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FlamesNation Mailbag: Post Stampede hangover edition

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
8 months ago
Friends, the 2023 edition of the annual Calgary Stampede has come and gone, and now we’re into the lean part of the off-season. The Calgary Flames need to hire an American Hockey League coach, and then they have a few moves that folks expect or hope that they’ll make.
As we wade through the remainder of the summer, let’s dive into the mailbag!
So there are two things happening, so let’s get into them.
First: the Flames really like Elias Lindholm. He’s the centre that they’ve been daydreaming about since Joe Nieuwendyk went to Dallas, and having him is (in their minds) far preferable to not having him. But Lindholm is making a big life decision – committing to be a Flame for another eight seasons or, well, not – and so he needs some time to weigh his options. Heck, after a pretty chaotic few seasons, he probably also wants to come to town and see what the vibe is like with a new head coach and a new general manager before he decides to stick around. (And there’s probably a lot of that going on.)
The other thing is that other GMs have a good feeling that the Flames would like to move some pieces, and so they’re offering pretty crappy trade packages. The Flames have an idea of what they would be willing to accept for the various pieces they’re considering moving. But since reportedly nobody has requested a trade of the players currently on the roster, there’s no urgency for Conroy to make any moves. Put another way: if Conroy wants to wait and see on trade offers for his pending UFAs, or pending decisions, he’s perfectly happy doing so (and the players are seemingly in the same boat).
And so… we wait.
I’m not sure if there would be much of a point in signing these guys to one-year extensions when they already have a year left on their existing deals to figure out the vibe around the Flames organization.
The grittiness/toughness aspect may be the big selling point for guys like Walker Duehr (up front) and Dennis Gilbert (on the back-end). But the Flames seem to be emphasizing speed and skill over hitting, grit and toughness. We’ll see if there are some sandpaper types invited to camp on try-outs in September in an effort to bring a bit of what they may be missing.
I think that because of Jacob Markstrom’s reputation and track record – and hefty contract – the Flames are going to give him a long leash. They’ll probably do whatever they can to get him ready for opening night… but if he has a rough October, they may want to have a contingency plan – I’m not sure if “let him play his way out of his funk” will fly with the fanbase given how the 2022-23 season went.
I would expect Walker Duehr, Jakob Pelletier and Matt Coronato to be given every chance to make the NHL roster out of training camp. Dustin Wolf is a possibility, too, depending on what kind of trade offers the Flames get for Dan Vladar.
In terms of moves I expect, at this point – based on the low quality of the offers the Flames have been getting – I would almost expect zero moves between now and camp.
Brian McGrattan worked in player assistance within the Flames’ development team, but he left the club after the 2021-22 season to pursue other opportunities. Michael Stone is a player development coach, working primarily with the organization’s young blueliners.
I would expect we hear something about the arena sometime in August, as that’s probably when the provincial cabinet and treasury will have a chance to formally approve the transportation infrastructure (and community arena) funding.

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