The offseason in 2022 will be a massive one for the Flames organization. Following the 2021 season, expiring contracts include Bennett, Leivo, Dube, Nordstrom, Simon, Valimaki, Stone, Nesterov, Rittich, Ryan, Mackey, Kylington, Robinson, Dominique and Rinaldo. These are alot of players and realistically the guys most likely to recieve extensions will be Dube, Valimaki, Nesterov (He looks good), and Mackey.
I have left Bennett off this list solely due to the fact that he will most likely be claimed in the expansion draft. Kylington on the other hand doesn't seem to look like hes going to become a regular with the Flames so i really doubt he sticks around.
Where the Flames roster gets really interesting though is following the 2021-2022 season. That summer Treliving will be tasked with making decisions on RFA's Matthew Tkachuk, and Andrew Mangiapane, as well as UFA's Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano.
This article is going to make some assumpitons using comparable contracts to identify how much space the Flames will have for those 4 players, and what the odds of all four of them returning to the C of Red really look like.
Not including the aforementioned 4 players whos contracts expire in 2022 or the potential filler bottom line guys Brad will inevitabely sign next offseason; these are the players of note within the Flames organization.
For contracts here I awarded Dube a similar contract to what Mangiapane earned this past summer, Valimaki comparable to Andersson, and Nesterov/Mackey similar 6/7 defenceman paychecks.
While it sucks to see Loochs name still up there, the summer of 2022 season will finally mark the end of Troy Brouwers buyout!
Provided the cap is stagnant for the next few seasons this roster leaves the Flames with roughly 24 million dollars in cap space. This money will be used to fill 3-5 spots on the wing depending on the development of guys like Zary, Pelletier, Petterson, Zavgordiny, Phillips, Gawdin etc. Should also be taken into account the following year the Flames will see Lucic, Monahan, Pelletier, Zary and other notable prospects be left without a contract. While the Flames will get some breathing room with Lucics contract off the table there will also be presumably a lot of money coming back in to fill those spots.
So what should Brad do with the Flames big 4 free agents in 2022? Lets take a look:
Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane:
These guys are absolute no brainers.
So far this season 19 and 88 have been Calgarys two best forwards when it comes to driving play.
Matthew Tkachuk is going to have a huge pay day, and when his contract expires he will only be 24. Considering players seem to see significant regression around the ages of 30-34, I'd expect the Flames to lock Tkachuk up for the next 8 years at around a nine to ten million AAV. Mangiapane on the other hand will be 26 and just sneak into the realm of a RFA status. Due to his lower profile pedigree and limited statistical output in his first few years Andrew eat bread will probably be signed for around 5-6 million AAV if he keeps bringing up his level of play. At the same time I'd expect him to ask for a long term 6-7 year contract.
Now these contacts would leave Calgary with about 8 million dollars in cap space. Presuming Dustin Wolf is going to be the effective backup in a tandem with Markstrom, goaltending is really a no issue (are we really talking about the Calgary Flames?)
This meaning Calgary has roughly 8 million dollars to sign Johnny/Gio or to spend on other acquisitions.
When Gio's contract expires the dude is going to be a few months out from his 39th birthday. Giordano's game took a signifcant step back last season and so far he doesn't seem to be bouncing back in the way we hoped. He is still an effective player, but at 38 it may be time for the Flames to move onto there next Captain (if it isn't Tkachuk we riot).
On the left side of the ice, Giordano has had the worst results so far of any of the Flames LD. While he does player tougher minutes and isn't nearly as sheltered, it doesn't make sense to bring Giordano back unless he is fulfilling a need. Unless Gio would be willing to take on a smaller role on a minimal contract, it seems likely that the Flames will infact part from their captain in 2022.
This ones much harder. I have three main questions towards the idea of resigning Johnny Gaudreau.
1. Will he be willing to make less money than Matthew Tkachuk?
The Flames won't be able to pay them both upwards of nine million dollars. With a flat cap the money won't work unless we sacrifice somewhere else. So then it comes down to whether or not Johnny Hockey would take a discount to stay in Calgary.
2. Is it worth giving Johnny a seven year contract?
Gaudreau has been the Flames most talented offensive forward since his rookie season. Year after year he has been the player teams would have to gameplan against. In August of 2022 Johnny will be 29. That's not old by any means, but how long do we realistically think Johnny can lead the team. You can make the argument that the frequently compared Patrick Kane still puts up fantastic numbers. But, the Chicago Blackhawks won there stanley cups in 2010, 2013, and 2015. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews signed there massive contracts right before there last cup win, and where are the Blackhawks now? They have some good young players, but the window to win with Kane and Toews most likely closed when they signed them to 8 year contracts at the ages of 26.
So really unless the Flames believe they can win within a 1-2 year window of resigning Gaudreau, a long term contract shouldn't be an option.
3. Will Johnny want to stay?
For years there has been speculation that Johnny has wanted to go home to Philly or New Jersey. In 2022 Johnny will have all the bargaining chips. Unless he is resigned this summer, Gaudreau will be free to make his own choice, and there is a serious chance that his choice will not be Calgary.
In conclusion I think if Brad is wise, Johnny probably won't be in Calgary for that much longer. I am not even against letting him walk for free, especially if the Flames organziation thinks they have a shot at a cup run in the 2021-2022 season. If he is resigned, It would probably mean someone else would have to go in his stead. Gaudreau and his agent are probably trying to capitalize on one more big contract so I doubt Johnny would be interested in anything short term.
So, in a magical universe where the Flames don't make any big moves and just hold onto there core. This would be my projected roster for the 2022-2023 season. With over 8 million in cap space Brad would have plenty of wiggle room for what he could do with that. However any speculation towards that idea is where this projection turns into the fantasy where we trade Lucic for Eichel.
Realistically for me, that 8 million dollars would be best used at finding a replacement in the middle of the ice. One notable player who will hit free agency as a UFA is Aleksander Barkov. While he would come with a large paycheck, investing in a 27 year old true number 1 center may be something Brad should take a shot at, even if it means shedding salary with a guy like Monahan or Backlund. All of this also depends on the development of Connor Zary and Jakob Pelletier. Based on their pedigree and what we have seen from them so far, it is not out of the question to project either of them as serviceable top six forwards.
So with 8 million dollars in tow, what would you guys do with it? Bring back Giordano? Convince Johnny to stick around for one more run at it? Let me know what you think in the comments!