News and notes from Flames garbage bag day

We’re in day two of the Flames’ season being over, and with that, off-season activities are well underway. While there are still a ton of things Brad Treliving needs to do – re-sign his restricted free agents, sign an actual goalie or two, prepare for the draft, get ready for the World Championships – first things first: exit interviews and garbage bag day.

Who’s injured? Who’s going to Worlds? Who’s coming back, who’s not? All that after the jump.

Who’s going to Worlds?

Let’s start this off with actual hockey. While the Flames’ season is over, hockey season for the players doesn’t have to be. With the World Championships around the corner, several Flames were invited, and… almost none of them are going, apparently.

Jakub Nakladal and Michael Frolik turned down invitations from the Czech Republic, citing injuries (an ankle for Nakladal, the groin for Frolik). Both players missed the Flames’ regular season finale, so this isn’t entirely unexpected. 

Jyrki Jokipakka was invited to play for Finland, but a hip injury is keeping him out.

Meanwhile, the Flames’ trio of stellar Canadian defencemen – Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, and Dougie Hamilton – have all declined invitations. It doesn’t sound like Giordano has officially declined, but he’s “leaning towards” it:

Truly, Giordano is history’s greatest monster.

Brodie, meanwhile, said he wasn’t at 100%, and I can only assume the same is the case for Hamilton, who didn’t list any specific ailments in turning down the offer.

Does this mean anything for the three players’ chances of going to the World Cup? Maybe – but also maybe not. A fully healthy Brodie would definitely be a boon to Canada’s blueline, while Hamilton’s presence on the U-23 team would no doubt help. (Also, it’s hard to imagine a case in which Hamilton not playing for Team Canada would impact his chances of getting to represent the great nation of North Americans 23 Years Old and Younger.)

Sean Monahan won’t be representing Team Canada, either.

Johnny Gaudreau may or may not go to the World Championships. There’s a big obstacle in his way, though: he doesn’t have a contract. Sure, he’ll no doubt be getting a rather big one probably sometime soon, but there’s no point in risking injury if he doesn’t have a backup plan in the form of a contract already signed. Besides, he’s already going to the World Cup, and that’s going to provide a lot of hockey already over the summer – a summer in which he’s once again going back to Boston College in order to finish up his degree.

So, who is going to Worlds?

In a plot twist, the one apparently healthy player the Flames have: Mikael Backlund. He just had the best (and most healthy) season of his career, so it’s hardly surprising to see him go represent Team Sweden. 

Backlund last joined Sweden for the Worlds in 2014, where he scored eight points in 10 games and wore an ‘A’ as his country won the bronze. Hopefully this helps get him on Sweden’s World Cup roster, too, while we’re at it.

Who’s coming back?

The Flames don’t really have many players in the form of unrestricted free agents. There’s Jonas Hiller, who we know will not be returning to the Flames for the 2016-17. His time in Calgary is done.

Niklas Backstrom, meanwhile, would like to keep playing in the NHL – but even he knows that might not be possible.

For a team that needs to look towards the future of its goaltending as soon as possible, Backstrom may not be an option for the Flames going forward.

So what about their starter for most of the year, Karri Ramo? He’s open to returning, but it all depends on what direction management is going to go in, as well as what’s best for him. His season was prematurely ended by a torn ACL and meniscus damage, however, and he won’t be skating until the last week of June, but expects to be practicing once again by August. 

Jakub Nakladal, meanwhile, wants to be back for sure, and there’s no doubt he would be great to have back on the bottom pairing.

Derek Grant would like to return as well, but there needs to be opportunity for him. Grant as the team’s fourth line centre could be entirely doable – but Matt Stajan’s rather large contract could be in the way of that happening.

As for the Flames’ restricted free agents, Joni Ortio would like to come back. It would make sense, too – he’s probably earned a spot at least as Calgary’s backup goaltender, and would be a cheap option to retain.

It makes sense contract talks haven’t really begun yet (nor have they for Joe Colborne, who mentioned he’d rather get them over with sooner rather than later), because the Flames have much bigger RFA priorities at hand: Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, whose future cap hits are going to go a long way towards the Flames determining what they’ll be able to do this off-season.

  • jakethesnail

    I wouldn’t want Gio and TJ playing in this springs World Championships AND the World Cup.

    We need them both to start healthy next season. So if it means hurting their chances to play in the World Cup so be it. It would be nice to watch them play, but this team comes first in my books.

  • Stu Cazz

    Find room for Grant…a kid with his size, speed and strong on faceoffs is a no brainer. Suggest Stajan move to the LW for next year only and buyout the final year of his contract….

          • The Fall

            Honestly, I’m not a cap crusader. If I had to put a value on his play — it wasn’t even worth entry level money. Stajan’s play this year was just frustrating and sub standard. I assume he brings some depth to the locker room, but that’s out of my depth.

            And two more years is insane. A lot of these slightly older, vets are getting left behind. We all remember Glencross going from legit NHL ‘rental depth’ to tryout, to retired in a very short span.

            Listening to the Canucks exit interviews today, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Burrows as a walk-on tryout next year some where else. I think Stajan is worse.