FlamesNation Mailbag: Closing out March’s mailbags with a look towards the off-season

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
3 months ago
Friends, the Calgary Flames have just a dozen games remaining on their 2023-24 regular season schedule. With their playoff hopes faint (and getting fainter by the day, unfortunately), the minds of fans appear to be focused on the club’s future and off-season.
Let’s close out our March run of mailbags!
I’m a paranoid type, so I don’t think there are every any true coincidences.
But I think the Flames collecting players from the Russian sphere of influence is due to a mixture of availability and opportunity. If you look in the Flames’ system, right now they have 10 Russian-born players and two Belarusian-born players on their reserve list. If you’re trying to help players succeed, having them surrounded by players they can relate and communicate with is really important, especially if you’re trying to help players learn skills, tactics, team culture, and a bunch of other things. (See how the Flames have utilized their talented Swedes to support each other, as well as attract other Swedes. That’s kind of how it looks when it works well.)
So the Flames have had the opportunity to collect a bunch of talented Russians and Belarusians over the past few years, and because of that they’ve opted to collect a few. We’ll see how this tactic works out, but a few of them have definitely adapted well to pro hockey and made the Flames and Wranglers tougher to play against.
In terms of Wranglers additions: In addition to Joni Jurmo, who’s joining the Wranglers on Tuesday (via Postmedia’s Danny Austin), I would expect to see WHL forward Parker Bell (who’s already on an NHL deal) to join the Wranglers this coming week as his Tri-City Americans have finished their WHL campaign.
After that, keep an eye on what happens with Samuel Honzek and Jaden Lipinski as the Vancouver Giants traverse the WHL playoffs. The Giants have a tough first-round match-up on the books against the Everett Silvertips and I suspect that if their season ends, they’ll explore moving one or both of those youngsters to the Wranglers to continue their development. The nice thing about the Flames having the Wranglers in town is that they can collect some players whose junior seasons have ended and get a head start on their summer development work by giving them a few days (or weeks, depending on each player’s situation) with the AHL group.
Aside from the NHL Draft in Las Vegas, I have no set travel plans for the off-season as of yet.
I would be fascinated to see what the Flames’ data crew has on Yegor Sharangovich’s game. He’s been a superb offensive winger this season and he’s shown the ability to find quiet areas of the ice, get open for scoring opportunities, and to bury those chances. As a centre, he’s been fine, but his time up the middle has definitely slowed his offensive output a bit.
Sharangovich has definitely out-performed his current $3.1 million cap hit. My big question is whether this level can be sustained. I imagine Sharangovich’s representation chats with the Flames during the summer regarding his desire to be a Flame for the long-term – it seems to have been a great fit for team and player – and they’ll probably kick around a few contract concepts. The desire to work something out is likely there, but we’ll see if they can reach common ground on term and dollars.
I would say a little of both. I think the Flames probably recognize what a lot of outsiders do: they’ll need some centre help – again, Sharangovich is probably best served on the wing long-term – and they could probably add to their defensive group with somebody that could be a shutdown compliment to the offensive-minded guys they already have in Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, MacKenzie Weegar and Daniil Miromanov. You can see the framework of a pretty interesting blueline group, if they can find some defensive minds to compliment them a bit.
In terms of movement, I’m expecting a Jacob Markstrom move. This isn’t informed by any inside info, but the way the whole thing has unfolded, I’m not sure if you can fully repair that relationship once he’s wrapped his mind around a departure. I could be wrong, though. I think the 2024-25 tandem is Dustin Wolf and a veteran of some kind. (Maybe that veteran is Markstrom.) If Markstrom isn’t here, and depending Dan Vladar’s injury status, you probably want a Cam Talbot type goaltender – a reliable, steady vet who won’t break the bank to acquire – to work with Wolf.
And given the team’s many, many talented young AHL wingers – looking at you, Jakob Pelletier and Matt Coronato – I think the Flames would consider moving a winger to open a spot for one of those young guys. Look at it this way: heading into next year’s camp, what’s the pathway for a new face to make the NHL roster? The wings may be the easiest spots to make room.
Again, I have no inside information on this so I’m making educated guesses based on the companies who spend the most on Flames-related programming: I would guess that somebody like Scotiabank, Telus or Rogers are the most likely naming partners. (Given Scotiabank is the naming-rights partner of the Saddledome, I suspect they would have the inside track.)

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