The Flames freed up a little over a mil in cap space on the whole. They didn't dump as much as you're saying but it gives them flexibility to add some offense if they want. Who that would be is another question but I just don't see it being Kovalchuk.
The thing is, one of the best options for getting Kovalchuk right now, was Phaneuf. If Calgary is going to attempt to sign Kovalchuk during the summer...they'll be one of a few and I doubt Calgary will be on top of his go-to list.
Well, for this season at least Calgary didn't free up any space.
Now, what can Calgary trade to Atlanta for Kovalchuk? And if they do acquire him or look to sign him in the off-season, why does Kovy sign with Calgary? Nice thought, but I can't really see it working out.
Well the Flames will have to make some sort of trade shortly. Right now we have 16 forwards. Backlund might get sent down but he has been playing very well with Boyd and Iggy. None of the forwards injured are expected to miss significant time.
The Flames have nothing to offer for Atlanta to trade Kovalchuk. What two young roster players do the Flames have that can help the Thrashers now? They are also bare of any high-end prospects.
As the trade deadline approaches, Atlanta slowly loses any leverage for a fair and even deal given that Kovalchuk won't be back next season. They have to get something for him in return. The closer it gets to the trade deadline, the less Waddell will get in return for Kovalchuk.