After an unexpectedly early end to the 2018-19 campaign, it’s time to shift towards planning for the Calgary Flames offseason. One of the first things on the mind of Flames fans should be some of the Flames pending restricted free agents who are due for raises this summer. Calgary looks like they’ll be pretty tight on money this summer, so these contracts will be crucial for Brad Treliving to nail. Luckily he’s had a good history with RFA’s.
Here’s a player by player look for this summer:
LW Matthew Tkachuk
Obviously Tkachuk is by far the biggest deal the Flames will be signing this summer. He had a tremendous regular season, posting 34 goals and 77 points in 80 games, both smashing his previous career highs of 24 and 49 respectively. However his performance after Game 1 in the playoffs left much to be desired for a player that’s often been branded as “built for playoff hockey”.
It’s very possible (almost guaranteed in fact) that Matthew Tkachuk will become the highest paid member of the Flames when he signs his contract. Currently Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano share the title at 6.75M, but a combination of increasing salary cap and higher comparable contracts should mean that Tkachuk should easily surpass them.
Tkachuk is obviously one of the most important pieces of the Flames core and they’ll be trying to lock him up well into the future. In my opinion the Flames would be wise to try and buy into his UFA years (contract length of 6-8 years) even if it’ll cost more. If the Flames give him a five year deal, he would become a UFA immediately after. However that seems to be the most realistic possibility right now.
My guess is a five year deal with a 7.5M AAV.
LW Sam Bennett
Sam Bennett’s contract could be one of the more intriguing negotiations of this off-season. He was arguably the best Flames skater during the playoffs and really saw an improvement in his play once he started implementing more physicality to his game. The team on the other hand will be pointing to Bennett only posting 26-27 points for the last three seasons.
Both sides do make good cases so it’s very possible we see a second bridge deal for Bennett from him to prove he can maintain the same level of effectiveness for the entire season. It is worth noting that he has arbitration rights as well this summer and this seems like a situation where the team and the player won’t see eye to eye, but hopefully that’s avoided.
I could see some sort of two year deal for Bennett with a raise to 2.65M AAV.
Similar to Bennett, Rittich and the Flames seem to be in an interesting situation heading into negotiations. Rittich looks to be the goalie of the future for the Flames, or at least the starter heading into next year, but he also didn’t play much down the stretch this season as Mike Smith took over.
On the other hand, Rittich’s strong play for most of the regular season was a big reason that the Flames did so well this year. He provided stability in net over the course of the season, something we hadn’t seen in Calgary since the days of Kipper.
Can he make the argument that he deserves starter money when he wasn’t the starter in the playoffs? Can the Flames make the argument that he deserves less than starter money even though he was the better of the two goalies for most of the campaign? A bridge deal for Rittich seems likely, but hopefully he doesn’t point to the Mikko Koskinen signing in Edmonton for a comparable. He should know that Peter Chiarelli deals don’t count.
My guess would be 2 years at somewhere close to $3M AAV.
A month or two ago this would’ve likely been a very simple qualifying offer for the diminutive forward. Since then he has made a significant impact with the Flames, creating a strong fourth line as he saw his offensive output steadily increase as the season continued.
He’s certainly earned himself a spot on the team heading into training camp in 2019-20, but where he’ll actually slot in the lineup remains to be seen.
His deal could just be a one year “show-me” contract which would likely make sense for both parties with the Flames wanting more assurance that he could maintain the same level of play, while Mangiapane’s camp probably wouldn’t add term if they feel like he can earn more with another good year.
I’d say one year at $1.35M for Mangiapane.
Alan Quine - 5 points in 13 NHL games, 52 points in 41 AHL games. Likely doesn’t get qualified but could get brought back as a 14th forward or AHL depth.
Curtis Lazar - Finished with 41 points in 57 AHL games, may get a qualifying offer before the Flames cut bait with him, but he likely knows his chances are slim to make the team given the depth. Could be a potential minor trade chip/throw-in.
Spencer Foo - Numbers down slightly in second pro season. He’ll be 25 at the start of next year, so the Flames may keep him for AHL depth or let him walk.
Kerby Rychel - Acquired for Shinkaruk and had a decent year on the farm.
Brett Pollock - Doubtful to be qualified
Ryan Lomberg - Brings some edge, however unsure if he’ll make it full time in the NHL. Organization seems to like him so I expect he’ll be brought back.
Josh Healey - Not much to say, might be brought back but might not.
Rinat Valiev - Ditto. At only 23 might be worth one more look.
Mason McDonald - Don’t really see why they’d bring him back unless management is trying to save face.