Last week, I put together an article on three Calgary Flames pending free agents who likely won’t be back with the team in 2022-23. In all honesty, there were likely a few others who could have been added to the list this well, as the fact of the matter is the depth of this team is not good enough yet, as evidenced by their recent three most recent games versus the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Carolina Hurricanes.
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Having said all that, the Flames have a few pending free agents that they will be looking to keep around after this season, and likely many more seasons down the road. In fact, if they aren’t able to keep at least a couple of them, they will likely regress in a major way in 2022-23. With that being said, here are 3 pending free agents they will be looking to bring back for next season.
One of the most talked-about pending free agents around the entire league is the Flames’ own Johnny Gaudreau. The 28-year-old has spent his entire eight-season career in Calgary and has stated on many occasions that he’d like to sign an extension with the team. While doing that won’t be easy for general manager Brad Treliving, he needs to find a way and will find a way, to lock up his best offensive player to a new deal.
After two down seasons by his standards, Gaudreau is back to playing at an elite level in 2021-22 with 38 points through 33 games. It isn’t just his offensive game that has picked up either, as Darryl Sutter recently called him one of the best 200-foot players in the entire league. While some are speculating he could be moved, it is hard to imagine Treliving trading his best player given the way his team has performed so far this season. Expect these two sides to work on, and eventually figure out a new deal.
Another huge deal the Flames will need to work out is to another one of their top players in Matthew Tkachuk. Many view the 24-year-old as this team’s main leader and are in the mindset that once he gets his extension, he will be named the team captain. Like Gaudreau, this deal won’t be easy to get done, but the fact that he is a pending restricted free agent, rather than unrestricted, makes this entire situation less worrisome for fans.
After being the Flames’ best all-around player for a number of seasons, Tkachuk had an off 2020-21 campaign. However, it appears that having fans back in buildings was all that was needed to get the talented forward back on track, as he has 31 points in 33 games this season. Like his brother Brady this past summer, a deal between these two could take some time, but it should get done at some point before the 2022-23 season begins.
Had you asked fans prior to the 2021-22 season, most would have believed that Oliver Kylington wouldn’t be a member of the Flames organization for much longer. However, things have changed in a massive way as the 24-year-old has finally gotten a true shot to prove himself and has more than made the most of it with 19 points in 32 games.
While Kylington remains prone to a defensive miscue here and there, he is without a doubt this team’s most talented offensive blueliner. On top of that, he is an incredible skater which is a huge asset in today’s NHL. Despite the very impressive season, however, he remains relatively unproven, meaning he shouldn’t cost a ton on a new deal, one that could end up turning into a massive bargain. There is little to no doubt he will be back in Flames uniform next season.
Many will be quick to point out one particular pending free agent who is absent from this list in Andrew Mangiapane. Despite cooling down after a red hot start to the season, he still has an impressive 18 goals in 33 games and is a very solid two-way player for the Flames. However, bringing back both Gaudreau and Tkachuk will take a toll on this team’s cap space. That factored in with his agent recently stating he would prefer a short-term deal, may have management hesitant to choose to keep him around rather than the three mentioned above.
This isn’t to say that Mangiapane can’t and won’t be re-signed, as there is no denying he is a big piece of this current Flames team. However, there is a good argument to be made that the three above are all more important pieces to this roster, and from comments made it seems as though they all want to remain Flames for the long term. The same cannot be said about Mangiapane right now, making him the odd man out at the moment.