FlamesNation Mailbag: Digging into readers’ pressing post-deadline questions
Photo credit:Mike Gould
By Ryan Pike8 months ago
The annual National Hockey League trade deadline has come and gone, and the Calgary Flames made two moves and then extended their losing skid to five games. The Flames’ playoff chances are fading rapidly and, as you might expect, fans are a bit anxious.
Let’s dive into the mailbag for the first time since before the trade deadline!
All that the Flames have said publicly is that Oliver Kylington is on personal leave dealing with a “personal issue.” Brad Treliving emphasized in the fall that it’s not substance related. Frank Seravalli reported recently that Kylington is taking part in the NHL/NHLPA’s joint Player Assistance Program. That’s all we know.
Beyond that, whatever Kylington’s going through is his business and when he returns – hopefully when, and not if – it’ll be his choice whether or not to disclose the reason for his absence. In the meantime: let’s continue to respect his privacy and not wildly speculate. He’s a promising young player and, in my dealings with him as media over the past several years, a really polite, engaging person. Hopefully he’s doing well.
So here’s the deal with Harvard sophomore star (and Flames 2021 first-round pick) Matt Coronato. He can sign two different deals.
- Option 1: Sign an entry-level deal that begins this season (2022-23). He would go right to the NHL, but would not be eligible to be assigned to the AHL this season.
- Option 2: Sign an entry-level deal that begins next season (2023-24). He could also sign an amateur try-out deal with the Wranglers and would be able to play in the AHL, but he wouldn’t be eligible for a call-up to the NHL.
More likely than not, he’ll go with Option 1 if/when he signs, so don’t expect to see him with the Wranglers this season.
I’m a big Saddledome guy. My dad was an original season ticket-holder when the building opened, and my seat in the press box is actually a section over (and 70 feet higher) from our old season tickets. While the ‘Dome has seen better days, it has amazing sightlines.
Aside from the ‘Dome, I’ve enjoyed games in the Centrium in Red Deer, Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, and Rogers Place in Edmonton. I’ve also heard great things about Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle and T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The Wranglers are a virtual shoo-in to clinch an AHL playoff berth. The AHL regular season ends in April – their final regular season game is April 15. If the Flames keep sliding, I think they should explore the possibility of bringing up a few key AHL players (let’s go with Connor Zary, Dustin Wolf, Jeremie Poirier, and maybe one or two others) for a week or two to gauge their NHL readiness. That said, they need to do it at the end of March potentially, so that they can return those players to the AHL and ensure they’re ready to roll for the AHL playoffs. There’s a way to balance giving them an NHL cup of coffee and having them go on a long playoff run.
(We got a lot of questions about the futures of Darryl Sutter and Brad Treliving; we’re using this one as a representative of that cohort.)
Based on everything I think I know about how contracts work, Darryl Sutter has two more years under contract and will be paid by the Flames unless he decides to resign and head back to his farm outside Viking, AB. The big questions are (a) Who’s going to be the general manager next year? And (b) what will they want to do?
A lot of things didn’t go as planned this season. Maybe a coaching change helps. Maybe changing up management helps. Suffice it to say that if the club misses the playoffs – and probably even if they make the playoffs – the Flames are going to be drilling down into why things didn’t go to plan and trying to come up with a battle plan for the off-season.
I don’t think anything – including coaching or management changes – are off the table.
The Flames have been an above-average team at generating expected goals and a really good team at preventing expected goals. Their penalty kill has been good, though goaltending has hurt it recently. Their power play has been below average. Now, the good parts of their game have been really hampered by a combination of rough goaltending and an inability to bury chances. They’ve scored less and allowed more goals than you would expect given everything their underlying numbers say about their game’s quality.
The Flames could run it back with the exact same group and see their percentages normalize. That said, they’re definitely going to be making changes. Given their lack of success, it would be difficult to justify not making changes. But blowing it up may not be as warranted as their record suggests it to be.
This is an excellent draft class, but the Flames won’t get anybody at 10th to 14th overall that would help right away. So for expectations management purposes, throw some cold water on that right now.
But there are a lot of good players that could be available in that mix. Among them: Moose Jaw forward Brayden Yager, U.S. National Development Program forward Oliver Moore, Swedish defenceman Axel Sandin Pellikka, Russian forward Mikhail Gulyayev, Owen Sound forward Colby Barlow and Oshawa forward Callum Ritchie.
They’re all quite good, but don’t expect any of them to jump in and help the Flames immediately.
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