Free agency is just a couple of days away. Before we can get to that, there is a bit of housekeeping to take care of: namely, qualifying the contracts of restricted free agents, so they don't become unrestricted. So if any team wants to scoop up one of the Calgary Flames' guys, they'll have to go through an offer sheet, which will at least allow for some compensation.
Offer sheets are rare, though, and unlikely. Furthermore, with the Flames' cap space, they'd be able to match just about anything sent their way. In the meantime, they have all summer to work out contracts with those whose rights they retained.
The Flames have qualified Kenny Agostino, Bill Arnold, Lance Bouma, Paul Byron, Turner Elson, Micheal Ferland, Dougie Hamilton, Josh Jooris, Max Reinhart, Drew Shore, Bryce Van Brabant, and David Wolf.
That leaves Sena Acolatse, Ben Hanowski, and John Ramage headed to unrestricted free agency.
Kenny Agostino came over as part of the Jarome Iginla trade. This past season was his first as a professional, and he had a pretty decent debut, to the tune of 15 goals and 43 points over 67 games. Agostino certainly has some potential in him, and he's worth keeping around for a bit longer yet to see if he can grow on this year and eventually make the NHL. In the meantime, he can clearly handle the AHL.
Bill Arnold is less heralded than fellow former BC Eagle Johnny Gaudreau, but a worthy player just the same. Like Agostino, this was his first year playing professionally, and he had a good showing with 15 goals and 38 points over 61 games. Arnold is more well-known for his defensive acumen, so even though the Flames are pretty full up at centre, there absolutely may be a role for him yet.
Lance Bouma received a show-me contract after his last go-around with restricted free agency one year ago, and boy, did he show people. He had a completely unprecedented season, scoring 16 goals, 34 points, and spending roughly half of his year in the top six. No doubt the Flames want to see what he can do next; the question is, can he actually repeat his performance? This will go a long way in determining his next contract.
Paul Byron avoided the weird unqualified-signed-as-a-UFA situation that happened to him last year, instead getting straight-up qualified like a normal RFA this time around. He didn't have the most impressive season offensively, with just six goals and 19 points over 57 games, but he proved himself valuable to the Flames' lineup. Byron can slot in literally anywhere and make his teammates better. That's exactly the kind of guy you want around for insurance, so it's good to see the Flames are still valuing him.
Turner Elson spent time in the ECHL just a year ago, although he did help the Alaska Aces win the Kelly Cup. He rebounded nicely this past season, scoring 17 goals and 30 points over 59 games with Adirondack, and wasn't demoted once. At 22 - soon to be 23 - he could be putting it all together now, and could end up being a valuable depth option down the line. In the meantime, though, he's definitely at least an AHLer. It's a good story for the undrafted prospect.
Micheal Ferland had a relatively unimpressive regular season, scoring just two goals and five assists over the 26 games he played. Most of those came towards the end of the season, and carried over into the playoffs. That's where he really broke out. Ferland, for all his physicality, made the Vancouver Canucks completely lose their composure, and ended up being key in the Flames' first playoff series win since 2004. He also started showing the scoring touch he's exhibited in the minor leagues, to the tune of three goals and five points over nine playoff games. Ferland absolutely has a future with the Flames.
Dougie Hamilton is a new name to the Flames, but not the NHL. Calgary traded three picks to acquire the rights of the unsigned RFA, and you can bet he's not going to be unsigned for long. In the meantime, qualifying the 22-year-old top pairing-level defenceman is a necessary first step, so of course it was taken. Let's never let him go.
Josh Jooris probably wasn't on anyone's radar this time a year ago, but the NHL rookie absolutely broke out in training camp, and never looked back. Jooris quickly established himself as a regular NHLer, scoring 12 goals and 24 points over 60 games while bouncing up and down the lineup and never once looking out of place. There's definitely a spot for him on the Flames, so of course they weren't going to let him go. He's also one of the few right-handed shots on the team.
Max Reinhart has had a number of chances with the Flames, but just hasn't been able to stick. With the team's newfound centre depth, it's uncertain if he'll ever find his role, but but there's no sense in giving up on him just yet. He does, after all, provide valuable AHL depth, as his 15 goals and 38 points over 69 games with Adirondack can attest to. At bare minimum, he's an AHLer; and at only 23, it's still possible he develops into more.
Drew Shore was brought to the Flames in exchange for Corban Knight, and was an instant upgrade. While he's only managed to score 23 points over his 78 NHL games played, the 24-year-old has very real NHL potential, and should be challenging for a spot on the Flames. To let him go this early would be premature. We can probably expect to see much more of him in the coming season.
Bryce Van Brabant didn't exactly have a good season. In his first professional year, he scored just eight goals and 15 points over 52 games. As a bruiser, he registered 54 PIMs. It's hard to see what future he has in the Flames organization, but at the very least, if the Flames want to keep tough guys around, he's not a bad option for the AHL.
David Wolf came over from Germany to try his hand at the North American game, and performed well - in the AHL. In the NHL, he didn't look up to speed, but in the AHL, he definitely did something right, scoring 20 goals and 38 points over 59 games. (He also registered 168 PIMs, which, wow.) If Wolf can improve his conditioning, he certainly may still have a shot at the NHL yet, so it's wise to keep ahold of him for the time being.
The new UFAs
Sena Acolatse was picked up from the San Jose Sharks' minor team, and given a shot with the Flames. The 24-year-old defenceman didn't do enough to warrant an extended look, which is fine; he was a decent enough gamble for one year, but only ended up playing 38 games for Adirondack. With the Flames' new defence prospects, he won't be missed.
Ben Hanowski came over as part of the Iginla trade, but unlike Agostino, hasn't shown enough to keep around. He actually declined in his second professional year, going from 31 points in his first AHL season to 25 in his second. Losing him doesn't really impact the Flames one way or another.
John Ramage spent time in both the AHL and ECHL in recent years, and was gifted his first NHL game in the Flames' meaningless regular season finale against the Winnipeg Jets, but his time with the Flames is over. He's 24, and has fallen down the depth chart of defence prospects, especially after the draft weekend. The Flames need to save contract space, and Ramage ended up being one of the victims. Still, at least he did get in that NHL game, wearing the same number his father wore for Calgary.