The first wave of free agent signings are done. Depth signings and subsequent moves are probably coming up in the next few weeks as we inch closer and closer to the end of summer and the beginning of camps.
But for now, here’s where things stand for the Flames organizationally.
The Flames have three goalies under NHL contracts (Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller and Brad Thiessen). Joni Ortio is an RFA and most likely will be signed. It remains to be seen if Calgary signs another goalie to a pro deal in order to have a prospect play in Alaska or not. The “rotation” approach (AHL back-up goes to ECHL to get playing time, then switches with ECHL starter) appeared to work well last year.
Ramo and Hiller will be the NHL tandem. No controversy here.
The Flames have a dozen players under valid NHL contracts: Dennis Wideman, Mark Giordano, Ladislav Smid, Deryk Engelland, Kris Russell, T.J. Brodie, Tyler Wotherspoon, Patrick Sieloff, John Ramage, Sena Acolatse, Brett Kulak and Ryan Culkin. Keegan Kanzig has a contract but it’ll slide unless he plays 10 NHL games, which is unlikely. Mark Cundari is an RFA and will likely sign. Chad Billins is a qualified RFA, but he signed a KHL deal, so his qualification was to retain his rights.
The Flames probably have some minor league moves to make, as their projected AHL blueline is incredibly young and relatively inexperienced. We may see a move or two on the NHL level as well, depending on who gets injured and how cap situations look in the fall. The big question here is if Wotherspoon jumps back in right away or spends time in Adirondack before any NHL call-up. If it’s felt he’s not ready, they may make a move to hedge their bets a bit.
The Flames have 22 forwards under active NHL deals: Jiri Hudler, David Jones, Corban Knight, Mason Raymond, Matt Stajan, Curtis Glencross, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Sven Baertschi, Bryce van Brabant, Brandon Bollig, Josh Jooris, Markus Granlund, Bill Arnold, Kenny Agostino, David Wolf, Max Reinhart, Michael Ferland, Brian McGrattan, Paul Byron and Turner Elson. (Whew.) Emile Poirier & Morgan Klimchuk have sliding deals unless they play 10 NHL games. Joe Colborne is an RFA going to salary arbitration. Lance Bouma is a “regular” RFA who will likely sign. Mathieu Tousignant and Garnet Hathaway have AHL deals.
The Flames forward group has a lot of depth, which is to say at the NHL level there are productive bodies but beyond Backlund nobody who can drive possession (and at the AHL level, guys that can challenge for NHL depth spots). I’d expect some movement here, if only to provide the team with some flexibility. As it stands there are likely 11 guys on one-way deals (including the RFAs) and then Monahan, so there’s not a lot of spots for newcomers. At the AHL level, like with defenders it’s a really young group. At worst, they’ll make moves to bring in AHL vets to tutor the kids.
Calgary has 37 players under active contracts, 3 sliding contracts, 4 RFAs that will probably sign, and Chad Billins (who’s an RFA who won’t sign due to KHL defection).
That’s a lot of flexibility, both contract and cap-wise. I still expect a bunch of depth moves, as it’s unlikely the team has (or is willing to part with) assets to land a big fish in the trade market. But as we get closer to October, players will get injured and teams will get into further cap trouble.