The Calgary Flames had one of their best seasons in franchise history, but fell embarassingly short in the postseason with a five-game loss to the Colorado Avalanche. With a lower than expected salary cap increase, and the incredibly talented RFA class this season, the Flames, like many other teams, need to both shed salary and shake up the roster.
There have been lots of rumours floating around the past few weeks about which teams will sign which free agents, and the day has finally come.
Free Agent Frenzy has come
Happy Canada Day, and happy free agency in the NHL! The Flames could be one of the more active teams this year, both in the UFA market and the trade market.
John MacKinnon reviewed the dangers of July 1st signings, and also laid out a list of potential free agents that could sign in Calgary. Of course, the Flames’ ability to spend money is tied to the pending re-signing of Matthew Tkachuk, but they could be in on a number of moves today and later in the week. Here are all the storylines that will be interesting to follow as the offseason rolls on:
Rumour Roundup: On the Way Out
There is a belief that Michael Frolik‘s time in Calgary isn’t necessarily over, and he could return to the Flames next season. From the way last season unfolded though, it seems like the writing is on the wall for Frolik, and his name has popped up in rumours several times over the past few months. Most recently, he’s been linked to the New Jersey Devils:
7. Calgary was looking at options for Michael Frolik. That could happen before July 1. New Jersey is a possibility.Sportsnet’s Eillotte Friendman in 31 Thoughts
We also know that Frolik was almost dealt to the Minnesota Wild at the trade deadline for Jason Zucker, but that deal fell through in the 11th hour. There are several storylines around Frolik right now, but chances are he gets traded this summer.
With the steady and impressive progress made by young Flames blueliner Rasmus Andersson, T.J. Brodie‘s time in Calgary might be coming to an end. Still a legitimate top-four defensemen and an upgrade on most teams in the NHL, Brodie has been generating a lot of trade interest this offseason.
The Flames probably aren’t in a huge rush to trade the homegrown defender, but trading him would either provide an upgrade in another area or provide much needed cap relief.
Brodie has been linked to several teams, most notably the Toronto Maple Leafs who are still looking for help on their backend, but also, more recently, the Montreal Canadiens:
Brodie is a good player, not without his flaws, and on a relatively friendly contract that costs $4.65M for one more season, he could be the missing piece on many teams. Andersson has proven he can hold his own next to Mark Giordano on the top pairing, so it moving Brodie is something the Flames could handle.
Sam Bennett is the highest drafted Flames player in franchise history, but may have priced himself out of town. He doesn’t appear to be a player the Flames are actively shopping, but teams have inquired about the tenacious winger.
Bennett is a player who could be a target for every team in the league; it’s possible that his name has come up in many more trade negotiations than the one with the Wild.
If the Flames aren’t able to shed enough salary to sign Tkachuk and Bennett, it’s an easy choice as to who remains a Flame.
Rumour Roundup: Coming to Calgary?
Just because the Flames weren’t able to close the deal to acquire Zucker in March doesn’t mean the trade is dead in the water. It’s possible the team circles back and makes another push to add the veteran winger. As a guest on Sportsnet 960, Elliotte Friedman commented on whether the Flames could make another call to the Wild:
Yes, I think it is possible. The only other thing is because it fell apart once, who knows where it stands but Minnesota wants to make changes, Zucker has a no trade list that kicks in on July 1st so if Minnesota is going to do this, they are going to do it before then.Elliotte Friedman on Sportsnet 960, April 29, 2019
Of course, since that failed trade, Zucker has been linked to a plethora of teams. It seems like the Wild are trying hard to trade him and it’s not going over very well with the Zucker family:
The Flames like Zucker, and could look at him as a replacement if Frolik does get moved. Zucker will probably be on another team at the start of next season, and there’s a good chance it could be the Flames.
There have been rumours around Nazem Kadri since the Maple Leafs were knocked out of the first round by the Boston Bruins this Spring. With several RFAs to sign and roster spots to fill, Kadri is a good bet to be traded from Toronto.
The Leafs are looking for a defensemen, as they always seem to be, and Calgary just happens to have an option in Brodie.
The two players make almost the same amount of money, and addresses needs on both teams. Kadri is a polarizing player and if he does end up a Flame it will ruffle the feathers of a few fans, but he’s an excellent hockey player and could help the Flames big time on the ice. Brad Treliving has emphasized adding players with character, and maybe that’s an area where Kadri falls short. If he’s interested in redemption though, Calgary might be the place for him.
The St. Louis Blues’ run to the Stanley Cup was a throwback of sorts. The team was heavy, grinding, and punishing throughout the playoffs, and this style has caused GMs around the league to at least consider adding older, grinding players to their rosters. Treliving might be one of these GMs as the Flames have been rumoured to have interest in Patrick Maroon:
This report was denied just one day later:
I’ve heard the Maroon (to Calgary) thing is not correct.Elliotte Friedman on Sportsnet 960 on June 28, 2019
Where there’s smoke there’s fire though, and it’s very possible the Flames have looked at adding Maroon. He was on their list last summer as well, before they opted to sign James Neal, and he could be a fit in the bottom-six if Garnet Hathaway doesn’t return.
This one is all but done:
In all likelihood, Cam Talbot will be the Flames’ backup goaltender next year, playing behind David Rittich. The case for Talbot as a Calgary Flame has been made already and there seems to be a match. This is an interesting scenario as Talbot played games for the Oilers last season, and will become the first goaltender in NHL history to play NHL games for one of the Alberta franchises in one year, and then the other franchise the following year.
Update: Flames sign Cam Talbot to a one-year, $2.75M deal.
What can we expect?
Outside of Talbot, it would be foolish to try and predict what will happen tomorrow. However, it looks like Frolik will be traded at some point, and there’s a good chance Brodie also starts next season wearing a different jersey. The Flames will probably be important players in the market this offseason, and it’ll be interesting to see what the team looks like in September.