After Wednesday’s disappointing elimination at the hands of the Ducks, the Calgary Flames offseason officially began. The organization is facing a wide range of issues to resolve over the coming months and it starts now.
1. Brad Treliving Extension
First and foremost, an issue that has already been discussed over the course of this season is the expiring contract of Brad Treliving. Before any deals can get done involving players, the Flames need a GM.
Let’s just get this straight: If anyone other than Treliving has the title of Flames general manager after this summer, it would be an abhorrent mismanagement by the organization.
While Treliving has made a few mistakes over the last few years, he’s also spearheaded two really strong draft classes. He’s engineered some highway robbery trades such as Dougie Hamilton from Boston, or Kris Russell to Dallas. He’s also negotiated team friendly contracts with Mikael Backlund and T.J. Brodie.
Treliving has already firmly established what the future of this Flames team will be, and he has every right to see it through to the future. Sign him.
After a red hot run in the second half of regular season, Brian Elliott struggled in the playoffs against Anaheim and may have played himself out of Calgary in the process.
So for the second straight offseason, the Flames will have crucial decisions to make regarding their netminding.
Without a doubt in my mind, Tyler Parsons and Jon Gillies are the future of goaltending for the Calgary Flames. The issues is that they are both at least 1-2 years of development away from the NHL. Gillies may get a shot at backup next year, but it would be unreasonable to thrust him into the starters net.
Essentially what the Flames are going to need is a stopgap goaltender to hold the fort for a year or two while the prospects develop.
For me, a name that comes to mind is Ryan Miller as he would be a good mentor for fellow American Jon Gillies next season. However there will be a few big names in free agency this summer with Ben Bishop and Steve Mason out there. It’ll be interesting.
It’s also important to remember that the Flames save a 3rd round pick by not resigning Elliott as part of the trade last summer.
3) Expansion Draft
For the first time since 2000, the NHL will be having an expansion draft as the Vegas Golden Knights enter the league.
Teams will have to choices of ways to protect their players. Either it will be seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie, or it will be eight skaters and a goalie.
The Flames are actually set up quite well for the draft and shouldn’t be worried about losing any of their big name players. Calgary will likely go the 7-3-1 route and protect Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland, Curtis Lazar, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, T.J. Brodie, and a goalie.
Lance Bouma, Matt Stajan, Troy Brouwer, and Matt Bartkowski headline the list of exposed Flames.
If the Flames can get Brouwer off their books, it would free up a lot of options for the future, but it may take some incentive via prospects or picks to get it done.
4) NHL Draft
Assuming the Predators knock out the Blackhawks, the Flames will be drafting 16th overall. They’ll have to make it count as they don’t possess another draft pick until the fourth round.
With the Flames having a roster and prospect pool that looks pretty set, I wouldn’t be opposed to the Flames either trading down or using this pick to trade for a top player.
Any pick the Flames do make shouldn’t be expected to be an immediate NHLer so I’m guessing this draft won’t have much of an impact on the Flames for next season.
5) Resigning Window and Free Agency
Quite a bit of money is set to fly off the Flames books this summer with Dennis Wideman, Deryk Engelland, and Ladislav Smid all ending their contracts. Assuming the cap rises by $2 million next season, the Flames will have just under $24 million to use.
The Flames have 22 contracts that expiring this summer with 10 UFA’s and 12 RFA’s.
Headlining the UFA’s are both Flames goaltenders and Kris Versteeg. Versteeg has had a really strong season and could very likely be back, but it could come down to how the Flames to choose to move forward with their youth. Michael Stone will also be interesting to watch as a UFA.
For the RFA class, Sam Bennett and Curtis Lazar take precedence as they are both important young pieces of the future. Micheal Ferland is also in that class and could be in for a decent payday after a good regular season. Some other RFA’s from the Stockton Heat include Jon Gillies, David Rittich, Brett Kulak, and Garnet Hathaway.
Once the Flames free agency they should have some money to spend (hopefully wisely ie) not Troy Brouwer type deal). How the Flames choose to spend will be a hot topic of conversation leading up to July 1. However, I’m not expecting this year’s roster to look all that different to next year.
6) Arena Saga Continues
With the City of Calgary’s counter proposal to Calgary NEXT expecting to be tabled sometime during May, the whole arena war could heat up a lot more as both parties aim to get the public on their side of the negotiations.
With a civic election in Calgary scheduled for the fall, it will be interesting to see what kind of headway is generated this summer. Regardless of what happens, some progress needs to be made.
7) Widemangate Continues
It just came down yesterday that Don Henderson would be suing Dennis Wideman for collision that occurred in January 2016.
While it looked like the Flames could be in the clear as Wideman’s contract is expiring, that is not the case as the Flames have also been named a defendant in the case. The full run down can be found here.
It is going to be an exciting yet busy summer in Calgary and a lot of decisions are going to be made that could affect the Calgary Flames long into the future, both on and off the ice.