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FlamesNation Mailbag: Talking prospects, picks and salary retention

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
Folks, we’re into the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs. The draft lottery is complete, and we know that the Calgary Flames will be drafting ninth overall. As we prepare to navigate the next seven weeks leading to the draft, let’s dive into the mailbag!
Here’s who is ranked ninth or selected ninth on a handful of recent rankings and mock drafts:
  • Tony Ferrari at The Hockey News has Liam Greentree at ninth
  • Bob McKenzie at TSN has Konsta Helenius at ninth
  • Scott Wheeler at The Athletic has Tij Iginla taken by the Flames at ninth
  • Steven Ellis at Daily Faceoff has Tij Iginla taken by the Flames at ninth
  • Corey Pronman at The Athletic has Sam Dickinson at ninth
Greentree is a winger for the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. Helenius is a winger for Liiga’s Jukurit. Iginla is a winger for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. Dickinson is a defenceman for the OHL’s London Knights.
The chatter in scouting circles is that the draft becomes a bit of a free-for-all after Macklin Celebrini goes to San Jose at first overall, so any number of players could be off the board by the time the Flames hit the podium for ninth overall. It’s hard to definitively say who they’ll take.
It seems really unlikely that whoever the Flames select at ninth overall will be ready to go pro in 2024-25. If we go off the probable picks from the prior answer, it seems reasonable to expect Liam Greentree, Tij Iginla or Sam Dickinson to be headed back to junior.
However, don’t rule out Konsta Helenius. Our pal Steven Ellis from Daily Faceoff had this to say earlier this week: “Some scouts think Helenius could be ready for the NHL as soon as next year, given how well he’s played against pros over the past two years.” Helenius has a ton of pro experience in one of the world’s top pro leagues… so maybe he could make the jump? But he’s arguably an outlier among this draft class in that respect.
Currently the Calgary Flames are using two of their three salary retention slots on Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev. Those two retention spots are used up until their deals expire, which happens on July 1. In short: the Flames don’t get any added retention flexibility until the NHL’s calendar flips over on Canada Day. Until then, they have just one retention slot remaining.
I suspect next season’s Wranglers roster will look fairly similar to the roster they finished the 2024 playoffs with, but we’ll likely see a bunch of new faces. Among them are Finnish goalie Waltteri Ignatjew, blueliners Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo, and forwards Sam Morton, Sam Honzek and Parker Bell. (Honzek and Brzustewicz are eligible to go back to junior… but I imagine both will be given every chance to stick with the Wranglers.)
The X-factor, of course, is what changes the NHL club makes, and what upward movement we see from within the Wranglers going into next season.
The Flames had three conditional picks at play in the 2024 playoffs:
  • Vegas lost in the first round, so their 2024 third-round pick (to Calgary in the Noah Hanifin trade) did not convert into a 2025 second-round pick.
  • Vancouver remains active. If they beat Edmonton and reach the Western Conference Final, their 2024 fourth-round pick (to Calgary in the Elias Lindholm trade) converts to a 2024 third-round pick.
  • Dallas remains active. If they reach the Stanley Cup Final, the Flames receive their 2026 third-round pick (as part of the Chris Tanev trade). If they don’t reach the Stanley Cup Final, the Flames don’t receive anything.
In no particular order, here’s what I think is on their minds:
  • The draft: they have eight picks in the first four rounds. It’s a massively important draft for them.
  • Jacob Markstrom: Is he staying or going? (And what does goaltending look like if he’s elsewhere?)
  • Looking for young centres: The Flames have three pretty good centres over the age of 30 (Nazem Kadri, Mikael Backlund and Kevin Rooney) and Connor Zary played a bit of centre late last season, but adding a reliable centre aged 25 or younger could do a lot to solidify that position.
  • Looking for a shutdown defender to compliment their current NHL group: If we were the Flames, we’d want to find a defensive-minded blueliner to compliment the likes of Oliver Kylington, Rasmus Andersson and Daniil Miromanov on the NHL roster.
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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