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FlamesNation Mailbag: long weekend edition

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
It’s the Family Day long weekend, and hopefully everybody gets some time away from the cold, snow, and your day jobs, to relax and enjoy some extra time off. The Calgary Flames have a rare afternoon game, so we’re trying to fit this edition of the mailbag under the wire!
Let’s jump in!
Matt Coronato is having a good, but not great, freshman season with the Harvard Crimson in the NCAA. There’s still a lot of growing he has left to do in his college game under Harvard head coach Ted Donato, so expect Coronato to spend at least one more season in college before he considers going pro. Both he and the Flames want him to go pro with some swagger, and with a great deal of sanctification in his collegiate run. He’s not there yet.
The Flames probably have a good deal of confidence in Michael Stone, who’s been with the big club all season as their seventh defender. But beyond him, there’s hardly anybody with any substantial NHL playoff experience. Juuso Valimaki and Connor Mackey have been good hands in the AHL this season, but throwing either of them into the playoff fire wouldn’t exactly be fair to them or to the team as a whole.
Hence: the seeming likelihood that they’ll be exploring adding another left-shot defender, probably on the cheap, before the trade deadline.
I think Dave’s report on this preceded the Flames adding Tyler Toffoli. With Toffoli’s contract on the books the Flames have an almost-full salary cap picture – they have roughly $935,000 in space – and it wouldn’t make much sense to move a substantial piece from a first-place team in order to add John Klingberg’s hefty cap hit.
Well, first of all, nobody was making the same mistakes that they made when the Vegas Golden Knights drafted. The Kraken pulled over zero “If you give us a pick or player, we’ll avoid picking a particular player from your team” trades, so they didn’t get much more than the 30 players they grabbed in the expansion draft. Heck, they threatened to draft the Flames’ 37-year-old captain and Brad Treliving more or less went “go ahead” by balking at sending them first and third-round picks to take somebody else.
Ron Francis seemed to really value cap space and long-term flexibility, and rather than accumulating assets with big price tags and then flipping them later on, he went for lower-cost assets to maintain his club’s ability to take on bad deals from other teams later on. We’ll see if that philosophy bears any fruit at the trade deadline, but so far it hasn’t made the Kraken nearly as successful on-ice as Vegas was.
Barring an injury, I don’t think we see Juuso Valimaki for the rest of the season in Calgary. Right now, it’s important that he play a lot and he has a much better chance of doing that in Stockton than in Calgary right now. He’s waiver eligible next season, though, so it seems probable that he gets a very long look in the fall. The objective for the Heat coaching staff is to make sure he’s ready to knock that opportunity out of the park.
Johnny Gaudreau is definitely forcing his way into that conversation. But let’s toast Auston Matthews and give him his due: he’s got size, speed, smarts, a really fun fashion sense, and the ability to play in all three zones and play a lot of different styles of hockey within a single game. Gaudreau’s a bit more limited in terms of how he can be successful within a game, but he’s also arguably one of the top difference-makers in hockey when he’s given time, space, and the puck.
It seems likely that the Flames are going to finish first or second in the Pacific Division, which means they would have a first round series against either the better of the two Western wildcard teams (if they’re first) or the third place team in the Pacific (if they’re second). The most likely scenario for a playoff Battle of Alberta is probably if the Flames finish second and Edmonton finishes third.
Based on how the Flames play, we give them a (slight) edge.
Fun CBA quirk: if a player files for salary arbitration, they cannot be tendered an offer sheet. So if any of those three players desire to (a) get a damn deal done with the Flames but (b) want to push some urgency on it, they could simply file for salary arbitration.
It’s hard to figure out the tipping point where the Flames couldn’t match because it would largely depend on the Flames’ cap situation for the coming season, but I would suggest a big long-term overpay would be the ticket: something north of $10-11 million for Tkachuk, $6-7 million for Mangiapane or $4-5 million for Kylington for a lengthy deal might make the Flames a bit nervous about matching.
If you’re spending the assets to land Jacob Chychrun, you’re going to give him top four minutes. So almost out of necessity, you’d need to probably ship out Noah Hanifin or Oliver Kylington, plus some sweeteners. I’m not sure if it would be the best move considering how good Hanifin and Kylington have been this season: why not just keep them and not expend the assets to get somebody that might not be much of an upgrade?
Mark Giordano’s taken a step back, for sure, but he turned 38 in October and was bound to take a step back eventually. But even on a Seattle team that’s had some rough nights, he’s been a reliable presence and one of their better players. He’s their best defender pretty consistently, but the supporting cast in Seattle isn’t quite good enough right now to steal games too consistently.

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