What still needs to happen before the start of the season?
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
4 months ago
August is around the corner and the Flames still have a number of things to figure out. While the fates of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk have been determined, Calgary’s cap situation remains murky, as does their opening day roster. Most of that uncertainty will be cleared up over the next month with some important items remaining on the agenda.
This is the obvious one. The Flames have a pair of high profile unsigned restricted free agents in Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington, and their new contracts will take up the bulk of the team’s $9.3 million of current projected cap space. It’s probably safe to ballpark cap hits for Mangiapane and Kylington in the $5 million and $2.5 million ballpark, with wiggle room on either side.
It’ll also be interesting to watch what happens with Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar, both acquired in the Tkachuk trade with Florida. As we know, both players are entering the final year of their contracts and are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Signing one or either to an extension before the season would take a significant weight off Calgary’s shoulders.
It wouldn’t be unprecedented for a player to sign an extension before playing a single game with a new team; I think of Mark Stone in Vegas as a recent example, for instance. That said, just a year from UFA status, you could understand the desire for Huberdeau and/or Weegar to employ a “wait and see” approach to a new deal with the Flames. You can also understand why Calgary might want to accelerate the process, so it’s at the very least something to keep an eye on.
Because the Flames had players file for arbitration earlier this month, the team is also eligible for a second buyout window at some point later this summer. Our friends over at PuckPedia have a really simple and succinct explanation of how the second buyout period works:
Teams may receive an additional Buyout window. If a team has a player go to arbitration and it is either settled or awarded, the team receives a new 48 hour buyout window beginning 3 days after the arbitration settlement or award. The only contracts that are eligible to be bought out in this window are for player with Cap Hits greater than $4M AND they were on the team’s roster at the last trade deadline.
With Matthew Phillips signing a one-year contract last weekend, Calgary has two players eligible for arbitration: Mangiapane and Kylington. Mangiapane’s hearing date is set for August 5th, while Kylington’s is August 10th. That means the latest a second buyout window will open for the Flames is mid-August.
Depending on what new contracts look like for Mangiapane and Kylington, and depending on what else Calgary might be looking to do, a buyout would be an option to help with cap flexibility. Unfortunately, the Flames don’t have any obvious buyout candidates. Sean Monahan continues to recover from hip surgery in March, which would put things in murky waters at best. Milan Lucic, on the other hand, doesn’t offer much in terms of cap savings due to his contract structure.
Here’s where things get interesting. The belief is Calgary remains interested in adding to their team and we outlined some targets a little earlier this week. For me, centre is where the Flames have the biggest need, because after Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund there’s a significant gap.
While Monahan’s timeline suggests he’ll be ready for training camp, he’s also coming off a second significant hip surgery in a year, so I don’t think that’s a guarantee. On top of that, will Monahan have the ability to be an effective 3C or 4C? He struggled for most of last season in that role and he’s entering this season under similar circumstances.
Rooney is a good bet to play everyday minutes, but likely fits best on the fourth line. And then there’s Ruzicka, who I remain intrigued by. There’s definitely upside, but consistency continues to be Ruzicka’s biggest hurdle. He could absolutely be ready for full-time NHL work down the middle, but if the Flames are looking to build on last year, going with a more proven and/or reliable option to centre the third line is the better play.
Nazem Kadri and Paul Stastny are interesting free agent targets for Calgary, or perhaps there’s another move GM Brad Treliving has up his sleeve. At the same time, an impact addition would likely mean the Flames have to free up additional cap room. While a buyout isn’t the most viable option, there are certainly trade option depending on the situation.
There’s been buzz surrounding interest in Lucic at different times this summer, and I don’t believe Calgary would have to “sweeten” a move involving him. Monahan, on the other hand, is a tougher contract to move and the Flames would almost certainly have to include an asset to facilitate a trade. You could throw in a handful of other less likely names too, from Mikael Backlund to Oliver Kylington and more, depending on the situation.
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