While the Calgary Flames are focused solely on a lengthy playoff run, difficult decisions await management this offseason. With players like Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington all needing new contracts, general manager Brad Treliving will be a busy man trying to bring all four back into the fold for 2022-23.
With all four players having great seasons for the Flames, they will be in line for raises this summer. In order to afford them all, Treliving will likely need to free up some salary by making a trade or two to help free up cap space. Here are three players that may be on the move this offseason in order to free up some salary.
The most obvious candidate to be moved for the Flames this summer is Monahan. The 27-year-old is a shadow of his former self, as injuries have taken their toll on a player who was once one of the game’s most consistent goal scorers.
Despite his struggles in recent seasons, there will still be interest in Monahan, especially given the fact that he has just one year remaining on his contract that carries a $6.375 million cap hit. The Flames may have to throw in a bit of a sweetener, but that is worth it at this point to ensure they can get that contract off their books, as it would help create plenty of room to re-sign the four mentioned above.
It seems like a near guarantee that Monahan won’t be back in a Flames sweater next season, as nothing has gone right for him in 2021-22. He has just eight goals and 22 points in 63 games, and has been healthy scratched in the Flames’ last two games. Perhaps a change of scenery is what it will take for him to get his career back on track.
While he doesn’t get a ton of recognition throughout the entire league, Flames fans know just how valuable Backlund has been for them over the years. The 33-year-old is a very solid two-way center who is still capable of putting up north of 40 points a season.
After a slow start to the 2021-22 season, he has come alive in the second half and has a respectable 12 goals and 32 points through 65 games. Despite the solid season however, he is a player Treliving may consider moving this summer, as he is someone they can replace, and likely at a cheaper cost.
Backlund has two additional seasons on his deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million. It isn’t a bad contract at this point but could turn ugly as he is starting to get up there in age. Treliving would be wise to at the very least see what the market is on him. With his consistency throughout his 809-game career, there would likely be interest from several teams.
This one is certainly the most farfetched, as teams would without a doubt need an incentive to add Lucic. The 33-year-old has proven since joining the Flames that he can still provide value to an NHL lineup, but his $5.25 million cap hit is far too high for what he brings at this point in his career.
At one time, Lucic was arguably the best power forward in the NHL. With the game getting quicker, however, he has struggled to put up the offensive totals that he was known for when he was with the Boston Bruins. He is now best suited as a checking forward in a bottom-six role.
If a team were willing to take Lucic, Treliving would likely jump at the opportunity, as it would make things much easier cap-wise for him this summer. While it remains a long shot, there is no harm in making some calls and seeing if anybody has an interest in the rugged winger.
One Has to Go
In order to be able to bring back Gaudreau, Tkachuk, Mangiapane and Kylington, one of the three listed above will have to be moved. They simply do not have the cap space to re-sign these four if not. The general consensus seems to be that Monahan will be the one on the move, but until that happens, it remains pure speculation. The only thing that is for sure right now is that this offseason is going to be a very busy one for Treliving.
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.