In Elliotte Friedman’s latest 32 Thoughts, the spiralling Calgary Flames owned points five through eight. That’s four points, a whopping 12.5% of all 32 thoughts all dedicated to the Flames. Things are not going well for the Flames, who are now 2–7–1 with their latest defeat to the Dallas Stars.
Flames notes from 32 Thoughts
As mentioned, a big portion was dedicated to the Flames, who are 31st overall in the league after expectations of having a team-wide bounceback season.
Eric Francis broke the news about the timeout in contract negotiations. All contract talks were reportedly put on pause, and this mainly impacts the big unrestricted free agents. One of whom is Noah Hanifin.
The Flames were in advanced talks for an extension with the defenceman, and the biggest note was that the contract would have potentially surpassed the deal of the Colorado Avalanche’s Devon Toews. For those who need to know, Toew’s contract is a seven-year, $50.75M deal. That works out to a $7.25M cap hit.
However, negotiations with Hanifin came to a halt, and it appears that Hanifin’s decision was influenced by uncertainty surrounding the Flames’ future direction.
It was also noted that Swiss resident and Flames owner Murray Edwards was in attendance at the Heritage Classic, which at the very least shows some level of concern from ownership in what’s happening to the Flames.
Tanev and Lindholm’s contracts
In addition to Hanifin, the Flames were also engaged in contract discussions with Chris Tanev, but no agreement was reached. He reportedly received one offer, but it wasn’t close. As one of the league’s top defensive defencemen whose career isn’t as injury-plagued as it once was, Tanev’s completely in the right to be looking for one big payday to close out his career.
Similarly, Elias Lindholm‘s contract demands exceed what the team is willing to offer. Yet, his play so far may be quickly becoming a case against him. So all in all, prior to the contract pauses, the only imminent deal was Hanifin’s and now that’s on hold too.
Rattling the locker room
An executive from another team had circulated that the Flames might make a bold move by placing a veteran player on waivers—possibly in an effort to shake up the team’s dynamics. Clearly, that hasn’t happened, and whether or not that exec had good intel or not isn’t clear, but the fact that it has gotten to this point is all bad news.
Before we get too deep into thinking it might be a wild swing with Jonathan Huberdeau or Nazem Kadri, it can’t be either of them because they have no-movement clauses. And so does Mikael Backlund, and Jacob Markstrom, both of whom would never be waived.
So the candidates would be Blake Coleman, Elias Lindholm, any of the defencemen, and maybe Daniel Vladar. No one else really qualifies as a vet. Lindholm is an absolute no-go, and so too are the defencemen. The only player that might have fit this description of a waivable veteran is Coleman.
He’s a 31-year-old player with a contract that’s too big for most teams to claim and has four years left before he’s an unrestricted free agent. Would waiving one of their best players by most metrics be a wise decision? Just for the sake of a locker room shake-up? Let’s just hope this executive had bad intel or this leaked rumour was meant to be the wake-up call with no actual intention to waive anyone.
Huberdeau will remain a top priority
Lastly, the Flames aren’t giving up on Huberdeau any time soon. He’s just ten games into a massive 656-game contract. Ideally, he’ll play more than just 656 games if the Flames see some playoff runs in the next eight years.
Essentially the Flames will work with him to sort out whatever needs to be sorted out to turn him back into an elite playmaker. However, despite Friedman saying that the Flames will work with him, the latest outcome of the game against Dallas saw Huberdeau benched instead of being an attacker with the empty net.
Either Huberdeau rapidly finds his old self after some deep reflection, the Flames start building around him and finding players who can benefit from his play this year and onwards, or it’s going to be a painful eight years ahead.
The turning point of all turning points
From the 2022 offseason when the Flames lost two superstars and turned it into a retooling, to the 2023 offseason where a disastrous year turned into a reset with blame mostly put on Darryl Sutter, who might have been right all along, it looked like all it took was a set of ten games for things to really turn from bad to worse.
Whatever the Flames do in the immediate future will have a major impact on both the short- and long-term outlook for the team. We’ll see what actually turns into action for this team, which has had a history of inaction for far too long.