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FlamesNation mailbag: rapidly approaching draft season

Friends, the Tampa Bay Lightning are Stanley Cup champions once more. With the NHL playing season totally done and dusted, we turn our attention to a season that’s sure to have just as much mayhem and chaos involved: draft season. We’re nine days away from the expansion draft.

Let’s check in with the mailbag.

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Honestly, probably yes. He’s been injured over the past few seasons but he’s still been productive offensively, and I think he’s a player that general managers can look at and project their hopes and dreams upon to a certain extent. (“Hey, he’s scored this much while injured, just imagine how good he’ll be when he’s healthy!”) Simply put: GMs like players who can score goals, even if they have other warts, and Monahan can score goals.

If both of those things happen, you probably hope to get a defenseman back in a Monahan trade and use free agency to fill in some gaps up front. The Flames have some up-and-coming forwards who should be able to fit into the bottom six mix pretty rapidly, but their best defensive prospects – Juuso Valimaki and Connor Mackey – are basically already in the NHL and there are no sure things behind them. Combine that with an iffy free agent class on the blueline, and it’s probably the better aim.

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This is a good question!

Off the top of my head?

  • Send a third round pick to Seattle to convince them to take Oliver Kylington. (This might not work, but I wouldn’t want to spend more than this to keep Mark Giordano.)
  • Trade Sean Monahan to Columbus or Ottawa for a second round pick and a B-level prospect (position unimportant, but slight preference to defensemen).
  • Use part of the Monahan cap space to sign Phillip Danault long-term at free agency.
  • Use part of the Monahan cap space to re-sign Johnny Gaudreau to a contract extension.
  • Use part of the Monahan cap space to re-sign Andrew Mangiapane to a contract extension.
  • Back-fill the team with prospects (Jakob Pelletier, Connor Zary, Glenn Gawdin, Matthew Phillips, etc.) and bank on their development to push the team forward.

Minor correction: In the NHL, the GM’s job is to keep ownership happy. But NHL GMs aren’t offer sheeting restricted free agents probably (a) due to the cost in draft picks and (b) as a result of the general hockey culture, which is to be a good team player and not make waves. The hockey world is extremely small and everyone knows each other, and it’s challenging in such a small world to earn a negative reputation as a GM.

For Tyler Parsons, it’s hard to say. He played one game last season and was a bit rusty. The 2021-22 campaign may be his last chance to really get the trajectory of his pro career back where it should be.

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For Dustin Wolf, he’s amassed an incredible resume in junior hockey – arguably better than Parsons’ was when he turned pro – but pro hockey is a different animal than junior hockey. We probably need a full AHL season of Wolf to determine what he can be at the pro level.

Honestly, losing Mikael Backlund probably hurts the team more. Backlund is a pure 200-foot player. That is to say, Monahan’s more of a finisher, but Backlund plays in every game situation and can be used to cover up defensive shortcomings of teammates and mentor young players. Heck, Backlund’s done that for a decade already with success. If you lose Backlund, a lot of holes emerge in the lineup fairly quickly.

Monahan probably also gets you more in the trade market, too, since trading for a goal-scorer is sexier than trading for a shutdown guy, no matter how useful the two roles are overall.

It would probably take a first round pick, and perhaps more, to get Seattle to take Milan Lucic. Lucic is less expensive, but the deal is longer, it’s impossible to buy out, and Lucic is probably closer to the end of his productive years than Giordano is. Allowing Calgary, a division rival, to keep their best exposed player and take on arguably their worst contract? Yeah, that’ll cost a ton.

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