FlamesNation Mailbag: the season is almost here

The 2020-21 NHL season begins on Wednesday. Wednesday!

As we kill time leading towards puck drop, let’s dive into the mailbag!

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Johannes Kinnvall is spending the first year of his two year contract with the Flames on loan to his Swedish club, HV71. He’s under contract and on the reserve list, so if HV71 signed off on his return to North America he’d be able to join the Flames.

Timing-wise, it might be dicey, though. The SHL regular season ends on Mar. 11 and then the playoffs last until the end of April. Add in flying to Canada and potential quarantine and he could make it in time for playoffs, but it would be a bit of a chaotic rush to get him over just to have him be a black ace for the playoffs.

Most likely we’ll see Kinnvall in September for camp for the 2021-22 season.

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In the grand scheme of things, the (Scotia NHL) North Division schedule is pretty exciting. The Flames get 10 Battles of Alberta. They get 10 games with Vancouver. That’s 20 games (of 56) against their two biggest rivals.

They get 9 games with Winnipeg, who had a strangely emotional series with the Flames in the summer. Oh, and 9 games apiece with Toronto (hi TJ Brodie!), Montreal (hi Brett Kulak and Paul Byron!) and Ottawa (hi Matthew Tkachuk’s brother!).

It’s gonna be weird not to see the other teams for a season, but it’s just for one year and it’s gonna be crazy and fun hopefully.

The last protection spot for the Flames among their forwards probably comes down to Mikael Backlund or Sam Bennett. The challenge for Seattle taking on Backlund is this: he’ll be 32 and have three seasons left at $5.35 million apiece. He’s good, but that’s hefty for a guy heading into the back nine of his NHL career.

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And he’s valuable to the Flames, but so is cap space. The Flames have some tough contract decisions to make over the next few seasons and while losing Backlund’s savvy two-way play would be a big loss, opening up $5.35 million would help them retain players like Matthew Tkachuk long-term.

How leverage Seattle’s possible interest in him? Well, by doing nothing and just letting them claim him if they decide to leave him unprotected.

(That said, I still think the Flames leave Bennett unprotected when push comes to shove.)