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More than half of the Calgary Flames’ players are on expiring contracts

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Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
5 months ago
Since Craig Conroy became the general manager of the Calgary Flames back in May, he’s been busy. He’s hired a new head coach. He’s navigated his first NHL Draft as a GM. He’s dealt with a round of free agency. And, as we’ve discussed here frequently, he’s navigated some big existential issues regarding some of the Flames’ pending 2024 unrestricted free agents.
But he could be even busier in 2024. Per our pals at Cap Friendly, the Flames have 46 players under NHL deals right now across the organization. 24 of those players – just over half – are on expiring deals.
Since becoming GM, Conroy’s removed three potential 2024 UFAs from his to-do list – he traded Nikita Zadorov and Tyler Toffoli, and re-signed Mikael Backlund – but also added a pair of pending UFAs since the 2023-24 season began by claiming A.J. Greer on waivers and signing Mark Pysyk.
The 2024 class of expiring contracts breaks down into three categories: 12 “regular” UFAs, two Group 6 UFAs, and 10 restricted free agents. The 24 expiring deals is fewer than the 26 that the team juggled two summers ago, but the sheer number of pretty significant pieces could make the first half of 2024 pretty intense.
Here’s the rundown:

Unrestricted free agents

12 current players will be (a) on expiring deals and (b) aged 27 or older when those deals expire: Oscar Dansk, Nick DeSimone, Dennis Gilbert, A.J. Greer, Noah Hanifin, Oliver Kylington, Elias Lindholm, Jordan Oesterle, Colton Poolman, Mark Pysyk, Kevin Rooney and Chris Tanev.
Put a different way: of the 25 players currently on the club’s active roster or injury reserve list, nine of them (over a third) could be UFAs on July 1. If you’re somebody who’s advocating for a turnover in the Flames’ roster, they have the ability to do that just via engaging in some savvy asset management of their dozen UFAs. (Even if you think they can’t get very much for their AHL backup goalie or some other depth pieces, there’s a lot of potential to rework things significantly here.)

Group 6 (unrestricted) free agents

Two current players will qualify as Group 6 UFAs as being (a) on expiring deals, (b) aged 25 or older, (c) having played three or more seasons under NHL deals, and (c) having not yet played 80 NHL games (for skaters) or 28 games for goaltenders. The two players are forward Ben Jones and defenceman Brady Lyle. (There isn’t enough season left for them to play enough NHL games to become RFAs instead.)
I’m a big proponent of Jones as a potential depth piece for the big club, especially given how consistent he’s been in the AHL. He’s not a world-beater and maybe his ceiling is NHL fourth-liner, but he could be a useful role player potentially.

Restricted free agents

Finally, players on expiring contracts that don’t qualify as Group 6 free agents and aren’t old enough to become UFAs will become restricted free agents, as long as the Flames tender them all qualifying offers. This covers 10 players: Dillon Dube, Adam Klapka, Yan Kuznetsov, Jakob Pelletier, Emilio Pettersen, Martin Pospisil, Adam Ruzicka, Cole Schwindt, Ilya Solovyov and Dustin Wolf.
This is a really interesting RFA class, arguably one of the better ones in years. Dube and Ruzicka have become NHL regulars, albeit on the fourth line. Pelletier (when healthy) and Pospisil are pushing for regular NHL roles. Solovyov and Wolf have both gotten NHL games in. Klapka is impressive in the AHL and could get NHL games this season. Kuznetsov was a high draft pick. Schwindt was part of the Florida mega-deal.
As noted by Cap Friendly, a bunch of these RFAs have arbitration rights: Dube, Pospisil, Ruzicka, Klapka, Pettersen and Solovyov. The arbitration cases for Dube and Ruzicka could be fairly interesting, and potentially kinda challenging for both sides.
Long story short, we know that the “seven pending unrestricted free agents” (now four) that Conroy inherited have dominated a lot of the discourse about how the Flames will need to navigate 2024. And yeah, they’re very important. But the Flames have a lot of decisions, big and small, to navigate over the next several months, and the hockey club could look very different once they’re done with them.
And yeah, we’ll get into the nuances and specifics of all of these decisions over the course of the next many months on this very website…

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