The Calgary Flames handling of the 2024 UFA class is a broken record at this point.
Recently we heard that Elias Lindhom was willing to sign with the Flames, but wanted to see how the season went. Mikael Backlund followed suit as well, saying that he loves the Flames and the city, but also wanted to see how the season went.
Now you can add Noah Hanifin to the list of players who have said the exact same thing.
The door isn’t closed – yet
At the Flames charity golf tournament this morning, Hanifin and Craig Conroy both spoke to the media about the pending UFA. The comments are far more positive than the reports were earlier this summer, but still leave the Flames in a complete stranglehold by their players:
“He wants to see how it goes this year…He did indicate that he wasn’t going to re-sign in the summer. But that doesn’t mean he won’t ever re-sign”– Craig Conroy on Noah Hanifin
When Hanifin was asked directly, he also noted that the door is “absolutely” still open to extend with Calgary, and added that he wants to see and evaluate how things go this season before making a decision.
A painful negotiation tactic
There is absolutely nothing wrong with players wanting to see the direction of the team moving forward before signing long term contracts. The salary cap is also set to increase significantly in the coming years, making it an extremely lucrative summer to be a free agent.
That being said, it’s completely insane that just over a year after losing Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk to poor contract decisions, the team is letting six players enter the season wanting to “see how things go”.
It’s the complete opposite messaging that Conroy spoke about at his introductory press conference.
While he preached asset management, he’s now letting six premier assets enter the season praying that the team plays well. If they end up playing well, then the team isn’t going to be selling assets at the trade deadline, leading to the management most likely overpaying on contracts to retain their services.
Not a great spot to be in.
More to come
We have just heard from a few of the Flames’ pending free agents this far into the “pre-season” so expect more players like Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, and Oliver Kylington to say they want to see how the season goes first before making a decision.
There is bound to be some of the players staying, but the clock is starting to tick and time in running out fast for the Flames to make decisions.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire