Flames to bring Grossmann to camp on PTO

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Calgary is on the verge of offering a training camp tryout to Nicklas Grossman, according to a report from The Fan 960.

Grossmann, 31, spent last season in Arizona, where he racked up three goals and seven points in 58 games, averaging just under 18 minutes per night.

Prior to his stint in the desert, Grossmann played four years in Philly and six in Dallas, and it’s that time in Dallas that might’ve scored him a tryout with the Flames.

Calgary’s new head coach, Glen Gulutzan, coached Grossmann with the Stars during the ’11-12 campaign. Gulutzan played Grossmann a lot — 18:59 per game, one of the highest TOI averages of the big Swede’s career — so it’s easy to see why the Flames are giving Grossmann a look-see.

Of course, he remains a longshot to actually make the roster. Grossmann’s had issues with his skating and keeping pace, and Calgary doesn’t have a ton of open spots on defense.

Based on their current depth chart, the Flames have Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dennis Wideman, Dougie Hamilton, Ladislav Smid, Jyrki Jokipakka and Deryk Engelland slotted in as the top seven, though Smid did miss a bunch of time last season with a neck injury.

Flames management enjoys a rare luxury: a clean slate

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This is part of Calgary Flames day at PHT …

During the waning days of the Jarome Iginla/Miikka Kiprusoff years, the Calgary Flames ranked as one of the worst things a sports team could be: both expensive and uninspiring.

There were a lot of bloated contracts connected to those days, but when you look at sites like Cap Friendly or General Fanager, the slate looks a lot cleaner heading into 2016-17.

OK, so maybe you could also argue that there are still a few troubling deals to get rid of.

Dennis Wideman‘s $5.25 million salary cap hit, Ladislav Smid‘s $3.5 million mark and Deryk Engelland‘s bewildering $2.917 million cap hit all expire after next season. Chances are, you have an issue with one or maybe all of those deals, so the Flames must be giddy to close in on all that extra breathing room.

And, yes, there are some deals that Flames GM Brad Treliving may regret. Just consider today’s earlier post about Troy Brouwer.

Still, the point is clear: whatever mistakes or strokes of genius that come, at least those moves will be Treliving’s to make.

Consider some of the important calls that await:

  • Such as, how will they sort out Johnny Gaudreau‘s lingering RFA situation this summer?

The easiest path might be to try to convince him to take a deal that is identical to the one Sean Monahan received, but one or both sides likely want something different.

  • Despite bringing in both Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson, the goaltending future beyond 2016-17 is murky for a simple enough reason: neither netminder is signed beyond that point.

Elliott is receiving a bargain $2.5 million and is currently 31. Johnson, 30, barely comes in behind him at $1.7 million. It’s highly likely that Calgary will spend more money on its goalies in 2017-18, but who might be back?

And how much will the Flames need to see from Elliott and/or Johnson before trying to hammer out extensions?

The good news for Flames management is that they’re not saddled with a goaltending decision they might not have made. The scary part is that, if it doesn’t work out, it’s on them … and could cost someone a job.

  • The Flames ultimately have the power to determine who’s a marquee player and who is a part of the supporting cast.

Gaudreau is key, but it’s unclear if he’ll sign a long deal like Monahan or opt for a “bridge” deal. In addition to Monahan, the Flames signed these players to fairly long deals: Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, T.J. Brodie, Brouwer and Michael Frolik.

Yes, you can quibble with Brouwer and maybe another name, but plenty of teams would be jealous of that list overall.

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Many general managers must navigate minefields of someone else’s mistakes. There are a lot of challenges to the job beyond that, but Treliving & Co. get to make their own.

It’s a luxury that is unlikely to last, but the Flames stand as an interesting team for armchair (and real-life) executives to follow.