The Calgary Flames need to make room for Dustin Wolf next season
Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
3 months ago
It has become obvious over the last two seasons that Dustin Wolf is too good to be playing in the AHL. Wolf has had a remarkable last four seasons of hockey in the WHL and the AHL.
He won back-to-back Del Wilson Memorial Trophy’s as the top goalie in the WHL.
He won back-to-back Aldege Bastien Memorial Awards as the best goalie in the American Hockey League. He also won the 2022-23 Les Cunningham Award for AHL MVP.
On top of the hardware, he has also put-up historic numbers at the AHL and WHL levels.
Had Wolf’s final season not been cut short due to COVID-19, he would most likely have set WHL goaltending records for wins and shutouts. He has the best save percentage in WHL history with a .935% and is second all time in goals against average with a 1.84 GAA.
Based off his numbers and accolades, it’s not a stretch to say that Wolf is one of the best goaltending prospects in NHL history.
Because of that, the Flames are going to want him on the NHL roster next season.
Let’s look at some ways to accommodate that.
Call up Wolf for NHL starts while still playing in the AHL
Wolf has one year remaining on his entry level contract. He is currently on a two-way deal which means the Flames can send him down to the AHL Wranglers without ever having to go through waivers.
In this situation, the Flames could keep Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar on the roster. Those two would be the two goalies in practice and the ones who travel with the team. But Wolf could be called up to the NHL roster to give him starts at the NHL level. Once the game is over he can be sent down to the AHL which is in the same city as the big club.
This would give Wolf NHL experience while still having Markstrom and Vladar on the team which gives the Flames amazing depth in net.
The problem with this is that Vladar would not be playing much in this situation. It would hurt his development as an NHL goalie. This scenario could also upset Wolf who would be going back and fourth from the AHL to the NHL which is not ideal. He’d be playing for two teams. And he would be making AHL money for the majority of the season which might upset him.
Trade Dan Vladar
This is the most realistic solution to get Wolf to the NHL on a full-time basis. Vladar is 25 years old and is getting better everyday. He is young, enthusiastic, coachable and is on a very good contract. Vladar will have a cap hit of $2.2M over the next two seasons which is very manageable for most teams across the league.
The Flames could likely re-coup a second or third round draft pick in exchange for Vladar which would be great as they need to beef up their prospect system.
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Trade Jacob Markstrom
This is probably the least likely of the three scenarios to happen. Markstrom is coming off a down year and has three years remaining on his contract which pays him $6M per season. I don’t see many teams wanting to take on that contract right now.
Markstrom also has a full no move clause in his contract. He is in full control of his own destiny. The Flames would have to ask him to waive his no move clause which might affect his relationship with the organization if he says no.
Trading Markstrom could make sense if you’re the Flames. Are you truly getting four or five million dollars of extra value out of Markstrom compared to Vladar and Wolf? How much worse off would the Flames be with a tandem of Vladar and Wolf compared to what you’d get with Markstrom?
The Flames are capped out and they need to open up space to improve the roster. How does opening up $6M worth of cap space sound?
It is highly unlikely that Markstrom would be dealt, but it’s a fascinating conversation to have.
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What is going to happen?
If I had to put money on it, I would bet that the Flames will trade Dan Vladar to make room for Dustin Wolf. Vladar’s contract is easy to move and there will be a lot of demand for his services.
The Flames will start next season with a goaltending tandem of Markstrom and Wolf. Which is one of the better tandems in the NHL if Markstrom can regain his form and Wolf can live up to his potential.
What do you want to see happen with the Flames goaltending next season? Let us know in the comments section!
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