Calgary Flames

Assessing the rumours and moves the Calgary Flames didn’t make during free agency

The Calgary Flames made a number of moves over the past week since the completion of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. They lost a number of lineup regulars from last season, while also adding a number one goaltender in Jacob Markstrom and a solid defensive defenseman in Chris Tanev. There were handful of other decisions made by General Manager Brad Treliving and the Flames front office that have started to form what we will know to be the 2020-21 Calgary Flames.

Looking at the rumblings

What is more interesting are the moves that the team were rumoured to have been wanting to make, but in the end did not end up coming to fruition. A number of them were most likely nothing more than whispers, but some most likely came extremely close to happening. Here is all you need to know about the Flames moves that never happened:

Wayne Simmonds

The veteran power forward was rumoured to be of interest to the Calgary Flames. Simmonds was long thought to be coveted by the Flames organization due to his truculent style of play. With him hitting the market last week, the team most likely inquired.

That being said, his desire to play in him hometown of Toronto outweighed whatever the Flames were able to offer. His one year, $1.5M contract with the Leafs most likely was even too rich for the Flames to match.

Josh Anderson

It has been an open secret over the past year or so that the Flames had interest in the Columbus Blue Jacket’s RW, Josh Anderson. Before he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, and signed for 7 years and $5.5M per season, there were rumours the Flames had been trying to acquire him yet again. This was further confirmed on this week’s edition of 31 Thoughts where Elliotte Friedman noted the following

5. Boston and Calgary were among the others who badly wanted Anderson. If it had been the Flames, I think we’re talking about a pretty big deal.

– Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet

Of course, the initial reaction to this is a bit worrisome as it sounds like the Flames would have had to pay a pretty penny for Anderson. The Canadiens gave up Max Domi and a third round selection for his services, which means the Flames would have had to match that if not more.

In addition to this, per the 31 Thoughts Podcast, it was further explained that during contract negotiations with Anderson that the player said he would either sign for one season or for the max (8 years with Columbus, 7 years with Montreal). Anderson as a player has been productive, but he doesn’t move the needle as much as you would hope from a top player:

It’s possible that Anderson ends up working out magically for the Habs, but it’s most likely a good thing that the Flames didn’t end up giving up a wealth of assets for Anderson, who is coming off a severe shoulder injury.

T.J. Brodie

You’re probably thinking: “wait what do you mean T.J. Brodie?” Well, it was well known that the Flames were trying to solve their long term blueliner to a contract extension, but were unable to get a deal done. Brodie ended up signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs on a four year deal worth an AAV of $5M.

On 31 Thoughts the Podcast, it was noted that the Flames main target during Free Agency was Jacob Markstrom – who the team was focusing the majority of their efforts on at the 12PM EST mark. Friedman notes that the Flames offered Brodie a four year contract worth an AAV of $4.5M a season (sound familiar?). Brodie of course did not sign that, and opted for the Toronto deal. Once they knew he was no longer available, the team set their sights on Chris Tanev who got that exact same four year, $4.5M contract.

Now who is to say the team didn’t value Tanev the exact same, or that was the asking price set by his agent, but it’s very peculiar to see that contract that was offered to Brodie essentially go to Tanev at the end of the day. Time will tell how well Tanev works out for the team, but was it possible they just used the money set aside for Brodie to fill their defensive hole?

Furthermore to Brodie, there was no clarification from Friedman’s side as to whether there was trade protection built into the offer from the Flames. Brodie got a NMC and modified NTC with Toronto, and since Jacob Markstrom was the first ever NMC handed out by Treliving, it’s safe to assume that Brodie got more money and safety from Toronto

Kevin Shattenkirk

One of the more interesting pieces to come out of 31 Thoughts was that the Flames apparently showed interest in Kevin Shattenkirk, formerly of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who eventually signed a three year, $3.9M contract with the Anaheim Ducks.

17. I think the Flames had some conversations with Kevin Shattenkirk.

– Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet

This one is quite fascinating when you look into it a bit more. Shattenkirk had a rebound season in Tampa after being bought out by the New York Rangers. Signing his one year “show me deal”, Shattenkirk eventually did exactly that and showed that he still can significantly contribute to an NHL lineup.

The right-handed defenseman fit exactly what the Flames were looking for, so it’s almost surprising no one saw the logical fit. Of course what wasn’t clear from Friedman was whether or not the Flames were offering him a shorter one year deal, or a similar contract to that of Tanev.

Speaking of Tanev, since the Flames opted to sign him instead, the instant comparisons started. @Flash_33 of Matchsticks and Gasoline, lined up the direct comparison between both players using data from Evolving Hockey:

Looking at both players previous two seasons, Shattenkirk holds the edge in almost every category aside from GF/60 in his 2018-19 season in New York. Now at first glance, this is not a great look for the Flames. On paper, there was a player that was statistically better and could have been had for a cheaper price.

That being said, there is also no telling if Shattenkirk had actual interest in going to the Flames or if the team even offered a reasonable deal. Additionally, the Flames may have had a clearer desire to have Tanev due to his high penalty kill minutes and defensive presence.

There is no need to throw Tanev under the bus quite yet, but it’s clear that he already is going to be the ire of Flames fans next season.

Taylor Hall

The cream of the crop, the belle of the ball, Taylor Hall was the number one free agent forward this season, and his hometown Flames seemed like a logical fit. Hall ended up shocking the hockey world by signing with the Buffalo Sabres, but people still wondered why the Flames didn’t make more of a pitch:

As with most teams across the NHL, who wouldn’t have been interested in Hall. That being said, with the Flames putting all of their efforts into the Markstrom negotiations it was evident the team wouldn’t have enough money to sign him.

In the end, his one year $8M contract would have not worked for the Flames. They would have had to send out a significant contract, and in this economy they would have been selling for pennies on the dollar.

Tyson Barrie

Before signing with the Edmonton Oilers for a one year deal worth $3.5M, it was rumoured the Flames were interested as well.

In terms of timing, this came during the Markstrom negotiations and before the eventual signing of Tanev – which makes it a bit foggy. Barrie would have been an interesting add to the Flames, as he is not known for his defensive game:

Although he is bound to put up a wealth of points in Edmonton, the Flames were clearly looking to fill a defensive hole in their lineup and most likely shyed away from negotiations.

Most likely a good call.

What’s done is done

It’s always fun to poke around and to imagine “what could have been”, but there is no sense in truly dwelling on the past. The Flames were able to get what they wanted on their wishlist, even if they had to pay a bit more for them at the end of the day.

There is no telling what impacts each player would have had on the team, but it’s safe to say that the majority of these rumours ended up working out for the team in the long run. They didn’t give up any assets nor did they have to send out a core player to increase their cap space. They simply gave up term and money.

The team is hoping that their additions make a significant contribution to the team next year, and there is no doubt the fanbase is as well.

Which rumour or non-move was most interesting to you? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo by: Elsa, Getty Images

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