Over the past month your Calgary Flames have made a lot of moves. Gone are Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester and Blake Comeau. Acquired in their place were a lot of future assets – Ben Hanowski, Kenny Agostino, Reto Berra, Mark Cundari, two first round draft picks and a fifth round pick, all in this year’s draft
In addition, the Flames have signed a ton of guys. In the past month, the club has come to terms with Tyler Wotherspoon, Laurent Brossoit, Hanowski, Berra, John Ramage, Markus Granlund and Joey MacDonald.
So with those moves done, where do they stand going forward?
As of today, the Flames have 30 players under contract for 2013-14, including Miikka Kiprusoff, who is widely believed to be retiring at the end of this season. If he does take a powder, his contract comes off the books. Either way, presume the Flames will sign or otherwise acquire around another 15 bodies or so.
In goal, the Flames have five men under contract: Kipper, the recently signed Joey MacDonald, Reto Berra, Joni Ortio and Laurent Brossoit. Ortio may stay in Finland, Berra is confirmed as coming to North America (as per Jay Feaster’s recent appearance on The Fan 960) and Brossoit is expected to turn pro. Once restricted free agent Karri Ramo signs, I would guess the team has its four North American netminders locked down – Ramo, MacDonald, Berra and Brossoit. Danny Taylor and Leland Irving are slated to become Group VI unrestricted free agents.
On the blueline, things are much less clear. Signed for 2013-14 right now are seven players: Dennis Wideman, Mark Giordano, Cory Sarich and Derek Smith, and minor-leaguers Wotherspoon, Ramage and James Martin. Five defenders are RFAs: Chris Butler, T.J. Brodie, Chris Breen, Brady Lamb and Mark Cundari. Brett Carson and Anton Babchuk will become UFAs on July 5. I’d wager that Brodie, Breen and Cundari will definitely be retained, but outside of them, who knows.
Up-front, there are 18 guys with NHL contracts. They are Mike Cammalleri, Jiri Hudler, Alex Tanguay, Matt Stajan, Curtis Glencross, Lee Stempniak, Ben Hanowski, Max Renhart, Roman Horak, Tim Jackman, Ryan Howse, Michael Ferland, Markus Granlund, Blair Jones, Ben Street, Turner Elson and David Eddy.
That’s not a bad group to start with.
Mikael Backlund headlines an RFA class that also includes Lance Bouma, Paul Byron, Carter Bancks, Akim Aliu, Greg Nemisz, Bryan Cameron and Gaelan Patterson. Unrestricted free agents include Roman Cervenka, Brian McGrattan, Steve Begin, Ben Walter, Krys Kolanos and Mike Testwuide. Backlund will definitely be back. I’d also expect that Bouma will be retained, while one (or both) of Begin and McGrattan may stick around. Beyond that, there will be a lot of turnover in the forward ranks. Former first rounder Greg Nemisz didn’t attend training camp and has been recalled during dead time as the team experiments with various players. He likely won’t be back. Roman Cervenka, as discussed, is a good bet to leave as well.
For what it’s worth, after my predicted re-signing of Brodie, Breen, Cundari, Backlund, Bouma and Begin/McGrattan, that leaves the club at 35 players signed for 2013-14 and with a lot of wiggle and cap room.
In the 2011 draft, the Flames went to the podium five times and chose (in order) Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Tyler Wotherspoon, Johnny Gaudreau and Laurent Brossoit. The team seems quite satisfied with that group.
In the 2013 draft, the Flames presently have nine draft picks in their back pocket. That includes three first round selections – their own, Pittsburgh’s and St. Louis’ – their own third and fourth rounders, Columbus’ fifth rounder, their own sixth rounder and two seventh rounders (their own and Ottawa’s).
What the Flames do with their nine picks probably depends on where they finish and what their scouts say. In his visit with Pat Steinberg and Ryan Leslie on The Fan 960 this week, Feaster mentioned that the scouting staff feels there are four elite prospects – which probably means Seth Jones, Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon and one other guy (Barkov, LIndholm?). If Calgary’s scouts feel like there’s a huge, huge drop-off after the top four and the rest of the draft, I’d expect them to try to move up. And it may not be horribly difficult to move up with three first rounders.
But heck, if they figure that the first round is deep beyond the top four, they may just say “to heck with it,” and make the most of their three choices in the top 30.
A LOOK AHEAD
Calgary’s season ends on Friday night in Chicago. Green Garbage Bag Day is likely Sunday, featuring exit meetings and exit medicals. The next day, Monday, is the NHL’s Draft Lottery drawing, where the draft order for the first 14 picks is determined.
The NHL Draft is Sunday, June 30, beginning at 1pm MT and running until all seven rounds are done and the life-force is sapped from all involved. Free agency season begins on Friday, July 5.
But first, the Flames have three games left to play in the current season.