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FlamesNation Mailbag: Now that Matt Coronato’s signed, what’s next for the Flames?
By Ryan Pike10 months ago
The Calgary Flames remain mathematically alive in the playoff picture as April approaches. Not only that, but they’ve signed highly-touted first-round pick Matt Coronato to an entry-level deal! What’s next?
Let’s dive into the mailbag to see what’s on the fanbase’s collective mind.
Based on performances so far, I think Dennis Gilbert ($762,500), Jakob Pelletier ($863,333) and Walker Duehr (pending restricted free agent) are going to be given every chance to be everyday players. Similarly, Matt Coronato ($925,000) is right there, and Connor Zary ($863,333) has been great in the AHL and will be likely given a long look at camp.
There’s arguably three dark-horses: On the blueline, Ilya Solovyov ($828,333) has had a breakout this season and could push for a look as a shutdown guy while Jeremie Poirier ($828,333) has great offensive sensibilities but needs a bit of defensive work. (But he moves the needle offensively, so perhaps he has a shot.) And let’s not forget Dustin Wolf ($813,333), the AHL’s best goalie; if the Flames need another puck-stopper at any point, he’s been excellent.
To put it simply: they have a few interesting options available.
I’m a big Ryan Huska guy. He’s been a fixture in the organization since 2014 and he’s been massive in developing some of their top young players, both in the farm system and as an assistant coach. He was interim coach in 2020-21 during the brief period before Darryl Sutter could join the club, so he’s definitely trusted and respected.
There’s also Mitch Love, who’s in the midst of a powerhouse season with the Wranglers after guiding the Stockton Heat to a great season in 2021-22. He has a bit less experience in the pro ranks than Huska, but he’s another really smart, well thought-of bench boss.
I’m not entirely convinced one way or another if the Flames will (or won’t) have Sutter behind the bench next season, but they’ve got a lot of organizational coaching depth for sure.
Honestly, I think the Flames were first focusing on the trade deadline and then focusing on getting Matt Coronato on the books. Now that’s done with, I think they take a long look at Jack Beck and Parker Bell in terms of contracts. No guarantees, obviously, but both players have had strong seasons for their respective junior clubs.
It entirely depends on injuries or off-season departures, and this off-season could be chaotic depending on what happens with the general manager’s contract situation. It’s hard to get a handle on it, to be honest.
So far, so good. They’re making progress. But there are a lot of pretty iron-clad non-disclosure agreements surrounding negotiations, so there’s not a lot of details getting out for that reason. Everybody I talk to around the situation is very upbeat, which is a big shift from even six months ago.
Hey, you always want a club to take the best player available regardless of upside. But I will say this: there are 12 lineup spots for forwards and six for blueliners, and you can only play one goalie at a time. So if you have a forward who has some rough spots in his game, you can utilize linemates or match-ups or deployments to shelter them a bit and help bring them along developmentally, much more than you can with defenders or goaltenders. My observations are that (perhaps as a result of that), the development path for defenders or goaltenders can be a bit more bumpy or uneven than forwards.
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