So that’s all she wrote. The Flames ended the 2015-16 season better than they began it, but the team’s decision makers will be on the hunt for some answers this offseason nevertheless.
Despite the disappointing year, the org has some nice things to build on, from the Gaudreau and Monahan duo to the dynamic backend featuring Giordano, Brodie and Hamilton. The club’s holes are still significant, but obvious – the way forward includes a legitimate starting goaltender, at least one more top-6 winger and (maybe) a new coach.
Even under ideal circumstances, the Flames may face at least one more year of desert wandering thanks to the restrictive cap situation Brad Treliving finds himself in. After next year, things open up significantly with the end of a lot of undesirable contracts (Mason Raymond, Brandon Bollig, Ladislav Smid, Deryk Engelland, Denni Wideman). So while the goal this summer will be to take another step forward, the Flames executive team may be forced to institute a holding pattern for 2017-18, when they will have legitimate budget flexibility.
— Colin (@DragonsDeck) April 8, 2016
It will depend on what Colborne asks for as an RFA as well as what the club’s cap situation looks like this summer. If Colborne is looking for $3M+ and the kids get $13M+ with their new deals, it may become a challenge to fit him under the cap. If so, the club may need to investigate trade options. Perhaps for a goalie? Looking at you Anaheim and Tampa Bay…
Just got a new Flames jersey for my bday. No name/number yet. Who should I put on the back? https://t.co/ZasIAZBOze
— Rob Huck (@BumfOnline) April 8, 2016
Jankowski, obviously. I assume he’ll wear 25 when he makes the team and becomes the #1 C next year.
— Christobelle (@DemetricSystem) April 8, 2016
Like the question of Joe Colborne, the Flames’ involvement in the UFA market will depend heavily on their cap situation. There’s a chance the Flames won’t have the flexibility to make any real moves in July, meaning they’ll be limited to periphery moves.
That said, if Calgary can’t get a net minder via trade, they are going to be forced to find one via free agency. The best options currently are James Reimer, Antti Raanta and Jhonas Enroth.
In the event the Flames do somehow have money to spend on skaters, the primary consideration is going to be top six wingers, particularly on the right side if possible. Guys to consider include Loui Eriksson, Kyle Okposo, Milan Lucic, Teddy Purcell, David Perron, PA Parenteau and Troy Brouwer.
— Leah (@leahflame) April 8, 2016
Of course! The Canucks are an absolute mess from top to bottom. Their organization is where the Flames were a few years ago – being pitched head first into a rebuild after years of battling the inevitable. The Sedins will hang around and regress such that they won’t be worth much via trade, but the team will have no one to which they can pass the torch.
More worrying for Canucks fans is the fact that their executive team, from Linden to Benning, sounds like some of the most clueless decision makers in the league, with the possible exception of the Roy and Sakic in Colorado. In most recent soundbites and interviews I’ve heard involving Benning and company I’ve come away with the strong impression they don’t even know what questions they should be asking, let alone what the potential answers might be.
— Earnest P Willygonk (@buckgnarly) April 8, 2016
There might be a lot of quality bench bosses available this summer. There’s already the prevailing assumption that Claude Julien won’t survive the Bruins’ disappointing season. In addition, there’s a chance that one of (or both) Dave Tippett and Ken Hitchcock will be looking for work in the off-season.
All three guys have long histories of driving above average possession from their rosters. Or, in Tippett’s case recently, better than could be expected given the talent available.
That said, I don’t expect Hartley to get the axe right away. My sense is Treliving will give him another shot to get the club over the hump before moving on.
— JT (@JT_FlamesFan_17) April 8, 2016
This question is partially answered above, but this gives me a chance to expand. I think Hartley’s leash will definitely be shorter than it ever has been during the Treliving era. For example, if the Flames open next season like they did this one, Hartley won’t make it past November, 2016. The organization is moving a cheap roster with lots of kids and lowered expectations. If there’s no clear indications of a viable step forward almost immediately in 2016-17, Hartley is gone.
— JT (@JT_FlamesFan_17) April 8, 2016
In terms of Wideman and Stajan, I don’t think a 2nd rounder will be enticing enough for another team to eat those deals. Maybe if the Flames also retain some salary? As for Bouma, there’s a chance the Flames could find a buyer for his deal without having to sweeten the pot. His money isn’t outrageous ($2.2M for two more years), he’s young (26) and has the sort of scouting report a lot of old school guys still love (big, hits, blocks shots, etc.). His down year can be plausibly laid at the feet of injury as well.
If there’s an appetite to move Bouma this summer, I think the club will find a willing partner.
— Cameron Hilton (@cameron_hilton) April 8, 2016
We can’t really speculate on this without having seen the draft lottery. That said, moving up in the first round can be pretty difficult, especially if we’re talking inside the top 10. I doubt the club has the assets to do something like that.
As for moving into the bottom-end of the first round, that’s more doable. A guy I would personally target in the 20-30 range is Alex Debrincat of the Erie Otters. He’s tiny at 5’7″ and 160 pounds, but he’s put together back-to-back 100+ point seasons in the OHL, which is incredibly impressive (the only guys to outscore Debrincat on his team both years were Dylan Strome and Connor McDavid).
— JT (@JT_FlamesFan_17) April 8, 2016
Going into who to pick in the top-10 is a bit outside the purview of this particular column, so we’ll go with the second half of the question for now (watch for in-depth previews of Flames targets once we get closer to the draft).
It’s possible the Flames’ first rounder will be in play if they drop down below fifth overall, but the return would have to be awfully impressive to make it worth their while. I’m not sure what that could be – an established, top quality goaltender, maybe? (See: Cory Schneider to the Devils.)
— Jared Jones (@jones2emit0) April 8, 2016
— James Foster (@YKJFosterYYC) April 8, 2016
I’ve liked Shinkaruk so far, but we can’t really say for certain if he’ll even be on the team next year, let alone a top six forward. It’s possible he’ll get a chance if the Flames have to go the cheap route, but right now he can only be considered a plan B on that front at best. Not because he’s a bad prospect, but because pinning those sorts of hopes on a 22-year-old with handful of NHL games is a bad gamble.
— James (@eastonclintwood) April 8, 2016
Absolutely. Grant’s season in the AHL was so dominant that it would be hard not to bring him back, at least on a two-way deal. At worst, he’ll be a leader for the farm team and a capable injury recall option.
— Corsi Jones (@vowswithinhb) April 8, 2016
This depends very heavily on who the new goalie is, who they pick and who the new coach is. Assuming they get the best possible option for all three, then sure.
— MattyFranchise (@breakerNHLSC2) April 10, 2016
Hard to say. MacKinnon’s best season was his rookie year from a scoring perspective and the Avs are known for playing hardball with their players. In addition, management doesn’t seem terribly enamoured with any of their players right now given their disappointing season.
That said, the Flames also have reason to try to ratchet down Monahan’s salary, at least for this season given their cap problems.
In the end, both guys should get contracts that are very similar, but we’ll see how each organization handles their negotiations this summer.