In the next few months, the Calgary Flames and their general manager Brad Treliving will have quite a few decisions to make as they must sign restricted free agent Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and Andrew Mangiapane as well as sign two goaltenders for their NHL roster, all with just $14.5M to work with.
The challenge will come with Treliving’s most important challenge as Tkachuk’s next contract could take up more than half of that money. Sportsnet’s Eric Francis writes that the 21-year-old power forward could net himself a contact that could compare with Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl’s eight-year, $68M contract that he signed in 2017 at $8.5M AAV. And that number could even be higher as Tkachuk’s numbers are even better than Draisaitl’s was as Tkachuk has 21 more goals and 37 more points after three seasons.
At that cost, Francis writes, the Flames will undoubtedly have to move either Michael Frolik and/or defenseman T.J. Brodie to free up enough cap room to accomplish the other tasks on their offseason to-do list. Frolik would be an obvious choice as he was a candidate to be traded earlier this year at the trade deadline as the 31-year-old forward hasn’t been happy with his lack of playing time under head coach Bill Peters. While his numbers – 16 goals and 34 points – weren’t that off his usual totals, his ATOI dropped to his lowest levels in years at 13:22. He also was a healthy scratch at several points during the season, prompting both he and his agent to request a trade. Frolik is entering his final year, but at $4.3M next season, the team might find it challenging to unload a bottom-six player at that cost without taking back a similar contract.
Another candidate for a trade could be Brodie. Despite playing his entire career in Calgary and often working on the team’s top pairing alongside Mark Giordano, the team suddenly has a surplus of both veteran defensemen as well as three intriguing young players who are going to push for playing time in Rasmus Andersson, Juuso Valimaki and Oliver Kylington. That could make Brodie, the Flames’ most intriguing asset on the team as he enters the final year of his contract at $4.65M, a reasonable cost for a team looking for a top-four defenseman.