The month of August is almost complete. Most of the Calgary Flames’ off-season to-do list is complete. Training camp opens for rookies in a couple of weeks, and three for veteran players.
It’s gonna get busy quite quickly, friends. Let’s check out the mailbag!
Right now, Andrew Mangiapane is a superior NHL player to Dillon Dube. But Dube was selected in the second round for a reason: he’s a little bit bigger and thicker than Mangiapane, which should help Dube battle in the corners and in front of the net. Mangiapane has better speed than Dube, but Dube arguably has a better finesse game – with a slightly superior shot and ability to connect on a pass.
If we’re looking at absolute ceiling, Dube likely has a slightly higher one if he can put everything together. Mangiapane is probably getting close to his developmental ceiling – and “topping out” as a useful top six piece is a really nice thing to find when you’re drafting in the second round. But Dube could end up being an even bigger piece for the Flames.
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Let’s handle these in order:
  • Jack Eichel to the Flames is probably a 4 or a 5. As we’ve discussed on the site in the recent past, I’m terrified of acquiring a player with a fuzzy injury status and unclear recovery trajectory. The salary cap implications of trading for Eichel and then parking him on long-term injured reserve are pretty crappy – it’s much, much tougher to accumulate cap space. But you also get the sense that both the Buffalo Sabres and the Eichel camp would like this telenovela to end very soon – the Sabres would love not to have a distraction looming over their entire season, for instance. If that brings the asking price for Eichel down, maybe the Flames pull the trigger?
  • Christian Dvorak to the Flames is probably a 4 or a 5, too. The Coyotes may be a bit of a tire-fire off the ice, but their new-look front office is pretty savvy and they’ve done some excellent work this summer. They know the value of their players and they’re able to extract it. You’re going to have to pony up some big assets to get Dvorak out of there – a first rounder and probably something else significant – and who knows if the Flames have the appetite for that.
  • Offer-sheeting Elias Pettersson is a zero. They don’t have the cap space to make a competitive offer, it’s unlikely Pettersson would sign such an offer sheet, and it’s unlikely the Flames would even make such a swing given the players they have in camp that they have to find ice time for. Barring a trade that opens up cap space and a top nine forward spot, it doesn’t make a ton of sense for them to explore.
A Johnny Gaudreau extension is far more likely than a top six forward acquisition. With the cap space the Flames have left – about $3 million – they simply don’t have the space to accommodate such an acquisition.
The short answer is “yes.”
The long answer is that the Flames are, at their core, a business. And the best way to perpetuate your hockey business long-term is success: it gets fans into the building, especially in the playoffs where players don’t receive nearly the amount of compensation they do in the regulation season, and fans are willing to pay inflated prices in the post-season if their team makes a run and has a chance at winning. Nobody really batted an eye at the prices they paid to watch games during the 2004 Cup run, for example, because the Flames had a legitimate chance at the Cup and fans wanted to be part of the action.
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Long story short: Flames ownership wants the club to make the playoffs and go on long runs because (a) it adds prestige to the brand, (b) they make more money that way and (c) it would be really, really cool for the fans and city.
Given the money it likely took to lure Darryl Sutter down from Viking to return to coaching, it’s hard to argue that ownership doesn’t care about winning.
At this point, 19-year-old Yan Kuznetsov has the option of playing minor-pro with the AHL’s Stockton Heat or junior with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. Both would be a new challenge for him, but he would likely get a larger role on the Sea Dogs. If the goal for this season is to grow his game, the Q would probably be the better option.
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As of today, William Stromgren is one of 14 forwards on Rogle BK’s SHL roster. He’s the youngest player on the team, too. Before he headed to the Four Nations tournament to play with Sweden’s under-20 national team, he played wing on the second and third line for Rogle, so that’s probably where he starts. The good thing for him is he’ll be playing with some veteran teammates and that’ll help with his development. The downside for him is the tendency in the SHL is for younger players to slide down the rotation, as clubs tend to lean on their experienced players more often than not. So it’ll be up to him to show that he can drive play and contribute in all three zones early in the season so that he doesn’t get bumped to the fourth line.
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The Flames are mostly done given the amount of established NHLers on their roster and the cap space they have left.
Both Darryl Sutter and Brad Treliving have two seasons remaining on their contracts. The bare minimum expectations for this group over the next two seasons has to be two playoff appearances and multiple rounds won. This team is a car that’s been stuck in the driveway for a few seasons: it’s time to either get it onto the highway and see what the engine can really do, or change over who’s building and driving the vehicle.
Given that Monahan’s dealt with some injuries over the past few years, but has still scored goals pretty consistently, a fair return is probably a second round pick and either a secondary roster player or a decent prospect.
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Right now, the big question is what Oliver Kylington can do or be at the NHL in 2021-22 – he requires waivers to be sent to the AHL, so any team that would acquire him would need to be confident enough to keep him on their NHL roster. Training camp and pre-season games will be big for Kylington, as he could work his way into an NHL job – here or somewhere else – with a strong showing.
With a blah camp? He could be waived and sent to the AHL, or merely kept around as a seventh defender.
My expectation right now is for the Flames to roll with a bunch of alternate captains for this season and play “wait and see” for who’ll wear the C long-term. Expect to have Matthew Tkachuk, Chris Tanev, Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund wearing the As this coming season.
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