It’s mailbag time, friends. It’s finally July, and this month could be one of the busiest and most monumental in Calgary Flames history between free agency, an expansion draft and the annual NHL Draft.
Let’s dive in!
The move to the Pacific Division is a nice one for the Flames. I agree with the notion that the best two teams, on paper, are Vegas and Edmonton. But that leaves one divisional spot and two wildcard spots up for grabs in the Western Conference playoff race. Calgary and Vancouver are probably neck-and-neck for the divisional spot. On paper, the Flames probably have a slight edge on Vancouver, but that also depends on what kind of shuffling they do this off-season.
They do, yes. Injured players rehab under team supervision until they get their medical release indicating they’re back at 100%. Players are able to work out under team supervision under specific circumstances – it’s more complex during COVID, obviously – but usually they skate in informal groups and work out using plans set out by the Flames (and amplified by their own personal trainers).
Yes. He’ll get drafted after Jesper Wallstedt, who’ll probably go Top 10, but Sebastian Cossa probably gets drafted somewhere between 20th and 25th overall. He’s really good.
A crazy move would be to acquire another forward that needs to be protected in the expansion draft. A realistic move would be to send significant assets, like a prospect or a second round pick, to Seattle to get them to avoid taking Mark Giordano. Giordano’s been a big part of the Flames for years, but spending assets to hold onto a 38-year-old defenseman isn’t a prudent move for where the Flames are in their progression. If they’re one piece away from a Stanley Cup, you hold onto Giordano and roll the dice. If you’re coming off missing the playoffs, it’s not as smart a move.
Right now: Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev, Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, Dillon Dube, Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane.
Honestly, there’s no way to replace Mark Giordano if he’s claimed. He’s a unicorn. But him leaving opens up $6.75 million of cap space at a time where the cap isn’t moving at all for the next few seasons. For leadership, the Flames would still have folks like Mikael Backlund, Milan Lucic and Chris Tanev. If Giordano’s claimed, they should use the cap flexibility to upgrade their roster rather than trying to replace his specific attributes.
Based on all the chatter, it really seems to be looking like Sean Monahan could be the big-name player moved this summer. Who knows what that trade looks like, though.
If it’s up to me, I’d have the Flames draft a forward. There are tons of effective young forwards expected to be available around where the Flames pick, including the likes of Mason McTavish, Fabian Lysell, Chaz Lucius, Cole Sillinger and Matthew Coronato.
The key is smart asset swaps. Look at the trade they made with Carolina for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm as an example: the Flames got younger, cheaper, and gained controllable years rather than losing players for nothing or running in place. If you do that enough with good players and can leverage your draft picks well, you can change up your team’s core without having to free-fall in the standings too much.
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