The Calgary Flames have managed to put themselves just four points back of the first-place Arizona Coyotes in the Pacific Division, after earning points in nine of their last 11 games, despite sitting in fourth-place in the division.
The tight race in the Pacific has put the Flames in an awkward spot, where only time will tell if they’ll be buyers, sellers, or neither at this year’s trade deadline on Feb. 24.
The Flames currently have $3.215 million in cap space, and they’re projected to have $19.1 million in cap space this offseason, which will be needed to try and retain a number of pending free agents. The list includes TJ Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, Michael Stone, Michael Frolik, Andrew Mangiapane, Mark Jankowski, Cam Talbot, Tobias Rieder, and Zac Rinaldo.
Despite what could be a complicated offseason, the Flames have deals they can be happy about as they look at their contract situation this year.
A lot of the Flames’ success, dating back to last year, can be contributed to consistent play from David Rittich between the posts. Rittich has a 42-17-9 record since the start of 2018-19, and he’s only making $2.75 million this season and next. He also has a career .911 save percentage and 2.71 goals-against average with the Flames. He has become a workhorse, oftentimes turning away around 30 or more shots per game.
Other goalies across the league with similar cap hits include Jonathan Bernier ($3 million), Carter Hutton ($2.75 million), Jaroslav Halák ($2.75 million), and Anton Khudobin ($2.5 million).
If Rittich can continue to provide the Flames with consistent play in the crease, the Flames could see further success as they climb the Pacific Division standings. However, Rittich will be due for a big payday after next season as an unrestricted free agent, and could receive interest from across the league. The Flames will have to keep the 2021 offseason in mind this season if they plan on having the cap room to re-sign Rittich as a mainstay between the pipes.
Despite his numbers being on pace to drop off from last season, Sean Monahan’s contributions and importance to the team on and off the ice can’t be denied. He currently has 10 points in his last 9 games, and he is currently centering the top line and top power-play unit. At just 25 years old, the Flames have Monahan locked up until the 2023 offseason at $6.375 million per year.
His cap hit is comparable to players like Keith Yandle ($6.35 million), Alexander Radulov ($6.25 million), Paul Stastny ($6.55 million), and Derek Stepan ($6.5 million). Monahan’s contract is already looking like a steal among similar cap hits, and the salary cap should continue to rise throughout the duration of his contract.
Monahan has been a consistent contributor for the Flames this season, and the same will likely be said over the duration of his contract as well. What has been impressive during his recent stretch is his ability to contribute without playing alongside Johnny Gaudreau all the time. The two have since been reunited on the top line, but Monahan’s consistency throughout Geoff Ward’s line-juggling was a positive sight for Flames fans.
Since signing his seven-year, $44.625 million deal in August 2016, Monahan has 232 points in 269 games. If he can continue to grow his game while being the Flames No. 1 center, his contract will continue to be a blessing in Calgary.
Derek Ryan has been turning it on as of late, with six points (one goal and five assists) in his last six games. He currently finds himself centering the third line alongside Milan Lucic and Dillon Dube, but he’s also seen time on the power play recently as well.
Ryan now has 17 points (five goals and 12 assists) in 34 games this season while averaging between 13 and 17 minutes of ice time per game. He’s currently on pace to surpass his point total of 38 from last year, and he’s a career plus-28 with the Flames since the beginning of last season.
Ryan is set to make $3.125 million this year and next year. His cap hit is comparable to Jay Beagle ($3 million with just three points this year), Leo Komarov ($3 million with just four points this year), Zack Smith ($3.25 million with just five points this year), and Sam Gagner ($3.125 million with eight points this year).
With Sam Bennett replacing pending free agent Mark Jankowski in the lineup, Ryan has the opportunity to continue being a staple for the Flames in their bottom-six forward group. Ryan has proven that he can stay healthy and in the lineup, with 81 games played last year and 35 games played so far this year, while adding depth production for the Flames.
Depending on where the Flames sit in the standings come Feb. 24, general manager Brad Treliving could look to ship a pending free agent or two in hopes of receiving some value before free agents test the market on July 1. With the Flames looking to stretch their projected $19.1 million in cap space as far as it can go this offseason, Treliving will be thankful for the better deals that have already been signed.