After the disappointing exit in the first round, it’s clear that some changes will be coming to the Flames heading into the offseason. Here are five guys that may not be back in 2019-20.
1. Michael Frolik
This one seems pretty obvious after a year that featured Frolik’s agent bad-mouthing the Flames coaching staff and organization as a whole. Calgary was also reportedly very close to trading Frolik at the 2019 trade deadline, rumored to be part of the return in a Jason Zucker trade. Regardless that deal fell through and he finished the year on the Flames.
Points-wise Frolik actually had one of the best seasons of his career, picking up 16 goals and 34 points in 65 games. Over an 82 game season that would extrapolate to 20 goals and 43 points, both very close to career highs. Despite the strong point totals, Frolik struggled to maintain a consistent spot in the lineup as the 3M line was often broken up, and he even found himself healthy scratached at one point.
Frolik has one year left on a five year 4.3M deal that also carries a 10 team no trade list. He still has some trade value, so I wouldn’t expect to see the Czech forward back for 2019-20.
2. T.J. Brodie
Even before this season, it looked very possible that this could be Brodie’s last as a Flame. Now with Juuso Valimaki, Rasmus Andersson, and Oliver Kylington having all proven that they’re ready to be capable everyday NHLers, the writing is really on the wall for Brodie.
While he did show significant improvement over last season after re-uniting with Mark Giordano, there just isn’t a lot of room left for Brodie after this year. With Brodie and Travis Hamonic both being UFA’s after next season, it’s reasonable to believe that the Flames would only keep one. Thus Calgary would be wise to try and capitalize on any value Brodie has this offseason, as Hamonic seems to be the guy they like long-term.
While many criticize Brodie for his turnovers, he does play a very high risk high reward game and has shown a lot of good elements over the years. He should have a lot of suitors should Brad Treliving put him on the market.
3. James Neal
This one also feels fairly obvious after Neal was healthy scratched in Game 5 of the playoffs. For most of the season I personally held out hope that Neal would turn it around and become more impactful for the club. That simply wasn’t the case and now there are more questions than answers for a guy with four more years at $5.75M.
For most of the year Neal wasn’t given top six minutes, and that was simply a result of him not earning them. He’s been a player who has thrived off having established top linemates who could feed him the puck in scoring positions, but that just wasn’t the case in the bottom six.
With the Flames looking tight on cap space, and Neal perhaps not feeling that he was given a fair shake by Calgary, a mutual split may be possible between the sides. Neal’s contract has no NMC or NTC restrictions, so Calgary may have some flexibility to move him if they can find a partner. Luckily there are enough Old Boys Club GM’s still kicking around, so they may be able to get something for him.
4. Mark Jankowski
It’s not so much that Jankowski has done anything wrong, but it’s somewhat apparent that he’s reached the extent of what he can likely offer the Flames. With Calgary already having three solid centres in Mikael Backlund, Sean Monahan, and Derek Ryan, it leaves little wiggle room. Couple that with Dillon Dube looking ready to make the jump with the team having groomed him as a centre, and Jankowski’s days may be numbered.
He had some value this year, including being one of the leauge’s better penalty killers, but he also has one year left on his deal and seems to have a fairly replaceable role on the team. If Calgary has the chance package him in a bigger deal, they might do so.
5. Mike Smith
I’ve been so torn about this one for almost a week and it’s the reason I’ve taken so long to get this piece up. On one hand Smith was one of the worst goaltenders in the regular season in the league, but his play in the playoffs was outstanding. There are easy arugments to both letting him go this offseason and bringing him back and it’s causing debate among the fanbase.
The reasons to keep him include that he’ll likely come on a cheap one year contract with the organization. He has familiarity with the organization and seems to be a well respected member of the team. He did show improvement in the second half of the season so there is hope that he could carry that over.
The reasons to let him go are the fact that he’s 37 years old and will be 38 by the end of next season. If Smith’s play regresses to the level it was for the first 1⁄2 to 2⁄3 of the 2018-19, Calgary may not be able to dig themselves out again. The Flames may choose to go for a more reliable goaltender to pair with Rittich.
I asked our twitter fans this week if they’d bring back Smith and got a 52-48 response for the “No” side. Fascinated to see what the team ends up doing going into 2019-20.
Bring back Mike Smith for one year?
This poll is closed
Click here if you can’t see the poll