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Unless there’s a trade, the Calgary Flames may just nibble around the edges of free agency

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Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
The National Hockey League’s annual free agency period opens at 10 a.m. MT on Saturday morning. The Calgary Flames aren’t expected to be a big mover and shaker in free agency for two seasons: they only have a little bit of salary cap space and they have a lot of NHL-destined players under contract.
Unless there’s a trade that opens up some cap room or a key roster spot, they might just be nibbling around the edges with depth and AHL-level moves.

The probable NHL roster

The Flames have 20 players who are both currently signed to one-way deals for 2023-24 and require waivers to be sent to the minors:
  1. F Jonathan Huberdeau – $10.5 million
  2. F Nazem Kadri – $7 million
  3. D MacKenzie Weegar – $6.25 million
  4. G Jacob Markstrom – $6 million
  5. F Andrew Mangiapane – $5.8 million
  6. F Mikael Backlund – $5.35 million
  7. D Noah Hanifin – $4.95 million
  8. F Blake Coleman – $4.9 million
  9. F Elias Lindholm – $4.85 million
  10. D Rasmus Andersson – $4.55 million
  11. D Chris Tanev – $4.5 million
  12. D Nikita Zadorov – $3.75 million
  13. F Yegor Sharangovich – $3.1 million
  14. D Oliver Kylington – $2.5 million
  15. F Dillon Dube – $2.3 million
  16. G Dan Vladar – $2.2 million
  17. F Kevin Rooney – $1.3 million*
  18. F Walker Duehr – $825,000
  19. F Adam Ruzicka – $762,500
  20. D Dennis Gilbert – $762,500
These 20 players account for $80.15 million in combined cap hits, which leaves the Flames with $1.35 million in cap space to fill two or three roster spots. The expectation is for Rooney to be buried in the AHL for the coming season, which would free up all but $150,000 of his cap hit and adjust the available space to $2.5 million (to fill three or four roster spots).
“Hey Ryan, but aren’t the Flames going to move their 2024 free agents that don’t want to re-sign?” That’s the impression that we’ve gotten from Flames general manager Craig Conroy, but he’s also noted that they’re not just going to make moves to make moves. We would suspect they have prices in mind for the players they want to move, and they would prefer not move these players for a cut rate. So… trades may take a little while and, in the meantime, those players remain on the books for the Flames.

Everybody else under contract

The Flames have another 16 players under contract for 2023-24, sorted by their NHL-level cap hit. Everybody listed here has a two-way deal.
  1. F Matt Coronato – $925,000
  2. F William Stromgren – $900,833
  3. D Yan Kuznetsov – $870,000
  4. F Jakob Pelletier – $863,333
  5. F Connor Zary – $863,333
  6. F Cole Schwindt – $855,833
  7. F Rory Kerins – $846,667
  8. F Ilya Nikolaev – $836,667
  9. F Adam Klapka – $832,500
  10. F Lucas Ciona – $830,000
  11. D Ilya Solovyov – $828,333
  12. D Jeremie Poirier – $823,333
  13. G Dustin Wolf – $813,333
  14. G Oscar Dansk – $775,000
  15. F Clark Bishop – $775,000
  16. D Nick DeSimone – $762,500
It’s also reasonable to expect restricted free agents Ben Jones, Emilio Pettersen and Martin Pospisil to get two-way deals for 2023-24. So between the players on two ways, the players expected to get two-ways, and Kevin Rooney (who’ll be buried in the AHL most likely for 2023-24), the Flames have about 20 players you can reasonably lump together as the AHL group.
Obviously, barring significant signings at the NHL level, a few of the players from this group will make the big club’s roster in training camp – our money is on Jakob Pelletier and Matt Coronato – but this is just to illustrate how much room there is at the NHL and AHL level for players.

Positional breakdown

Between the two groups, the Flames have 39 players under team control for 2023-24 (under contract or RFAs) – 11 contracts under the 50-player limit.
  • Four goaltenders
  • 12 defencemen
  • 23 forwards
The Flames typically operate with 45 or 46 players under contract during any given season (give or take one or two), so between now and when training camp opens, we can probably expect about five or six signings based on the amount of players they currently have on the books.
Obviously, a big trade could potentially shift a lot of this around.
How active do you expect the Calgary Flames to be in free agency? Let us know in the comments!
Tune into the The Daily Faceoff Live Free Agent Special on July 1st from 11am – 1pm EST hosted by Tyler Yaremchuk, featuring NHL insider Frank Seravalli, serving you all the up to the minute details!

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