How do the Calgary Flames sign all their star free agents this off-season?

Most of the time, having too many good players is a great problem to have. The one exception is when they all need a new contract at the same time.

Such is the dilemma the Calgary Flames find themselves in as the 2021-22 regular season draws to a close. With new deals needed for Hart Trophy candidate Johnny Gaudreau, fellow 100-point man Matthew Tkachuk and 35-goal scorer Andrew Mangiapane, not to mention rapidly improving defenseman Oliver Kylington, GM Brad Treliving and his hockey management group may just want to set up an off-season office at a bank.

If you’re a Flames fan, forgive me for bringing this up as the team gets set to embark on what may be a long and exciting playoff run. If you would rather enjoy the playoffs without worrying about the future cap challenges, put this in your saved folder for later. Otherwise, keep reading.

I’m not sure I can recall a situation where a team needed to sign three 35-plus goal scorers all in one off-season. It will be a significant challenge to overcome, but the good news is that there’s almost always a way to make the pieces fit if there’s a will to do so.

Treliving has stated publicly that the team will “move heaven and earth” to get a Gaudreau deal done, and you have to assume they feel the same about their young restricted free agents as well. Were “heaven and earth” just Treliving’s code words for “Sean Monahan and Milan Lucic”?

It is clear that something will have to give in order to free up the cap space to sign four players who need raises, especially the three who will be coming off offensive juggernaut seasons. Luckily, the Flames will start the summer with an extra $2.5 million to play with, thanks to the NHL-announced $1-million cap increase for next season and the disappearance of the $1.5-million Troy Brouwer buyout charge that will no longer be on the books following the 2021-22 season. They may even have the benefit of starting next season in LTIR if Monahan’s offseason hip surgery requires additional rehabilitation time. If they don’t start in LTIR, how much more will they need to make this all work?

Whether he wins the Hart Trophy or not, Gaudreau’s MVP-calibre season will net him a healthy payday. Flames fans who kept reading despite my warnings should look away now if they’re skittish, because one comparable Gaudreau could reasonably bring up is Artemi Panarin, whose seven-year deal at $11.6 million per season is one of the few unrestricted free agent pacts signed by a player whose platform year and career points per game at signing both exceeded 1.0. Panarin was a little younger at the time of signing (27 versus 29), but the comparison is not out of line.

Author: Lucy Green