Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames fell face first out of the gate in NHL free agency

NHL free agency opened yesterday afternoon at noon and despite Twitter having a complete implosion of quality, the business kept flowing. As of the time of this writing there were 166 signings worth $646,417,499 over a total of 261 contract years. That is a lot of money. 

You’d expect that with those kind of numbers that every single team in the NHL got in on the action. Well every single team did, except for one.

The Calgary Flames.

The team didn’t register a single transaction on July 1, the first time the team has done so in over a decade. It’s a matter of circumstance as the team didn’t have any flexibility to do anything due to a tight salary cap, but it’s quite disappointing to see the team’s strategy playing out in such a manner.

Let me explain.

Subtraction by subtraction

Although the team didn’t make any signings yesterday, the team lost a number of players from their roster from last season:

PlayerNew TeamContract
Milan LucicBoston Bruins1 year, $1.5M
Trevor LewisLos Angeles Kings1 year, $775K
Troy StecherArizona1 year, $1.1M

In addition to those players, rumours are swirling that Michael Stone could be on his way to Toronto while Matthew Phillips also looks to be following his former head coach Mitch Love to Washington. Connor Mackey, despite being traded at the deadline, also found new work with the New York Rangers. 

Despite what you may think of some of those players, if all five of them leave the organization, it’s a hard pill to swallow with no depth coming in. Sure the team will hopefully fill those holes with some younger players from the Calgary Wranglers, but you can’t fill all of those holes. 

Salary cap pain

Despite the team knowing that they had no money to work with entering free agency, there were a number of really solid short-term value deals handed out today by some teams that it almost hurts the Flames couldn’t get in on the fun.

Look at Daniel Sprong for example, he signed a one-year, $2M contract with the Detroit Red Wings after a career season. Had the Flames been able to move Dan Vladar before free agency opened, they would have had the ability to sign a player like Sprong. If it didn’t work out, they had a one-year rental they could have sold at the deadline.

Even take a look at Stecher, $1.1M would have been very affordable for the team had they just made an additional move. Instead, he chose to leave the team and go back to Arizona where he will be playing out of a college arena. Not a good look for the franchise.

Conroy’s press conference

Conroy has been described as the Ted Lasso general manager of the NHL. It’s heartwarming to know how loving he is looked on by the rest of the league.

That being said, the happy-go-lucky charm can only last so long. The inaction of the Flames over the first few weeks of his tenure is hard to swallow, and while we can wait to judge the on ice success of the team he creates, there was still absolutely more that could have been done.

Take yesterday’s press conference for example, although comical that he basically told reporters he wanted to get the interview done earlier in the day so they could all go home, his answers were basically repeats of the last few weeks. Still talking to Elias Lindholm and other UFAs, not enough room to make moves, not in a big rush. 

While maybe it’s the easiest route right now, all 31 other teams in the NHL are getting to work and it’s about time the Flames do as well.

What is next to come for the Flames?

Hopefully, Day 2 of free agency is a bit more active than day one. There are still a number of players out there, and perhaps the Flames can execute a trade to make some room for at least one of them.

It would be hard to find a Flames fan that would be happy with the team making absolutely no moves after Day 2 of free agency. The team got a new look in their GM and head coach position, it’s about time the roster gets the same facelift. While it isn’t television, you still have to believe.

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