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Flames Watch: Recession will hit hard

For as much as Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr mean to the Flames, they’ll have to take on an even larger role if Calgary is to remain competitive as the global economic slowdown moves into 2010-11.

The NHL salary cap will potentially drop from $56.7 million this season to about $50 million in 2010-11 once the recession digs in its teeth over the next 18 months. The financial reality of a recession means businesses and fans have less to spend on advertising, private boxes and NHL tickets.

The Flames have nine players signed in 2010-11 for $35.84 million: Iginla ($7 million), Phaneuf ($6.5 million), Kiprusoff ($5.83 million), Daymond Langkow ($4.5 million), Regehr ($4.02 million), Cory Sarich ($3.6 million), James Vandermeer ($2.3 million), Curtis Glencross ($1.2 million) and Mark Giordano ($891,667).

That will leave just $14 million for 14 roster spots. It’s tough to figure out how that will be enough to put together a supporting cast strong enough to be contenders.

If the Flames want to sign Mike Cammalleri or someone of his ilk, the price tag is at least $5 million. Among first or second-liners, only Iginla and Langkow are under contract in 2010-11, so more talent is needed. If Cammalleri’s price is too high, Calgary can settle for a poor man’s Cammalleri free agent for $4 million.

That leaves $10 million for 13 roster spots. Assuming David Moss, Dustin Boyd and Adam Pardy continue to progress, they’re going to need raises to stick around. Let’s say the Flames get fortunate and sign Moss and Boyd for $1.5 mil each and Pardy for $1 million.

The leaves $6 million for 10 roster spots. Top prospect Mikael Backlund is scheduled to make $1.3 million in 2010-11 and if he plays on the top two lines, that’s a bargain.

That leaves $4.7 million for nine roster spots, which means nine grinders from the prospect list or farm team or free agent scrap heap working for the NHL minimum of $500,000.

It also means no room on the payroll to re-sign impending free agent support players Adrian Aucoin, Matthew Lombardi, Rene Bourque, Todd Bertuzzi, Wayne Primeau, Eric Nystrom and Brandon Prust.

That’s how the recession will hit the Flames in 2010-11.

This column also appears in the Calgary Metro newspaper.

Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to You can read his Top 10 list on Wednesdays and his blog each weekend.

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