Calgary’s off-season officially started about a month go, but it’s about to kick into high gear. We’re two weeks away, at most, from learning the outcome of this summer’s biggest unknown: Johnny Gaudreau’s future. In and around that time period, the Flames have a lot of things to take care of. In chronological order, here’s the rundown of what the next few weeks have in store.
The league’s first buyout window opens this Friday, July 1, and remains active until July 12. While not the most efficient way to gain cap space, we’ve seen Calgary use the buyout tool in recent years on players like Mason Raymond, Troy Brouwer, and Michael Stone. It would be surprising if the Flames were to go down this road this summer, however.
The two most “obvious” buyout candidates at first glance are Milan Lucic and Sean Monahan, In reality, though, neither are realistic. Lucic’s contract is structured as such that Calgary would save less than $700,000 on their cap this season if they were to buy him out. Monahan, on the other hand, is actively recovering from an injury, which means he’d have to sign off on a buyout.
The 2022 NHL Draft
The draft in Montreal starts Thursday, July 7 (round one) and continues Friday (rounds two through seven). Due to wheeling and dealing, the Flames are currently scheduled to be quite quiet on day one and only slightly busier the following day. Here the rundown for Calgary:
Traded to MTL (Tyler Toffoli deal)
Traded to BOS (Dan Vladar deal)
Traded to SEA (Tyler Pitlick deal)
Traded to FLA (Sam Bennett deal, now BUF pick)
That’s not a lot of picks. I’m curious if general manager Brad Treliving will be able to recoup one or two mid-round selections, which we’ve seen before. Whether it’s a move involving a player on the active roster or a trade down situation, it’s not out of the question.
The Monday following the draft (July 11 in 2022) is once again this year’s deadline to tender qualifying offers to restricted free agents. The 2022 list for the Flames looks like this:
Calgary will qualify the obvious ones: Tkachuk, Mangiapane, and Kylington. Knowing Ruzicka spent a decent chunk of time in the NHL last season makes him a no-brainer, too.
The rest of the players range on a scale from “probably” to “yeah, no” when it comes to tendering a QO. Interestingly, Tuulola (Ilves, Finland) and Kinnvall (Brynãs IF, Sweden) have already signed in Europe for next season. The Flames could still qualify them and retain their North American rights, however.
Unrestricted free agency
Ah yes, the looming deadline of doom. 2022 free agency opens Wednesday, July 13 at 10 a.m. Mountain. That’s when Gaudreau can hit the open market and it would come a few hours after Calgary’s window to offer an eight-year contract closes; that ability expires the night before.
Along with Gaudreau, the following players are eligible to become unrestricted on July 13:
Glenn Gawdin (Group VI)
Justin Kirkland (Group VI)
Luke Philp (Group VI)
As we know, what happens with Gaudreau is set to define how the Flames approach the rest of their off-season. Even not knowing how Gaudreau’s situation is going to play out, though, Calgary has some interesting decisions to make.
Järnkrok was steady but underwhelming after being acquired from Seattle. Gudbranson and Zadorov made up an effective third defence pair for most of the season, but both could be in line for more lucrative deals in free agency. And Lewis turned into a solid fourth line and penalty killing option in his first year with the Flames. Without knowing Gaudreau’s fate, though, a lot of these decisions are currently stalled in limbo.
Gawdin and Philp will be interesting to watch, too. After a solid season in Stockton, Gawdin is generating plenty of interest league-wide as teams like the fact he’s a smart, versatile, right shot centre. The same is true with Philp; he was identified by Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli a few months ago as one of his pending Group IV free agents to watch.
Of Calgary’s restricted free agents, a significant number are eligible for arbitration including Tkachuk, Mangiapane, Kylington, and Phillips. The deadline to file for arb is July 17, and most eligible players end up doing just that. Arbitration hearings would then start across the league in late July and continue through mid-August.
One note to remember: the Flames become eligible for a second buyout period if one or any of the players above decide to file for arbitration. That window would open a few days after the team’s last arb case is settled.
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