The 2019 NHL Draft is looming and teams are trying to square off their unfinished business from prior drafts. The Calgary Flames have until June 1 to sign 2017 picks Zach Fischer and D’Artagnan Joly. Based on the team’s patterns of behaviour, it doesn’t seem likely that either player will be signed.
The Flames’ history with signing their own picks is arguably the best indicator of how general manager Brad Treliving and his staff tend to operate in this area.
They don’t sign everyone
Adam Ollas Mattsson
Before we dig in, a quick note: players marked with a single asterisk the Flames still hold the rights to – they’re mostly Europeans and college players – while those marked with two were traded.
The Flames have gotten a bit better at drafting in recent years, which has manifest in them being a bit choosy in who they decide to sign to entry level contracts. They’re much more willing to use AHL contracts to try out players than they were in the past rather than just throw NHL contracts at players that might not be ready for them.
They don’t tend to wait until the last minute
If you look at precisely when during the year the Flames sign their picks to entry level deals, they very rarely wait until the last possible minute. Under Treliving, the Flames have signed 17 draft picks to contracts.
The players and the timing of their signings fit neatly into categories:
- Early picks they were excited about and signed right away [July signings]: Sam Bennett (2014), Oliver Kylington (2015), Matthew Tkachuk (2016), Juuso Valimaki (2017)
- College players they signed as soon as they left school [March/April signings]: Jon Gillies (2012), Mark Jankowski (2012)
- Later picks they liked and waited until their “draft-plus-one” seasons were over before signing [March/April signings]: Austin Carroll (2014), Andrew Mangiapane (2015), Tyler Parsons (2016), Dillon Dube (2016), Dmitry Zavgorodniy (2018), Adam Ruzicka (2018), Martin Pospisil (2018)
- Players that signed at weird times for CBA reasons [various]: Hunter Smith (2014), Mason McDonald (2014), Rasmus Andersson (2015), Matthew Phillips (2017)
Both Fischer and Joly would fit into the third category, but three specific factors make it likely that they won’t be signed:
First, their seasons have been over for awhile – Fischer was done in early April and Joly a few weeks later – and we haven’t heard a peep. If they were both in the typical situation where the Flames merely wanted to wait until their games were done before inking them, it would’ve been done by now. (As a side note, Milos Roman’s “draft-plus-one” season just ended, so it would make sense for the Flames and his camp to start chatting more seriously about an ELC given his strong finish to the WHL playoffs. They have until June 1, 2020 to sign him.)
Second, and more awkwardly, the Flames signed Joly’s Rimouski teammate Zavgorodniy many weeks ago. The natural thing to do, if they were going to sign both players, would be releasing a press release announcing both deals. Announcing only Zavgorodniy makes it seem like that’s all they’re going to do.
Third, Fischer’s been on an AHL contract all season but played almost the entire campaign in the ECHL. As noted above, the Flames have been pretty diligent at using AHL contracts to test players out – Garnet Hathaway and Ryan Lomberg were originally on minor league deals but impressed – but they tend not to convert AHL deals to big league contracts if the player in question spent the entire year in the ECHL. Remember Stepan Falkovsky? He had an AHL contract in his “draft-plus-one” year (2016-17) but spent the entire time with the Adirondack Thunder, so he wasn’t offered an NHL contract and became a free agent. Fischer’s situation seems very similar, though he has much less impressive ECHL numbers than Falkovsky did.
Sum it up
Long story short, the Flames have been choosy in the past with which picks they sign. All the stars are aligning in a manner that suggests that they’re going to move on from Fischer and Joly.