Calgary Flames’ Summertime List Still Has a Few Boxes Left to Check Off
After what proved to be one of the busiest off-seasons in his tenure as the general manager of the Calgary Flames, Brad Treliving has time to catch his breath.
At least, it appears that way.
Crucial off-season firings and hirings? Check.
The National Hockey League draft? Check.
Free agency? Check.
Development camp? Check.
Yes, for the local National Hockey League club, these truly are the dog days of summer. But the 2016-17 regular season is approaching and the Flames have items remaining on their to-do list.
First, let’s take a look at the off-season so far:
– May 3 — Fire head coach Bob Hartley and associate coach Jacques Cloutier
– June 17 — Hire Glen Gulutzan as new head coach
– June 24 — Draft LW Matthew Tkachuk sixth overall at 2016 NHL draft in Buffalo. Also strike a deal with the St. Louis Blues to acquire G Brian Elliott and solve their need for a No. 1 goalie.
– June 25 — Draft G Tyler Parsons (second round, 54th), C Dillon Dube (second round, 56th), D Adam Fox (third round, 66th), C Linus Lindstrom (fourth round, 96th), C Mitchell Mattson (fifth-round, 126th), RW Eetu Tuulola (sixth round, 156th), C/RW Matthew Phillips (sixth round, 166th) and D Stepan Falkovsky (seventh round, 186th).
– June 27 — Provide qualifying offers to LW Johnny Gaudreau, C Sean Monahan, C Freddie Hamilton, D Tyler Wotherspoon. Not receiving qualifying offers: LW Kenny Agostino, C Bill Arnold, C Joe Colborne, LW Turner Elson, C Josh Jooris, C Drew Shore, LW Bryce Van Brabant, G Joni Ortio, and G Kevin Poulin
– June 27 — Trade for D Patrick Sieloff to the Ottawa Senators for RW Alex Chaisson
– June 30 — Buyout contract of LW Mason Raymond
– July 1 — Sign free agents RW Troy Brouwer and G Chad Johnson
– July 6 — Sign RW Linden Vey
– July 6 — Hire Dave Cameron and Paul Jerrard as assistant coaches
– July 7 — Sign LW Matthew Tkachuk to a three-year entry level deal
So, what’s left?
INKING JOHNNY AND MONNY
The obvious, of course, is signing Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan to long-term deals. That’s been an ongoing item on Treliving’s to-do list, although nothing has been inked yet. But you can bet the team wants to lock up their two biggest rising stars, preferably before the end of the summer. You can also bet these will be two of the most expensive and important contracts in franchise history, akin to Mark Giordano’s six-year, $40.5-million deal signed last summer and Jarome Iginla’s contracts (both worth $7-million each season from 2005 to 2013). The Flames also provided qualifying offers to centre Freddie Hamilton and defender Tyler Wotherspoon but there’s also been no news on either player.
Their forwards, for the most part, are set. Their centres include: Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, and Matt Stajan. Their wingers are locked up with Gaudreau, Troy Brouwer, Michael Frolik, Lance Bouma, Micheal Ferland, Linden Vey, Hunter Shinkaruk, Alex Chaisson, and possibly Matthew Tkachuk if he’s NHL-ready by September. Vey comes to the Flames with a chip on his shoulder and a clean slate after failing to reach his potential in the past two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. Ditto for Chaisson, who joins the Flames from the Ottawa Senators, while Shinkaruk needs to continue to prove himself as an everyday NHL-er. The biggest question mark heading into the off-season was finding a suitable right-winger for Gaudreau and Monahan but Brouwer’s presence should solve that. Or, who knows, perhaps Tkachuk will fill that role.
WHAT ABOUT THE ‘D’?
There are question marks surrounding the health of Ladislav Smid, who may or may not be healthy enough to play this year due to lingering neck issues. The Flames are still awaiting a medical decision, but there’s also the question if he’s still NHL-ready. He’s only played 53 games in the last two seasons and his last clash was Feb. 17 against the Minnesota Wild. Mark Giordano’s big six-year, $40.5-million contract kicks in; TJ Brodie and Dougie Hamilton are their future. Then there’s the aging Dennis Wideman and Deryk Engelland, and 24-year-old Jyrki Jokipakka (if they come to terms with him), 23-year-old Tyler Wotherspoon and young prospect Brett Kulak. Perhaps there is a need for a young, experienced, cheap sixth/seventh blueliner, but do the Flames have it in their budget? According to generalfanager.com, their projected salary cap hit is $58.030-million, well below the 2016-17 salary cap ($73-million), but it doesn’t include the hefty salaries of Monahan and Gaudreau.
GETTING IN THE (GOALIE) GROOVE
Their NHL goaltending is solidified — and promising — between newcomers Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson. And that’s good news for the team that was the worst in the league for goals against average, a combined 3.13 and 30th in save percentage (.898) between Joni Ortio, Jonas Hiller, and Karri Ramo. The pressure is on. But it’s also on Calgary’s defenders to be an accountable and dependable group in front. Getting a good start to the 2016-17 season will be crucial in exorcising demons of the past few years.
FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL
It might feel a little like the first day at school when training camp commences this fall. With new head coach Glen Gulutzan, the assistant coaching staff including Dave Cameron and Paul Jerrard, and new faces like Troy Brouwer, Brian Elliott, Chad Johnson, Alex Chaisson, Linden Vey and possibly Matthew Tkachuk, the dressing room will have a completely new vibe with a different teacher at the head of the class. It will be Gulutzan’s job to guide the ship and get to know the new players and the mainstays like Mark Giordano, Matt Stajan, Mikael Backlund, Dennis Wideman and TJ Brodie. It’s his duty to know which buttons to push and when — a steep learning curve to achieve in the first two months of the season. Chemistry among players themselves is crucial and will also be forming in a hurry at training camp.