Folks, it’s four weeks later than usual, but today is the beginning of the National Hockey League’s free agent frenzy (and technically the opening day of the 2021-22 league year). The Calgary Flames have some jobs to fill and some money to work with – much more money than they usually do after the departure of Mark Giordano.
Signings can be filed with the league starting at 10 a.m. MT! Join us for all the fun, friends.
The Flames have 13 players under contract for 2021-22 (plus two restricted free agents) who are basically locks to be on the NHL roster.
Under contract, but not NHL locks: Emilio Pettersen, Connor Zary, Jakob Pelletier, Walker Duehr, Eetu Tuulola, Adam Ruzicka, Martin Pospisil, Dmitry Zavgorodniy, Byron Froese
RFAs, but not NHL locks: Glenn Gawdin, Justin Kirkland, Matthew Phillips, Luke Philp
Under contract, but not NHL locks: Johannes Kinnvall, Yan Kuznetsov, Ilya Solovyov
RFAs, but not NHL locks: Connor Mackey, Oliver Kylington, Colton Poolman
Under contract, but not NHL locks: Dustin Wolf
RFAs, but not NHL locks: Tyler Parsons
Presumably the Flames will carry an extra forward and an extra defenseman (for a 22 player active roster), so that means there’s seven spots (a goalie, three defense and three forwards) up for grabs.
The cap ceiling for 2021-22 – and for awhile, possibly through 2024-25 – is $81.5 million. From the 13 players we noted above, the Flames have $60.65 million committed. Additionally, they owe $1.5 million from Troy Brouwer’s buyout. So that means $62.15 million is committed overall.
That leaves $19.35 million available to re-sign Dillon Dube and Juuso Valimaki, and fill the other seven spots. Evolving Hockey estimates Dube’s next deal will pay him $2.032 million and Valimaki’s will pay him $1.565 million, so that would drop the available cap room for the other seven spots to $15.753 million. (That’s about $2.25 million per roster spot and it seems likely that the seventh defender and 13th forward will be close to league minimum, which would push up the available cap for the other spots closer to $3 million.)
The Flames had to go bargain hunting last October, signing a handful of players for around league minimum. It didn’t turn out tremendously well, but the Flames have more cap space to work with and a few young players – potentially Pelletier, Zary, Gawdin, Ruzicka and Mackey – pushing for bigger roles. The balancing act before Brad Treliving this week is adding depth to the roster without blocking the path for progression for these young players.
Now, there are a lot of moving pieces right now and players are seemingly coming off the free agent market in a hurry. But based on what we think we know right now, here are some names to keep in mind for the Flames.
The goalie market seems pretty fluid, but names like Jaroslav Halak, James Reimer and even someone like David Rittich, who the Flames know quite well, could be options. X-factors include recently bought-out goalies Martin Jones and Braden Holtby, who both might be up for a short-term “show me” deal.
In terms of lefty defensemen, names being kicked around include Alexander Edler, Ryan Murray, Jake McCabe and Patrik Nemeth. Edler might be a good fit given he’s Swedish and familiar with all the former Vancouver Canucks on the team. McCabe may be an ideal stylistic fit if the idea is they need someone to play with Rasmus Andersson.
And who knows who’ll be available in terms of top six or top nine wingers, but Tomas Tatar, Blake Coleman and Kyle Palmieri might be names that could fit the Flames’ needs rather nicely.
The Flames have money to spend. They have roster holes to fill.