Calgary Flames

Realistic UFA targets for the Flames

Less than 24 hours stand between the Calgary Flames and the July 1st Free Agent Frenzy. Although the interview period has been open for a few days, the Flames haven’t been linked to many players. Currently sitting at just over $69M in projected cap hit, the team has $12M and change to work with. Of course, factoring in the likely expensive contract of Matthew Tkachuk and the extensions for David Rittich and Sam Bennett, that cap space suddenly disappears.

Who can the Flames sign?

Brad Treliving may not have the best track record with UFAs at the moment, but last year he was able to add some key depth players. Derek Ryan, Austin Czarnik, and Alan Quine all were solid UFA additions that helped the team in varying capacities. This offseason will see more of the depth addition deals, primarily due to the remaining RFAs.

Using @EvolvingWild’s Contract Projections: 2019, we will assume Tkachuk gets $7,836,132, Bennett earns $2,795,669, and Rittich earns around $3M. Those are rough estimates, but if taken at face value, something else will have to move.

Those projections immediately puts the Flames at $13,631,801 in spending; putting them over the salary cap. Now with Michael Frolik apparently the subject of many trade rumours, let’s assume his $4.2M cap hit is removed from play. That leaves the Flames with around $2,568,199 in cap space to work with on July 1st – if not more – pending any additional moves.

The Options

So who can the Flames realistically look at on July 1st?

Cam Talbot

The rumours put this signing at an almost certainty. We have already done a deep dive on the former Edmonton netminder, but here is a brief overview of what he could bring.

2018-19Edmonton Oilers311015313.36-18.14*0.893
2018-19Philadelphia Flyers412003.70-18.14*0.881

Last year was extremely tough for Cam Talbot, but the Flames could be acquiring a very motivated and cost-effective option to assist Rittich in net. With suggestions that Talbot could earn somewhere between $2-$2.5M per season, that would take up all of the wiggle room for the Flames.

Colin Wilson

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Playing somewhat of a veteran role on last year’s Colorado Avalanche team, Colin Wilson put up decent numbers in 65 games played. EvolvingWild puts him at a projected three-year, ~$2.5M contract, which would fit the assumed cap for the Flames.

The real question is would Wilson want to leave Colorado? With the Avalanche expected to have a wealth of cap space, even after Mikko Rantanen signs, he could easily get a bit more money to stay with the same team. Wilson could fill a nice third and fourth line role with the Flames, but it may not be the most ideal scenario for the player and for the team.

Ryan Hartman

Once traded for a first round pick a few years ago, the former first rounder himself was recently not qualified by the Philadelphia Flyers. The now UFA should garner some interest from a wide variety of teams, but could the Flames make a move?

Nashville Predators641010208.8%52.9%51.2% 48.4%
Philadelphia Flyers192466.3%43.3%43.2%44.7%

Ryan Hartman was having a decent season in Nashville, but his numbers had dropped year over year. After moving over to Philadelphia his point totals were a bit better, but his advanced stats took a big hit. He could come as a flexible option for the team, someone who can play up and down the lineup with a bit of an edge, but EW’s projections put him at two years and $2.5M per year, which is close to the edge as well.

Magnus Paajarvi

Playing the entire year in Ottawa, Magnus Paajarvi was told he would not be returning to the team the following season.

2018-19Ottawa Senators80118199.2%42.7%44.8%46.4%

Having his best offensively productive season since his rookie year, Paajarvi is someone that could provide depth at an extremely low cost. Now is he that more valuable that one of the Flames prospects? Very debatable. EW is projecting he makes ~$1.9M on a one-year deal, which seems very high. However, taking a one-year, $1M flyer on him could be worth the gamble.

Tyler Ennis

2018-19Toronto Maple Leafs511261814.8%46.6%50.3%48.9%

Tyler Ennis is another extremely interesting name on this list. He may not have had the most productive season in Toronto, but he showed a bit of his former self we’ve seen when he was in Buffalo. The Leafs would probably like to have him back, but they have their own salary cap issues to deal with.

EW is projecting Ennis gets himself a three-year deal worth $1.85M per season, which seems a bit longer in length than it should. Certainly a one-year or two-year deal around that cap hit would be much more realistic.

The biggest concern with Ennis is that he only scored 12 goals on 14.8% shooting, three of which came against the Flames in March. You wonder if he can get back to his offensive production of old is he could be given an expanded role. Tough to tell.

Noel Acciari

After going to the Stanley Cup final with the Boston Bruins, Noel Acciari is in need of a new deal. The 27-year-old could garner some traction on the UFA market, most likely with the Bruins being the incumbent leaders.

2018-19Boston Bruins72681414.8%49.9%51.3%51.5%

His numbers don’t leap off the page, but the key here is the depth he could provide to the Flames. EW suggests a 2 year $1.16M contract for Acciari, which would make sense.

The real difference here is that the Flames could opt to sign Garnet Hathaway instead of Acciari, as they know what they have in the former. Both should be making the same amount this offseason, so do the Flames opt for what they know in Hathaway or what they’ve seen from Acciari?

Cap Strapped

There are many other names that the Flames could look at on July 1st. Brandon Pirri, Devante Smith-Pelly , Tom Kuhnhackl, and Chris Kunitz are some of those players that the Flames could look at, but it’s not really their priority. It makes sense to explore all options, but even some names could be a downgrade for the lineup.

Some, or most, of these players will be available after July 1st and into the PTO season most likely. These players are just a small sample of what could be available to the Flames with a tight budget.

The Flames will most likely look to solve their RFA contracts first before UFA hunting. The likes of Patrick Maroon and Brett Connolly would be quality additions, but the Flames just simply do not have the cap for them right now. Barring any Treliving magic, the Flames will be quiet on July 1st. Their remaining salary cap will most likely go towards Talbot, and then let the rest of the roster sort itself out later in the summer.

We are talking about a team that finished 1st in the Western Conference last season, and simply had a bad four games in the playoff. There is no need for Treliving to sign anyone bigger than depth move at this point in time.

What do you think about the potential UFA signings? Who do you want the Flames to look at on July 1st? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter @wincolumnblog

Photo by Derek Leung / Getty Images

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