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FlamesNation Mailbag: your Calgary Flames questions, our answers!

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
11 months ago
The Calgary Flames are in the midst of a road trip and approaching the one-third completion mark of their 2021-22 regular season schedule. And they’re doing rather well!
To commemorate the end of one week and the start of another, let’s dive into the mailbag, friends.
The good news for the Flames is Valimaki is waiver exempt this season, but their hopes are probably that (a) he plays a ton and develops a clear role in Stockton and (b) he becomes a really good AHL player who is pushing for an NHL gig. If you look at how the Flames have handled most of their successful prospects, they allowed them to overcook in Stockton and then kick the proverbial door down for an NHL job – Andrew Mangiapane, Dillon Dube and Oliver Kylington did this.
Valimaki’s waiver status is the complicating factor, as he basically has just this season to do some developmental catching up after missing so much time due to injury in his first two pro seasons. I don’t think the Flames will promote him just for the sake of promoting him; he’s going to need to show that he’s something they need to be a successful team down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Here’s my issue with Dillon Dube: what is he? What’s his job? What’s his role? He’s sort of a winger, and sort of the team’s auxiliary centre. He’s sort of an offensive player and sort of a checker. He’s bounced around through a few different lines this season, with the only consistent part of his game being his penalty killing duo with Andrew Mangiapane.
Honestly, Mangiapane’s development curve arguably provides a template for Dube’s: provide him with a clear role and clear success metrics, and then add some additional responsibilities on top when he’s successful. That said, Mangiapane is arguably a more versatile player than Dube, so it might be difficult to follow that template to a tee.
If nothing else, giving Dube some consistency could be good for him. He’s got great speed and a nose for the net, but the stuff he does in the other two zones could use some work.
It’s in Calgary’s best interests to sign Andrew Mangiapane for as long as they can manage. It’s in Mangiapane’s interests, after getting a string of “show me” contracts in negotiations with the Flames, to get that bread (so to speak). Mangiapane’s represented by Ritch Winter, who also represents Mark Giordano. Winter showed a willingness to compromise on Giordano’s contracts with the Flames – his most recent contract was excellent value for both sides – and perhaps that provides some hope that the Flames and Mangiapane can reach an understanding on a long-term pact.
But seriously: Mangiapane is going to get paid, folks. Big time.
Nikita Zadorov is big. He’s essentially a non-entity offensively, but he’s effective at shot suppression in his own zone. Where he gets into trouble in games is when he tries to do too much with the puck – he gets caught up-ice or makes bad passes at bad times. His role is to eat up defensive zone minutes so that the other two pairings can get opportunities in the offensive zone. Given his skill set, age and contractual status, I’m not sure if he has a long-term future in Calgary. He’s just too limited offensively to get the kind of payday with the Flames that he’s probably hoping to get.
The Flames are tight under the cap, with roughly $1.2 million available for the rest of the season. So while they’ll probably look to add a middle six offensive contributor, it’ll probably be a money-in, money-out proposition. A “hockey trade” might work, with the Flames looking to shuffle around some of their secondary offensive contributors and upgrade by swapping their secondary bodies for another team’s. (The other option is sending draft picks elsewhere in a bid to get a team to retain salary on a rental forward. That could work, but the team might be wary of moving out too many draft choices.)

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