Today was the deadline for teams to qualify their restricted free agents. Essentially, teams had to give their upcoming restricted free agents a qualifying offer (nominal increase over their current salary), which is done to maintain possession of the player's rights. If a team does not qualify a player, that player becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, free to sign with any team.
Qualified: Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Freddie Hamilton and Tyler Wotherspoon.
No big surprises here. Monahan and Gaudreau were obviously going to be qualified, and were not going to accept the qualifying offer. This was just a formality to maintain their rights, while negotiating much larger contracts with the players. Hamilton showed well in his brief call up with the Flames and has the potential to be a solid depth player for the team or at least help provide leadership and 2-way ability in the AHL. Tyler Wotherspoon has continued to progress along in his career and many believe next season may be when he finally becomes an NHL regular for the Flames.
Not Qualified: Kenny Agostino, Bill Arnold, Joe Colborne, Turner Elson, Josh Jooris, Joni Ortio, Kevin Poulin, Drew Shore, Bryce Van Brabant
This is where things get a little more interesting. Most people believed Joe Colborne, Josh Jooris and Joni Ortio would receive a qualifying offer, but apparently the Flames were concerned about their arbitration rights and thus chose not to qualify them. The Flames can still continue to negotiate with these players, but they have the opportunity to become free agents on July 1st if the Flames do not sign them beforehand. I believe Jooris will still be resigned, while they still work on signing Colborne but obviously the team is aware that his finish to the year was very unsustainable and they are unwilling to overpay for him through negotiations or arbitration. From what the team has said, it still seems as though there could be interest in retaining Ortio, but it looks like they want to keep their options open for a backup to Brian Elliott.
This is likely the end of the road as a Flame for the rest of the players not qualified. It was expected that Turner Elson, Kevin Poulin, Drew Shore and Bryce Van Brabant would be let go, as they do not appear to have much of an NHL future and the Flames need to create space for their younger prospects. Kenny Agostino led the Flames' AHL club in scoring the past 2 years so I thought they would keep him around, given that he never really received a real opportunity to play in the NHL, getting just limited minutes in 2 games this past season. Bill Arnold projected to be a solid 2-way centre who seemed like a decent option for the Flames' fourth line in the future, but apparently the team feels differently.
While some of these guys may still have deals negotiated with the Flames, it looks like it is goodbye to a lot of them. Treliving continues to put his stamp on this team, it will be interesting to see the organizational depth chart by training camp this fall.