(Winslow Townson / USA Today Sports)
If you’ve been reading along with Christian Tiberi’s prospect updates throughout this season, you’ve probably noticed that the 2016 Calgary Flames draft class is having a great collective season. One thought that’s natural to have when following the exploits of players like Dillon Dube, Matthew Phillips and Tyler Parsons is wondering when the Flames are going to sign them to entry-level deals.
Here at FlamesNation we think the past is a pretty solid predictor of the future, so we dug into the record books to come up with an educated guess for when the Flames plan on putting pen to paper.
Entry-Level Deals Under Treliving
Brad Treliving became Flames general manager in the spring of 2014. Since he’s taken the gig, the Flames have signed 16 players to entry-level contracts.
- Sam Bennett [July 25, 2014] 2014 first round pick; signed a few weeks after development camp, during which presumably contract talks began.
- Kenney Morrison [March 19, 2015] Undrafted college free agent; signed at the end of the NCAA season rather than go back for a senior year.
- Austin Carroll [March 25, 2015] 2014 seventh round pick; signed following the end of the WHL regular season, literally days before his junior team began their playoffs.
- Garnet Hathaway [April 13, 2015] Undrafted college free agent; signed at the end of the AHL season, he’d spent the year with the Adirondack Flames on an AHL contract.
- Jon Gillies [April 14, 2015] 2012 third round pick; signed following the end of the NCAA season rather than go back for a senior year.
- Jakub Nakladal [May 19, 2015] European free agent; signed at the end of the World Championships.
- Hunter Smith [July 2, 2015] 2014 second round pick; signed following free agency opening (and expiration of previous contracts).
- Mason McDonald [July 2, 2015] 2014 second round pick; see Smith.
- Oliver Kylington [July 15, 2015] 2015 second round pick; signed the week after development camp, following his selection in the CHL Import Draft and Flames’ negotiation for his transfer to North America.
- Rasmus Andersson [Sept. 14, 2015] 2015 second round pick; signed during training camp. He had to be signed before 2016 began in order for his deal to get two “slide” years.
- Nick Schneider [Sept. 23, 2015] Undrafted WHL free agent; had to be signed before the WHL season began or else he went back into the draft pool.
- Andrew Mangiapane [March 23, 2016] 2015 sixth round pick; signed following the end of the OHL regular season, literally days before his junior team began their playoffs.
- Mark Jankowski [March 30, 2016] 2012 first round pick; signed a couple weeks after the end of the NCAA season rather than opt for free agency.
- Daniel Pribyl [April 2016] European free agent; signed at the end of his team’s regular season (had surgery instead of going to the World Championships).
- David Rittich [June 2016] European free agent; signed at the of the World Championships.
- Matthew Tkachuk [July 2016] 2016 first round pick; signed during development camp.
The general trends?
College players sign basically as soon as the NCAA season is done (or shortly thereafter). High picks sign in July following development camp. Junior players sign either when their season ends or in July after the expiring contracts from the previous season disappear from the team’s 50-player reserve list and there are spots for them.
Players Potentially Signing
Right now, the Flames have 48 contracts on the books – though both Andersson and Kylington’s deals will probably slide – meaning that it’s fairly unlikely that they’ll sign too many players prior to the hockey calendar flipping over to 2017-18 on July 1 and a bunch of contracts coming off the books.
The most likely player to be signed before July 1 is 2014 third round pick Brandon Hickey. He finishes up his junior year with the Boston University Terriers in early April – depending on how far his team goes in the Frozen Four tournament – and it’s unclear how he would benefit from returning to college for a senior year. He’s already man-sized and has played in an NCAA Final and a World Juniors. With the Terriers likely bringing in even more hot-shot youngsters in their recruiting class, look for Hickey to pack up and join the Flames when his season’s done.
Other than him? While I do foresee the Flames inking goalie Tyler Parsons (2016 second) and forwards Dillon Dube (2016 second) and Matthew Phillips (2016 sixth) due to their superb performances this season, there doesn’t seem to be a huge rush and so they probably get signed in early July. I’d also expect the team to have a long look at Stepan Falkovsky, who’s been white-hot with the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder over the past few months. The team retains his rights for another year (as he was a 2016 seventh rounder), but his performance may have earned him an upgrade from this year’s AHL contract.
There’s an outside chance the Flames sign Eetu Tuulola, who’s been good (but not great) with Everett. The “but not great” may be why they err on the side of caution and wait until after next season to sign him. The Flames probably won’t sign college senior Tim Harrison (a 2013 pick), as his production hasn’t really been gigantic and they have minor pro forward depth right now, or OHLer Riley Bruce (a 2015 pick), who’s been hurt this season and otherwise underwhelming when healthy.
And since we’ll get asked: the Flames probably really really like NCAA star Adam Fox, their third rounder this past draft. But it’s probable that he’ll play at least another season in college before the team seriously considers turning him pro.