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FlamesNation mailbag: arbitration, trades, and Dube

With our favourite postman Christian Tiberi out of commission with a cold [Editor’s Note: the term we like to use is “day to day with flu-like symptoms”], I’m taking over mailbag duties for this week. The off-season is a fairly uneventful time, but with arbitration hearings around the corner, things could get interesting pretty soon.

David Rittich will not get paid more than Jordan Binnington. Binnington may have only played 33 games last season, but he led the league in GAA, was fourth in SV% out of goalies with 30+ games, and, oh yeah, led his team to the Stanley Cup as a rookie. He finished second in Calder voting, fifth in Vezina voting, and 10th in Hart voting. He definitely has a more impressive resume than Rittich.

With his cap hit at a $4.4M and Cam Talbot’s at $2.75M, Rittich is sure to come in somewhere in between. He probably tends closer to Talbot’s number than Binnington’s though, somewhere around the $3M range. Both Ryan Pike and Pat Steinberg have talked about what players are the closest comparables for Rittich and how much his next contract should be, and I tend to agree with their assessment.

His camp will probably insist on getting a little bit more than Talbot did, especially with Brad Treliving going out of his way to say that Rittich will be the #1 next season. A good bet would be somewhere between $2.75M and $3.25M. Rittich did file for arbitration, and his hearing is on July 29th. Treliving rarely lets contract negotiations reach the arbitration stage, so expect Rittich to be signed within the next couple weeks.

Once Rittich signs, the Flames will have their NHL tandem locked up. Outside of the NHL though, the Flames have Jon Gillies, Artyom Zagidulin, Tyler Parsons, and Nick Schneider vying for time in the crease either for Stockton in the AHL or Kansas City in the ECHL. It sure looks like there’s one too many netminders on the list. Don’t confuse goalie depth with having a lot of goalies. Every single goalie in the Flames’ system is unproven and it’s hard to really predict how they’ll be at the NHL level. Still, there are a few promising names coming up.

Stockton’s crease will almost surely be tended by a tandem of Parsons and Zagidulin. Parsons has struggled with both mental and physical health since he was drafted by the Flames, and last season was no exception. At the start of Development Camp at the beginning of July, Parsons said he felt better than he has his whole life, and was looking to finally bring his A-game. He’s still a high ceiling prospect for Flames, and deserves to at least start the season in the AHL.

Probably playing next to him in Stockton is Zagidulin. The Flames probably didn’t want to bring over a goalie from Russia to have him playing third string duties in the ECHL. Zagidulin is also one of the more high-ceiling goalie prospects in the system; he posted a 1.96 GAA and .924 SV% in 25 games for Metallurg Magnitigorsk in the KHL last season. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Zagidulin has surpassed Parsons. Parsons is still the top goalie prospect in the organization, but Zagidulin could be a nice surprise.

Schneider was always going to start the season in the ECHL, and that’s fine. He’s a bit of an odd prospect in that his numbers in the AHL were much better than in the ECHL last season. It’s tough to tell just what Schneider is right now, and another year in the ECHL could do him well.

Gillies is clearly the odd man out here. He was supposed to be one of the organization’s best goalie prospects, but has really struggled in the AHL. At this point, there are three options for him. The first option is that he simply starts the year in the ECHL, hopefully dominates the league, and forces the Flames to bring him up to the AHL. It’s definitely a step back in his development, but it might be necessary at this point. The second option is he gets loaned to another AHL club and plays for them instead. The third option is a trade. Gillies might just have fallen far enough to prompt a trade to a new team that has more room for him. I don’t think the Flames necessarily want to give up on him yet, but I don’t think they’d hesitate to throw him into a trade if another team asked.

Gillies is in a bit of a tough spot, and the only way out is to play lights out next season. Hopefully he can return to form.

Speaking of returning to form, let’s talk about James Neal. His 2018-19 season was a disaster. He was slow, barely scored, and looked like he didn’t care half the time. That’s not good, and the Flames probably had a long chat with him after the end of the season. He’s a prime candidate to be in the Best Shape of His Life (TM) to start next season, but he’ll need to do a whole lot more than just cardio to jump back into a top-six role. Being past the 30 year old mark, his best years are probably behind him, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful middle-six player for the Flames going forward.

It was tough to see Neal fail to answer the bell so many times last year, but it’s important to contextualize his struggles. Neal is a volume shooter who averages over three shots per game over his career, and converts on 11.6% of those shots. Last season, he averaged just 2.2 shots per game and converted on only 5%. Even considering natural aging curves, that’s a criminal drop off from his season averages. Even if Neal had a shooting percentage that was three-quarters of his career average, he would have scored 12 goals last season. The keys for Neal are to keep shooting the puck and keep being a pain to play against.

I really don’t want to say there’s nowhere to go but up because he could very well fall off another cliff next season, who really knows what will happen. I’m fairly confident Neal won’t be as bad though. The 20 goal mark is probably unrealistic for him, but I’d expect him to surpass 10.

The Flames are among many teams facing cap crunches this year, and while TJ Brodie and Michael Frolik’s names have come up in trade speculation for months now, they’re still with the Flames.

Whether that’s because the market has dried up is questionable, even with so many teams trying to free up cap space to sign their RFAs. Right now, 24 of the 31 teams can afford to take on the full amount of Brodie or Frolik’s contract, and only five of those teams have fewer than 20 players signed. Despite his flaws, Brodie is a useful top-four defender and would fit easily onto the roster of every team minus probably Nashville, and Frolik plays a rare 200-foot game that could help every team in the NHL. If Treliving was hell-bent on trading them, he could do it in a heartbeat, but he isn’t going to ship out useful players for pennies on the dollar. Brodie and Frolik could very well return to the Flames next season, and they would be great players for the team. It makes more sense to keep them than to let them go for nothing.

I think the biggest reason things have gone quiet on the trade front with these two players is simply timing. The Flames have four arbitration hearings coming up in the next four weeks, the first of which is Sam Bennett on July 27th. The Flames don’t have the luxury to wait until September to sign these guys; once the arbitration hearing is complete, a decision is made within 48 hours. It’s possible the Flames have shifted their focus to signing their arbitration eligible RFAs, and once that’s all taken care of they’ll shift back to clearing out cap space for Matthew Tkachuk.

If they reach a decision with Tkachuk before all the hearings are done though, they’ll probably be in a bit of a bind and will need to clear space right away. If that happens, we might see either Brodie or Frolik traded for at a lower than market rate. That’s the only scenario I could see that happening.

If Frolik stays with the team, it doesn’t leave many options for where a player like Dillon Dube would fit in. The departure of Garnet Hathaway does open up one spot on the roster which will probably go to either Austin Czarnik or Neal, depending on how Neal does. If we assume Neal starts on the third line with Bennett and Mark Jankowski, the Flames’ lines probably look something like this to start the season:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Neal
Mangiapane – Ryan – Czarnik

That leave Dube as the 13th forward, which might just be where he starts the season. It was clear last year that Bill Peters didn’t fully trust Czarnik and didn’t want to play Frolik in the top-six. This could open the door for Dube to play a rotating role with Czarnik and/or Frolik.

The biggest issue with Dube is that he isn’t a right winger. He did play some right wing in junior, but at the AHL level, he almost exclusively played left wing or center. The Flames don’t have room for him in the middle or on the left side so unless someone like Tkachuk or Bennett switches sides, or Jankowski moves to the wing, there isn’t a whole lot of room for Dube unless he plays his off wing.

Dube is too good for the AHL so he almost definitely will start the season with Calgary. My gut says that Frolik will be traded, Czarnik will move up to recreate the MMA line, and Dube will play with Mangiapane and Ryan on the fourth line.

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  • Garry T

    Obviously the Flames have one or a few proposals on Tkachucks agent’s desk. I would sign Bennett for $2.5 to $2.75 and do it for four or five years.
    Get Rittich done for $3 mil for 4/5 years and ask Brodie if he wants to stay.
    If it yes, ok we are interested predicated on the following: you will race to the corners for puck shoot ins, you will do your best to clear guys out of the blue paint and you will follow instructions in terms of skating the puck out of our zone or you will use the boards. This is what we are prepared to extend you for. Yes or No. He has a few deficiencies but they can be jointly fixed. Trade Czarnik and Kyllington for picks and get some salary moved out. If the owners will allow, buy out Stone for an acceptable premium on Stones salary and that cost is then gone, giving room to sign Tkachuk.

    In terms of Neal, I think the Flames have a legal challenge to his contract for non performance. Give him six months and if he cannot protect his own spot in the lineup,advise him he retires or sue him and challenge the contract guarantee scenario the players currently enjoy. Currently the teams have responsibility for guaranteed contracts, and the players do not. That has to change!

    • TheBigChef

      —>There is zero chance Bennett signs that. Burakovsky signed today for 1 yr at $3.25. Gotta think Bennett is looking at that and asking for around $3, and for one or two years.
      —> you don’t get to stipulate in player contracts that a guy has to “race to corners” or “do your best to clear guys out of the blue paint”.
      –> Moving Kylington for cap space is ridiculous. He makes $730k and can play NHL minutes.
      –> Buying out Stone on its own is not going to be enough to bring back Tkachuk, Bennett, Mangiapane and Rittich
      –> The Neal court challenge suggestion is too stupid to merit a response.

    • cjc

      There is no way the team would win a court challenge like that – it would be throwing good money after bad. There is a reason that performance bonuses aren’t offered after a player starts their ELC. Players have won the right to guaranteed contracts through collective bargaining, and the owners can’t violate the CBA. It’s probably easier for teams to terminate a contract over off-ice performance than on-ice performance (see Richards, Mike), so maybe they should put a private investigator on Neal’s case to dig up some dirt LOL.

    • Baceda

      Why would you trade Kylington for picks to make cap space? He’s still on his ELC and better than what you’re going to get back for him in picks.
      Sure maybe trade Czarnik because he makes a bit more and hasn’t contributed that much yet, but trading Kyl just for the sake of it would be unwise

    • Zalapski

      1. Kylington and Czarnik for cap space? they make less than 2 million dollars combined.

      2. There is no way in hell The Flames have a legal challenge on Neals contract. If that was the case the Oilers would have took Lucic to court years ago.

      3.I’m glad you’re not running the team.

  • TheWheeze

    30 is not old, given the way these guys condition, train, and eat. Neal is still in his productive years. 34 – 35 is when you start to keep an eye out for serious decline. Gillies is not and NHL goalie. Failed pick and prospect. Move on nothing to see here….

    • cjc

      For most NHLers, 30 is old. Brouwer anyone? And Neal will be 32 at the start of next season, not 30. Neal’s underlying numbers have been dropping for a few years, so Neal’s past season wasn’t very surprising to those who pay attention to these sort of things. Yeah, he could bounce back a bit if his percentages return to career normals, BUT

      1- I still wouldn’t expect much more than 15 goals/30 pts.
      2- Percentages also start to decline with age
      3- Unless Neal can crack the top six, he will not have super talented teammates that drive shooting percentage
      4- If Neal does find himself in the top 6, it isn’t the ideal situation (i.e. injury). There is simply no way that Neal is better than Gaudreau, Monahan, Lindholm, Tkachuk, Backlund or Frolik. Bennett and Mangiapane have probably passed him, too. Neal will have a negative impact on the performance of the top 6 if he plays there long term.
      5- He is supposed to be physical, but that might be detrimental to his scoring at this point.

      • cjc

        Also, the 20 somethings are training/conditioning/eating well just as hard as the 30 somethings. Aging still happens even if you take very good care of yourself.

      • Brian McGrattan's Salute

        Unless you do a top six something like this, with the idea of wanting to move Lindy to centre:

        JG-Mony-Neal
        Chuck-Lindy-X.

        But, of course, Neal would have to earn it. Ideally he can just find some chemistry with SOMEONE

    • Albertabeef

      Gillies with an NHL career record of 4-5-1 really isn’t a big enough sample size. The 3-5-1 record came when the Flames were playing crap hockey under GG, and Gillies wasn’t as terrible as the team around him. I’d love to see him get a chance with a more inspired team around him.

    • Beer League Coach

      Depends on the player. Neal was old at 29. Gio is still NOT old at 35. If Neal does not rebound this season he should just retire and I am not expecting a huge turnaround from him. He probably should have retired before Flames offered him the 5 year contract.

  • drogon

    It could be something like this too… minor tweaks… hopefully not:
    19-20 20-21 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 AAV
    Tkachuk, M 7.5 7.5 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 8.5
    Rittich, D 3.25 3.25 3.25 3.25
    Bennett, S 2.8 2.8
    Mangiapane, A 0.9 0.9

    To AHL
    Kylington, O (0.73)
    To Coyotes for
    5th round
    Gillies, J (0.75)
    To Devils for
    3rd round
    Frolik, M (4.3)

    Cap space 0.8

    Stone, M 7D

        • MiamiRedhawks

          BT’s decision? You think he would consider that? I am a fan of Kylington, my only concern is some of the decision making that results in turnovers. I have been hopeful that would go away since he first came into the organization, but still seeing it.

          • Albertabeef

            Everyone turns the puck over, and I don’t just mean Flames players. Part of it is an adjustment that can’t be learned in the AHL, however offensive minded D tend to turn the puck over. As far as giveaway per game(not per 60 minutes lol) Kylington(32 in 38 games) had about the same as Gio(65 in 78 games). 84 players in the league had 65 or more giveaways last season. Ollie also had a even strength goals against per 60 of 1.5, which is better than anyone else on the team who played more than 20 games. Only Fantenberg and Lomberg were lower, and for reference Gio was a 2.5. For a rookie I’m okay with his numbers. Hopefully he keeps improving each year like he has so far.

        • drogon

          @BendingCorners… you’re correct… it looked better before posting it…
          To summarize:
          Tkachuk: $7.5M the first 2 years, then $9.0M for the last 4 years, AAV $8.5M
          Rittich: $3.25M for 4 years
          Bennett: $2.8M for 2 years
          Mangiapane: $900k for 2 years

          Kylington sent back to AHL
          Gillies traded to Coyotes for a 5th rounder
          Frolik traded to Devils for a 3rd rounder

          Cap space: $800k

          Stone starts as 7D

  • Nick24

    Honestly, the Flames should trade Bennett. $3M for him just isn’t worth it. Signing Sven Andrighetto to $1M or less would be a much smarter move, and would save some money.
    Same with Oscar Lindberg. I just don’t see Bennett resigning at $3M making any kind of sense, especially considering the cap situation Calgary is in. The Flames should be trying to get creative, and they’d be much better served with turning Bennett into an asset and getting an equal player for a 3rd of the price in free agency.

    I get people are sentimental with him, and are especially impressed with his playoff performance, but he’s had 26, 26, and 27 points in his last 3 seasons. Bennett is 23, and probably isn’t really a prospect anymore. He likely is what he is at this point.

    • HarveysFleaCollar

      Man..you know squat about hockey. I quit reading your 🐃💩 post after you said the Flames should trade Bennett. Before responding, go back and watch the Flames games from this past playoff games, not sentimental, just the only guy that made anything happen and laid his balls on the line!

      • Budgie

        Bennett is a keeper, how many times did he have the Green Helmet on? He leads by example, he can score, he is a solid second liner that has been used on a third line. His first position is Center and he can play both wings but shoots left-hard hitting, can score, and versatile-we need a few more Bennetts

    • _vntony

      Bennett is an interesting case.
      Normally I’d agree with you, a third liner – who gets 26-27 points a season isn’t worth a $3M price tag.
      But like others have said, watching Bennett in the playoffs is a treat. He has all the intangibles, teams need when the games get tougher. And trading Bennett certainly makes a soft Flames team, softer.

      And I’m not so sure we know what Bennett is yet. He plays so well in the playoffs because the refs let more go. Whereas, in the reg season, he has to worry about getting penalties and getting his butt stapled to the bench for said penalties. I think Bennett is still trying to navigate that fine line between regular season vs playoff intensity and it’s affecting his in game decisions. It’s undeniable that his hockey IQ is a weakness.
      My hope is that once he figures it out, he’ll be a late bloomer. Like LVGK’s William Karlsson.

    • Luter 1

      Why are the Flames joining a no-hit league? This team was soft before losing Hathaway, would be jello if you delete Bennett. Cannot believe people who watched this team over the last few years and our playoff results think this team would be better off with Hathaway and Bennett and we add Czarnik and a Dube for instance. Women’s Olympic team would pound us around.

        • Luter 1

          U obviously never watched the games, we got pounded for most of the series, then like usual reacted after the fact and brought our aggressiveness up. Their hits were for real (Gio got pasted) the Russian was punishing our forwards. Our defence never punished anyone. Throw out the stupid hitting stats as they don’t verify if it was creampuff hits (Frolik, Backs, Brodie) or real hits like the Avs we’re handing out.

    • Pancakes

      Well, Troy Brouwer is available as a UFA. A line with him, Neal, and Pat Marroon would throw other teams right off their game. What’s that like three RWs and slow as molasses? Could all have bounce back years!

  • Garry T

    I do not understand why they qualified Lomberg. Ask Stone to retire, give him fair settlement as part of buyout. Offer him a position working with our defence men.. Might be the incentive that moves him in that direction.

        • HOCKEY83

          He is no longer on Blood thinners. He practised full contact witht the team near the end of the season. You can’t be on blood thinners during full contact. Lets hope it doesn’t happen again as it is a very serious ailment.

    • everton fc

      I like Lomberg. If he plays his game – drawing penalties, strong on the fore and back check – he’s not a bad extra forward. Not saying he’s our “fighter”, either, though he’s handled guys bigger than him, under 6’2″, in the AHL. He simply has to control the urge to throw down, and simply play hockey, as he’s got great speed.

    • Beer League Coach

      Just waive Stone and send him to Stockton for the final year of his contract. At worst, he could tell the young D men to “do as I say. Not as I do”. Don’t buy him out and spread the expense over two years. Bite the bullet for one year in the AHL and he is off the books.

  • freethe flames

    I will repeat what I have been saying for a few days now; I expect Rittich signs fro around the mzarek money: $3.15m.
    Gilles needs to be moved for his own sake.
    I am not as sure that Neal rebounds; the point made about him being a volume shooter and there fore having a good shooting percentage but if you can’t skate well enough to get into those shooting positions it’s hard to score. Again for me it was not his lack of scoring that bothered me the most but his lack of everything else.
    tJ and FRolik; one of these players liklely needs to be traded for an NHL player and the other for the needed cap space.
    One of the young kids will need to play and likely play up in the line up this year. This is unless BT adds a real top 6 forward. The key next year is that BP needs to slot guys in the proper role. I like Backs but he needs to be the third center; that means that either Lindy becomes the 2nd center or BT needs to add top 6 center.

    FRee signing off for @two weeks. No outlandish trade suggestions. I am hoping when I get back BT has gotten some work done and the Flames are a better team/organization.
    Cheers

    • Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis

      I don’t think Rittich gets $3.15 Million a year (maybe you were suggesting that over two years though), again Jordan Binnington just helped his team win a cup and is only getting $2.2 million a year. It will be really interesting what kind of season Jordan Binnington has next year, was last year lightening in the bottle and not sustainable long term? I kind of get a Cam Ward vibe with Binnington, who won a cup early in his career and the rest of his career his numbers really didn’t reflect his reputation from a couple of hot runs early. Time will tell.

      I actually think I like Rittich more than Binnington (Rittich is so calm in his net, a trait most great goalies have), so I wouldn’t completely object to him getting paid more, but I doubt it happens. It’s funny everyone always criticizes Sigalet our goalie coach, but I think he’s done a fantastic job with Rittich. Every other goalie we’ve had during his tenure has been 30+ years old and on the tail end of their careers, where Sigalet doesn’t have much to work with, so I think Sigalet doesn’t deserve the heat he gets from some Flames fans.

        • Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis

          Three people telling me I’m wrong. Hahah. Great guys, honest mistake, that wasn’t even the core of my comment anyways, I actually just came to compliment Rittich and express my worries about Binnington not being able to keep it up long term, because Binnington really didn’t become an impactful goalie in the AHL until age what 23-24 and had to be loaned to another AHL team last year (maybe we do this with Gillies?), so I have my concerns. Or maybe Tyler Parsons could be the next Binnington and I should embrace Binningtons success, just when I watch Binnington he appears all over the place a little for me and kind of fluky, but if he plays well next year I’ll have accepted him as a NHL starter. I just need another year.

          I am not Moxley. I used to comment under another name for 6+ years and was always well received here. I’m one of the good guys, I swear. I wasn’t trying to undermine the original poster either even if it might have come off as that, I actually meant to add it as a new comment, but I replied to the chain accidentally and it appeared snarky. I was trying to go more on the fact that I think we’ll get Rittich for decent money comparatively to Binnington and I like his style more than Binnington long term.

          • HOCKEY83

            I never thought you were Moxley or could care less to comment on who could possibly be moxley. I too think it’s a mistake to give Binnigton 4.4 for 2 years considering Matt Murray for the penguins.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        One thing that people are not mentioning is the fact that Talbot’s demeanour is more aligned with Rittich’s than hot headed Smith. Smith and Rittich were more Yin and Yang. Rittich seemed to respect Smith too much to see himself as the starter. This loyalty will not be case with Talbot as his partner. I could see their likeness as healthy for both goalies.

      • Off the wall

        Watch, now that Free the Flames has been pining for something to happen, it will happen while he’s away! 😉

        We will miss your contributions Free, but we’ll probably have something to talk about in 2 weeks!

  • Off the wall

    My little man is at his first camp. No, not hockey camp, but adventure camp. He’s 12, and has autism spectrum disorder.
    He faces challenges that aren’t apparent to most of us, but he handles it like a champ.

    Our house feels empty with him gone and it’s only been one day.
    We’ve got 6 more days to go…

    He’s made great strides this year in his social development and maturity, however as parents, you always worry about them.

    I know this is our slow time for hockey news, and things will heat up soon, however it’s never soon enough for most of us… who wait. I feel the anxiety of waiting for my lil’ guy already.
    Mrs Otw is fit to be tied. I’m keeping her busy with other things.

    Mrs Otw and I wrote letters for our son to read each day. Mrs Otw wrote positive messages for him, I wrote him short stories to make him chuckle. He has a good sense of humour, thank goodness.

    It’s too early to tell how things will unfold for our team, and perhaps that’s a good thing. The old adage, “ No news is good news “ doesn’t really work for rabid hockey fans. There have been some interesting dialogue over everything… trades, cap space, lack of intensity, goaltending, who should graduate to the NHL, and who might make the club out of camp. All typical of fans with the need to express themselves.

    My lil’ man barely wanted to say goodbye to us when we dropped him off at camp. He was already getting his swimming trunks on, to enjoy the water with the group. It’s the first time I’ve seen him so excited, not to be with us.
    His mind is already anticipating the fun he’s going to have!

    As a parent, it’s exciting to see him eager to enjoy himself. But we have to wait 6 more days, until he fills us in with the gaps’ of all the things he experienced. Even then, we’ll have to ask him open ended questions, otherwise he’ll just say , “ It was good “

    Sometimes it’s like pulling wisdom teeth, to get extra information outta him. I usually wait until bed time to ask him things, cuz I know;
    1. He’ll do anything to stay up a little later
    2. He’s usually relaxed and then shares his thoughts without being prodded like a bull.

    It’s a waiting game, and it’s painful…

    • everton fc

      I have four children, myself. No issues like yours, but my wife has worked with a few children with autism. This was a refreshing post, in terms of both the realities of life, and the fact our love of our team is not “world-ending”, and shouldn’t be taken overly seriously. Hope this makes sense.

      Enjoy each day, and enjoy being a sports fan, without it ruining your sense of balance. Pax!

    • Chucky

      Unfortunately OTW the leaving has just begun and it never gets easier for us parents. They are leaving on great adventures and we sit at home seeing demons around every corner. Hang in there and try to just count the hours, counting the seconds gets too tedious.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      First of all, who trashes a heart warming story that someone in the FN family is kind enough to share…not cool. My youngest daughter who is studying to be a teacher, works for Children’s Autism Services and is always sharing her stories of how rewarding it is. Your son sounds amazing, no doubt to great parenting by you and Mrs. OTW. Thanks for sharing.

  • TheBigChef

    Zagidulin is the Buzz Lightyear of Flames goaltending prospects. He’s the shiny new toy everyone wants to play with because he’s new and something different to talk about. The guy had probably never stepped foot in North America prior to development camp, and now we are talking about him surpassing Parsons on the prospect depth chart?

    He was signed before Talbot was signed. We have no idea if the organization sees him as more valuable than Gillies. It’s just as possible that he was signed as insurance for an AHL spot in the event Gillies was playing backup to Rittich in the NHL. Just as I feel like one should put little value in AHL save percentages as a precursor to NHL success, so should one put little value on KHL numbers. This is a league with incredibly inflated SP’s—25 guys had a .920 or better (and Shestyorkin had a .953! ) Here are some names of some KHL guys with similar numbers to Zag last year:
    Joni Ortio (huge Flames flop);
    Henrik Karlsson (huge Flames flop);
    Danny Taylor (2 games with Flames, career AHLer);
    Magnus Hellberg (5 years of being average in the AHL);
    Barry Brust (career ECHL/AHLer).

    Zagidulin might end up being really good. He also might never play a game in the NHL—-and that’s okay, he was a free asset. I agree that there is now one too many goalies for the number of spots available and it will be interesting to see what happens. But to say the guy is automatically penciled in to a spot is not a fair assessment IMO until we actually see the guy play. If it turns out he is a stud, perfect! Gillies is expendable. But the best goalie should get the spot and we don’t have sufficient information at this point to make that determination. Be patient and let it play out at camp.

  • MajorTom

    Whats with all the rehash stories on Monday Mailbag… Its all old news that has already been discussed.. how about talking about who we could trade for.. options… rumors… not rehash last weeks stories.. I read those already

    • Budgie

      The Blue Jackets might be a good fit for Frolik-I would be happy to see Josh Anderson’s size on the Flames-many have tried to pry him away with low-ball trades-he is 25, makes 1.85 million and is a RFA next season-Frolik for Anderson, gains a bit of Cap space and adds much needed size-he isn’t slow either. Blue Jackets lost so many players they might be a good trade partner

      • Speed Kills

        I don’t believe the Flames could afford Josh Anderson after this year, as he will be an RFA w/Arbitration rights in 20-21… But… Oliver Bjorkstrand could be interesting?

        • Speed Kills

          Personally I think Columbus is a prime candidate to ship players with expiring contracts as they could flip them at the next TDL for picks they don’t have anymore and lets face it, With everyone they lost for nothing and all the draft picks given up for their “all in” this past year, they need to regain some picks for next year.

          • Speed Kills

            Heck, try and give them Gillies (their farm goalie situation looks grim and could use a more exp guy in case one of their NHL guys goes down) and maybe some “Meh” prospects (Ruzicka? Czarnik?) or (ungh a 2020/21 draft pick) and ship out Neal.. Hey its a Vet 20 goal guy with Term.. right? Columbus seems to have problems keeping UFAs. Maybe there could be a bone to throw there way as they are in a tough spot. The probability would be low, But one has to try 🙂

        • Budgie

          I think they could afford Anderson if they make a couple of moves-Cap Space is needed anyways for Tkachuk right now, he will likely get 6-7 million, and that doesn’t leave much for Rittich, Bennett, and Mangiapagne. Anderson makes 1.85-for up coming season. Bjorkstrand is good but doesn’t add toughness and hitting.
          Agreed, Columbus went on a signing spree to put the over and it backfired. Treviling luckily didn’t dive into the expensive Free Agent market this year. There will be a trade deal made and you are right Gillies has to go somewhere. Calgary hasn’t had success at developing Goalies, Gillies and MacDonald where supposed to be starters, Parsons is still in the mix but there is some new prospects to look at. It is like a Goaltending singles bar, you go in and hope to pick up a Rittich before last-call.

      • cjc

        I like Anderson, but… Frolik wouldn’t be enough for Columbus to make that trade. The guy scored 27 goals last year and as you say he is 25. They are more likely to wait until the TDL to press the detonator and they’ll want picks or younger prospects if they do it at all.

        • Budgie

          Frolik is decent, it wouldn’t be enough straight across but it could be a start-Brodie is named as a trade piece, Brodie is worth more straight across-(my opinion) Brodie for Anderson and a prospect or draft pick

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I thought I would bump this

    What are people’s thoughts about trading for Marcus Foligno. He is a bottom 6 player that can handle himself against the heavy weights but has the pace to play with skilled quick players. This is a better option than Maroon and could be had for Frolik or part of a trade with Brodie. Perhaps we could do Brodie, Frolik, and pick ( or Janko if we must)for Zucker and Foligno.

    • cjc

      Foligno is… a bit of an anchor? It also doesn’t fix the cap problem (only saves Calgary a hair under 600K in cap space), and I’m not sure Minnesota would go for it – they are clearly trying to get younger, which is why the original ask for Zucker was Bennett and the first.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        You could be right but he has grit and decent skill to stay in the line up. I was thinking that Janko May have to be a part of this which frees up 1.6M while Minn gives up a draft pick.

  • cjc

    I still don’t think Brodie gets traded. BT simply isn’t going to weaken the team there and Valimaki/Kylington are unknown quantities on the right side. More likely Frolik gets moved, there is a Stone buyout and one or two other small moves to make things fit (maybe Jankowski gets traded?)

    I would not be surprised if Dube starts in the AHL a la Mangiapane last year, then makes the jump once there is an injury or trade, or if Czar can’t push his way into regular minutes. He is good enough for the NHL, but did struggle during his time here last year. I think they want Dube to play, he will not be a 13/14 forward.

    • Korcan

      Were i Tre, i would be hesitant to trade Brodie at this point, unless an experienced, solid, cheap, 3rd pairing D is part of the return. Even though, if healthy, Stone is capable of filling that 3rd pairing role, i too feel he will be traded or possibly bought out to free up some cash.

      Valimaki is the clear frontrunner for the 3rd LD position over Killington, and though he appears to be ready for the next level i anticipate Killington will begin the season in the AHL — Peters will not want two rookies on the 3rd pairing, especially with one of them having to play on his unnatural side.

      What i would like to see them do with Killington in Stockton is that they play him on the right side to enable him to develop a comfort level on his off side. That is where the future openings will be, so he might as well prepare himself for that opportunity. We will see if the organization feels the same way.

      • cjc

        Any trade of Brodie needs to return something that can help now, for cheap. While I have a lot of time for Rasmus Andersson, he’s had limited billing on the top pair so far. Calgary would be going into the season with Travis Hamonic as the only experienced RHD that can play in the top 4. I’d rather they keep easing Andersson into the role, with Brodie as a backup option if it doesn’t go well.

        Stone, even if healthy, shouldn’t be on the 3rd pairing. They could probably find someone of equal value to replace him as a 7D for less than the combined cap hit.

        Kylington, I just don’t know what to do there. He has never, to my knowledge, played the right side. But he has nothing left to prove in the AHL, and I think being sent down would be de-motivational. Maybe he spends some time duking it out with Valimaki for the last spot? It will be good to have him around for when Gio rides to the sunset, but I am not sure he can wait that long. It was the same issue as Kulak – NHL level D, but wasn’t going to elbow in ahead of Gio, Hanifin or Valimaki.

  • oilcanboyd

    I would rather have Frolik on the team han Czarnik. Doesn’t do much for the cap situation, but Fro is way more useful at RW than Czarnik. Move Bing to the RW on the top line, and have Dube play the left side with Backs and Fro.

        • Korcan

          That’s not a bad idea, though i would keep Lindholm on rw and taking strong-side faceoffs simply to keep Jankowski from having to play wing (something he’s never done) and play it on his off side. The line of Bennett-Jankowski-Lindholm is intriguing though. Both Bennett and Janks are needing to take their game to the next level – Lindholm could be the perfect linemate to help them do that.

          • Korcan

            Agreed. I still see Back’s as the #2 line and Jank’s as the number three. But i see the team as less of a 1-4 line-up and more of a two offensively focused, more shelterd lines and two more defensively responsible, matchup lines. Backs and Ryan are better suited for matchups and Mony and Janks for sheltered offense (thoug I’m still hoping Jankowski develops into a solid 200ft center).

            The problem is by having Lindholm with janks is it means Neal has to be on one of the matchup lines – not good deployment, so as intriguing as Bennet-Jankowski-Lindholm is, i see it being more of Bennett-Jankowski-Neal, unless Tre miraculously finds a trade partner for Neal . If Tkachuk moves up with Johnny and Mony it is more likely Lindholm will be with Backlund and Frolik (or dube? if Frolik is traded).

  • cjc

    I just noticed a very weird pattern, not sure anyone else picked up on this. I call it the “Brouwer Lag”

    Troy Brouwer left the Blackhawks in 2011. In 2013 the Blackhawks won the cup.
    He left the Capitals in 2015. In 2018 the Capitals won the cup.
    He left the Blues in 2016. In 2019 the Blues won the cup.

    Clearly it takes 2-3 years after Brouwer leaves for his effect to be felt, so Calgary should be looking at a championship in 2020 or 2021.

    • Man yells at cloud

      Very true vinnsanity. Backlund is AT BEST a 3rd line center. A overpaid third line center. Personally I am hopeful Lindholm could perhaps find a nice spot as the second line center. He brings alot more game then offensive zone, untimely, lazy penalty Backlund. But shhhhh…. people on here love Backlund so be careful what you say even if it’s true.
      Now get off my lawn!

      • Budgie

        Backlund according to Tkachuk is the most under-rated Centre in the NHL-he does take some penalties, but that Forsberg style goal where he scored on a breakaway by dragging the puck through his legs was awesome. I thought Ryan would be moving up to the second line, he can win faceoffs, be good for Tkachuk and ? Frolik to get the puck and put some pressure on. OK -trade a centre and move Bennett to Centre his natural position-I like Backlund but if it helped the team you have to trade.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    There just isn’t enough dough around to keep Brodie and Frolik, sign RFA’s. Sad that one of them has to go to free up cash to pay Tkachuk. And we’re stuck with Neil. Who would you prefer, Neil, Brodie or Frolik, answers pretty obvious. Tre created this mess.

      • buts

        BT has created a mess and did he watch the playoffs? Does he not know this team has many obvious flaws. He not only has to create cap space he has to add a lot of grit up front. Maybe with all the silence something big is happening…..I sure hope so.

        • HOCKEY83

          There are teams in a far worse state than the Calgary Flames. The one and only thing he has to do for sure is create cap space to sign his 4 RFA’s which he will do guaranteed. This will be by way of getting rid of a player or 2 at a reduced rate. What are not gauranteed things he has to do is add any extra players or add grit.

    • cjc

      To be fair, Tre also got sweetheart deals for Gaudreau, Gio and even Monahan to some extent. He also signed Brodie to a pretty decent contract. So while he has lost space to Neal and Stone and buyouts, he’s also saved cap space on a number of contracts.

    • FLT

      Agreed, but it’s not an exact science and every team likely has contracts they regret. The Brouwer signing was a bad decision IMO, Neal seemed like a better bet but obviously hasn’t worked out.

      • Beer League Coach

        Neal signing was even worse than Brouwer. One year longer and 1.75 mm more money. Absolutely terrible contract to give a player who was clearly on the steep downhill side of his career.

  • drogon

    Pavel Buchnevich
    Age 24
    Position RW/LW
    Height 6’1″ / 186 cm
    Weight 192 lbs / 87 kg
    Shoots L
    I’ve read he could be available, would be a nice upgrade for our right side.

      • Budgie

        I would trade Backlund and Frolik-my target-Josh Anderson on Columbus-1.85 mill upcoming season then RFA
        Tkachuk LW, Bennett C, Anderson RW
        I’d put that line out against Colorado’s Flame Killers in the Playoffs . Landeskog, MacKinnon.Rantanen–it might slow them down. Gadreau’s Purple Gator line would actually be the 2nd. line for that match up.
        Mangiapane LW, Ryan C, Neal RW would be a third-could be Jankowski as C too
        Dube LW, Jankowski C, Czarnik RW