FlamesNation Mailbag: Onto the off-season!

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
5 days ago
The 2023-24 Calgary Flames season is complete. They’re starting their off-season preparations and, well, so are we! So join us as we delve into the mailbag and kick off the run-up to the 2024-25 season in style… with your questions!
We’re going to get into this in a lot more detail as we progress further into the off-season, but let’s lay it out rather plainly: the Flames finished 17 points behind Vegas for the final wild-card spot and 28 points behind Vancouver for the top spot in the division. They likely won’t close that gap – either of them, to be honest – in one season. That’s what the whole re-tool/build/configuration process is all about.
As for what they should focus on? Take your pick! (Data/rankings via Natural Stat Trick):
  • 5v5 expected goals for (per 60): 2.59 (14th)
  • 5v5 expected goals against (per 60): 2.54 (15th)
  • 5v5 shooting percentage: 8.38% (20th)
  • 5v5 save percentage: 90.44% (27th)
  • PP expected goals for (per 60): 8.67 (12th)
  • PK expected goals against (per 60): 8.39 (19th)
Which is to say: the Flames aren’t top 10 in anything right now. Yeah, they lost some significant pieces of their roster this past season. But they don’t really have anything in their game that you can point to and go “Hey, that’s what they can hang their hat on.”
Step One of getting where they want to go is to add some skill and develop some strengths within their team game.
The two guys that seem like they could make sense to explore moves for are Jacob Markstrom and Andrew Mangiapane.
We’ve discussed Markstrom’s situation to death: he may or may not have been close to a trade to New Jersey prior to the trade deadline, and he wasn’t overly happy with how it was handled by all accounts. Combine that general displeasure with the Flames’ desire to get Dustin Wolf a permanent NHL slot… well, it makes sense.
Mangiapane has been a really good Flame and has done a ton of good stuff in the community. But again, he’s a year away from unrestricted free agency and if I’m the Flames, I want to do what I can to clear a path to a full-time NHL gig for the likes of Matt Coronato, Jakob Pelletier and/or Sam Honzek. Mangiapane feels like the easiest guy to move on from to make that happen.
From David (via e-mail): With the season over the Flames have 3 wingers who are pending UFA’s : Kuzmenko, Yegor and Mangi: all three bring a certain value. Who would you prioritize in signing and what do you think a fair deal would be each of the three.
Unless I’m convinced that somebody is a core player, I don’t want to go longer than three seasons for contracts.
Depending on how the first few months of the season goes, I could be convinced to do a couple more years for Andrei Kuzmenko at a similar deal to what he’s got now ($5.5 million AAV). I wouldn’t want to go higher because, to be blunt, he’s pretty one-dimensional – he’s a power play specialist. I could be convinced to do three years for Yegor Sharangovich at something around $6 million AAV – he’s shown more versatility than Kuzmenko has. And unless Mangiapane’s production rebounded, I’d probably pitch a pay cut for him below his current $5.8 million cap hit… and I don’t think that would fly with his representation.
Yes. I suspect they’ll do what they can to open up spots for folks like Dustin Wolf, Matt Coronato and Jakob Pelletier to be full-timers next season. I don’t think they’re going to flat-out give them those spots, but I suspect they’ll do what they can to clear a path.
It depends what you mean by “near future.” Next two seasons? It’s a stretch. After that? A lot depends on how some of the team’s young players can grow into, and how much hay the Flames’ management and scouts can make at the NHL Draft over the next few seasons. If they find a true blue star in those drafts, it could speed things up for the group.
Honestly, it may be more beneficial to see if Jonathan Huberdeau can develop chemistry with the team’s existing centres – Connor Zary might be the best bet because he’s so good and young – rather than expending assets to bring new faces in quite yet. And in terms of Sam Reinhart: I love the player, but he’s not the player you bring in at the beginning of the retool, he’s the guy you bring in to signal that it’s over and you’re serious about contending. Simply put: they’re not there yet.
In hockey media, we don’t really get “holidays” until after the draft and free agency are over. So we have a lot of fun things planned out for the next few weeks and months, including some history pieces we’re excited about, a lot of draft preview coverage, some big-picture arena stuff, deep-dive player report cards, and more!
We’ll sleep in July. Probably.
Got a question for a future mailbag? Contact Ryan on Twitter/X at @RyanNPike or e-mail him at Ryan [at] TheNationNetwork.com! (Make sure you put Mailbag in the subject line!)

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