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FlamesNation mailbag: where did June go?

Folks, there’s a chance that we’re just shy of a month away from hockey returning. Or, it might not. But we have hope!

We also have several curious friends sending in questions, so let’s dive into the mailbag!

Milan Lucic just turned 32 years old and has three seasons remaining on his contract with a no-move clause. (It’ll expire a few weeks after he turns 35.) The remainder of his deal is $4.5 million in salary ($2.25 million covered by Edmonton) and $8.5 million in signing bonuses. The bonus-heavy deal makes buying him out functionally useless because there isn’t a big cap benefit to doing it.

Lucic’s age is important because since he didn’t sign his current deal after he turned 35, his cap hit would simply disappear if he retired. That said, he wouldn’t get paid if he retired, so it seems likely that he’ll ride things out. There’s no incentive for him to retire. (Or if he’s got a prolonged injury, perhaps an LTIR stint ala Marian Hossa may be the way he exits the NHL eventually.)

With a flat cap next season, I don’t understand how the Flames would fit Taylor Hall in. At the very least the former Hart Trophy winner will be looking for Matthew Tkachuk money ($7 million). They have about $16.9 million in cap space for 2020-21 per PuckPedia, but that disappears quickly once you sign a backup goalie, some defensemen and give Andrew Mangiapane a damn raise. Unless they cheap out somewhere or send somebody out of town with decent cap attached to them, how does Hall fit?

On the blueline, I would expect the Flames to try to get one of Travis Hamonic or TJ Brodie back at about Brodie’s current cap hit ($4.65 million). With Connor Mackey coming to July’s camp, I would imagine he gets every chance possible to make the team for 2020-21. So that would make the 2020-21 blueline look roughly like: Mark Giordano, Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanfin, Brodie/Hamonic, Juuso Valimaki, Mackey and perhaps Oliver Kylington (who needs waivers to go to the minors) as the seventh defender.

The most tantalizing players likely to be exposed are Kylington, Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski (if he re-signs). If I’m Seattle and Bennett’s available, I grab him.

Alexis Lafreniere is a left shot winger, so he would play the left side on one of the top two lines. He would probably fit on the second line with Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk – playing with Backlund as a rookie has done wonders for a lot of young forwards – and would allow Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm to stay together on the first line.

That is, if the Flames lose to Winnipeg and win the lottery.

There have been general conversations, but until the cap number is set for 2020-21 it’s hard to have actual negotiations. Once the Flames are out of the post-season and the cap is set for next season, talks will get more serious with both.

 

He’ll be evaluated once he returns to Calgary according to Friday’s chat with Brad Treliving. His surgery was 10 months ago, so he’s likely close to fully recovered (but hasn’t played a meaningful game in over a year).

It’s hard to say. The Flames definitely respect Theo Fleury as a hockey player – his #14 hasn’t been used since he left the club in 1999, over two decades ago – and they definitely respect the work he’s done with victims groups since he retired. Heck, they’ve had him as a guest a few times and he’s been on Flames TV during intermissions, too.

Fleury hasn’t always been the easiest person to do business with, though, and you can understand if baby steps towards a large collaboration may be the best thing for everybody involved.

 

Probably not. The hope right now is that any disruption to hockey will be short-term in nature and outside of maybe a handful of tippity-top players in this draft, everybody selected is likely a year or two away from NHL duty.

We’ll get into this is a lot of detail later this summer – unless they win the lottery, in which case this becomes an Alexis Lafreniere fansite overnight – but there are a lot of different players who could help them and I wouldn’t assume they’re going with Dylan Holloway (who was in the AJHL, then went to college). I’m a Seth Jarvis guy, myself.