Calgary Flames

What to expect for the Calgary Flames’ restricted free agents

The Calgary Flames chose to extend qualifying offers to four restricted free agents: Forwards Andrew Mangiapane and Glenn Gawdin, defenceman Oliver Kylington, and goalie Tyler Parsons. Not qualified by the Flames were Mark Jankowski, Andrew Nielsen, and Nick Schneider.

Teams had until today to qualify players, to keep the right to sign those players. A qualifying offer is tendered that is either 100%, 105% or 110% of the player’s final year salary, depending on the amount. Keep in mind that this is the actual salary amount of the final year, not the AAV.

A qualifying offer is a one year one-way deal. If a player is qualified, teams have the right to match any offer sheet a player signs, or can receive draft pick compensation if they do not. Players who receive a qualifying offer can either accept the one year deal or reject it. If they have arbitration rights, they can elect for salary arbitration. If they do not, they remain RFAs and can negotiate with the team on a new deal.

If a player does not receive a qualifying offer, they become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) and can sign with any team they wish. Teams may not qualify a player for a number of reasons. Teams are only allowed to carry 50 NHL contracts, so they have to be judicious about who they use their roster spots on. Furthermore, if a player’s qualifying offer is going to be greater than what the market demands of them, they may opt not to qualify. In other cases, teams are unwilling to go to arbitration, as they fear that number may be much larger than they want to pay, and instead opt to lose that player to unrestricted free agency.

What do these qualifying offers or lack thereof mean for the group? Here’s what to expect next:

Andrew Mangiapane

Coming off a one-year “show me” contract where he absolutely showed the team why they need him, Mangiapane is due for a big raise going into next season. With 17 goals and 32 points in 68 games while playing alongside Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk, Mangiapane did not look out of place at all this season.

The bread eating fan favourite was more than capable of shutting down the league’s top lines, while also creating chances going the other way by being tenacious on every puck battle. Expect him to be signing a longer term deal this summer.

Glenn Gawdin

Initially drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Draft, he was unsigned by them as they could not find a home for him in their AHL system. He re-entered the draft, but was not taken, and instead was signed out of junior by the Flames.

Gawdin put up massive numbers with the Swift Current Broncos, ending the season with 125 points in 67 games. Moving over to Stockton, the big question was whether he could produce at the AHL level.

In his first season he put those to rest with 38 points in 64 games, then last season he ended just shy of a point per game with 47 points in 53 games. Gawdin has quickly become one to watch going into next season, as he will likely get a number of games with the big team.

Going from re-entering the draft to being one of the Flames’ top prospects is very impressive. Qualifying him was obviously a no-brainer for the Flames. There is a really good chance that he ends up playing in Calgary next season.

Oliver Kylington

Kylington has been an in between player for the last couple seasons. He’s a player that is seemingly too good for the AHL, but unable to cement his role in the NHL. He struggled to maintain a consistent place in the starting lineup, fighting for playing time with Michael Stone through the first half of the season.

However after the Flames acquired Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, that signaled the end of the season for Kylington, who did not appear in a game again.

Despite the limited usage, qualifying Kylington was the clear choice. Going into next season, there are a number of vacant roster spots on the back end, which should allow him to get more playing time. That being said, he needs to take that next step in his development and prove to the team that he is an NHL defenceman. If he can do that, it will add much needed stability to the Flames’ back end.

Tyler Parsons

Parsons was looked to be the “Goalie of the Future” when the Flame drafted him in the second round in 2016. However, a logjam of goalies ahead of him left him wallowing in the ECHL until this season. Looking ahead, it will almost certainly be him and Artyom Zagidulin splitting the crease in Stockton.

Qualifying Parsons was a no-brainer for the Flames, but it’ll be a high pressure season for the young netminder, as he will need to show his value in Stockton this season and really prove that he can be an NHL goaltender.

Mark Jankowski

A player that was promised to be one of the best coming out of his draft class by Jay Feaster, Jankowski has not lived up to his expectations. Playing in the fourth line centre role, he could not hold down a steady spot in the roster, splitting time with players making far less than him in Zac Rinaldo and Tobias Rieder.

With the Flames needing to qualify him at $1.75 million dollars, it seemed highly unlikely that this was going to happen. Given players like Gawdin and Matthew Phillips knocking on the door, the Flames can get similar production from a player with a higher ceiling for a lower price.

While there was some discussion around not qualifying him then signing him to a lower number in free agency, the Jankowski camp believes he needs a change of scenery per GM Brad Treliving. We wish him all the best wherever he lands.

Andrew Nielsen

Traded from Toronto for Morgan Klimchuk, the former Leaf played two seasons in Stockton, primarily in a depth role. While he never scored a goal for the team, he put up 9 assists and 110 penalty minutes in 74 games. He was mostly a depth player for the Heat, with little to show that he was more than that.

Given he has signed in Austria with EHC BLack Wings Linz, it was not surprising to see him not qualified by the Flames. His departure also marks the end of the returns the Flames got for trading Jarome Iginla back in 2013.

Nick Schneider

An undrafted goalie, the former Medicine Hat Tiger was signed by the Flames after a strong showing in Flames’ camp in 2015. Since then, he only put up a .922 save percentage once, in 2018-19 in the AHL. Otherwise, he has been a sub-.900 goalie, featuring primarily in the ECHL.

With Parsons, Zagidulin, Dustin Wolf and recently selected Russian goaltender Daniil Chechelev all in the system, Schneider simply was not good enough to consider qualifying. It seems unlikely he signs again with Calgary.

Photo credit: Al Charest/Postmedia

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