NHL training camps are beginning in just a few days! While most teams seem to be nearing completed rosters, some moves are still to be made. Eight restricted free agents (RFAs) remain, including Jason Robertson, Rasmus Sandin, Nic Hague, and the Calgary Flames’ own Adam Ruzicka. Aside from that, there are still several unrestricted free agents (UFAs) in the market looking for a contract or a professional tryout (PTO).
Cap dollars are tight around the league, so there is a lot of competition for spots around the league. Based upon glances at rosters, the Wild, Avalanche, Flames, Ducks, and Jets are teams that may be adding to their forward depth. The Islanders and Kraken are teams that may add to their backend depth.
To look at the remaining free agents, I have categorized them into a variety of tiers:
A focus on Calgary
As mentioned, Calgary still has to re-sign RFA Ruzicka, which we can expect to be around his qualifying offer of $788K. The Flames have already dipped their toe in the PTO pool, bringing in forward Cody Eakin and defenceman Michael Stone to camp. With Brad Treliving actively looking to improve the Flames forward depth, bringing in another forward seems likely. Considering that Calgary has been the most frequent team to use PTOs in recent years, you can almost guarantee a few more players will be brought in before training camp starts on Wednesday.
The one player on that free agent list that could make a meaningful difference in Calgary’s lineup would be Sonny Milano. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman connected the Flames to Milano in July on the 32 Thoughts podcast, so there could definitely be a fit between the two parties.
UPDATE: Elliotte Friedman announced today that the Flames have invited Milano to training camp on a PTO.
Could this PTO turn into a signing?
Signing Milano could be classified as a bit risky. However, the Flames are at the point where they might have make the gamble. Options like Evan Rodrigues and Phil Kessel have signed elsewhere, and there aren’t any other clear top-nine forward options left. There is potential that trade market could be appetizing with a few teams still needing to clear space before the season begins. But there is no certainty of any deals happening this close to camp.
Assuming Adam Ruzicka comes in around $800K, and Michael Stone is signed on at league minimum to be the seventh defenceman, the Flames have $2.57M left to fill two forward spots. That $2.57M gives them the flexibility to add Sonny Milano for say $1.5M, and have enough space to have a depth forward like Cody Eakin, for $900K.
Summer’s over and hockey is back
Training camps are mere days away! Cap dollars are low, but there are still free agents looking to find a seat in this game of musical chairs. The Flames are still looking to add to their forward depth, but options have dwindled on the market. To add a top-nine forward, the Flames will have to either take a shot on Sonny Milano and his offensive ability, or look to the trade market.
The Flames have had an incredibly busy summer, but they aren’t done just yet. Given the cap flexibility and current look of their forward group, I would expect some tweaking to still take place.