2019 Free Agency
The first day of free agency has come to a close and the Calgary Flames were active....but probably not as active as you would like. There were some comings, a few goings and no news on the “big three” in regards to Calgary’s own free agents. The Flames are clearly working hard behind the scenes trying to get Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and David Rittich locked up, while dealing with the NHL’s salary cap and replacing players they lost on Day 1.
Patience will be the word as Calgary progresses from here as they don’t have a ton of cap space left. According to CapFriendly, Calgary is currently on the hook for $72,026,708, which leaves them $9,473,292 to play with. Clearly the Flames need to make some moves/trades, with T.J. Brodie and Michael Frolik’s names being repeatedly named as players that Calgary could/should move on from.
Putting all that aside, here’s what the Flames did on the first day that they were able to sign free agents. It’s not spectacular, but it’s also early.
-Cam Talbot (G): 1 year contract worth $2.75 million
-Brandon Davidson (D): 1 year, two way contract worth $700k
-Byron Froese (C): 1 year, two way contract worth $700k
-Mike Smith (G): 1 year contract worth $2 million (plus incentives) with the Edmonton Oilers
-Garnet Hathaway (F): 4 year contract worth $6 million with the Washington Capitals
-Curtis Lazar (C): 1 year contract worth $700k with the Buffalo Sabres
-Oscar Fantenberg (D): 1 year contract worth $850k with the Vancouver Canucks
-Tyler Graovac (C): 1 year, two way contract worth $700k with the Vancouver Canucks
When you look overall at what the Flames did is they replaced a player with someone of equal skill or value, with the exception being Garnet Hathaway. Hathaway got a great deal from Washington and despite my clear love for the player, that’s a little rich of a deal for a player coming off his best year ever. Calgary will certainly miss his grit and his new found penchant for killing penalties, but in the end he wanted to get paid and got paid deservedly so. Now the question becomes: who replaces him?
Cam Talbot on the role he is expecting to play in Calgary alongside David Rittich: "My understanding is we’re going to be a tandem. It’s a two-goalie league now."— Eric Francis (@EricFrancis) July 1, 2019
Cam Talbot is an interesting acquisition for the Flames. Mike Smith was very hot and cold in his two years in Calgary, but he was rock solid when David Rittich was injured last season and even though the Flames lost to Colorado 4-1 in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Smith was Calgary’s best player in the series. What this move most likely signals is Calgary’s brewing confidence in David Rittich and them giving him the chance to take the reigns. Talbot had two very solid years in Edmonton, but struggled before being dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers last season. On Twitter today Talbot said this is a 1A/1B situation, which makes some sense, but I have a hard time seeing this as anything other than David Rittich’s job to lose. But I could be wrong.
As for Lazar/Fantenberg/Graovac and Davidson/Froese, this is just player replacement. Lazar never lived up to his lofty draft status in Ottawa or Calgary, but he was a solid AHL player for the Stockton Heat last season. The writing was on the wall for him last year as he only played on one game at the NHL level last season. Maybe another change of scenery will work for him, but just like his trade to Calgary, it’s a low risk/high reward deal for the Sabres.
Oscar Fantenberg was Calgary’s “big” trade deadline acquisition in 2018-19. The 27 year old native of Sweden played in 15 regular season games for the Flames and was average at best. He found himself dressed for three of Calgary’s playoff games and while he wasn’t anything to write home about, he wasn’t a liability on the ice. Losing Fantenberg to free agency won’t really hurt the Flames, so this, much like Lazar, isn’t a big loss.
Tyler Graovac? He had a phenomenal season with the Stockton Heat in 2018-19, playing in 65 games and scoring 24 goals and collecting 26 assists. Calgary was Graovac’s third NHL team in three years after being drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2011 with the 191st pick. Will Graovac turn into a serviceable NHL player? No one knows, but there’s money that needs to be spent by the Flames and clearly they weren’t interested in investing it here.
When it comes to who Calgary added, they are basically depth signings to replace Lazar and Fantenberg. Brandon Davidson and Byron Froese probably aren’t major cogs in Calgary’s 2019-20 plans, especially Davidson. Calgary is loaded with young talent on defence and his only shot could come by way of an injury or trade involving one of Calgary’s blueliners. Bet on Davidson and Froese spending a lot of time in sunny California.
The Top 10 NHL Free Agents that remain unsigned:— SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (@SiriusXMNHL) July 1, 2019
1. Anders Lee
2. Marcus Johansson
3. Jake Gardiner
4. Robin Lehner
5. Micheal Ferland
6. Ryan Dzingel
7. Ben Hutton
8. Petr Mrazek
9. Patrick Maroon
10. Brian Boyle#NHLFreeAgency2019 pic.twitter.com/VPkZ4XOJe6
All in all it was a pretty milquetoast day for the Flames, but they have bigger fish to fry when it comes to spending money. They need to get Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and David Rittich locked up and those should be their biggest priorities. There are still a few intriguing <cough Micheal Ferland cough> possibilities out there and Calgary does need to find someone to replace Garnet Hathaway, but as of now it appears Brad Treliving is focused on his “big three” as opposed to making a big splash with players that are still available.
What do you think? Vote in our poll below.
Are you happy with what the Flames did on the first day of free agency?
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I need to see more.
Why all the ex-Oilers?????