FlamesNation Mailbag: Looking around early in an eventful off-season

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
11 months ago
When the final horn blared to signal the end of the Calgary Flames’ 2022-23 season, there were questions about the futures of general manager Brad Treliving and head coach Darryl Sutter. Not even a month later, they’re both gone, and the Flames are looking for new faces and new leadership.
As we wait to see where the chips fall, let’s dive into the mailbag.
The Flames have seven players who will be potential unrestricted free agents on July 1, 2024: defencemen Noah Hanifin, Nikita Zadorov, Oliver Kylington and Chris Tanev, and forwards Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli. If you’re thinking that there are a few players in that group that you don’t plan on building around going forward – for age reasons or fit reasons – you might want to move on from them rather than losing them to free agency for nothing.
The market obviously varies from year to year, here’s a snapshot of what players term got in the trade market:
  • F Jordan Greenway [2 years and change, $3 million] from Minnesota to Buffalo for 2nd-rounder and 5th-rounder
  • F Mikael Granlund [2 years and change, $5 million] from Nashville to Pittsburgh for 2nd-rounder
  • D Jacob Chychrun [2 years and change, $4.6 million] from Arizona to Ottawa for 1st-rounder and two 2nd-rounders
  • D Filip Hronek [1 year and change, $4.4 million] from Detroit to Vancouver with 4th-rounder for 1st-rounder and 2nd-rounder
  • F Nino Niederreiter [1 year and change, $4 million] from Nashville to Winnipeg for 2nd-rounder
  • F Connor Brown [1 year, $3.6 million] from Ottawa to Washington for 2nd-rounder
  • F Alex Debrincat [1 year, $6.4 million] from Chicago to Ottawa for 1st-rounder, 2nd-rounder and 3rd-rounder
Based on performance, you would suspect Toffoli, Lindholm and Hanifin would net the highest returns, and they have team-friendly deals that a contender (or aspiring contender) could absorb into their cap structure without having to do too much manoeuvring. The others would probably net a little bit less, but sometimes teams get excited about an asset and overpay.
In short: if the Flames want to move on from some of their players, they’ll probably have some options available to them.
What’s the old saying? Winning helps. If you build a program that people want to be a part of, they’ll do what they can to be a part of it. Having a clear team direction and a clear vision for what they want to accomplish (and how) makes it clear to the marketplace in terms of how prospective players can fit in and help the group succeed.
Honestly, it’s probably a case of Noah Hanifin having the puck a ton and occasionally making gaffes with it. He’s also not the “shiny new toy” anymore, and there may be a bit more external excitement about Oliver Kylington and MacKenzie Weegar (and their upward potential) compared to him as a result.
But Hanifin’s good. Is he great? Not yet. Could he be great? Maybe. He’s still young and still developing.
So far, only Parker Bell has been added to the Wranglers’ playoff roster of the eliminated playoff prospects.
Part of that may be because Bell had a fantastic WHL season and he seems destined to sign an entry-level deal, and he was also eliminated from the playoffs early enough that he was able to join the Wranglers before the end of the regular season and integrate with the group. (Anybody added during the playoffs would need to figure things out on the fly, which could be a challenge.)
And if we’re being honest, internal priorities probably got upended a bit during the trade deadline period, and then while they were doing their internal assessment around how their season went after Treliving’s departure. The Flames have a month left to decide on a handful of unsigned draft picks, but it’s something they’re working on.
Among a few other things they’re juggling.

The FlamesNation Mailbag is presented by Newman Deans Real Estate Group and CIR Realty

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