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FlamesNation Mailbag: Summer’s almost gone edition

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
3 months ago
We’re now very much into August and in just five weeks, the Calgary Flames’ youngsters will report for prospect camp (and then head to Penticton for the rookie tournament). The summer is winding down.
Let’s check in with the mailbag.
The travel won’t be great for the team, but when they’re home, they’re going to get much more exposure to the Flames’ management and their development staff than they would have in Stockton (or elsewhere). Heck, they’ll have exposure to all the NHL resources, which could be massive for preparing them for NHL duty or even just figuring out what parts of their game need refining.
From a developmental standpoint, it should be a big, big plus.
It’ll be status quo for 2022-23, obviously, but both Darryl Sutter and Brad Treliving are now in the final seasons of their current contracts.
From a coaching standpoint, it’ll probably be up to Sutter. If he wants to stick around, he’ll probably be allowed and/or encouraged to do so. If he wants to go back to the farm, Ryan Huska was nearly hired away by Detroit this off-season and could be a candidate to succeed him. (Kirk Muller would also be a contender for that gig.)
From a management standpoint, if ownership and/or Flames CEO John Bean think he’s still the right man for the job, it would be easy to imagine Treliving getting a new deal based upon how well he’s navigated a really tough off-season.
According to a few articles I found online, Nazem Kadri is apparently a big fan of steak. So I imagine Treliving would probably take him to the best steakhouse he could find in London or Toronto, and then try to convince Kadri to sign for millions of dollars below market value to fit him in under the salary cap.
It would have to be a really, really good steak.
Here’s the thing about Jakob Pelletier and why hockey people have confidence in his ability to transition. He’s been a really, really good two-way player dating back to when he broke into the QMJHL years back. He’s been a really good player at the QMJHL level and at the World Juniors, and he managed to translate what made him effective into the AHL without really changing much of his game.
So based upon the entirety of what’s made Pelletier effective (and occasionally excellent) at what he does at lower levels of hockey, you don’t need to do a ton of mental gymnastics to imagine him doing it at the NHL level, too. (And if it doesn’t work out right away, you can flex him back to the AHL for a spell because he doesn’t require waivers to go the minors. There’s a safety net built in.) He seems like he could fit onto a two-way third line role fairly readily because of his tools and experience thus far.
With Matthew Phillips, the issue is that his ability to translate his play is easier to doubt because of his size. Now, he’s always been smaller than just about everybody else in his league dating back to his WHL days, but he’s been good enough that it hasn’t really mattered. But his size and his waiver status – he requires waivers to go to the AHL – provide room for doubts to grow.
Granted, I think those doubts are a bit misguided, but let’s face facts: he’s small. He’s two inches and 15 pounds smaller than Pelletier, who isn’t a large man. If I were in charge, I would play the heck out of Phillips in pre-season just to get a real sense of what he is (and isn’t). If he’s awesome, they can either play him or move him along.
He’s a year away from being a potential Group 6 free agent, so the Flames will need to make a decision on him soon or cut him loose.
It depends on his training camp. The big challenge for Juuso Valimaki is that the Flames simply have five incumbent blueliners who were very good in their roles last season, plus the arrival of MacKenzie Weegar for the sixth spot. It’ll be extremely challenging for him to displace somebody for a regular NHL gig right now. But with a strong training camp and pre-season, perhaps another team sees his promise and makes a deal with the Flames for him rather than gamble on getting him off the waiver wire.
I think the Flames need one more top nine forward to (a) push both Milan Lucic and Sean Monahan to the fourth line group and (b) give the coaching staff a bit more versatility and ability to mix and match. As it stands, their existing forward group looks a bit static for my tastes.
I imagine Dustin Wolf is the first man up in case of injuries or illness in net. He dressed twice last season and I imagine he probably gets a little bit more action, probably including an NHL in-game appearance. They’re taking it slow with him (and with Jacob Markstrom under contract, they’re afforded the luxury of not having to rush Wolf into the NHL).
The cap space freed up by Sean Monahan and Milan Lucic’s deals expiring is probably eaten up by the increased cap hits for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar for 2023-24.

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