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FlamesNation Mailbag: The hockey world descends on Nashville for an eventful week

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
The big week is finally here. Between now and next Monday, the National Hockey League will see 224 new faces selected in the annual entry draft on Wednesday and Thursday, and then there’s the opening of free agency on Saturday. It’s going to be a crazy few days.
As we gear up for the chaos, let’s check in with the mailbag!
Regarding the Wranglers’ head coaching gig, Jeff Marek mentioned on his show last week to keep an eye on Everett Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams and Lethbridge Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio. Both guys have a lot of head coaching experience in the Dub and have international experience, too. Matt Stajan feels like somebody who could be a good AHL assistant coach or somebody that could work with the NHL prospects in a developmental role.
No news regarding Matthew Phillips, Dryden Hunt or Troy Stecher, though. There seem to be roles for all three with the organization, particularly given the likelihood of a Noah Hanifin trade. I would imagine if Phillips or Stecher are set to return, we’ll hear about it this week. Hunt, as more of an AHL piece, we may not hear about until later on.
Generally-speaking, teams don’t like paying players to not play for them. It’s not just a Flames thing, it’s a league-wide thing. It’s inefficient from a cap perspective to burn cap space on somebody not on your team, or to spend actual money for somebody to not pay for you. (Teams also prefer not to pay coaches or GMs to not work for them, either.)
But the Flames have shelled out money in trades in the past when they felt there was value in doing so. In 2017, they acquired Ryan Murphy from Carolina and then bought him out for $275,000 in a trade that brought Eddie Lack to Calgary. Similarly, the Flames retained 50% of David Rittich’s salary – costing about $290,000 – in order to facilitate a trade to Toronto at the 2021 trade deadline, netting the Flames a third-round pick.
They haven’t done it a lot, and when they have done so it hasn’t involved big money.
I wouldn’t rule it out, but I don’t think they would be able to move up very much – or rather, I don’t think they would be willing to pay the prices to move up very far – because of the assets they would have to expend to do so. I would imagine them loading up on assets, potentially by moving down, would be more likely.
Historically, moving down has been something they’ve done far more often than moving up. But we’ll see what happens.
I’m going to be saying this a lot: everyone should chill the heck out until about mid-July. Judging the Flames on what you’re hearing right now and the moves they make over the next few weeks would be a lot like judging a chef mid-meal for having a messy kitchen. They know, but they’re cooking, so give them some time before you sharpen your knives.
Beyond that disclaimer, the best way to get things on track is to have a plan to build the Flames into a program people want to be a part of, and then stick to that plan. If a team is winning and the environment is a place players want to be, players will talk to each other and the Flames will have options.
But that won’t happen overnight. So… patience.
I’m probably wearing sneakers for a couple days at the very least – especially during the two days of the draft – so I’ll bring a few pairs of socks.

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