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Flames winger Niklas Hagman clears waivers, is Calgary ready to make a move?

Feb 22, 2011, 12:24 PM EDT

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While it’s highly doubtful that this confirms some rather random Vincent Lecavalier trade talk, Bob McKenzie reports that Calgary Flames forward Niklas Hagman cleared waivers today.

Hagman’s full annual cap hit is $3 million, although the Flames’ savings will be prorated at this point. Again, it’s hard to believe that Calgary could manage a move on the Lecavalier level, but it certainly opens the door for a more reasonable swap.

Arik James of Matchsticks & Gasoline backs up the reflexive notion that Hagman was placed on waivers for salary cap flexibility, pointing out that the move would be pointless outside of that context since the team wouldn’t be likely to improve itself with a call-up.

As of right now the Calgary Flames can afford a $4.58M cap hit at the trade deadline (all salary numbers, of course, from Capgeek). That’s certainly not awful, and could lend itself to taking on salary or picking up a solid player. But say Jay Feaster wants to make a couple moves. Say he gets plenty of offers thrown at him and decides to take more than a couple (for better or worse)–we really don’t have the cap space for that. Or maybe he wants to target a super star–first, there’s the hope that Hagman’s salary is just gone straight up: someone claims him.

Here lies the problem however: if the Flames were to send Niklas Hagman down to the Heat immediately upon clearing waivers and the potential trade or trades fell through–they’d need him back, putting him on re-entry waivers.

This leaves the Flames with the very high risk of Hagman getting picked up at $1.5M per for the rest of this season and all of the next. And that’s rough–paying for a player who is no longer on your roster in any way, shape or form in both salary and cap space.

So what will the Flames do? The solution is actually quite elegant: place Niklas Hagman on waivers now, but don’t reassign him until the cap space is absolutely needed. The reassignment period lasts for a total of 30 days or 10 games, whichever comes first, enabling Jay Feaster to wait to reassign Hagman until the capspace is absolutely necessary.

With that, we’ll just have to wait and see what kind of moves Feaster makes with that extra cap space.

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