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FlamesNation Mailbag: Entering the last few weeks of the regular season

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
3 months ago
Folks, the trade deadline has come and gone. The Calgary Flames have completed their wheelings and dealings, ultimately shipping away five pending unrestricted free agents (and minor-league Emilio Pettersen). As we enjoy the final 15 games of the schedule, let’s dive into the mailbag, shall we?
This is definitely something the Flames and the NHL will be looking at when the new building opens. The agreements for the new arena commit the Flames to pursue “reasonable commercial efforts” to attract the NHL Draft or All-Star Game to the city during the first three years of operations.
Well, the NHL Draft will be decentralized starting in 2025, so we’re not sure what there will be to host. In terms of the All-Star Game, the NHL is aiming to return to a regular international schedule starting with the 2026 Olympics. It sounds like they’re figuring out how that will impact the frequency of the All-Star Game. How often NHL events will be happening remains a bit unclear right now.
Regardless of how disrupted league event schedules are going to be, the NHL has been trumpeting the importance of a new Calgary arena for over a decade. They’ll do their best to reward everybody for getting it done with some sort of big event to host.
I completely get why fans of various teams hate teams using long-term injury reserve space to spend over the salary cap, especially when it gets close to play-off time and there’s a potential advantage given there’s no salary cap during the playoffs. There’s a new CBA negotiation coming up in a couple seasons – the current CBA expires on Sept. 15, 2026 – and I imagine LTIR will be discussed.
I don’t think the regular season mechanics of LTIR will be tinkered with much, because it allows teams to overspend (which teams like) and as a result it gets more dollars into the system and creates more jobs for players (which players like). If there’s enough discontent about how things work in the post-season, I could see the two sides discussing how to structure playoff rosters. I kind of like how baseball does it, where a specific list of players has to be submitted for each round. There’s flexibility there, but it also restricts things, which provides a nice bit of balance and prevents anybody from doing anything too wacky roster-wise.
If I’m the Flames, I’m looking for something short term while they’re figuring out what he’ll be at the NHL level. If I’m Dustin Wolf’s camp, I argue that I’ve accomplished everything I can do at the AHL level and that I probably deserve a one-way deal.
What I imagine we could get given how these types of negotiations go is a two-year deal: the first year would be two-way (different pay in NHL and AHL), the second year one-way (the same pay in NHL and AHL). Wolf has a year of waiver exemption left, so the one-way year would coincide with it expiring. With league minimum sitting at $775,000, I would suspect something around $900,000 would reward Wolf but also give his compensation room to grow if he turns out to be the goalie he and the Flames think he can become.
Good young centres are something every team wants and aren’t giving up easily once they have them. Given that, the best place for the Flames to find one is via the draft. Looking at Daily Faceoff’s draft rankings from earlier this month, we’d highlight a few centres that could be around when the Flames select with either their own pick (between 10-14) or Vancouver’s (in the 20s):
  • Cayden Lindstrom – Medicine Hat (WHL), 8th
  • Konsta Helenius – Jukurit (Liiga), 9th
  • Sasha Boisvert – Muskegon (USHL), 19th
  • Dean Letourneau – St. Andrew’s (Prep), 24th
  • Cole Beaudoin – Barrie (OHL), 33rd
(Tij Iginla is listed as a centre in some places and a winger in others; he’s mostly played on the left side with Kelowna this season.)
Some scouts I know rave about Jett Luchanko (of OHL Guelph) and his potential, too.
Montreal would only receive the option to take the Flames’ 2024 first-rounder if the pick is 20th or later, which would only happen if the Flames made the post-season and weren’t one of the two lowest-ranked teams that qualified. So if the Flames miss the playoffs, regardless of how close they get, Montreal won’t have the option to take Calgary’s pick at all.
The 2025 draft is the one where the Flames have an incentive to finish in the bottom 10 overall, because if their pick is in the top 10 of the draft order, then Montreal would receive Florida’s draft choice instead of Calgary’s (and Florida’s, if the Flames receive it, would be outside of the top 10 due to the conditions attached to it).
Believe me, there’s a lot of fan chatter about the incentives for the Flames to maximize their draft stock in 2025. (And Ryan Pinder talks about it a ton on Barn Burner, too.) If the Flames are going to “bottom out” before they build back up, next season is the one to do it in.

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