Last off-season, Brad Treliving didn’t get his most pressing off-season business dealt with until he got Matthew Tkachuk signed in October. So it’s probably a good thing for everyone’s well-being that Rasmus Andersson signed a contract extension six months before he became a restricted free agent.
But with Andersson signed, the most important item on the to-do list, what’s next for Treliving? Here are the big looming decisions as the season chugs towards the All-Star Break.
Come up with a goaltending plan for 2020-21
The good news for the Flames is David Rittich is signed for next season on a reasonable $2.75 million cap hit and he’s a pretty good goaltender. His goaltending partner, Cam Talbot, is a pending UFA on July 1 and is having a strong season thus far. On paper, the ideal plan would seem to be re-signing Talbot to a similar deal as he has this season – another one year term at $2.75 millon – and just rotate two goalies again.
If not Talbot, what would the alternatives be? Some pending UFA goalies include Jaroslav Halak, Jimmy Howard, Thomas Greiss, Brian Elliott and Craig Anderson, veterans who are all older and probably not definitively better than Talbot. Re-signing Calgary’s 1B goalie seems like a prudent move, though it might be in Talbot’s best interests to wait for a bit for the market to establish itself rather than settle for the same terms with the Flames.
Come up with a blueline plan for 2020-21
The Flames have three defined top four defenders signed for next season: Andersson, Mark Giordano and Noah Hanifin. They need to figure out who their fourth is.
TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic both play the right side and both are pending UFAs. Unless the Flames intend to acquire another right shot defender, it seems likely that one of them will return – potentially Hamonic, as he’d be the less expensive of the duo.
Beyond the top four, questions loom:
- Oliver Kylington (a pending RFA) will require waivers in 2020-21 – is he part of the Flames’ plans?
- Coming off two major lower body injuries in two seasons, will Juuso Valimaki need AHL time before he becomes a full-time NHLer?
- If Michael Stone (another pending UFA) is willing to come back on an inexpensive deal, is he a fit as a sixth or seventh defender (again)?
Start thinking about a head coach for 2020-21
Geoff Ward was one of three finalists for the Flames’ head coaching gig in 2016 – the job went to Glen Gulutzan, the other finalist was current Washington Capitals head coach Todd Rierden. Given the, uh, tumultuous circumstances that led to the departure of Bill Peters and the ascension of Ward to interim coach, it makes sense that the Flames would want to keep their options open. But so far, Ward has performed well in the role.
What the Flames do coaching-wise for 2020-21 probably depends on two things:
- Do they make the post-season (and make some noise once they get there)?
- How much does Treliving intend to shake up the roster based on the season’s results?
If Ward keeps clicking with the group as coach and they have a strong finish to the season, you could see the Flames retain him. If things don’t go great and there’s a desire to shake up the roster, you could easily see the coaching staff shaken up as well.
What’s their next re-signing?
If I had to guess, it’ll be Andrew Mangiapane. He’s on a one-year deal and has been a steady 0.318 points per game player over his last two seasons (and 88 games). His qualifying offer in June would be $750,000. You could imagine he has an appetite for another short-term deal so as to maximize his chances of improving his lot, and something in the $850,000-$900,000 range probably would be fair given his usefulness to the club, production and role.
I would also imagine that the Flames sign Dustin Wolf to an entry level deal in March – when the slide rule for ELCs gets relaxed – but it’s not something that needs to happen this year.