With the Flames still tight against the cap, it’s pretty clear that they won’t be adding much in terms of big name players this offseason. Once the RFA situation is taken care of, Calgary will be right up against the cap, but depending on the moves they make, there may be some wiggle room.
Here are four players who could be cheap depth options to fill out the bottom of the roster. I’ll be honest, none of them are particularly appetizing, but that’s usually the case when you’re looking for guys who may be scratches as often as they play.
Paajarvi definitely won’t come close to hitting the offensive potential he had when the Oilers drafted him 10th overall back in 2009 (lol), but he could be a good depth option for the Flames as they look to replace some PK minutes and size lost in the departure of Garnet Hathaway. Paajarvi had 156 minutes on the PK last year, the 2nd most PK of any Senator.
While his 11 goals and eight assists aren’t anything to write home about, his totals exactly match that of Hathaway. Paajarvi is listed at 6’3 206 lbs, but doesn’t really muck it up as much as Hathaway did, evidenced by him only having 6 PIM in 80 games.
Now it’s hard to get excited by a forward who scored 0 goals in 57 games last year, but Nichushkin could be worth a bet as a low risk high reward signing. Nichushkin returned to Dallas last year after a pair of seasons in the KHL. Prior to that, he had put up 29 and 34 point seasons with the Stars.
Some people close to the Stars saw him as a Top 9 or even a Top 6 forward coming into last year, but he quickly found himself down and out of the lineup as his goalless stretch continued. The Flames have seen a rebirth of Russians in their organization through signings and the draft, could perhaps one more be added this summer. He’d be a very cheap add and could just as easily be out the door after one year if he doesn’t pan out.
At 35 years old, Girardi likely isn’t an everyday NHL defender anymore, but he could provide a very good 7th defenceman option to a team looking for a cheap guy. The Flames have their top five defencemen pretty much locked down right now with some mix of Mark Giordano, Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin, Travis Hamonic, and Juuso Valimaki, but the sixth defender role could be fairly open, assuming of course they trade T.J. Brodie.
Girardi could be a good depth option with his experience in New York and Tampa Bay more recently, potenitally filling in during the year. He has 927 regular season and 143 playoff games under his belt, having him as a 7th defender who fills in for maybe 30-40 games may not be a terrible idea. He also had 151 hits in 62 games last year for anyone wanting size.
It seems like his name is perpetually on the waiver wire, but Pontus Aberg actually put together a respectable season as a 4th liner last year, putting up 25 points in games split between Anaheim and Minnesota. While he doesn’t offer a ton of glamour, he can play both wings and has shown some flashes of scoring ability over his career.
While he won’t be a player that will move the needle, he could be a good option to bring in very cheap as a 13th forward that can take spot duty in the event of injuries.