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FlamesNation mailbag: Looking to the future

This is new! Welcome to the FlamesNation mailbag. This is usually where you’d be reading words written by our managing editor, Ryan Pike, but I’ve stepped in this time around to shake things up.

Let’s not waste any time! Here’s the first question.

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  1. Yes. It would be very difficult to rationalize leaving any of Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, or Rasmus Andersson exposed. Giordano will be 38 in October and, while he remains a pretty solid two-way top-four defenseman, he’s not exactly a long-term piece. I’m skeptical Seattle takes him, either way. The Flames certainly shouldn’t be offering anything to the Kraken to try and prevent them from selecting Giordano.
  2. From this vantage point, it’s hard to come up with a good answer. I’m not in the room. Mikael Backlund, Chris Tanev, and Sean Monahan all wore As for the Flames at various points last season. Beyond Giordano, Backlund is the longest-tenured player on the team. Flames head coach Darryl Sutter drafted him way back in 2007. He’d probably be the guy they’d choose if they opted not to go with Tkachuk.

Have we already forgotten about Sam Bennett? He certainly wasn’t a perfect Flame—far from it—but he could certainly grow facial hair.

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I mean, it depends on what you mean by “go after.” Should Brad Treliving be giving Kevyn Adams a call or two? Certainly. If Matthew Tkachuk’s name arises, should Treliving hang up? Honestly, probably not.

Jack Eichel is truly a fantastic player. All 31 other teams should be interested in acquiring him. Will Calgary have the assets to make that move? They’ll probably be able to field a reasonably competitive offer but I have my doubts they’ll be able to match a package assembled by, say, the Los Angeles Kings.

A better trade target from Buffalo might be Sam Reinhart. We’ll be covering him further this upcoming week.

I think we’ll see more expansion before another relocation happens, although who knows what the future holds for the Arizona Coyotes.

The Videotron Centre in Quebec City should absolutely be playing host to an NHL team. That’s all I know. A 36-team NHL would allow the league to move to six divisions—three per conference—with six teams each.

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We haven’t heard anything yet. Treliving’s current contract takes him to the end of the 2022–23 season, so no news equals good news for his status in Calgary.

Probably Connor Mackey or Adam Ruzicka. I think Matthew Phillips would make for a better full-time NHLer next season than either of those two but I’m skeptical he gets used as more than a fill-in.

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I think it’s very realistic to expect both Ruzicka and Mackey to play more than two-thirds of the Flames’ games next season. A lot depends on who the Flames lose in expansion and to free agency. If Giordano and Derek Ryan are gone by the start of the 2021–22 season, the odds of Mackey and Ruzicka becoming regulars likely improves dramatically.

Maybe. I get the sense Treliving likes Rittich—he signed him, after all—but it’ll depend on whether Rittich wants a completely fresh opportunity to challenge for a starter’s gig. That’s not going to happen in Calgary.

I broke down some backup options on Saturday. Ultimately, I think James Reimer probably makes the most sense. At this point, he seems firmly entrenched as a backup.

With the current roster? I think it’s relatively straightforward.

Gaudreau, Monahan, Lindholm, Tkachuk, Mangiapane, Backlund, Dube; Hanifin, Tanev, Andersson; Markstrom.

You can probably throw that out the window if any trades are made before the expansion draft.

Oliver Kylington. He’ll be cheap, he still has plenty of upside, he’s relatively young, and the Flames don’t have a ton of other attractive players available.

Giordano is very costly and probably doesn’t have a ton of hockey ahead of him. Lucic’s contract is probably a non-starter for Seattle. Ryan is a pending UFA and can just be signed on July 28, if the Kraken really want him. Phillips looks promising but has just one NHL game under his belt.

Hopefully. They gave off such incredible ’80s teen movie bad boy vibes.

They were great. Far better than Lucic’s old butter hair.

Evolving-Hockey currently has Gaudreau’s next contract pegged at six years with an AAV of $8.385 million. Ask the twins, and you’re basically right on the money.

Here are some recent comparables, per CapFriendly:

Brendan Gallagher (MTL, age 29, signed 2020): 6 years x $6.5 million
Max Pacioretty (VGK, age 30, signed 2018): 5 years x $7 million
Jakub Voracek (PHI, age 25, signed 2015): 8 years x $8.25 million
Jeff Skinner (BUF, age 27, signed 2019): 8 years x $9 million
Mark Stone (VGK, age 27, signed 2019): 8 years x $9.5 million
Jamie Benn (DAL, age 26, signed 2016): 8 years x $9.5 million
Nikita Kucherov (TB, age 26, signed 2018): 8 years x $9.5 million

Maybe, but I don’t really see the point.

Jones has a 10-team no-trade list and has just one season remaining on his contract. He turns 27 in October and is coming off a horrendous year where he posted a minus-5.6 expected goals above replacement (xGAR) figure, the 12th-worst in the entire NHL.

The Flames should really focus on adding more scoring this off-season. Jones wouldn’t really help with addressing that need.

Zary isn’t eligible for an entry-level slide, but I’ll guess he gets exactly nine games in the NHL before returning to Stockton. I’ll pencil Ruzicka in for 55 games, all as the Flames’ fourth-line centre.

I’m a big fan of Mason McTavish, a 6’2″ centre who scored 29 goals in 57 games as a 16-year-old with the Peterborough Petes in 2019–20. Bob McKenzie ranked McTavish 11th on his list; somewhat surprisingly, NHL Central Scouting slotted him in as the second-best North American skater available.

Right-shot winger Fabian Lysell also ticks a lot of boxes. He was pretty great with Frölunda’s U20 team this past season and already has 26 top-level Swedish Hockey League games under his belt. Lysell ranks 12th on McKenzie’s list.

After giving it a bit of thought, I think this might make sense as a trade involving Monahan (the former captain of the Ottawa 67’s):

Monahan to Ottawa for Ridly Greig, Chris Tierney, and San Jose’s 2021 second-round pick. (Tierney is largely just a one-year cap dump coming back to Calgary in this scenario, although he might have some value as a reclamation project or somebody to flip at the trade deadline).