The last big contractual deadline of the 2014-15 season has hit in the form of qualifying offers for pending restricted free agents. The Calgary Flames announced their qualifying offers this afternoon via a press release, with a dozen players being qualified and three becoming free agents by not receiving an offer.
The team has sent offers to forwards Josh Jooris, Drew Shore, Lance Bouma, Micheal Ferland, Paul Byron, Bryce van Brabant, Bill Arnold, David Wolf, Kenny Agostino, Max Reinhart and Turner Elson, as well as defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Not qualified were forward Ben Hanowski and defenders John Ramage and Sena Acolatse.
Of the players being retained, probably Van Brabant, Wolf and Reinhart are the biggest surprises. However, Van Brabant and Wolf are big (and big equals good), while Reinhart is still a player with skills and smarts. He got surpassed by several prospects this season, but he’s still a valuable commodity and could get back into the mix with a good camp. Turner Elson is also a bit surprising, and probably a reward for him being a solider for two seasons in the developmental system, working his way up from the ECHL’s Alaska Aces two seasons ago into an energy and leadership role with the Baby Flames this year.
The trio being cut loose all have something in common: arbitration rights. There’s a chance that, like they did with Paul Byron last summer, the Flames will continue negotiations without the threat of arbitration looming. But it’s not like any of the three players not retained have much leverage if it went that way.
While Ramage saw a brief glimpse of the NHL in Game 82 against Winnipeg, there’s questions about his upside given his age. Both Ramage and Acolatse are right-handed shots; with the Flames adding Kenney Morrison and Jakub Nakladal in recent months, likely they’re victims of the numbers game here. Injuries also restricted Acolatse to just 38 games for Adirondack last year, which may have been a factor. Ben Hanowski, one of three pieces the Flames acquired for Jarome Iginla, has never really embraced the physical role he’ll have to play to get to the NHL, nor was his skating really to the level it’d need to be. By all accounts, though, he was a model citizen for the Baby Flames in Adirondack, so maybe he gets retained on an AHL deal and given a role in Stockton. All three players will become unrestricted free agents when the market opens on July 1.
The moves reduce the Flames list of contracted players to 43 (31 active contracts and 12 restricted free agents), as of July 1.