FlamesNation Mailbag: Welcome to April!
Photo credit:Mike Gould
By Ryan Pike9 months ago
Friends, we’re into the final month of the regular season and the Calgary Flames are in their first “slump” since early January. Three months between losing skids seems pretty good, all things being equal.
As we all deal with the challenges and strife of the losing streak, let’s dive into the weekly mailbag.
The Flames have already brought up Connor Mackey, and it sounds like a few more recalls are coming depending on the club’s injury situation. Presuming the Flames stay reasonably healthy and break out of their slump, I would assume the club tries to get a look-see at Adam Ruzicka, Juuso Valimaki, Luke Philp, Matthew Phillips, Jakob Pelletier and Justin Kirkland. (Philp and Kirkland have been quite good in the AHL but neither has ever played an NHL game yet.)
Back in the Swedish Hockey League, Johannes Kinnvall was a fairly average even strength player with superb puck distribution abilities on the power play. So far in the American Hockey League, that’s what he’s been for Stockton. His season was derailed by injuries somewhat, and he still hasn’t supplanted any of Stockton’s regular defenders – he’s been scratched in favour of rookie Ilya Solovyov in several games – but he’s definitely a player that has his uses, particularly on special teams.
In case you’re wondering, both Adam Ruzicka and Juuso Valimaki were healthy scratches on Sunday night for Stockton’s latest win. (Yes, the Heat won without two good players, and they were already without Connor Mackey after his recalll up to the Flames.)
We’re told that there are no injuries to report, so this seems like a situation where players were held out to keep them available for the big club’s uses. That’s all we know, but the short answer is “Yeah, Ruzicka and Valimaki being out makes them very likely to be call-up candidates.” You’re not going to keep two good players on the sidelines just to make Stockton’s games more competitive for the other team.
Should they split starts? Yes. It makes sense to have Jacob Markstrom as fresh as possible for the post-season.
Will they split starts? Yes, but I think the team’s recent losing skid skews the remaining starts a bit more in Markstrom’s favour, as he’s obviously the coaching staff’s preferred goaltending option and they probably lean on him a bit until they clinch a playoff and/or divisional spot in the standings. If the team’s playoff future is still to be cemented, it’s Markstrom’s net. Once that happens, expect to see a bit more of Dan Vladar.
Blair sent in a question over the weekend: Was the Hampus Lindholm to Calgary not completed because of the complex cap issues present, and would it have been a different outcome (in your opinion) if Monahan was on LTIR then?
Honestly, I’m not entirely sure for a few reasons.
1) Does Anaheim’s price tag end up higher for an in-division trade than sending Hampus Lindholm out of conference?
2) Could the Flames match Boston’s package? The Ducks got John Moore (to make the cap math work for Boston), young defender Urho Vaaakanainen, a 2022 1st-rounder, a 2023 2nd-rounder and a 2024 2nd-rounder. Even ignoring the Moore of it all – maybe that would’ve been Sean Monahan’s rumoured placement in such a trade pre-injury – but the Flames likely would have trouble matching a good young blueliner and three fairly high picks, especially after sending picks out the door to land Tyler Toffoli and Calle Jarnkrok? (Side thought: would Oliver Kylington be the Vaakanainen in this situation? Would that have been worth it?)
I don’t think Monahan’s LTIR status and the sudden cap flexibility it gives the Flames would’ve allowed the Flames do to anything regarding Lindholm, because adding Lindholm for that price as a rental is nuts, and adding Lindholm long-term would’ve been incredibly difficult from a salary cap perspective.
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