Several pending Calgary Flames free agents remain open to returning (and other notes from the golf tournament)

Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
10 months ago
Friends, Tuesday and Wednesday represent the unofficial start to the 2023-24 Calgary Flames season in the form of the annual Flames Foundation golf tournament. The event kicks off the season, raises a whole whack of money for good local causes, and is the first official event where the team reconvenes after a lengthy summer.
The big topic of conversation was the status of the Flames’ six pending unrestricted free agents. Based on what several of them said to our media colleagues, it sure sounds like no doors have been fully closed.
The Flames have six prominent players eligible to become UFAs on July 1, following this coming season: forwards Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund, and defencemen Chris Tanev, Noah Hanifin, Nikita Zadorov and Oliver Kylington. Kylington’s obviously in a unique situation given that he hasn’t played pro hockey in a year due to personal reasons, but the rest of the UFAs seem to fall into two main categories.
Lindholm (28), Hanifin (26) and Zadorov (28) are in the prime of their careers and this could be their best chance to make a big payday. Meanwhile, Backlund (34) and Tanev (33) are likely closer to the end of their careers than their primes, and they both likely need to weigh several factors in deciding where they may spend the remainder of their NHL days.
With a brand-new general manager (Craig Conroy) and head coach (Ryan Huska) in place, and coming off a challenging 2022-23 season, the common refrain from the public comments from several of these pending UFAs is that they want to see how the season goes before committing further seasons to the Flames.

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