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FlamesNation Mailbag: The dawn of the final month of the season

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
10 days ago
Welcome to April, gang! It’s the first day of the final month of the regular season, and more likely than not the final month of the 2023-24 Calgary Flames playing season.
Let’s dive into the mailbag!
Dustin Wolf is eligible to return to the American Hockey League for the post-season, so what’s going to happen is when the Flames finish up their regular season, Wolf will rejoin the Wranglers. Given that the reigning AHL most valuable player will be available to them, Wolf will be their starter heading into the playoffs.
However, I’m pretty confident that the Wranglers will roll with three goalies for the playoffs. More likely than not we’ll see Oscar Dansk be Wolf’s backup and dress most of the time (if not all of the time). But I suspect they’ll keep Connor Murphy around for the playoffs for a couple reasons. First, Rapid City is going to miss the ECHL playoffs. Second, Murphy’s been really good for the Wranglers this season. In 11 outings, he’s 3-2-2 with a 2.21 goals against average and .931 save percentage.
Wolf will be their go-to guy in the net, but give Murphy credit for potentially playing himself into a future opportunity.
I wouldn’t rule it out. The Flames have oodles of assets – including two picks in each of the first four rounds of June’s entry draft – and they’re a management group that knows they have some work to do as they head into their retooling period. They know this is a really important draft for them, and they’re going to be well-prepared. If they think the perfect player for them is somebody they’d need to trade up to get, I strongly suspect they’d pull the trigger if the price isn’t too steep.
There’s been a lot written about draft pick value over the years, dating back to work done by Michael Schuckers back in 2011. Roughly speaking, for the Flames to move up from, say 10th overall, into the top five, they would need to probably package Vancouver’s late first-round pick (from the Elias Lindholm trade) with their own first-rounder… and if the other team had their heart set on a specific player, it might cost more.
In terms of teams that might be willing to make a move, right now the anticipated top five in the draft are San Jose, Chicago, Anaheim, Columbus and Arizona. Of those five, Columbus, San Jose and Anaheim are all in the top five of Scott Wheeler’s prospect pool rankings at The Athletic. Their prospect pools are already strong, so they might be amenable to making a swap with Calgary should the opportunity arise.
But with three weeks left in the schedule, and then the draft lottery, we’ll see how the draft order looks before we can fully handicap things.
I would expect Oliver Kylington to get a one year deal for close to what he’s making now, just so they can get a sense of where he’s at in his development.
I don’t know if there’s somebody that could be an Oliver Bjorkstrand level “buy low” success story, but if I’m the Flames I’m looking at centres. In terms of players on teams that already look to be up against the cap, I’d point to New Jersey’s Dawson Mercer and Florida’s Anton Lundel as the types of players they should be looking at.
Admittedly, I’ve spent way too much time reading about the two of them given all the trade chatter prior to March’s trade deadline, but both of them are young and pending restricted free agents playing on deep teams with potential salary cap issues. The Flames have oodles of cap space and draft choices, so they could be able to take advantage of these types of opportunities if they keep their eyes open.
I don’t disagree. I’ve been on record saying I like the “bones” of the team, and it’s not unreasonable to expect some of the younger players like Dustin Wolf, Jakob Pelletier and Matt Coronato that weren’t able to become regulars in 2023-24 to do so in 2024-25. The thing the organization is lean on within its system is high-end centres and blueliners. I don’t think you can find them in free agency or the trade market necessarily, you probably need to do that through the draft.
The sooner they can find those particular types of players in the draft, the more rapidly the retooling process becomes a refining process and they go from trying to find the right group of young core players to trying to find the right veterans to compliment them.

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