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FlamesNation Mailbag: The coaching staff, trade possibilities, and the blueline group

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
8 months ago
The Calgary Flames are expected to name their new head coach on Monday. And with a new general manager and a new head coach in place, they can now get to the business of… everything else they need to do this off-season.
As we inch our way to the NHL Draft and what’s expected to be a very busy few weeks, let’s jump into the mailbag!
I believe what Councillor Sharp meant, when speaking to Pat Steinberg and myself on Friday, was that they’re working on the definitive contracts. Since the language is being worked on and the contracts haven’t been finalized and signed yet, technically they’re still negotiating. But barring the provincial government not approving funding that they themselves committed before the election, it’s a done deal. They’re just ironing out and finalizing details.
This is the $25,000 question right now. In an ideal world, the Flames would probably want to hold onto all their talent. They managed to do that with management, promoting Craig Conroy to general manager while also keeping Brad Pascall around. I’m sure they’d love to use Mitch Love on the NHL staff underneath Ryan Huska, if that’s something Love wants to do. But for somebody with head coaching aspirations and who’s already done everything he can do as an AHL head coach, would Love want to stick around or is he destined to end up on the NHL stuff of a team where there’s a more obvious path to an NHL head coaching gig?
We’ll find out in the coming weeks.
Like they did with Huska, the Flames really liked the job Cail MacLean did in Stockton with developing their young players. Under Darryl Sutter, he was the “eye in the sky” coach and helped with in-game tactical adjustments. I imagine when they’re putting together Huska’s coaching staff they have a look at MacLean’s role. Depending on who they recruit to fill out the staff, it’s easy to imagine MacLean sticking around.
I’m going to predict Los Angeles.
I love this question!
Focusing on AHL scorers under the age of 23, I’d look at forwards like New Jersey’s Graeme Clarke, Ottawa’s Yegor Sokolov, Boston’s Georgii Merkulov and Colorado’s Jean-Luc Foudy, or blueliners like Los Angeles’ Jordan Spence, Winnipeg’s Ville Heinola or Ottawa’s Lassi Thomson. If they do make a trade, getting some additional high-end AHL blueline depth would be a big boon and would help them buy some time for guys like Jeremie Poirier or Yan Kuznetsov to further develop without rushing them into the NHL.
Here’s the dilemma: the Flames have four blueliners heading into the final year of their contracts in 2023-24 (Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov and Oliver Kylington), so shipping out a blueliner for cap relief and to get some assets rather than losing them for free seems like the smart play.
But since Kylington’s been away from NHL play for a year, I’d prefer to keep all the existing blueliners in an effort to ease his transition back into the NHL. If I’m trading a defender, I’d prefer to do it mid-season. But to maximize the value of a trade, you’d want to give the acquiring team to get a full season of whoever they’re trading for.
If it’s up to me, I keep everybody. If I have to move out somebody, trading away Chris Tanev would be the least disruptive stylistically (but you’d hate to lose him because he’s so good defensively). The player that probably gets you the most in a trade is Hanifin, but he’s also the player whose loss would be felt the most (and losing him would force Kylington into the top four).

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