Calgary Flames

Realistic 2023 free agent targets for the Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames are not going to be the busiest player when it comes to free agency this year. If they are, it will be a surprise to say the least. 

They first need to get their own house in order before looking externally for free agent adds. From potential trade requests, to a near maxed out salary cap, the Flames are just in a bit of a mess right now.

Of course as it is every July 1, there are always some valuable adds that teams like to make when free agency opens. Whether that be depth or in a top role, there is rarely a team that makes no moves. 

The Flames should prioritize promoting their younger players, but let’s take a look at some very, extremely realistic targets for the Calgary Flames.

Flames free agency targets

Matthew Philips

Let’s start with the obvious one. Matthew Phillips, based on his age and experience, was a Group 6 UFA making him available to sign with any team. Craig Conroy has noted that the team would love to re-sign Phillips to a new contract, but how much longer do you think he wants to remain the organization that has looked over him for so long?

With a new GM and new head coach, the opportunity to take a full-time NHL role is there for Phillips. He is a hometown drafted prospect that just needs his shot. The Flames need to get this deal done immediately.

Troy Stecher

After being acquired at the trade deadline last season with Nick Ritchie for Brett Ritchie and Connor Mackey, Troy Stecher impressed in his short stint with the Flames. Forming a solid pairing with Nikita Zadorov, Stecher netted three goals and seven points in 20 games of action. He seemed to fit like a glove.

Now whether that was him fitting in well with Darryl Sutter’s system or not, in a depth role Stecher can still provide an immense amount of value. The team has an excess of NHL defencemen right now, but that is bound to change via trade. Having Stecher on a short-term value contract wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Oskar Sundqvist

Perhaps the most “flashy” name on this list, and we stress the word flashy, would be Oskar Sundqvist. The 29-year-old right shot centre is an intriguing name to hit the UFA market. He’s played most of his career with the St. Louis Blues before a few trades that took him to Detroit and then Minnesota at the deadline last season.

He’s a big two way player that hosts a playmaking touch, although he won’t be at the top of the list when it comes to point producers. That seems like a Calgary Flames player. I don’t believe that the Flames will have the cap space to really make a deal work, but maybe a one year deal for a depth role if they can move out some cap space could be appealing in the Swedish-heavy Flames roster.

Ryan Donato

One of the more underrated names on the free agent market, Ryan Donato has put up some solid numbers in Seattle over the last two seasons. He scored 16 goals in 2021–22 followed by 14 last season. It doesn’t jump off the page, but the Flames will be looking for scoring from their roster after Tyler Toffoli’s departure. 

He most likely will re-sign with the Kraken, but as a fourth line centre replacement for Trevor Lewis, this could be a shrewd move by the Flames.

Jujhar Khaira

After spending most of his career with the Edmonton Oilers, the Flames got to know Jujhar Khaira very well. A strong defender and penalty killer, Khaira plays a very niche role on teams but plays it extremely well. 

The team has already lost one penalty killer in Toffoli, and probably more in Lewis and Elias Lindholm, so may be looking to fill a specific need in the interim. Khaira could be that player.

Zach Aston-Reese

To some degree the Flames had some interest in Zach Aston-Reese last summer before he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Another potential replacement for the fourth line centre role, Aston-Reese is coming off a career-high 10 goals last year. That’s not to say he is going to break the bank, but could benefit in a perfect setting.

There are lots of internal candidates for this role, and there isn’t anything that Aston-Reese does that is amazing, but he is a younger and most likely cheaper option than some others on the market.

Luke Schenn

The Flames tried to acquire Luke Schenn at last year’s deadline, and it was probably a good thing they didn’t give up any sort of asset for him, but you can bet they will take a run at him come the opening of free agency.

He is going to cost money, which will probably steer the Flames away, but you get the sense they want to add Schenn to this roster. The most Flames thing to do.

Not the best options on the market

The Flames don’t have the cap space to make a big splash, so they will be looking at all of the depth adds out there on the market. They should not be prioritizing older signings over promoting younger depth, but we all know the Flames well.

If the Flames can open up cap space maybe that changes, but for the time being it’s going to be a listless July 1.

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