There’s no better timing for the Calgary Flames to know if players don’t want to return

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
9 months ago
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The Calgary Flames and the new management team have a lot to figure out as the offseason moves along. With the NHL Draft out of the way, that’s one fewer event they have to dedicate their time to, but there are even bigger things that impact their team now, and that’s whether or not Mikael Backlund and Elias Lindholm will be back with the team for the foreseeable future.
The Flames already made the first move and dealt Tyler Toffoli to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2023 third-round pick and the RFA signing rights to Yegor Sharangovich, who they then signed to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $3.1 million. Toffoli reportedly told management that he didn’t intend on re-signing with the team, and the Flames didn’t want players to go into next season with one year left on their deals. So, new general manager Craig Conroy pushed over the first domino and sent him to Newark for a young forward that could be an impact player at the top or in the middle of the forward group.
Now, that leaves Noah Hanifin, who has said he wants to go back to the United States to play instead of re-signing with the team. A team that has been rumored around the big defenseman is the Florida Panthers, with Anthony Duclair having his name thrown out there as well for a possible return.
As of now, we have no decision from Lindholm, and the Backlund situation is up in the air, and as much as all of this might hurt the Flames’ current roster, I don’t think there’s a better time for this to be happening.
Don Maloney said that the management team had pondered going in the direction of a rebuild, but didn’t end up going down that route. Now, with all of these players wanting out or not knowing the future of their contract status with the team, it gives Conroy the ability to ask around the league and try to gauge the value of said players. It gives him the ability to start with a clean slate. He doesn’t have to commit tons of money to another player or two, and he’ll be able to build the team the way he wants to starting from scratch.
From lots of the reaction around the Flames fanbase, the idea of a rebuild, or at the very least, being bad enough to get top 10 picks in the upcoming drafts in order to have a good team in the future, isn’t something that scares anyone. And if the Flames are going to go down that road, now is the perfect time. My colleague Robert Munnich wrote more about that here, and it’s hard not to agree with his notions at this point in the offseason and with where the roster sits. The Flames have to figure out what the right offer is, and they also have to figure out whether their priority is to truly maximize the return on the players, or if it’s to stand by the “not going into next year with one year left” rule. Because time is eventually going to run out, and the Flames need to take advantage of the assets they have now.

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