It’s the middle of July and for all intents and purposes the Flames‘ roster for 2016-17 is set. Brad Treliving has two major items on his to-do list left: re-sign Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Re-inking the kids is an inevitability, so that’s just a question of what the numbers end up being.
After that, it will be a minor tweak here and there. Likely, Treliving will opt to re-sign some of the club’s lingering RFAs and UFAs to fill in the depth. Unless he get scooped up by another team in the meantime, it Jakub Nakladal come back on one-year deal for instance.
So what is the roster going to look like? Let’s take a guess.
Best Guess Roster 2016-17
– Monahan and Gaudreau are re-signed for a combined $13M. It may come in a few hundred thousand more or less than that, but it strikes me as the realistic ballpark.
– Because he’s only 18 years old, I have Matthew Tkachuk going back to junior and Hunter Shinkaruk making the team in his stead. However, it’s entirely possible Tkachuk makes the team and skates on Bennett’s wing. The Flames should have the cap space to do either, so take your pick.
– Re-sign Jakub Nakladal for sub-$1M contract. His cup of coffee last year suggests he could potentially force Wideman down the depth chart where he belongs.
– Ladislav Smid goes to LTIR for the season. The Flames have enough cap space to make this work, thankfully. However, if Smid is healthy enough to play, that likely eliminates the Nakladal re-signing at the very least.
– I demoted Bollig to save $300k in cap room and to improve the bottom six. The era of the designated enforcer is over and the Flames have more than enough replacement level grinders who are willing and able to replace him.
– Brouwer joins the kids on the top line and Ferland joins Mikael and Michael on the hard minutes line. Sam Bennett’s unit would have to be fairly well protected at even strength, no matter which of Shinkaruk or Tkachuk gets the call on the LW.
– Linden Vey slides in on the right side now that Jooris has been signed by New York. Garnet Hathaway gets the tapped as the 13th forward, but it could also be guy a Freddie Hamilton. Even with the addition of Troy Brouwer, Calgary right side looks suspect heading into the season.
– I have T.J. Brodie dropping down to the second pairing to balance out the LW/RW balance on the backend. If the club is dedicated to keeping him with Giordano, however, they may have to look for a LH UFA defender to pair with Hamilton. My suggestion would be Barret Jackman on a one-year deal (he’s 35 and slowing down, but still a really good shot suppressor).
Again, that would be instead of Nakladal and only if Smid is LTIR. Otherwise the team may have to try Wotherspoon.
The AHL Roster
For those interested, here’s how the Stockton Heat roster may look, given the assumptions above:
- Hamilton – Jankowski – Pribyl
- Mangiapane – Pollock – Poirier
- Bollig – C – Carroll
- Klimchuk – C – Smith
- Wotherspoon – Morrison
- Kylington – Andersson
- Kulak – Culkin
– I assume Hamilton and Wotherspoon will be retained (they are the other two RFAs who were given qualifying offers by the Flames).
Given what they have right now, the Flames’ farm team is still lacking at least two players up front, so expect Treliving to ink a few more guys before the summer is over (even if it’s just to AHL deals).
The battle on the backend will be interesting. Defenders like Wotherspoon, Kulak and Culkin are moving into the “make or break” areas of their pro careers, where they have to prove they have some sort of future with the organization. They’ll be up against the highly touted Swedes Oliver Kylington and Rasmus Andersson, who are younger but considered higher end prospects. Keegan Kanzig will just be hoping for AHL ice time while Kenney Morrison is AHL filler.
I’m not sure who will backup Gillies, but I went with the guy with pro experience in Rittich. Mason McDonald gets pushed to the ECHL.
Unless something drastic happens, your 2016-17 Flames are likely to look something like this come October. Despite Treliving’s efforts the last couple of years, there are still some clear areas of weakness on this team – the depth on the wings is questionable and falls off precipitously on the RW. The LW will be stronger in the future, but this year will probably have to suffer through the growing pains of at least one of Shinkaruk or Tkachuk.
The bottom of the rotation on the backend is also still a mess. Dougie Hamilton was a massive addition and he firms up the second pairing to some degree, but the amount of expensive flotsam (Deryk Engelland, Dennis Wideman and Ladislav Smid) makes the bottom end cumbersome, slow and rapidly declining all at once. The team will automatically improve once all that bad money is off the books next year, even if they are all replaced by kids or cheap, middle-of-the-road free agents.
So what does your roster look like? Try the Cap Friendly Armchair GM (or just use a spreadsheet) and share in the comments.