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FlamesNation Mailbag: Long weekend edition

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
3 months ago
It’s August, and the annual long weekend to kick off our final, painful hockey-less month of the summer. To commemorate this hallowed occasion, we’re diving into the mailbag!
(And also because it’s Monday!)
If you have a choice between walking a player right to free agency (like Johnny Gaudreau) or walking them to a year before free agency (like Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane), you do what they did for Tkachuk and Mangiapane. Having a player with the ability to accept their qualifying offer and head to free agency is a qualified risk, and it’s way less risky than having them potentially going right to free agency.
I’m not sure it’s a warning or something that caught Flames brass unaware: it’s challenging timing – and I’m sure in retrospect they wish they went a bit shorter or way longer with Tkachuk than they did – but they have a hockey ops group that’s well-versed in the CBA and negotiations. They knew that this type of outcome was a possibility, and this summer was a calculated risk.
If you’re the Flames, you probably roll with three pairings:
  • MacKenzie Weegar and Chris Tanev are the tough minutes pairing and start often in the defensive zone, ideally. These guys can shut down good opposition lines, and can move the puck out of their zone well. (They are to the defensive group what Mikael Backlund’s line is to the forward group.)
  • Next up are Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson, who get slightly easier minutes.
  • Finally, Nikita Zadorov and Oliver Kylington are the “easy” minutes pairing, getting targeted deployments against third and fourth lines and attempted starts in the offensive zone. This gives the Flames a chance to use Zadorov’s booming shot and Kylington’s puck movement in the offensive zone as often as they can muster it.
We looked at this earlier this week:
Our friends at Evolving Hockey project Weegar’s next deal as five years with a $7.227 million cap hit, with Huberdeau at eight years with a $11.91 million cap hit.
Maybe nudge those two cap figures down a tiny bit by offering signing bonuses and/or no-trade and no-move clauses, but this is the general ballpark each player’s usefulness generates in the free agent market.
Our pal Pat Steinberg mentioned this a little while back, but JT Miller seems primed to leave Vancouver. While they might be loathe to send him to Calgary, he’s really good and would fit the Flames’ needs fairly well.
Again, our pal Pat Steinberg wrote about this earlier this week. Here’s what he mentioned regarding Milan Lucic:
There’s been buzz surrounding interest in Lucic at different times this summer, and I don’t believe Calgary would have to “sweeten” a move involving him. Monahan, on the other hand, is a tougher contract to move and the Flames would almost certainly have to include an asset to facilitate a trade.
I think it will be either Mikael Backlund, the longest-tenured Flames player, or nobody (and they would roll with three alternate captains instead of a true captain in that case).
If you want to get mad at Johnny Gaudreau for his indecision regarding staying or leaving via free agency, the likely loss for the Flames from that situation was Erik Gudbranson. There was mutual interest at bringing him back to town, but the Flames probably didn’t have the ability or appetite to give him the four years at $4 million per season that he got from Columbus when they thought they were keeping Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk at big cap hits. If they thought that Gaudreau wasn’t returning earlier than they did, they probably would’ve made serious overtures to keep Gudbranson.
(But if they kept Gudbranson, suddenly it’s tougher to fit Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar from the Tkachuk trade, and then the have way, way too many NHL blueliners under contract…)
I would argue that the Flames probably want to have a good idea of where those situations are going prior to Christmas, so that if they think they’re going to move either of them Brad Treliving has a decent amount of time to talk to his counterparts around the league and figure out prices.

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