The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Flames’ first day of Free Agency

The offseason has been an absolute whirlwind thus far. After the 2020 NHL Entry Draft was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, teams were right back in action at the start of Free Agent Frenzy on Friday. Without a courting period as we have seen in previous seasons, teams were left to wait to the 12PM EST buzzer to start talking to free agents and letting the chaos commence.

The Calgary Flames had a number of notable UFAs hit the market, which included Cam Talbot, T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Erik Gustafsson, Mark Jankowski, among other players. It was safe to say that the Flames were bound to look drastically different come the end of the day, and that they did.

General Manager Brad Treliving was no doubt one of the busiest and highest spending GMs yesterday. After the dust settled on Friday evening there were a lot of new Flames, and former Flames, that need to be noted. Of course, as it is with most Free Agent Frenzies, there was some good, some bad, and some ugly contracts dished out to players.

Additions

Jacob Markstrom (6 years, $6M)

Easily the biggest move of the day across the entire NHL, the Flames can now confidently say that they have a number one goaltender. After being rumoured for most of the day, Jacob Markstrom inked a six year, $36M contract with the Flames. Carrying a $6M AAV, the Flames acquired one of the better goaltenders over the past few seasons and now can extinguish the “who will the starting goaltender be” narrative for the next few seasons.

Markstrom adds to the current Swedish invasion on the Flames roster, and is bound to be a big difference maker for the team moving forward. The price tag, and length, of the contract may not be the absolute best compared to others on the market, but it’s well worth while for the stature of goaltender they are aquiring.

The biggest question comes down the line when one of the team’s goaltending prospects is ready to take the crease. How long before Tyler Parsons, Artyom Zagidulin, or Dustin Wolf is ready to take over? It’s bound to be during Markstrom’s tenure and only time will tell how tricky that will become.

That being said, Markstrom is a massive upgrade in the Flames net for the next few seasons and gives them a guy that they can confidently say will steal them some games.

Chris Tanev (4 Years, $4.5M)

You heard me say ugly earlier right? Well only two contracts in and we have hit it. The Flames were clearly going to be “revamping” their blue line this offseason due to the number of free agents on it. The top four has been relatively constant over the past few seasons, and the team was clearly in need of a new look.

Chris Tanev is apparently the guy the team had been looking to fill their top four on the right side, and for better or for worse, that is who the team now has.

There are two main issues with the acquisition of Tanev. First being that it’s a four-year deal with an AAV of $4.5M per season. Aside from Torey Krug, that was one of the richest deals given out to a defenseman yesterday.

Tanev is just about to turn 31 years old, which would mean this deal takes him near the end of his career. The AAV is also more than Brodie or Hamonic was making last season, and now puts him just around the same range as Rasmus Andersson, as well as Tanev’s likely new partner Noah Hanifin.

The second issue is that Tanev focuses much more on the defensive side of the game, and has been in decline over the past few seasons. It’s not a role that he performs particularly well, and frankly is a bit of a downgrade over Brodie. The Flames have looked like they want to acquire more stay at home defensemen, compared to dynamic puck moving ones, over the past few seasons and that’s what Tanev is going to be.

On the positive side he fills the need on the right hand side of the ice and will bring an additional veteran presence to the team. Other than that, this isn’t the best move the Flames made yesterday.

Alex Petrovic (1 year, $700k)

The Flames also inked Alex Petrovic to a one year $700K contract. Also a right shot defenseman, Petrovic has moved around the past few seasons and has fallen off the radar a bit since he was protected by the Florida Panthers in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.

This was easily a depth move, as organizationally the right side has been lacking. He could easily fill the shoes of Michael Stone as the seventh defenseman, or he could spend most of his time in Stockton as well. It’s not something that appears to move the needle, but there may come a time when he is called upon to play a few games and he should be serviceable.

Stockton Trio

The Flames also put pen to paper on three depth players: Buddy Robinson, Zac Rinaldo, and Byron Froese. Robinson and Rinaldo saw some key ice time for the Flames’ bottom six, with Robinson even getting a trip with the top line alongside his pal Johnny Gaudreau at one point. All three guys will most likely fill out the 13th forward role, in addition to providing Stockton with a few more bodies.

Rinaldo is easily the most intriguing out of the bunch. Although he has his reputation and doesn’t provide much in terms of on ice production, he was beloved by his teammates. A character guy to play in the minors, but also to have in the room at the NHL level.

Departures

Hold on to your butts, because there were a lot of Flames who have moved on from the organization just one day into free agency.

TJ Brodie to TORonto (4 years, $5M)

In terms of players that left, Brodie is the one that easily hurts the most. It was thought that he would look to move to his hometown in Toronto, but with the Flames continuously circling back there was still hope.

I am assuming that the Flames didn’t want to give out the $5M AAV, or add in the trade protections that he got with Toronto, which most likely caused his decision. He has been with the team since he was drafted in 2008, and it is bound to be a bit different with him not around. It’s unfortunate that he is gone, but he is going to get a good shot with the Maple Leafs.

Cam Talbot to MINnesota (3 years, $3.67M)

Cam Talbot was excellent for the Flames in the return to play, and was a big reason the team had a chance against the Dallas Stars. Of course with the team looking at Markstrom as a long term option, and the price that Talbot eventually got, it just wasn’t a true fit long term.

Minnesota needed a starter after trading Devan Dubnyk, and now they got what they wanted at a decent price. He was only here one season, but Talbot made a lasting impact on the team and fans. Glad the one year “show me” deal worked out for him.

Mark Jankowski to PITtsburgh (1 year, 700K)

Ah yes, the best player from the 2012 draft class has found a new home. Jokes aside, although the team could have paid him this easily compared to his $1.75M salary last season, Mark Jankowski was in need of a fresh start

It would have been impossible to envision Jankowski moving up past the fourth line center role any time soon, despite his penalty kill prowess. Pittsburgh needed cheap bodies, and Jankowski will able to prove his worth on a one year deal with the team.

Tobias Rieder to Buffalo (1 year, $700K)

This secretly hurts a lot. Tobias Rieder was excellent in his one year in Calgary. A key cog on the penalty kill, Rieder proved his worth time and time again over during the season and return to play.

I thought he would have earned a two year deal with the Flames at least, but it’s clear that there was a bigger opportunity in Buffalo. The Flames most likely saw him in the same role again next year, while Buffalo likely sees him playing higher up their lineup. Besides, he just needs 10 goals to help the Sabres break their long playoff absence.

Alan Quine to EDMonton (1 year, $750K)

Traitor.

Jon Gillies to St. Louis (1 year, $700K)

Once praised as the goaltender of the future, Jon Gillies time with the Flames is officially over. The depth chart was growing too large for Gillies to seriously make an impact, and now he will have a shot at the backup role in St. Louis. He has a few more guys to beat out there, but he doesn’t have quite the backlog that existed in Calgary or Stockton. Can he seize an opportunity or will he be AHL bound forever?

Ryan Lomberg to Florida (2 years, $725K)

One of the moves that most likely slipped under the rug due to the Markstrom signing, but Ryan Lomberg acquired a two year deal with the Florida Panthers. An AHL depth piece, Lomberg appeared in a few games for the Flames but was never a serious option for the NHL lineup longterm. Florida clearly saw something in him and are going to give him the opportunity to make the lineup full time. Best of luck to him, and his opponents.

Verdict

The Flames lost some core pieces to their lineup, but were able to acquire two key cogs as well. Although they had to pay a bit more to get the two former Vancouver Canucks, they made their mark on day one.

It’s impossible to judge the deals immediately after they have been inked, especially with no games played to show for it. In three seasons the deals could either look great, or truly deplorable. Let’s pray it’s the former.

With many big names left on the board, and a bit more cap space to work with, the Flames are bound to have a few moves left. Let the drama continue.


What are your thoughts on the Flames free agent moves? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo by: Getty Images

5 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Flames’ first day of Free Agency

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