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Photo Credit: Mike Gould

FlamesNation Mailbag: happy cut-down day

Friends, it’s almost here! Monday is cut-down day for the National Hockey League’s 32 teams, and games begin on Tuesday night! (The Calgary Flames don’t start until Saturday…)

So let’s celebrate with a mailbag!

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The short answer is “yes.” Once the rope drops on the NHL season on Tuesday, teams need to be cap compliant at all times – including suspended and injured players. Teams can exceed the cap by the cap hit of injured players, but only if that player has been placed on the Long-Term Injury Reserve (LTIR). But the team needs to be cap compliant before they place a player on LTIR.

From what we recall, though, a traded player is moved to wherever the other team had them on their roster. He’s currently on Buffalo’s “regular” IR, then the acquiring team would have him on their “regular IR (and would need to be under the cap when including him). f Eichel is placed on Buffalo’s LTIR, though, he would go straight onto the acquiring team’s LTIR and so the team would automatically enter into the fun and frustrating world of the LTIR and all of its complexities.

But the short answer is “yes,” an acquiring team would need to be under the cap (including Eichel) right now because he’s on the “regular” IR.

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As of right now, the Flames are carrying eight defensemen and so it seems likely (but not guaranteed) that the Flames will waive somebody when the team gets fully healthy. So Glenn Gawdin is one of the team’s 13 active forwards and until the team gets fully healthy, he’ll probably tandem with Brad Richardson as fourth line centre (unless Richardson’s injury is worse than expected).

The hope is Gawdin becomes another Derek Ryan; he’s a right shot centre who plays a structured, smart 200-foot game and can win key face-offs. Every team needs somebody like that.

Under the NHL’s system, a team that drafts and signs a player gets their exclusive rights for seven seasons (or until they’re 27), whichever comes first. For Eichel, that would be the end of the 2021-22 season. But the NHL probably wouldn’t want to set the precedent where a medical disagreement nullifies a contract, especially one negotiated in good faith (even if the relationship has broken down).

I do imagine that under the next CBA, players will want to have some additional protections baked into the medical side of things, though.

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If you’re asking “hey, will the Flames be a more coherent systemic team under Darryl Sutter this season?,” my answer is definitely yes. Sutter’s had half a season to get used to the players and figure out how they fit in, and now he’s dealing with a coaching staff he recruited and players who have had a chance to get to know him and the system, too.

But the team’s composition is vulnerable to injuries, both from a lineup depth perspective and a salary cap perspective. Look at Blake Coleman’s suspension: without it, the Flames have a nice-looking top two lines. With it, though, they have to push Dillon Dube or Mikael Backlund into the top six and the third line becomes weaker. (A similar phenomenon would happen with a defensive injury.)

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The Flames can get down to their 23-man limit by placing Tyler Pitlick on the IR on Monday, retroactive to his original injury on Sept. 25. A player has to be on the IR for seven days and can be placed retroactive to their original injury, so Pitlick on the IR could be a very short-term move to get under the roster limit. (Retroactively, he would’ve already been injured for longer than the minimum time-frame, so he couldn’t necessarily need to miss any games to meet the time requirements.)

We’ll find out what their final move is at 3 p.m. MT on Monday!

The FlamesNation mailbag is brought to you by Deuce Vodka!

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