BOCA RATON — The Calgary Flames are the second lowest spending team in the NHL this season.
But maybe not for much longer.
The Flames are stunning the hockey industry with their strong season, and today team president Brian Burke made it clear the team is more than willing to start spending some of the more than $19 million in available cap space to make the team even more of a playoff threat.
"You can quote me on this. We are budgeted as a full cap team," said Burke today at the conclusion of the NHL’s board of governors meetings.
"The only reason we haven’t been a cap team so far is we haven’t seen the value. But the second we do, (general manager) Brad Treliving is authorized to go right to the cap."
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Right now, the Flames are 29th in NHL payrolls at about $50 million. The room they have could translate into contracts worth tens of millions by the March deadline if they choose to spend it.
Former GM Jay Feaster helped clear all that space by moving a bunch of difficult contracts, and right now, only one player, defenceman Dennis Wideman, averages more than $5 million per season.
It’s not clear what players could be available by the trade deadline, although Arizona, Buffalo and Carolina are candidates to move expensive contracts by then. Perhaps Columbus, too, depending on whether the Blue Jackets can recover from their injury-riddled start.
The Flames sit sixth in the Western Conference with a 17-9-2 record, surprising given that many had them more as a team likely to contend for the rights to draft Connor McDavid in June.
Burke was asked if he was surprised the Flames have been so much better than their provincial rivals, the Edmonton Oilers.
"No," he said.