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Looking into a pretty lean centre group on the Calgary Flames’ depth chart

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Photo credit:Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
18 days ago
Folks, we’re about six weeks away from the 2024 trade deadline and the Calgary Flames are expected by many to be an active participant in the league’s big moves. As we creep closer to the dominoes beginning to topple, we thought we’d use All-Star Week to take a look at what the Flames have, and don’t have, in their system.
We’re closing this series out with a pretty lean Flames centre group.

Established NHLers

Nazem Kadri (33; left shot) is under contract through 2028-29, with a $7 million cap hit and a full no-move clause. (It becomes a partial no-trade clause in 2026-27.) He’ll be an unrestricted free agent upon expiry. He has 16 goals and 39 points in 49 NHL games this season.
Mikael Backlund (34; left shot) is under contract through 2025-26, with a $5.35 million cap hit and full no-move this season and a $4.5 million cap hit and full no-move for the next two seasons. He’ll be a UFA upon expiry. He has 10 goals and 25 points in 49 NHL games this season.

The pipeline

Cole Schwindt (22; right shot) is under contract through this season, with an $855,833 cap hit. He’ll be a restricted free agent upon expiry. He has 0 points in 3 NHL games and 8 goals and 20 points in 40 AHL games this season.
Kevin Rooney (30; left shot) is under contract through this season, with a $1.3 million cap hit. He’ll be a UFA upon expiry. He has 1 goal and 1 point in 4 AHL games this season.
Ben Jones (24; left shot) is under contract through this season, with a $775,000 cap hit. He’ll be an Group 6 UFA upon expiry. He has 14 goals and 28 points in 42 AHL games this season.
Clark Bishop (27; left shot) is under contract through 2024-25, with a $775,000 cap hit. He’ll be a UFA upon expiry. He has 9 goals and 18 points in 37 AHL games this season.
Jaden Lipinski (19; right shot) is with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. The Flames hold his rights through June 1, 2015. He has 14 goals and 42 points in 48 WHL games this season.
Cade Littler (19; right shot) is with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League. He’s committed to play college at the University of North Dakota. The Flames hold his rights through August 15, 2028 (unless he leaves college early). He has 3 goals and 11 points in 14 USHL games and 7 goals and 16 points in 18 BCHL games this season.
Topi Rönni (19; left shot) is with Tappara Tampere of the Liiga in Finland (and their junior team in the U20 SM-sarja). The Flames hold his rights through June 1, 2026, but he is not yet under an NHL contract. He has a March court date in Finland related to rape allegations. He has 1 goal and 2 points in 22 Liiga games and 8 goals and 22 points in 13 U20 games this season.

The rundown

The good news is that Backlund remains Backlund and Kadri has been revitalized this season after a fairly unspectacular first season with the Flames.
The bad news is the Flames are super lean at the centre position after those two. It could be a big opportunity, though, as suddenly there are a couple roster spots available for the organization’s young pivots to battle over. Maybe Schwindt carves out a role for himself. Maybe one of the Flames’ wingers that have dabbled at centre in the past could move to that role full-time. A lot of different things could happen!
But if the Flames can add a young centre or two during the next few months, that would help alleviate any depth concerns.

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