In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, Oliver Kylington’s name has been popping up in trade rumors despite having recently signed a two-year extension. Meanwhile, free agent Evan Rodrigues is apparently a player general manager Brad Treliving is considering. In other news, Nazem Kadri brought the Stanley Cup to his hometown of London, Ontario, this past Saturday. Last but not least, goaltender Jacob Markstrom appears very confident ahead of the 2022-23 season, saying that this Flames group will be even better than a year ago.
Kylington a Potential Trade Candidate
It’s clear the Flames are not done making roster adjustments yet. Despite their major overhaul, Treliving is looking to move at least one of the 10 defensemen he has signed to one-way contracts. While Juuso Valimaki’s name has received plenty of attention, he doesn’t have much value at this point. However, a player whose value has never been this high and could be traded because of it is Kylington.
Steve Macfarlane of Calgary Hockey Now mentioned in a recent article that Kylington’s value is very high right now. After all, most didn’t expect him to make the Flames’ roster last season but, instead, he went on to record a career-high 31 points in 73 games, and at 25 years old, could improve even more.
If the Flames were to deal Kylington, they will likely be looking for a winger who could help the roster this season in return. Treliving has made it clear that he is very much in a win-now mode, so trading a true top-six defenseman for a pick and/or prospect doesn’t make much sense. All that’s to say, keep an eye out for news regarding the Swedish blueliner before training camp starts.
Flames Interested in Rodrigues
Perhaps the biggest name among forwards who remain available on the free agent market is Rodrigues. The 29-year-old is coming off of a career year of 19 goals and 43 points in 82 outings. Despite the solid campaign, however, he has yet to find a new home for the 2022-23 season, though that may not be for much longer, according to Elliotte Friedman.
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“I don’t think they’re done either,” Friedman said on the 32 Thoughts podcast. “I think [the Flames] are going to add another forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve sniffed around on Evan Rodrigues.”
What has made the Flames and likely other teams hesitant about Rodrigues is that before last season, he struggled to put up offence on a consistent basis. Whether the 2021-22 campaign was a sign of things to come or just an outlier remains a major question. Nonetheless, as we get closer to the season, he is likely to be signed for cheap, perhaps on something similar to the one-year, $1.5 million contract Phil Kessel just inked with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Kadri Brings Cup Home
Though Kadri is now a Flame, he finally had his day with the Stanley Cup this past weekend after winning it with the Colorado Avalanche last season. The 31-year-old, who became the first Muslim ever to win the Cup, brought it to his hometown of London, Ontario, to celebrate.
“As I sit here and reflect, I’m a London boy. These are the streets I grew up on, this is the mosque I used to come to, and everything seems to have come full circle,” Kadri said. “I’m very appreciate, privileged and honoured to be the first-ever Muslim to be able to bring the Stanley Cup to the mosque. That’s something I’m always going to respect and always going to remember.
It’s part of my background, part of my roots and part of who I am. There’s a reason why I brought it out and showcased it because I think the community deserves it. They’ve been cheering me on from the start, so I wanted to share it with everybody.”
Kadri played a significant role in the Avalanche’s third-ever championship. Not only did he record a career-high 87 points in 71 regular-season games, but he went on to score seven goals and 15 points in 16 playoff outings. Thanks in large part to his great season, he earned himself a seven-year, $49 million deal with the Flames less than two weeks ago.
Markstrom Extremely Confident in Flames
Aside from a rough second-round series versus the Edmonton Oilers, Markstrom was lights out for the Flames in 2021-22. The 32-year-old recorded a very impressive 2.22 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in 63 outings. Those numbers, combined with his league-leading nine shutouts, were enough to earn him his first-ever Vezina Trophy nomination (Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers won the award). He isn’t about to hang his hat on a great season, however, and believes the season will be even better in 2022-23.
“In my mind, and in my head, I really believe that we’re gonna be better this year,” Markstrom said during the NHL’s European Player Media Tour in Paris last week.
One concern last season was his playing time. Only three goalies (Thatcher Demko, Connor Hellebuyck and Juuse Saros) appeared in more games than Markstrom, and many believe that may have played part in why he struggled against the Oilers. He thinks differently, however, and made it clear he hopes to play even more this season.
“I obviously played a lot of hockey games (last season), but I want to play more,” Markstrom said. “There’s so many games, looking back, that should’ve went the other way, that we should’ve won that we didn’t. Those kind of things, you’d like to adjust them and fix them and work and just be on a high level for a longer time, and the dips to be a little shorter.”
Regardless of how many games Markstrom plays this season, there is no reason to doubt he will be anything other than extraordinary once again. He has proven, particularly in 2021-22, that he is one of the game’s elite goalies, and the six-year, $36 million deal he signed during the 2020 offseason pays him as such.
Looking Ahead for the Flames
The biggest thing to keep tabs on is whether Treliving makes a trade. It seems very likely that at least one defenseman will be moved before training camp, given their surplus at the position. Another area to keep an eye on is a few of the remaining forwards available on the free-agent market, as it wouldn’t be a major surprise to see Treliving bring one or two in on a professional tryout offer.