FlamesNation Mailbag: idle hands and minds

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
The Calgary Flames are idle for the rest of the week – at least – as they deal with a COVID-19 outbreak. In the interim, we twiddle our thumbs and find ways to bide our time before games start up again.
In that regard, let’s dive into the weekly mailbag!
My best guess is not until the end of the season.
It goes without saying that the Flames are high on Jakob Pelletier and over the moon with his start. But with his success, their mindset is probably about giving him a taste late in the season so he can go into the summer to make adjustments and make a push to get a full-time NHL job next season. If/when the Flames clinch a playoff spot, I imagine we see Pelletier for a game or two so they can give some other players a night or two off.
I would put the odds at low for a couple of reasons.
One reason is hockey-related: where would he fit in? Mark Giordano’s absence has given Noah Hanifin and Oliver Kylington larger roles and they’ve excelled. Unless Giordano is able to play third pairing minutes on the left side, I’m not sure where he slots in.
The other reason is cap-related: the Flames won’t have the cap space to eat all of Giordano’s $6.75 million cap hit, so Seattle would need to retain salary (and that would be pricey) and/or a third team would need to retain salary (also pricey). I’m not sure moving heaven and earth and sending oodles of assets to add a 38-year-old defender as a rental is the smartest idea.
Darryl Sutter’s style is strict adherence to checking and defensive structure – basically being in the right place constantly – bolstered with combinations of positive and negative reinforcement. He’s a tough coach, but he’s said to reward the players who stick with the program. But the strictness of the team structure does tend to wear on players over time, and eventually he seems to hit an expiry date two or three seasons in when players begin to tune him out.
But those two or three years before they do so can be magical on the ice.
It’s hard to guess right now since so many teams are still in the playoff mix. The Flames would probably love to another forward (maybe a right shot) to the third line mix, though, as it would give them more flexibility and versatility.
Looking at the five teams that seem least likely to make the playoffs – Arizona, Montreal, Ottawa, Buffalo and Seattle – folks like Ryan Dzingel (Arizona), Cedric Paquette (Montreal), Chris Tierney (Ottawa) or Calle Jarnkrok (Seattle) could be interesting names to keep in mind.
Honestly, it’s probably both. We broke things down on Monday in the seven game segment recap: the Flames are good, but they had big dips in both their shooting and save percentages last segment. The club has also had a very nice top six performance this season, but adding another middle six forward who can score would make them deeper and more dangerous, something they’d need to be to beat Vegas in a playoff series.
As currently constructed and fully healthy? Carolina in seven.

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