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FlamesNation Mailbag: Examining the aftermath of the Calgary Flames’ busy draft and quiet free agency week

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
Since the last time we dove into the mailbag, the Calgary Flames traded Tyler Toffoli, drafted six players at the 2023 NHL Draft, and added blueliner Jordan Oesterle via free agency. As we wait the Flames’ next moves, let’s delve back into the mailbag.
Generally-speaking, the guys who head to the Young Stars Classic tournament in Penticton – Sept. 15-18 – will be players in the first or second season of their entry-level deals, along with unsigned Canadian draft selections and try-out players. Don’t expect to see collegiate or college-bound players, or players who are based in Europe.
Notable names you should reasonably expect to see include Matt Coronato, Samuel Honzek, Etienne Morin, Jaden Lipinski, Lucas Ciona, William Stromgren, Jeremie Poirier and Yan Kuznetsov. We’ll find out about undrafted players that are headed to Penticton sometime in early September, but keep an eye on which players are invited to development camp – that’s usually a good guide to the players the Flames like.
The two big things the Flames need to determine are the futures of Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. Heck, Lindholm is probably the biggest of those two dominoes, as he’s a right-shot centre who can play every situation and he’d be (a) a big, big contract to lock in long-term or (b) a very attractive trade commodity. Hanifin would be a little less pricey than Lindholm and would probably be a slightly less attractive trade commodity than Lindholm.
In terms of what price the Flames should accept for Hanifin, that might depend on Lindholm. If you have a centre like Lindholm locked down, you probably want to flip Hanifin in a hockey trade – because you can reasonably convince yourself that you can contend. If you have to sell off Lindholm, that probably skews a Hanifin trade more towards youth, prospects and futures. Either way, though, you probably want two or three significant pieces for Lindholm.
If we’re being honest here – and friends, I like to think this is that kind of website – it’s incredibly cool being able to chat with the draft picks mere moments after they’ve been selected. We got to chat with Samuel Honzek, Etienne Morin, Aydar Suniev and Jaden Lipinski immediately after they joined the Flames, and it’s so fun to hear their stories on what’s probably the best day of their hockey-playing lives to this point.
Was Brad Treliving a perfect general manager? Nope. He made a few big whiffs, primarily centred around overpaying for grit and toughness via trade or free agency, and his sequencing of big contracts led to Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk both expiring in the same off-season (and another eight key players expiring in the summer of 2024).
But please bear in mind the context: the marching orders Treliving were reportedly given were “get there quickly.” (“There” meaning the playoffs.) And yeah, in retrospect Flames management probably misjudged how far along the club was progressing after the 2014-15 miracle run that was fuelled more by puck luck than by the team’s development and made some decisions to make big additions that were perhaps a bit too early for where the team was at. And the team’s management of their salary cap left something to be desired, too. But all-in-all, Treliving was steering the ship as the Flames had two of their best regular seasons in franchise history and were only undone by a tremendous Colorado Avalanche team in 2018-19 and being worn down physically in a hellacious seven game series with the Dallas Stars in 2021-22.
Are the Flames in a tight spot right now? Yeah. Are the contracts that are expiring next summer a bit of a challenge? Yeah. When they were signed, the Flames probably thought they would be accents to a core group that centred around Gaudreau and Tkachuk. That didn’t pan out, and now they have to deal with it. The aftermath of anything – like a party or a good meal – stinks to deal with. While it’s important to acknowledge Treliving’s shortcomings as a manager, it’s a bit unfair to ignore the successes the club had during his tenure.

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