The Calgary Flames’ offseason has officially come to an end with training camp kicking off. While it has been an uneventful summer for the boys in red, there could be one move the Flames could look into before the season opener against the Winnipeg Jets on October 11. One young NHLer with intrigue is Shane Pinto.
Shane Pinto’s free agent status
Shane Pinto is currently a restricted free agent with the Ottawa Senators and seems to be at a crossroads in negotiations. The 22-year-old is coming off an impressive sophomore season where he scored 20 goals and had 35 points in a depth role for the Senators, and right now the two sides are not in agreement on a new contract. That could lead the Senators to move Pinto to a team that he would actually sign with.
Why the Flames should be interested
The Flames have little to no cap space to work with right now, so bringing in a player who would need to be signed upon getting could be a little difficult. A player off the roster with a significant cap hit would have to be moved in this scenario if they were to make a play for Pinto.
Looking past all that, why would the Flames be interested in Pinto? For starters, he plays centre—a position where the Flames aren’t exactly deep at outside of the NHL roster. Not to mention that Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund could both be on the way out at season’s end, Nazem Kadri will be 34 years old at the start of next season, and Adam Ruzicka cannot seem to find a full-time spot on the roster (yet). So, adding a young centre with some upside would be something ideal to do.
As of right now, Pinto isn’t the greatest play-driving centre around, and maybe his 20-goal season is just a flash in the pan (eight of his 20 goals were scored in the first 20 games of the season), but he has shown to have a nice touch around the net and has been pretty steady on the defensive side of the puck. Pinto did tread above water in terms of his Corsi For percentage this season as he sported a 51.9%—not terrible, but he was able to hold his own. It is all possible that Pinto is just an average third line centre for the rest of his career, but there is also a chance that he could become a solid top-six centre a few years down the road. A player with this trajectory is one the Flames will desperately be in need of.
The cost to acquire Pinto
Of course, the Flames would have to give up at least a few pieces to acquire Pinto. As I mentioned before, the Flames are tight to the cap, so a roster player would need to go. Let’s create a scenario. If Dan Vladar is traded to the Avalanche for a fifth-round draft pick, it’d free up $2.2 million in cap space. Could the Flames use that pick, along with Adam Ruzicka and a fourth-round pick in 2024 to acquire Pinto? Then consider signing Pinto to a two- or three-year deal in the $2–3 million range. Maybe Backlund would accept a trade to the Senators and the Flames can make something work around that.
I don’t know what the price for Pinto would be, but I would imagine the Flames would be sending the Senators a couple of assets for the young centreman.
Pinto is worth looking into for the Flames
Craig Conroy has been quiet, the team has been quiet. But if the new GM wants to make a little bit of noise heading into the new season, a trade involving Pinto would be interesting, to say the least, and would give the fans some sort of excitement that they haven’t had since the season ended back in April. Young centres aren’t available all that often, so it is definitely something the Flames should be looking into as training camp gets underway.