The Calgary Flames have some work to do in building up their blueline depth

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
11 days ago
Be sure to check out the latest NHL playoff odds with online sportsbook Betway.
The Calgary Flames’ blueline went through a lot of changes over the 2023-24 season. They traded away three NHL regulars in Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov. They lost Nick DeSimone on waivers.
But they added Joel Hanley and Brayden Pachal off the waiver wire, and added Daniil Miromanov, Nikita Okhotiuk, Artem Grushnikov, Joni Jurmo and Hunter Brzustewicz via trade. As they approach the 2024 NHL Draft, their defensive depth chart looks a lot different than it did 12 months ago.
Here’s a quick rundown of where the Flames stand on the blueline a few weeks away from the draft.

A defensive snapshot

Under team control for 2024-25:
  • Joel Hanley
  • MacKenzie Weegar
  • Rasmus Andersson
  • Daniil Miromanov
  • Brayden Pachal
  • Ilya Solovyov (restricted free agent)
  • Nikita Okhotiuk (restricted free agent)*
  • Yan Kuznetsov (restricted free agent)
  • Joni Jurmo
  • Jeremie Poirier
  • Artem Grushnikov
  • Hunter Brzustewicz
* – TSN’s Darren Dreger reported on May 26 that Okhotiuk has signed with CSKA Moskva of the KHL, though it hasn’t been announced by the club yet. If the Flames tender Okhotiuk a qualifying offer they’ll retain his NHL rights until he’s 27.
Unsigned draft picks:
  • Jake Boltmann
  • Etienne Morin
  • Axel Hurtig
Unrestricted free agents:
  • Mark Pysyk
  • Jordan Oesterle
  • Colton Poolman
  • Dennis Gilbert
  • Oliver Kylington
  • Brady Lyle*
* – Lyle has signed with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL.

Recently drafted defencemen

Since 2014, the Flames have drafted 16 defencemen. They’ve come in waves, though. After selecting Juuso Valimaki in 2017, the Flames went 15 picks (over three drafts) before taking another defenceman – their tendency has been to select the best available player in most rounds, even if it means not taking a defenceman for awhile.
The Flames have signed six of those defencemen to entry-level deals: Rasmus Andersson (2015, second round), Oliver Kylington (2015, second round), Juuso Valimaki (2017, first round), Yan Kuznetsov (2020, second round), Jeremie Poirier (2020, third round) and Ilya Solovyov (2020, seventh round). Of those six, four played NHL games for the Flames: Andersson, Kylington, Valimaki and Solovyov.
Three additional picks haven’t been signed yet, but the Flames still hold their rights: Jake Boltmann (2020, third round), Etienne Morin (2023, second round) and Axel Hurtig (2023, seventh round). Boltmann’s completed his senior year and has transferred schools for his graduate season, so we’re thinking the Flames will lose his rights on Aug. 15 – we’re never 100% clear on when college rights lapse because it depends on when a player graduates, so it can vary a bit from player to player.
The Flames traded two defencemen before their rights lapsed: Brandon Hickey (2014, third round) was traded to Arizona as part of the Mike Smith trade, while Adam Fox (2016, third round) was traded to Carolina as part of the trade that brought Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin to Calgary.
Finally, the Flames opted not to sign five of their drafted defenders: Adam Ollas Mattsson (2014, sixth round), Riley Bruce (2015, seventh round), Stepan Falkovsky (2016, seventh round), Cameron Whynot (2021, third round) and Cole Jordan (2021, fifth round).

The rundown

The good news is that the Flames have a decent amount of depth on the blueline. They arguably lack a true “ace” at the NHL level, and a true “ace” within their developmental system, but they have a lot of good players at the NHL level and a few really exciting prospects in their system.
A good draft that adds a couple strong blueline prospects to their pipeline could seriously upgrade their system and boost their depth from “decent” to “strong.” We’ll see what they end up doing on June 28 and 29 at the Sphere in Las Vegas.

Check out these posts...