Friends, training camp for the 2022-23 Calgary Flames season begins in mid-September. That’s just three months away. General manager Brad Treliving has a lot of things to get off his to-do list between now and then.
Here’s a quick snapshot of what’s on his list.

Players on one-way contracts

The Flames have 14 players signed for 2022-23 who are on one-way deals – meaning whether they’re on the NHL roster or not, they’re getting NHL pay – and all require waivers to send to the AHL. In essence, they have 14 players who will probably be on the NHL roster.
Pos
Player
Cap Hit
C
Sean Monahan
$6,375,000
G
Jacob Markstrom
$6,000,000
C
Mikael Backlund
$5,350,000
LW
Milan Lucic
$5,250,000
D
Noah Hanifin
$4,950,000
RW
Blake Coleman
$4,900,000
C
Elias Lindholm
$4,850,000
RW
Tyler Toffoli
$4,250,000
D
Rasmus Andersson
$4,550,000
D
Chris Tanev
$4,500,000
LW
Dillon Dube
$2,300,000
D
Juuso Valimaki
$1,550,000
D
Connor Mackey
$912,500
G
Dan Vladar
$750,000
This gives the Flames two goaltenders, five defencemen and seven forwards. These 14 players carry a cap commitment of $56.49 million, which gives the Flames about $26.01 million to fill in the gaps.

Players on two-way contracts

The Flames have another 11 players on active deals for 2022-23 that are two-way deals – meaning they get paid an NHL salary in the NHL and a different AHL salary in the minors. (All 11 players are also exempt from waivers next season.)
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  • Goaltender Dustin Wolf ($814,167)
  • Defencemen Ilya Solovyov ($828,333), Jeremie Poirier ($815,000) and Yan Kuznetsov ($870,000)
  • Forwards Adam Klapka ($832,500), Rory Kerins ($846,667), Ilya Nikolaev ($836,667), Walker Duehr ($827,500), Jakob Pelletier ($863,334), Connor Zary ($863,334) and Emilio Pettersen ($903,333)

Restricted free agents

The Flames have 10 players who are slated to become restricted free agents on July 13, assuming they’re sent qualifying offers. Qualifying offers are due by 3 p.m. MT on July 11.
  • Goaltender Tyler Parsons
  • Defencemen Oliver Kylington, Johannes Kinnvall and Colton Poolman
  • Forwards Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane, Adam Ruzicka, Eetu Tuulola, Martin Pospisil and Matthew Phillips
Two players require one-way qualifying offers at fairly significant values: Tkachuk ($9 million) and Mangiapane ($2.45 million). All the others have two-way qualifying offers of between $787,500 and $875,175.
Seven players qualify for salary arbitration: Tkachuk, Mangiapane, Kylington, Tuulola, Phillips, Poolman and Kinnvall. The deadline for players to file is July 17, the deadline for clubs to file is July 18. (The vast, vast proportion of arbitration cases are player-filed.)

Unrestricted free agents

Finally, the Flames have another 16 players who become unrestricted free agents on July 13.
  • Goaltender Adam Werner
  • Defencemen Nikita Zadorov, Erik Gudbranson, Michael Stone, Kevin Gravel, Andy Welinski and Nick DeSimone
  • Forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Carpenter, Brett Ritchie, Trevor Lewis, Byron Froese, Justin Kirkland, Glenn Gawdin and Luke Philp
Gaudreau is obviously the top priority, in case you hadn’t heard.

Some (flawed) options for opening up cap space

As noted, the Flames have about $26.01 million in cap space after accounting for all the players on one-way contracts. If you’re thinking to yourself “Hey, that’s probably not enough cap space to sign everybody…” well, you’re right. If you presume Gaudreau and Tkachuk combine for something around $21 million, that leaves just $5.01 million to re-up the rest of the crew. Heck, Mangiapane alone will probably get that much.
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So how can the Flames make room?
Can they buy out Milan Lucic or Sean Monahan? Well, Lucic’s deal is basically buyout-proof because of how laden it is with signing bonuses. If you buy him out, you get $666,666 in salary cap savings… and that’s not enough to even cover a player on a league minimum ($750,000) cap hit to replace him. And since Monahan likely won’t be medically cleared until training camp after his hip surgery, you’d need his go-ahead to buy him out.
Can they trade Lucic or Monahan then? Sure, but Lucic only has 8 teams he can be traded to (it jumps to 10 after July 1) and Monahan has a 10 team no-trade list. It would be difficult to find suitors to get value in those swaps, and the Flames would probably need to kick in a pick (perhaps their 2023 second-rounder) or a prospect as a sweetener.
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And if they try to move out basically anybody else with significant enough cap hit to ease their off-season pain, you’re probably putting a decent hole into the club’s existing line-up, so you’d be trading one problem for another.
Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli did float an interesting idea for cap-strapped teams, though: acquire (and then buy out) Philippe Myers from Philadelphia:
Why Myers, a player who has already passed through waivers? Myers represents a unique and quirky opportunity for a cap-strapped team that can trade for him and actually create salary cap space with a buyout. Because Myers is 25 and his deal is backloaded, his buyout would result in a $616,666 credit on next season’s cap, followed by a $633,334 charge the following season. This has happened before (see: Jared Cowen in 2016) and the Toronto Maple Leafs pounced on the deal.
The Flames need to get creative this summer, and this could be part of a series of moves that create some breathing room. (Provided another team doesn’t beat them to the punch…)
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