FlamesNation Mailbag: Waiting for training camp to begin

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
The Calgary Flames had an early game on Monday at the Young Stars Classic, so this week there’s a special Tuesday edition of the mailbag – a day later than usual, but hopefully just as informational!
Let’s dive in as we eagerly await the beginning of training camp later this week.
Love this question! I’ve been super fortunate to be present for a lot of big Flames moments as media, but before that the biggest goal I probably saw in person was Owen Nolan’s goal in Game 3 of the 2008 first round series with San Jose – the Flames allowed three goals, put in Curtis Joseph, and then rallied back to win the game in regulation.
Honestly, both probably depend entirely on their training camp performances. Connor Mackey arguably has a lower developmental ceiling, but he’s also less experienced as a pro and cheaper. Juuso Valimaki has a high developmental ceiling, but he’s also more expensive and carries a $425,000 cap penalty if he’s playing in the AHL. You could argue Mackey has more trade value, since he’s less expensive and easier to keep in your system as useful pro depth.
I would imagine we see one or two more minor PTOs, but the biggest ones – Cody Eakin, Sonny Milano and Michael Stone – are probably already announced.
As of right now, Elias Lindholm has played 663 games and has 449 points and he has two seasons left on his current deal. Notable players who signed in the past few seasons with similar experience and production include Sean Couturier (eight seasons at $7.75 million), Mika Zibanejad (eight seasons at $8.5 million) and Nazem Kadri (seven seasons at $7 million).
If we’re being realistic, something around eight seasons at $8 million will probably be the ballpark figure to get Lindholm locked up long-term. If the cap goes up as anticipated beginning in 2024-25 – the first season of Lindholm’s next deal – it seems likely that the Flames will have enough cap breathing room to lock him down
At 111 points, the Flames would’ve been third in the Central Division (facing Minnesota in the first round), third in the Atlantic Division (facing Toronto in the first round) and second in the Metropolitan Division (facing the NY Rangers in the first round).
For my money, they probably would’ve beaten Minnesota or the Rangers, while the Toronto series would’ve been a toss-up.
This question was submitted before Sonny Milano signed his PTO, but I’ll still say Milano, just in terms of anticipated cost and the ability to create a bit of competition for bottom-six ice time on the wings.
In the NHL? Let’s go with five. But if he has a good camp, that number probably goes up.
This is a fun one! Let’s break this down!
  • MacKenzie Weegar for Erik Gudbranson is an easy upgrade for the Flames.
  • Jonathan Huberdeau for Johnny Gaudreau is a bit of a toss-up, though Huberdeau arguably is a bit more versatile than Gaudreau (in terms of the situations he can be used in) due to his size. It’s more of a “what do you want your guys to do?” question more than a “who’s better?” one.
  • Nazem Kadri for Matthew Tkachuk is an arguable downgrade in terms of offensive talent and age, but since Kadri’s a centre he arguably gives the Flames a bit of lineup and situational flexibility that they wouldn’t have with Tkachuk. (With Tkachuk, they’re a bit top-heavy because he’s a winger, while Kadri can be moved all over the place as a centre and provides different lineup looks because of that.) Like Huberdeau for Gaudreau, it’s more of a preferences thing than being better or worse.
For where the Flames are in their organization’s development and the challenges they’ve had in the playoffs over the past few seasons, I think Weegar/Huberdeau/Kadri give them different tools than Gudbranson/Gaudreau/Tkachuk, and arguably ones that lend more lineup flexibility and balance.
So the short answer is: given the Flames’ lineup outside of those three players, yeah, I probably do make that swap.
Over at Vegas Insider, the Maple Leafs are +425 to win the Eastern Conference (bet $100, win $425) while the Flames are +700 to win the Western Conference. So if you have the Leafs as a 4.25-to-1 underdog and the Flames as a 7-to-1 underdog, multiply that out and it’s a 29.75-to-1 proposition. It’s not the least likely thing in the world, but it’s not the most likely (that’s Toronto vs. Colorado).
I’m assuming that Eric Francis’ report about Brett Ritchie re-signing comes to pass and that the Flames lock up Adam Ruzicka eventually, as you mentioned. Beyond that, maybe they add another minor PTO or two, but they’re pretty close to full-up on contracts so barring a trade, not sure what else they have bandwidth for.
There’s an urgent update going to city council in three weeks coming out of last week’s committee meeting, but the way the motion to council is phrased, it sounds like something minor and procedural was given the thumbs-up by the committee rather than something important (or financial) that would require a council vote to approve. So there have been slight developments most likely, but probably not anything terribly seismic in its importance.

The FlamesNation mailbag is brought to you by Deuce Vodka!

“In life, there are so many moments to celebrate, I don’t want to waste a great moment on a bad drink. That’s why I choose Deuce Vodka.” – Brett Kissel. Click here to find Deuce Vodka in a store near you.

More from FlamesNation:

Check out these posts...