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WWYD Wednesday – Sign a depth forward or depth defender?

Brad Treliving has already had a busy offseason. He traded for Mike Smith and Travis Hamonic and then signed college UFA Spencer Foo. He still has a collection of RFAs to ink to boot, including Sam Bennett and Micheal Ferland.

After that, all that’s left is to fill in the margins. Calgary still has question marks on the wing up front and on the third pairing on the blueline. With the potential exit of Kris Versteeg and Alex Chiasson, it would mean finding someone (or someones) to play on Sam Bennett’s wing. As for the backend, the exit of Ladislav Smid, Deryk Engelland, and Dennis Wideman means Calgary has at least two openings behind the established top four guys.

So should the team depend on youth to fill the roster gaps? If not, who would you prioritize Treliving sign in July?

Let’s start with what Calgary is capable of in free agency. As Ryan Pike established in his recent article, Calgary will probably have less than $12M in cap space to sign two forwards, two defenders, and a backup goalie. That comes out to an average of about $2.32M per player.

So they have some dollars to play with, but not a whole lot. That means the Flames can commit to a single $3-4M guy if they go cheap elsewhere. The question is, should that guy be a winger or defender?

Depth forwards

Kris Versteeg, RW/LW

One of the frontrunners has to be Kris Versteeg, who was able to reinvigorate his stock around the league with a quality season in Calgary. The Flames and a number of other teams have reportedly been in contact with Versteeg, so there might be a bit more of a bidding war for his services this time around.

As a result, his ask might jump up into the $3M per year range, which could still be reasonable for a player of Versteeg’s caliber.

Justin Williams, RW

Yes, he’s over 35, but Justin William continues to put up above average numbers in almost all areas of the game. He’s likely not a guy you’d want to go more than two years with given his age and the associated risk, but he could be a quality stopgap on the right side who could play up and down the lineup.

Expect Williams to come in between $3-4M.

Patrick Sharp, LW/RW

He was an impact player for a long time, but there’s evidence Partrick Sharp is starting to feel the effects of age. He only managed eight goals and 18 points in an injury-plagued 48 games last year with Dallas.

Part of that dip may have been age and injury related, but another part was a career low personal shooting percentage of just 5.5%. That’s almost half of his career average of 10.8%, so the player may be in line for a rebound if he can stay healthy. Sharp still managed to fire 148 shots on net last year (over three per game), suggesting there might be some gas left in the tank.

Sharp is coming off a contract that paid him nearly $6M annually, but after such a severe dip at 35 years old, he can likely be had for half of that this summer.

Jarome Iginla, RW

Just kidding. [ed. Booooooo.]

Depth defenders

Cody Franson, RD

We’ve mentioned him forever, so no need to go over the thinking behind Cody Franson again. He routinely puts up above average possession stats every year and would be a comfortable fit alongside a rookie like Brett Kulak on the Flames’ third pairing. The good news with Franson is he can also slide up the depth chart in case of injury.

Franson made $3.325M per year on his last deal and will likely be looking for something in the same ballpark again.

Michael Del Zotto, LD

Del Zotto is the youngest player on these respective lists at 27. Two years ago he managed 10 goals and 32 points for the Flyers, but hasn’t managed to crack 20 points since (albeit due to injuries and limited PP ice time).

Del Zotto is the inverse Franson: he puts up good ES points, but is much worse at driving shot differentials:

That said, being able to score isn’t the worse thing you can find in a third pairing guy.

Of course, Del Zotto is also left-handed, which sort of contradicts what the Flames need in a depth guy given both Kulak and Matt Bartkowski are also lefties. He should come in south of $3M per year.

Michael Stone, RD

Word is that the Flames and Stone are far apart in contract talks so the player is likely to try his luck in free agency. That said, if he fails to find a better deal elsewhere he might come back to the table later in the summer.

Stone had a lousy, injury troubled season last year though he looked a lot more comfortable in Calgary than in Arizona. He’s a big guy with a heavy shot and can probably face third and fourth line forwards without too much worry if left in a third pairing role.