The other day, I wrote about some players that looked exactly like the sort of players the Calgary Flames should avoid this offseason. There were common themes: poor shot-metrics, low talent levels with positive reputations; the sort of players likely to be overpaid and perform below their salary.
Today, I provide you with a list of 19 players that could be attainable and potentially good fits for the Calgary Flames. Below is a list of players that are current Calgary Flames on expiring contracts, pending unrestricted free agents from other teams, players rumoured to be in the trade market by credible sources, as well as players that could shake loose in the coming days due to the expansion draft. I am not looking at other team’s elite stars that have no likely sign of being traded; you cannot predict a Subban for Weber, what is the point in banking on it?
A Brief Word
Almost none of these acquisition targets are perfect, although I think the first one might be. That is the reality of the free agent and trade market. Teams hold onto their perfect players. However, there is still benefit in sifting through the market and finding players that can fit the need of your team, at a cost that is not prohibitive in terms of risk, assets, or monetary value.
Some of the players below are unproven, some of the players are excellent at certain aspects of the game but provide less value in other areas, while some players are entering the later stage of their career and pose the threat of their play falling off significantly.
As always, a lot of these deals are contingent on them being at the right price. It is a huge error to overcommit term to aging players and you are at massive risk to overspend assets on an unproven player. You never know how the market is going to play out.
The Flames also do not have a huge amount of room for additions as it stands today. Certainly, they need 2 goalies. There are also holes on the defense, while a top-9 forward would be much appreciated. Right-shots in particular.
Maybe a couple of the players below could be a fit, but it is all about the right price.
Nino Niederreiter (Minnesota Wild, RFA)
Age 24, 82 GP, 25 G, 32 A, 57 PTS, 53 PIM, 55.4% CF, Shoots Right
This is the best trade target appearing on this list. For some reason, Niederreiter’s name keeps popping up in the rumour mill. If there is any legitimacy to the rumblings, he is a player the Flames should look to pounce on. He checks off many boxes, as he is a young right-winger with good size, offensive talent and posts elite numbers in both shot-generation and suppression. He would be a huge upgrade to the Flames top-9, whether on a line with Gaudreau and Monahan or with Bennett and Tkachuk.
The cost? At least a first round pick and a good prospect, likely more. But, he is a great player and can be inserted into the lineup immediately. The Flames should definitely explore every option to add Niederreiter to the roster.
He is an RFA but would not command an obscene amount of money. The Flames could probably get him on a long-term deal for between $4.5-$5.5 million annually.
P.A. Parenteau (New Jersey Devils/Nashville Predators, UFA)
Age 34, 67 GP, 13 G, 15 A, 28 PTS, 35 PIM, 50.5% CF, Shoots Right
Parenteau is a player that puts up good amounts of points and strong possession numbers on an annual basis but never receives the respect his play warrants. He is a right-shot that could be had for very cheap, playing in the sort of role Kris Versteeg played in this year.
Low cost, 1 year contract, why not?
Steve Mason (Philadephia Flyers, UFA)
Age 29, 58 GP, 26-21-8, 2.66 GAA, .908 SV%
Steve Mason has had quite the wild ride since bursting onto the scene as a rookie. While his numbers from this past season do not look great, he was sunk by some brutal powerplay numbers, which means he is probably better than the raw stats indicate.
He could probably be had on a short multi-year deal, which could work alongside another solid goalie (perhaps one of the younger ones listed below) while the Flames wait for their goalie prospects to develop.
Brian Elliott (Calgary Flames, UFA)
Age 32, 49 GP, 26-18-3, 2.55 GAA, .910 SV%
Brian Elliott’s year started and ended disastrously, but if you balance everything out, he provided average goaltending. His track record is very strong and his up and down season should lower his contract demands.
A short deal would not be a bad idea, but it would mean the Flames had to send St. Louis a 2018 third rounder. Still, Elliott returning should not be ruled out.
Cody Franson (Buffalo Sabres, UFA)
Age 29 68 GP, 3 G, 16 A, 19 PTS, 34 PIM, 50.4% CF, Shoots Right
Like Parenteau, Franson is another player that has a lot of detractors despite performing quite well over the span of his career. He did not put up a lot of points this year, so that could make him more affordable. The Flames could use a right-shot defenseman that can move the puck up ice in a depth role, so a 2-year deal for Franson would be a nice play.
Michael Del Zotto (Philadelphia Flyers, UFA)
Age 26, 51 GP, 6 G, 12 A, 18 PTS, 28 PIM, 50.5% CF, Shoots Left
Del Zotto is only 26 and is a solid puck moving defenseman, that would be a nice addition for the third-pairing and perhaps a bit of powerplay time. He had a pretty good season when he was able to play last year, and probably would not cost a lot to add.
It really comes down to a couple of factors with Del Zotto. First, if Brett Kulak is not taken in expansion, it would probably be wiser to save the money and give Kulak a shot at that third-pair spot. Secondly, Del Zotto may want some term on his contract since he is only 26. If that is the case, the Flames may want to pass, as they have a good stable of young defense prospects that should hopefully be able to graduate to the NHL in the next couple of seasons.
Robin Lehner (Buffalo Sabres, RFA)
Age 25, 59 GP 23-26-8, 2.68 GAA, .920 SV%
With a new regime in Buffalo, rumours are circulating that the organization may want to move on from Robin Lehner. Lehner is actually coming off a very strong season, posting a .920 save percentage. He is only 25 so he could be the part of the solution both now and in the future. Plus, he is willing to stick up for himself when necessary.
Lehner would certainly cost one of the Flames’ top goalie prospects (Gillies or Rittich) alongside a prospect or pick, but if the Flames like him, he fits in with the age group and has performed very well the past couple of seasons when healthy.
Paul Postma (Winnipeg Jets, UFA)
Age 28, 65 GP, 1 G, 13 A, 14 PTS, 15 PIM, 48.4% CF, Shoots Right
Paul Postma is a solid puck moving defenseman that has been trapped by the Winnipeg Jets organization the past few years. He can skate well and provide offensive contributions, but was regularly scratched throughout his time with the Jets organization, despite putting up good production in very limited minutes. This year, he finally got in the lineup regularly, but averaged less than 11 minutes a night and had some very weak partners.
He could be a smart value target to add for the third pair, as playing with another competent defenseman and getting some sheltered minutes could yield some promising results. It would be a very cap friendly deal as well, as he has a limited NHL track record and will be looking for an opportunity to finally prove himself.
Justin Schultz (Pittsburgh Penguins, RFA)
Age 26, 78 GP, 12 G, 39 A, 51 PTS, 34 PIM, 51.2% CF, Shoots Right
A couple of years ago, this would have been an extremely laughable idea. But since leaving Edmonton, Schultz has shown he can be very a productive player in the right situation. 51 points and good possession numbers is nothing to laugh at. He is a right-shot and only 26, so he has some mileage left on him and could slot in nicely beside T.J. Brodie.
Pittsburgh still has his rights but it would be a tough job for them to fit him in under the Salary Cap, so he may end up on the move. He would probably be making a decent chunk of salary on his next contract, so he may not be the right fit for the Flames, but it would be worth taking a look.
Tyson Barrie (Colorado Avalanche, $5.5M/Year through 2019-20)
Age 25, 74 GP, 7 G, 31 A, 38 PTS, 18 PIM, 50% CF, Shoots Right
For a team that struggles to have respectable defensemen, it sounds like the Avalanche may be looking to move on from Tyson Barrie. If they are, the Flames should take a look after the expansion draft. A skilled puck moving D who is 25 and on a reasonable contract, adding Barrie would give the Flames an extremely skilled top-4 D for years to come, that could insulate some of their strong prospects coming up the ranks.
Barrie would probably cost at least a first round pick, one of the organization’s best defense prospects and an active player off the roster, so I am not sure the Flames have what it takes to make the deal happen, but it would be a very interesting addition for the Flames to make.
Alex Galchenyuk (Montreal Canadiens, RFA)
Age 23, 61 GP, 17 G, 27 A, 44 PTS, 24 PIM, 50.4% CF, Shoots Left
For some reason, Montreal does not seem to love Alex Galchenyuk, even though he is a skilled young player with good size that has scored around a 60-point rate for consecutive seasons. It is hard to grasp why, but apparently he could be on the move after the Canadiens acquired Jonathan Drouin.
It is hard to gauge the cost of Galchenyuk, but since Montreal just traded their top D prospect for Drouin, would they be interested in one of Calgary’s top defensive prospects, along with the Flames’ first rounder and perhaps a complementary player like Lazar or Ferland? Trading Bennett for him seems like a lateral move, having the 2 players to play together seems like a much better option.
Kris Versteeg (Calgary Flames, UFA)
Age 31, 69 GP, 15 G, 22 A, 37 PTS, 46 PIM, 47.8% CF, Shoots Right
We all know Kris Versteeg by now, he is a pretty solid utility player. At age 31, it would not be wise to sign him long-term but if he can be signed on another affordable contract for a year or two, it would not be a bad deal.
It really depends on what else the organization is able to accomplish this offseason, as well as whether they want to move on from Versteeg to free up space for a younger player.
Phillipp Grubauer (Washington Capitals, RFA)
Age 25, 24 GP, 13-6-2, 2.04 GAA, .926 SV%
Grubauer is one of the best young goalie targets that could shake available due to the expansion draft. He is only 25 but has posted strong numbers for years as a backup for the powerhouse Washington Capitals. He has not had the opportunity to carry the load, but his career suggests that he may be worthy of being given a shot. If paired with a reliable veteran like Mason or Chad Johnson, the Flames may be able to reap the rewards of taking a risk.
Tough to say what the Flames would have to give up for Grubauer, but I am sure Washington would be asking for Jon Gillies to be heading the other way. It is a difficult choice to make.
Antti Raanta (New York Rangers, $1M through 2017-18)
Age 28, 30 GP, 16-8-2, 2.26 GAA, .922 SV%
Raanta finally got to play a good chunk of games for the first time in his NHL career, getting in 30 contests for the Rangers. He performed very well, with a high end save percentage and goals against average. It remains to be seen if he would be able to maintain that performance for the length of a season while being a starter, but there is a guy in Edmonton playing very well after being in the exact same situation in New York.
His contract is very reasonable, the Rangers are at risk of losing him in the expansion draft and apparently the Flames have talked to the Rangers about him, so it is very much in the realm of possibility. I like the idea.
Joonas Korpisalo (Columbus Blue Jackets, $900,000 through 2018-19)
Age 23, 14 GP, 7-5-1, 2.88 GAA, .905 SV%
Korpisalo is the youngest goalie on this list and probably not ready to be an NHL starter right away. However, he has played very well at the AHL level, has some NHL experience and is highly regarded among scouts, with apparent potential to be a starter.
Columbus is at risk of losing him in the expansion draft, so he could possibly be available. Would the Flames be willing to move Jon Gillies for him, though? Would that even be a good idea? No clue.
Calvin Pickard (Colorado Avalanche, $1M through 2017-18)
Age 25, 50 GP, 15-31-2, 2.98 GAA, .904 SV%
Pickard has played very well at times of his career and at 25, still should have the best ahead of him. His numbers from this past season look bleak, but he played for the Colorado Avalanche so it is hard to know where his performance level would be on a more stable team.
Somewhat of a risky proposition, but it could be a solid, low cost investment.
Jarome Iginla (Colorado Avalanche/Los Angeles Kings, UFA)
Age 39, 80 GP, 14 G, 13 A, 27 PTS, 70 PIM, 49.8% CF, Shoots Right
I will leave it to you to decide on whether this is something that should be pursued. Jarome’s career is coming to a close. Playing for the horrible Colorado Avalanche certainly did not help his numbers this past year, but he was fairly productive in his short run in Los Angeles.
Obviously he would not be coming in to play on the top line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, but would it hurt to give him bottom-six minutes and replace Troy Brouwer on the powerplay?
Very unlikely to happen, but it could have some benefit and would be a nice end to Iginla’s career.
Patrick Sharp (Dallas Stars, UFA)
Age 35, 48 GP, 8 G, 10 A, 18 PTS, 31 PIM, 51.5% CF, Shoots Right
Sharp had a pretty abysmal year with the Stars, but was playing through injuries for a lot of the season. He is 35 so we cannot expect him to be the sort of scorer he was throughout his time with the Blackhawks, but he could be a very helpful secondary scorer on a line with Sam Bennett.
It really depends what sort of contract he is looking for, as contracts for players 35 and over are risky. If it was only for a year or two and was $3.5 million or less on an annual basis, it could be a good gamble.
Justin Williams (Washington Capitals, UFA)
Age 35, 80 GP, 24 G, 24 A, 48 PTS, 50 PIM, 53.8% CF, Shoots Right
Williams is the sort of “playoff leadership” signing that actually would make sense for a team. For one, he was actually an integral part of the multiple Stanley Cup teams he has played for. Secondly, he has a long track record of being good as producing offensively and having strong possession numbers. He is getting toward the end of his career, but still scored almost 50 points last season.
Once again, not a contract you would want to go long or expensive on, but if something could be worked out, Williams would be a nice addition to the top-9.
Thing Are Getting Wild
The activity is really heating up in the NHL and it is going to be a chaotic next few weeks. I would not be surprised if something happened with one of these players before I even put this piece out.
There are many reasons why the above players may be a good or a bad idea for the Calgary Flames at this point in time, but they all possess some form of merit that makes them at least worthy of consideration. Will any of them be a Flame this time next month? Will there be someone completely off the radar joining the organization? Nobody had pinned Dougie Hamilton coming to Calgary. Exciting times ahead, indeed.