Calgary Flames

Qualify or let them fly? The Flames’ RFA landscape

The next major off-season marker is quickly approaching, with the deadline to extend qualifying offers being just mere hours away (5 pm EST, June 25). Teams with restricted free agents (RFA) have until the deadline to retain the negotiating rights to those players, or have them become unrestricted free agents.

Issuing a qualifying offer can be used to retain a player’s rights, to provide leverage in arbitration talks, to sign a player outright. At times, it can even be a simple formality in the RFA contract negotiation. If a qualifying offer is not accepted the team in question still retains the player’s rights, but the player still would require a new deal. All qualifying offers expire on July 15th, but teams can choose to extend that day if they choose. The Calgary Flames should probably be using all of these tactics at some point given their body of RFAs.

The Flames’ Qualifying Offer Scenario

The Flames have 13 RFAs that they need to make decisions on. Some are clear cut decisions, but others present a much more intriguing choice for the organization. Those free agents are:

PlayerAGE2018-19 SalaryQualifying Offer $Contract TypeArbitration Rights?
Andrew Mangiapane23$730,000$715,000Two-WayNo
Alan Quine26$700,000$735,000Two-WayYes
Matthew Tkachuk21$925,000$874,125One-WayNo
Sam Bennett23$1,950,000$1,950,000One-WayYes
David Rittich26$800,000$840,000One-WayYes
Spencer Foo25$925,000$874,125Two-WayYes
Curtis Lazar24$1,050,000$1,050,000Two-WayYes
Ryan Lomberg24$710,000$715,000Two-WayYes
Brett Pollock23$700,000$735,000Two-WayNo
Kerby Rychel24$725,000$761,250Two-WayYes
Josh Healey24$925,000$874,125Two-WayYes
Rinat Valiev24$650,000$715,000Two-WayYes
Mason McDonald23$832,500$874,125Two-WayNo

Using CapFriendly’s Qualifying Offer Calculator, we are able to see what those offers would end up being if a qualifying offer was extended. Of those 13 free agents, four have arbitration rights and three would be offered one way deals.

Which players will receive a qualifying offer come the deadline? Let’s give our best guesses:

The Guarantees

Matthew Tkachuk

This news won’t break the internet, if you can even call it news. Matthew Tkachuk is about to get a major raise as a Calgary Flame, whenever that day may come. This is just a formality.

Sam Bennett

Another easy call, but a much different contract situation. We have already touched on what Sam Bennett’s next deal could look like, but this could go in all sorts of directions. With arbitration rights, Bennett will almost automatically be making more than his $1.95M salary from last season. Bennett’s deal could be a tricky path for Brad Treliving, but a qualifying offer is certain.

David Rittich

Not to sound like a broken record, but David Rittich’s qualifying offer is also a formality. After a strong season, Rittich could, and probably will, be the starting goaltender for the Flames next season. He will be looking for both raise and more term than he received last season, but the qualifying offer is the first step.

Andrew Mangiapane

Probably one of the bigger surprises from last season was Andrew Mangiapane’s play at the NHL level. He is no doubt a lock for the starting lineup next season, but is in need of a new deal. While he could be looking for a similar deal like Austin Czarnik, the Flames will most certainly want to retain his rights.

The More Likely Than Nots

Spencer Foo

Unfortunately, Spencer Foo will not be playing in North America next season, as he has a contract in place with the Kunlun Red Stars of the KHL. That being said, they Flames will probably want to retain his rights should he ever decide to return to the NHL.

Of course the Flames may not be that high on him anymore, after he failed to establish himself in the AHL. A qualifying offer should be in the books for Foo, but there is a small chance the Flames end up opting out.

Alan Quine

Alan Quine had a strong season with the Stockton Heat, but also played well during his short time with the Flames. With Stockton depth looking like it could take a hit, the Flames may want to keep Quine around. That being said, with him being eligible for arbitration, the Flames may avoid that route and opt to sign him as a UFA instead.

Ryan Lomberg

Ryan Lomberg’s role as an NHLer might never be fully established, but Lomberg plays a key role on the Stockton Heat. I think the organization likes him, and would plan on keeping him around.

Rinat Valiev

Acquired as a part of the trade that sent Brett Kulak to Montreal, Rinat Valiev has yet to debut with the Flames. Valiet was called up a few times throughout the season, but failed to dress in a game. A depth defender who could still get a chance in the big leagues, I would assume the Flames qualify him.

The So Long Farewells

Brett Pollock

Selected as a second round pick by the Dallas Stars, Brett Pollock was traded to the Flames when the Stars sought out Kris Russell for their playoff run in 2016. Unfortunately, the 23-year-old winger has not made his impact in the minors. Brett Pollock’s point production dropped from 0.43 PPG in 2017-18 to 0.23 PPG last season. Unable to make a mark in Stockton, the Flames probably don’t plan on keeping Pollock around.

Josh Healey

Signed out of Ohio State University, Josh Healey was lauded for his physical play and blustering hits. Although he had a strong season offensively in 2018-19, it is unclear as to where Healey fits in the organization. With blue line depth pushing him down the chart, it’s very possibly that the Flames do not qualify Healey.

Mason McDonald

The time has unfortunately finally come for Mason McDonald. After being taken in the second round in 2014, McDonald has split parts of three seasons between the AHL and ECHL. Although his numbers were better this past season, the Flames will have too many goaltenders and not enough spots to fill. After falling to near the bottom of the depth chart, I think the Flames will let McDonald explore other options with a different organization. One can only hope he doesn’t become Jordan Binnington 2.0.

The Question Marks

Kerby Rychel

Honestly this one could go either way. Kerby Rychel would be a cheap depth forward at both the AHL and NHL levels, but he also has arbitration rights. His place in the organization is uncertain, but also not qualifying him wouldn’t be the biggest lost. I’m 50/50 on which way this will go, but I’ll put my money on the Flames qualifying him.

Curtis Lazar

The final elephant in the room was saved until the end. After the notorious trade in 2017, Curtis Lazar spent his first season with the Flames before being sent to Stockton. You may be wondering why the Flames wouldn’t give him a qualifying offer after spending a second round pick to get him, but it comes down to money.

After making $1.05M last season with a cap hit of $950K, Lazar would automatically have to make that or more this coming season. With arbitration rights as well, he could decline the offer and wait for an arbitrator to award him more. The Flames do not have that much cap space to work with, especially not on a Curtis Lazar deal. They could simply opt not to qualify and then try to sign him as a UFA, just like Joe Colborne, but they risk losing him all together. This case is very curious and we will have to wait to find out which way it goes.

Final Guesses

As it stands right now, this is how I think things will play out:

Qualified: Tkachuk, Bennett, Rittich, Mangiapane, Foo, Quine, Lomberg, Valiev, and Rychel

Not Qualifed: Lazar, Pollock, Healey, and McDonald

There are always a few moves that lead to dropped jaws at this time of year, and qualifying Lazar could be one of those moments. The Flames may have other plans for these RFAs that we haven’t even discussed, but keep a close eye on these 13 names to see where their fate takes them.

Update: Official Flames qualifying offers

The Flames have now released their qualifying offer list.


  • Sam Bennett
  • Spencer Foo
  • Ryan Lomberg
  • Andrew Mangiapane
  • Alan Quine
  • David Rittich
  • Matthew Tkachuk
  • Rinat Valiev

Not qualified:

  • Josh Healey
  • Curtis Lazar
  • Mason McDonald
  • Brett Pollock
  • Kerby Rychel

What do you think of the qualifying offers? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @wincolumnblog.

Photo by Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

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