Calgary Flames have a quiet opening day of 2023 free agency, as expected
Photo credit:@NHLFlames on Twitter
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
Three hours into unrestricted free agency, Calgary Flames general manager Craig Conroy descended from his office to speak with the assembled media. He summed up a quiet day: “This is a day when there’s a lot of money spent, and we didn’t have a lot of money to spend.”
As expected, the Flames made zero significant moves on July 1.
“Even going into free agency we kinda knew our situation,” said Conroy. “We weren’t going to be really active in free agency this year.”
The Flames have 19 players projected into 22 or 23 roster spots for the coming season – two goalies, seven blueliners and 12 forwards – and between having just $2.5 million to fill those roster spots and Conroy’s stated intention to give young players a chance to make the team in camp, adding significant pieces in the open market just wasn’t in the cards.
As of Conroy’s chat with the media, three Flames free agents had signed elsewhere: Milan Lucic in Boston, Troy Stecher in Arizona and Trevor Lewis in Los Angeles.
“They were great Calgary Flames,” said Conroy. “They came and they were good pros and they did a great job. But with our situation and where we’re trying to move forward in the future, to get some of these younger players an opportunity, as good as they were we didn’t feel they were a fit at this point.”
Conroy confirmed he’s spoken with Matthew Phillips’ camp, and said they’ll see where those discussions go. Phillips became a Group 6 unrestricted free agent on Saturday after being the Wranglers’ leading scorer this past season.
Asked about reigning American Hockey League most valuable player Dustin Wolf, who sure does seem like a young player that could fit into an NHL roster spot, Conroy relied on a common refrain. To paraphrase: they’re providing opportunities, but spots have to be earned and they don’t want to rush anybody.
“We have two very good goalies here in Markstrom and Vladar,” said Conroy. “I know there’s no perfect scenario on that, we just know that he’s coming. He’s a guy that we think is a real valuable piece in the organization. We look forward to it. How it plays out there in net, time will tell a little bit.”
Conroy’s priority this week will be checking in on possible depth signings, then circling back to the club’s six remaining potential 2024 free agents. The priority is obviously retaining (or maximizing the value of) centre Elias Lindholm. He noted he had spoken to Lindholm on Saturday on the phone and were keeping lines of communication open.
“We’re not setting deadlines or drop-dead dates,” said Conroy. “We’re just continuing to talk and moving forward and seeing what their side wants to do and what we want to do. We’re in a good place, I think, just moving forward.”
Conroy reiterated a phrasing that might as well be his mantra as an executive early in his tenure regarding making player moves, when asked about the six 2024 pending UFAs.
“We’re not going to do anything just to do anything,” said Conroy. “That doesn’t help the organization. We want to do it the right way.”
Tune into the The Daily Faceoff Live Free Agent Special on July 1st from 11am – 1pm EST hosted by Tyler Yaremchuk, featuring NHL insider Frank Seravalli, serving you all the up to the minute details!
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