Flames Have Few Options to Alter Roster This Offseason

The excitement or nervousness surrounding the Calgary Flames this offseason is far from over. As we await a decision on Elias Lindholm, it seems like the rest of the players are at a standstill. As there haven’t been reports that any other players have directly asked for a trade, there also aren’t any contracts being re-signed. The Flames are in a position where they could go into 2023-24 with a similar roster and risk a ton, or they could act before the season begins. Craig Conroy has already shown he is not opposed to making a quick decision to ensure the team stays afloat.

Elias Lindholm Calgary Flames
Elias Lindholm, Calgary Flames (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The options the Flames have if they decide to really make some noise this offseason are limited. They missed the free agent rush and there are just a few options that would make any sort of difference to the top of the lineup if added anyways. Teams have already executed trades involving some bigger names, but not all of these players have been moved yet. Then there is the route that was taken last season by former general manager Brad Treliving as he made a blockbuster trade. That is still on the table, but blockbusters aren’t that common. Let’s get into each option the Flames can look into and how it would actually help the team going into 2023-24.

Free Agent Additions Remaining

While discussing the needs of the Flames, the first thought is usually about adding scoring. This is what they were lacking last season and after trading Tyler Toffoli, they are even worse off than they were. No moves were addressed at the trade deadline as the team didn’t really show they deserved help while sitting outside of the playoff picture. So after a quiet start to free agency, the Flames are currently looking at Yegor Sharangovich, Jakob Pelletier, and possibly Matthew Coronato to make up for the lack of scoring. Right now, that is a big ask for the young players.

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When it comes to players who can score, most of them were signed early in free agency. We’re now two weeks past the beginning of free agency and while there are still a few options, they’re risky and not guaranteed at all. It has become clear that the Flames aren’t a team many players want to play for as none of the 2024 unrestricted free agents (UFAs) on the team have shown interest in re-signing.

Patrick Kane is coming off of hip surgery and would likely not want to come to Canada, let alone a volatile team like the Flames. Vladimir Tarasenko was definitely on the Flames’ radar at the trade deadline, but as there were no significant additions and he had a no-trade clause, it wasn’t a reality. While both of those top-six forwards are likely out of the realm of possibility this offseason, Tomas Tatar is the next best thing at forward. He scored 20 goals and 48 points in 82 games, but while he is solid in the regular season, he falls apart in the playoffs every year.

Tomas Tatar New Jersey Devils
Tomas Tatar, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Flames do have four defencemen with expiring contracts in 2024, so there is a possibility that if some are moved, a free agent addition on defence could be coming. They might have to act fast before their options become slim to none, but after Tony DeAngelo’s buyout, there’s him and Matt Dumba. Seeing as the Flames chose to wait until things played out internally, a trade is more likely similar to the one executed with Toffoli.

Trade Options for the Flames

A number of Flames find themselves on the summer trade bait boards with the potential incoming shakeup of the lineup. But while those players could be moved, they could also see certain options with an extra year on their contracts come back. There are contenders and rebuilders alike that have players to move, but seeing as most of the players the Flames might have to trade are additions a playoff-bound team would be interested in, they are a little more limited in their choices.

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Players to keep an eye on that the Flames might have an interest in bringing in are Evgeny Kuznetsov, Travis Konecny, or Travis Sanheim. The first two have two years left on their contract and are top-six players who could replace what the Flames have lost or still might lose. Sanheim would be more difficult to acquire but would provide the Flames with security. He is heading into the first of an eight-year deal, but has a full no-trade clause for the first four years. The Philadelphia Flyers are rebuilding, and if he doesn’t necessarily want to go through that, waiving his no-trade clause is a possibility.

Evgeny Kuznetsov Washington Capitals
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

I can only see a blockbuster happening if it involved someone who is a part of the trade signing a long-term deal like Matthew Tkachuk did last offseason. This player would likely be Lindholm as he should be the most valuable single piece in a trade involving Calgary this summer. This would be a risky play again, but less risky than heading into the season with him unsigned past this season.

There are a lot of different ways this offseason can still go for the Flames, but if something doesn’t start going in their favour, it might come down to letting the season play out and potentially rebuilding after that. While they don’t have the very best prospect pool, there are some promising young players that can help turn the team around quickly.

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