It’s been an offseason to remember for the Calgary Flames so far, and even in August, there are almost certainly more moves to come.
General Manager Brad Treliving has overhauled almost every position this offseason, not in the same way he has in previous ones, but the Flames’ opening night roster will look quite a bit different from the one that played in the final game of last season.
The Flames will see three new players on the roster to start the season (presumably) who weren’t permanently on the team last season.
- Milan Lucic – played last season with Edmonton Oilers, acquired via trade
- Cam Talbot – played last season with the Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers, acquired via free agency
- Dillon Dube – played last season with the Flames and Stockton Heat (AHL), likely promoted to the NHL full time
departures from the roster
A whopping seven players who were on the Flames’ roster last season will not play for the team next season.
- Mike Smith – now with the Oilers, left via free agency
- Oscar Fantenberg – now with the Vancouver Canucks, left via free agency
- Garnet Hathaway – now with the Washington Capitals, left via free agency
- Michael Stone – now UFA, left via buyout
- James Neal – now with the Oilers, left via trade
- Anthony Peluso – now UFA, left via free agency
- Dalton Prout – now with the San Jose Sharks, left via free agency
That leaves four players under team control with futures currently undecided.
- Michael Frolik – signed for the 2019-20 season, but featured in trade rumours dating back to last year’s trade deadline when he was almost traded to the Minnesota Wild for Jason Zucker
- T.J. Brodie – signed for the 2019-20 season, but featured in trade rumours this offseason, most notably in an unsuccessful trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for Nazem Kadri
- Matthew Tkachuk – currently an unsigned RFA and likely one of many waiting to see how the market develops, especially with Mitch Marner still unsigned by the Maple Leafs
- Andrew Mangiapane – currently and unsigned RFA who likely isn’t signed yet because of the cap crunch for Tkachuk’s new contract
returnees guaranteed for the opening night roster
The Flames will have the majority of their roster intact to start the year, including most of their regulars from last season. These players are signed to contracts and are all but guaranteed to be on the opening night roster.
- Johnny Gaudreau
- Sean Monahan
- Elias Lindholm
- Mikael Backlund
- Sam Bennett
- Mark Jankowski
- Derek Ryan
- Austin Czarnik
- Mark Giordano
- Travis Hamonic
- Noah Hanifin
- Rasmus Andersson
- Juuso Valimaki*
- David Rittich
*Valimaki will be on the Injured Reserve to start the year, but will still count towards the salary cap and contract limit.
On the bubble
That leaves four players under team control who realistically have a chance to fight for a full time roster spot this season.
- Alan Quine – scored five points in 13 games with the Flames last season, and 52 points in 41 games with the Heat
- Ryan Lomberg – scoreless in four games with the Flames last season, and scored 29 points in 58 games with the Heat
- Oliver Kylington – scored eight points in 38 games with the Flames last season, and 14 points in 18 games with the Heat
- Brandon Davidson – scored one point in ten games with the Chicago Blackhawks last season, and one point in six games with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
roles up for grabs
Counting the guaranteed returnees and the new arrivals, the Flames have 17 players as “locks” for the roster, which includes Valimaki on the IR. To ice a 23-man roster, there are six spots left to fill: four forwards and two defensemen. However, this number is more realistically five. Though Mangiapane’s contract (or lack thereof) is linked to Tkachuk right now, it’s not likely he will miss training camp if Tkachuk’s contract isn’t done by then.
The slotting of the roster below isn’t what’s important, rather the open spots up for grabs:
Extra Forwards (two): Open, Open
Extra Defense (one): Valimaki (IR)
In a perfect world, the Flames would fill two of those forward spots with Frolik and Tkachuk. The final one would probably be given to Quine considering how dominant his season was in the AHL last year, plus the fact that he has position versatility as a center. Alternatively, if for some reason the Flames wanted to give Lomberg another chance at the NHL level, he could serves as the 14th forward and designated popcorn eater.
The defense slots would ideally be filled by Brodie and Kylington, the former being a bonafide top-six NHL defender, and the latter hoping to build on a promising rookie campaign last season.
Time will tell all
Unfortunately, there still doubts surrounding this group of players. Due to cap constraints, there is still a very real possibility that Frolik and Brodie could both be traded this summer. It’s also possible that Tkachuk’s contract does not get done before the start of the season, and causes him to miss games. It’s unlikely that he would remain unsigned as long as William Nylander did last year, but Tkachuk is not a lock to be on the Flames’ opening night roster.
Because of Valimaki’s untimely injury, the chances of Brodie starting the season as a Flame have increased. And if the Flames do decide to keep Brodie, they’ll still need to trade Frolik to open up enough cap room for the RFAs. Without the financial flexibility to dip into the free agent pool at this point of the season, there are big opportunities up for grabs for several budding NHLers.
At this point last season, the Flames’ roster was all but decided. It’s a bit of a different tune this time around, but that will make for an exciting training camp and preseason as several players have legitimate shots to start the season with the big club. A little internal competition never hurts.
Photo courtesy: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports