FlamesNation mailbag: the waning days of summer

Ryan Pike
2 years ago
The summer is winding down, friends. The tournaments for the three remaining Olympic spots begin this coming weekend, as does the 2021-22 Champions League competition for European clubs. We’re weeks away from training camps opening.
Let’s dive into the mailbag, shall we?
If the Flames make the playoffs in 2021-22 – and it’s a possibility given the shallowness of the Pacific Division – they’ll need to play structured, disciplined, at times suffocating, Darryl Sutter hockey (TM). Arguably the most favourable playoff match for them would be a club that doesn’t play well in that kind of style, which is probably at this point Vancouver. (Vancouver has a supremely skilled team, but they haven’t fared well recently in those mucky, grimy, grinding games with no offensive flow to them.)
I don’t fully buy into rumours ever – I’m naturally skeptical of basically everything, almost to a fault – but here’s my question: if you accept the premise that Matthew Tkachuk would rather be in St. Louis, the Flames aren’t going to get much of an offer from any club that’s not St. Louis. (If you’re, say Columbus, why would you give up a lot for Tkachuk if you think he’s walking in free agency to the Blues in 2023?)
That said, I don’t buy into that premise. Plenty of players love their hometowns, but plenty of players also don’t want to play in their hometowns because there are a ton of distractions, particularly everybody you ever grew up with asking you for autographs, favours or free tickets. I’m still not fully convinced that Tkachuk won’t be on the club in another season or two when his current deal expires.
I like this idea. The London Knights of the 2012-16 period were really, really good and fun to watch. Dvorak was one-third of a dynamite line with Tkachuk and Mitch Marner. The Flames aren’t going to get Marner from Toronto, but I’m thinking anybody can be obtained from Arizona if the price is right.
But Dvorak is 25 and under a very nice contract that pays him $4.45 million cap hit until 2024-25. He’s cost effective and good, and is essentially a slightly worse version of Andrew Mangiapane, and every team needs a few players that do what Mangiapane does. And given this value, Dvorak likely wouldn’t come cheap. If I’m Arizona, I’m asking for something like Dillon Dube and a draft pick (probably second round) from the Flames. I’m not sure if the Flames have an appetite to make that swap.
Michael Stone is currently a free agent. He resides in Calgary and seems to be a Darryl Sutter-type player, so if all else fails I could easily see the Flames signing him before camp as a third pairing defender. He was excellent in his role last season playing with Juuso Valimaki. But I get the feeling that the club is looking at other options right now – but Stone is a great “fall-back” option.
Glenn Gawdin is my bet right now.
The Flames presently have efficient enough drafting and development that barring disaster the team should be able to maintain its’ current status as “good enough to make the playoffs, probably” for awhile. Their hope to nudge themselves above that level rests with one of their draft picks becoming better than expected – Johnny Gaudreau was far better than most fourth rounders typically are, for example. If they can hit a home run with a pick rather than hitting a solid single or double, so to speak, that’s the path above the middle of the pack.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think they add another defenseman just to give them some depth and insurance.
Brad Treliving has a contract that runs through the 2022-23 season. He’s the general manager because he was hired to do the job and his contract remains in force. He’s also done, all things considered, a fairly good job. Has he been great? Nope, he’s not exactly Cliff Fletcher. But he’s not exactly Jay Feaster or Craig Button either.

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