In just a few short weeks, the Calgary Flames will begin training camp with what is a very different roster from the one we all saw just a few short months ago. Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk are out the door, while two-star talents of their own in Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri have come in to replace them.
Though this Flames group faced a ton of adversity early into the offseason, general manager Brad Treliving was able to work his magic in order to ensure they will once again be a competitive team in 2022-23. In fact, many have argued that they are a better team now than they were at this point last year.
As many changes as there have been to this roster this offseason, there could be just as many (albeit not as major) next summer. There are still some tinkers to make with this current team, though that may prove easier for Treliving in a year’s time. With that said, here are three current Flames that aren’t expected to be back with the team for the 2023-24 season.
In recent weeks, there have been trade rumors floating around regarding Milan Lucic, with teams such as the Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks among those suggested as potential suitors. Despite these rumors, it seems unlikely that the 34-year-old gets dealt, as his $5.25 million cap hit is far too high for what he is able to provide at this stage in his career.
Assuming the Flames do hold onto Lucic for the entirety of the 2022-23 season, it will more than likely be his last with the organization. His contract will have come to an end by that time, and while he could sign for much cheaper, Treliving would likely prefer to replace him with a young prospect or perhaps a free agent who would provide more speed.
Though Lucic can still provide physicality at times, he is often exposed when put on the ice due to his lack of foot speed. In 82 games this past season, he managed just 10 goals and 21 points, while in the playoffs, he recorded just one assist in 12 outings.
After signing a one-year, $800,000 deal prior to the start of the 2021-22 campaign, Trevor Lewis was able to impress enough in his first season as a Flame to earn himself the exact same contract this summer. To many, this re-signing came as a surprise, but it is important to note just how highly Darryl Sutter thinks of the 35-year-old, as the two were part of the L.A. Kings Stanley Cup winning teams in 2012 and 2014.
In 80 games this past season, Lewis scored just six goals and 16 points while averaging just under 13 minutes in ice time. While his offensive stats weren’t very impressive, he did contribute in a big way to the Flames’ penalty kill, trailing only Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund for forwards in ice time in that regard.
Lewis’ role with the Flames should be similar in 2022-23. He will continue to receive fourth-line minutes at even strength and is expected to once again continue to their penalty kill. While remaining effective in that role, he is nothing more than a placeholder at this point in his career and will likely have his spot taken by a much younger player in 2023-24.
While it surprised some that Treliving chose to go with Dan Vladar as his backup this past season, the recently turned 25-year-old held his own in his rookie year. Playing a limited role behind Jacob Markstrom, he recorded a 2.75 goals against average along with a .906 save percentage and a 13-6-2 record.
Like Lewis, Vladar should have a similar role with the Flames in 2022-23. That means he won’t get in a whole lot of action playing behind a 2021-22 Vezina Trophy Finalist in Markstrom, but he will need to ensure that when called upon, he is up to the task.
This upcoming season will be a huge one for Vladar, as it could have a huge impact on whether or not he is able to find work as an NHLer afterward. Entering the final season of his contract, it seems extremely unlikely the Flames will look to extend him, as 21-year-old Dustin Wolf proved this past season in the American Hockey League that he is more than ready to be playing at the NHL level.
Talented Prospects Nearing NHL Ready Status
As evident by the three above, the Flames at this time don’t appear at risk to be losing any key players from their roster next summer. In fact, based on the three names above that aren’t likely to be back, it is possible that they can become even more improved heading into the 2023-24 season than they are right now. Whether that be bringing in younger prospects as replacements or finding better options in free agency remains to be seen. But given how well Treliving was able to do with this roster this summer, it is impossible not to get excited about what he could do with it next.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.