Calgary is on the brink, so this might be the final mailbag article of the 2014-15 season. Even if the Flames ultimately fall to the Ducks in the second round, it’s been one hell of a ride.
Where does the org go from here though? Most of this week’s questions are concerned with this topic. After the jump, we get into Bouma’s contract extension, what the Flames should prioritize this summer and whether they can use picks to plug some holes at the draft.
— Jamie D (@vowswithinhb) May 8, 2015
— Jamie D (@vowswithinhb) May 8, 2015
The ramifications of the Flames turn as Cinderella are not yet known. How the club’s overachievement effects the decision making of Brad Treviling this summer will go a long way to determining whether this was a good or bad thing for the team long-term. More or that in the off-season.
That said, I wouldn’t ever say this year was wasted chasing luck. The hockey gods looked on the Flames and smiled this year. The team carried on reasonably in the face of their fortune, I’d say: they didn’t buy at the deadline and they didn’t give half the roster to inflated extensions. So despite riding a good wave, the Flames still enter the upcoming draft with 6 picks in the top-90.
This season good also prove to be beneficial in some ways. Beyond re-igniting a fan base that had become all too used to disappointment, it also makes the Calgary market seem more attractive to potential additions in the near future. One of the big obstacles for rebuilding teams is the fact that free agents and players with No trade clauses tend to instruct their agents not to take your calls.
— Catherine Silverman (@CataCarryOn) May 8, 2015
— Scott MacMahon (@Scott_MacMahon) May 8, 2015
I’ll answer the second question first.
It’s too hard to make realistic predictions, so I’ll speak in ideals instead – I’m hoping the bottom pairing features one of Russell or Wideman next year, because that means the team has acquired at least one more legit top-4 option. That would leave Engelland to battle it out with the kids and whoever they re-sign out of Schelmko and Diaz.
Also, I would demote or trade Ladislav Smid. I think he’s reached the end of the runway.
As for Schlemko, I’ve liked what I’ve seen out of him given the fact he was a waiver wire pick-up. He has been carefully managed by Hartley as a Flame, but he’s been capable in those sheltered minutes. He’s not a guy I’d race to re-ink immediately, but would be a decent option if Calgary finds themselves in need of depth as the summer rolls along.
— Dave Camwell (@davecamwell) May 8, 2015
I think the fall of the enforcer has doomed Bollig more than the rise of the kids. That said, it will be a lot easier for the Flames to scratch their heavyweight if they think the kids can provide some functional toughness moving forward.
Of course, Bollig is still regularly appearing in the Flames line-up so Hartley might not be ready to move on just yet.
— Jeff (@nhlflamesfan) May 8, 2015
I’m hoping it’s the blueline, both at the NHL level and in terms of organizational depth. When you are forced to press Deryk Engelland into service as a top-4 option owing to a single injury, you’ve got real issues on the back-end. Calgary’s first pairing is one of the strongest in the NHL, but it’s a steep drop after that. Management’s goal should be to fill that gap if possible.
@Kent_Wilson what are the Bouma/Backlund contacts going to look like next year?
— Mack Laube (@TheLaube) May 8, 2015
We talked about Backlund’s extension in a previous mailbag. My contention was his comparables suggest a value between $3.5 and $4.5M per year. I figure he’ll settle somewhere in the middle over 5 years.
Bouma is a little tougher to peg. He had a huge, unexpected jump offensively this year which might goose his asking price, even though we can’t reasonably expect him to be 16 goal, 35 point guy every year.
A quick look at similar bottom-six bangers with some offense like Darren Helm, Tommy Wingels, Cal Clutterbuck and Derek Dorsett puts Bouma in the $2.5-3.0M territory. Discount that a bit because he’s still an RFA and maybe we can expect something between $2M-2.5M for the next few seasons?
— cdec17 (@cdec17) May 8, 2015
If they can grab a decent defensive option or maybe even another RWer, then for sure. I don’t know if a second rounder alone will be enough to firm up Calgary’s depth in either of those positions, but it could be part of a package deal, depending on what’s available at the time.
— Kaka (@depoisdacurva) May 8, 2015
Luckily Jonathan Willis recently put together a really good list of pending UFA defenders worth looking at over at OilersNation. From the list he has, I would prioritize Jeff Petry (who is having a great playoffs for the Habs), Cody Franson (an underrated even strength with a right handed shot) and Christian Ehrhoff, who was an outstanding two-way defender for the Sabres before his injury riddled off-season this year. Mike Green might also be an a player of interest for Calgary.
Up front, I would look at Michael Frolik , Carl Soderberg and Justin Williams. All three guys are capable possession players with some offense.