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Calgary Flames 2024 free agency preview – defenceman

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Photo credit:© James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Munnich
23 days ago
We’re one day away from the start of free agency in the NHL and the Calgary Flames are set to be a busy team, especially when it comes to signing a defenceman or two.
As currently constructed, the Flames blueline needs help. Especially if they are not able to come to terms on a contract with pending UFA Oliver Kylington.
The Flames have two established top four defencemen in MacKenzie Weegar and Rasmus Andersson. The talent level really starts to fall off after that.
We still don’t truly know what Daniil Miromanov is. Kevin Bahl just finished his first full season in the NHL. And we know Brayden Pachal and Joel Hanley are depth options.
Because of this, the Flames are going to go after one or two defenceman in free agency. But it’s not going to be one of the top players on the market who want near max term deals. It’s highly unlikely guys like Brandon Montour, Chris Tanev, Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei, Matt Roy, etc. are signing in Calgary.
There are two types of defencemen the Flames will target. First, is a veteran right or left shot defenseman who can play top four minutes at 5-on-5 and play big minutes on the PK. The type of player where money is likely the main deciding factor in signing with their next team.
Second, will be a third pairing defenceman if they aren’t able to sign Oliver Kylington. A veteran defenceman who can bring some experience to the Flames blueline.

Top four defencemen

There are a lot of potential top four defenders available in this year’s crop of free agents. These are the type of defencemen who are in a position to cash in on a big contract for the first time in their NHL career, which is why they would consider signing with the Flames. Calgary has a ton of cap space so signing one of these defencemen to a 3-4 year contract with a high AAV makes sense.

Sean Walker – RHD – 29 years old – 5’11”, 191 pounds – 81 GP – 10G – 19A – 29P

Walker is coming off one of the best seasons of his career that included an impressive stint with the Colorado Avalanche. Walker’s best quality is his skating and mobility. He’s someone that can move pucks and join the rush to help generate offence. On top of that he’s a solid penalty killer.
Walker would be a great fit with the Flames as he can eat top four minutes while the Flames high end defensive prospects develop their game. By the time Zayne Parekh and Hunter Brzustewicz are ready to make the jump to the NHL you can trade a guy like Walker.
Flames contract projection: 4 years, $5 million AAV

Alexandre Carrier – RHD – 27 years old – 5’11”, 174 pounds – 73 GP – 4G – 16A – 20P

Alexandre Carrier is a steady, all-around defenceman. He doesn’t have any elite elements of his game. But he is solid at everything including moving pucks up the ice. Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli described Carrier as “a poor man’s Jared Spurgeon” which is not an insult whatsoever as Spurgeon is a top pair defenceman with the Minnesota Wild.
Flames contract projection: 4 years, $4,5 million AAV

Matt Grzelcyk – LHD – 30 years old – 5’10”, 180 pounds – 63 GP – 2G – 9A -11P

Matt Grzelcyk is a very similar player to Carrier in the sense that they’re both not the biggest guys. But they are smart, steady defenders. There is going to be a lot of demand for Grzelcyk’s services across the NHL after an impressive stint with the Boston Bruins. The Flames are going to have to overpay in both term and AAV if they want to bring this player to Calgary.
Flames contract projection: 4 years, $4.5 million AAV

Matt Dumba – RHD – 29 years old – 6’0″, 181 pounds – 74 GP – 4G – 8A – 12P

Calling Matt Dumba a top four defenceman at this stage of his career might be too kind of a description for his game. The Flames would certainly be taking a flyer on Dumba for a season or two hoping they can get the player he was in Minnesota a few years ago, not the one we saw in his last two seasons.
The potential is there for him to be a top four defenceman again as he’s only 29 years old. All the tools are there. He just needs to find his confidence again.
Flames contract projection: 2 years, $4.25 million
Honorable mentions: TJ Brodie, Shayne Gostisbehere, Brenden Dillon, Joel Edmundson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ilya Lyubushkin, Alec Martinez

Depth defensemen

Jani Hakanpaa – RHD – 32 years old – 6’7″, 222 pounds – 64 GP – 2G – 10A – 12P

The Flames could have a couple giants on the back end between Kevin Bahl and a guy like Jani Hakanpaa who comes in at 6’7. He’s a solid, physical, defensive defenceman who can play bottom pairing minutes and help out on a second penalty kill unit.
Flames contract projection: 1 year, $3.125 million

Ian Cole – LHD – 35 years old – 6’1″, 225 pounds – 78 GP – 2G – 9A – 11P

Recency bias would have you believe that Ian Cole can’t play in the NHL anymore as he’s coming off a poor performance in the playoffs for the Canucks. But he was playing through an ankle injury that seriously hampered his ability to skate.
Cole may have struggled in the playoffs, but he had a solid regular season playing a third pair role. He played a simple, yet effective game and brought a great attitude and veteran presence to the Canucks locker room.
Flames contract projection: 1 year, $2.75 million

Vincent Desharnais – RHD – 28 years old – 6’7″, 226 pounds – 78 GP – 1G – 10A – 11P

I know Flames fans are probably not going to like this option, but Vincent Desharnais could be a solid player for the Flames third pair. He showed a lot of improvements in his ability to move the puck last season. And he brings an element of size and toughness to a group that could use it. I’m not sure if Desharnais would sign in Calgary because of the rivalry with the Oilers, but it’s someone the Flames might target despite his time in Edmonton.
Flames contract projection: 2 years, $1.95 million AAV

Robert Bortuzzo – RHD – 35 years old – 6’4, 216 pounds – 27 GP – 0G – 0A – 0P

Bortuzzo is coming off an injury riddled season with the Blues and Islanders. But he can still play on a bottom pairing when healthy. The Flames would love to bring a guy like Bortuzzo to Calgary for his leadership and championship pedigree. He’s the type of player who can help build a “winning culture”, something Craig Conroy has spoken at length about since taking over as general manager.
This wouldn’t be a move to put you over the top, but rather bring in a respected veteran player who teammates rave about.
Flames contract projection: 1 year, $2 million
Honorable mentions: Mark Giordano, Calvin De Haan, Derek Forbort, Alex Goligoski, Josh Brown, Dmitry Kulikov, Colin Miller, Philippe Myers, Mike Reilly, Marc Staal, Troy Stecher.
Get ready for the Daily Faceoff Live Free Agency Special, coming to you on July 1st, 2024 LIVE from 11am to 2pm Eastern Standard Time. Join Tyler Yaremchuk, Frank Seravalli and friends from all over the league 3 hours of non-stop action as they dive deep into the heart of the Free Agency. We will be breaking down every trade, discussing the impact on teams, predicting the future of the Free Agents, and giving you the inside scoop on all the wheeling and dealing happening around the league. Catch all the action live on July 1st from 11 AM to 2 PM EST for the The Daily Faceoff Live Free Agency Special you won’t want to miss!

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