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FlamesNation Mailbag: suddenly it’s August

It’s August, folks, and besides salary arbitration cases, most of the biggest pieces of news are probably either (a) complete or (b) waiting until September.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate the turning over of the calendar with the mailbag!

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This is probably the case. If the Flames are going to do anything but – not necessarily Jack Eichel, but something that substantial – they need to know what their cap structure looks like for the next few seasons. And since Johnny Gaudreau is their most foundational piece on the roster right now, his extension is probably the big domino that needs to be dealt with.

All we’re hearing right now is they’re working on it, but you typically get no hints or clues from general manager Brad Treliving until he has something to announce. He’s been asked about it frequently, and he always has the same general answer: they’re working on it.

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Probably the reason you’re not seeing Dustin Wolf’s name kicked around in trade rumours is because goalies are voodoo, and the Sabres might prefer a bunch of young skaters rather than a goalie. They’ve also got Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen and Devon Levi in their system, so they might not want another goalie right now.

Wolf, a first round pick and Emilio Pettersen likely falls short of the reported “four first round pick equivalents” price we’re hearing for Eichel.

With the price that Buffalo wants, teams have to be sure that he’d be the big difference-maker for them. For the Flames, the big question for me is: are the Flames a Jack Eichel away from winning a Stanley Cup? If Eichel was 100%, definitely healthy, my answer is “maybe.” And it’s a maybe because of the price tag: you’re looking at adding Eichel but possibly/probably losing something along the lines of Sean Monahan, Dillon Dube, a first round pick and one of the top prospects (Zary/Pelletier/Coronato). That’s a big, big hit to your depth both right now and for a couple years.

And then imagine, whoops, Eichel isn’t 100% and might not ever be again. The price tag is scary. The prospect that you could pony up that price and not get the Eichel you think you’re paying for, that’s doubly scary.

But I don’t think the team necessarily needs a full tear-down; they have good enough pieces to stay competitive in the Pacific Division for awhile. But if they want to potentially contenders, and ideally time it for the opening of the new building in 2024, maybe they should do a strategic retreat and move some pieces for futures and bank on their younger pieces flourishing over the next few seasons. That said, the money they’ve put into guys in (or approaching) their 30s like Blake Coleman and Jacob Markstrom says flat-out that a rebuild or retool isn’t in the plans.

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Nope, and nope for two reasons. The cap hit wouldn’t work within the team’s cap space right now, so they’d need to jettison something significant to fit that deal in. And giving up four first round picks when the team likely isn’t one piece away from a Stanley Cup and really needs to keep accumulating young prospects who can be somewhat productive during their entry-level years… that’s just too big a price to pay to grab a good player.

Jacob Markstrom was out for a few weeks with his concussion and then took another few weeks to really get his groove back after missing all that time. The Flames missed the playoffs by four points. It’s not at all crazy to say that had Markstrom not suffered a brain injury that cost him time (and probably really messed up his off-ice rhythm, too) that the club would’ve made the playoffs. It’s probably the case.

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