Roster Crunch Coming For Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames have had quite the offseason. In a span of one month, they’ve lost two pillars of their franchise: Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. Yet in the same month, they’ve added a Hart Trophy contender in Jonathan Huberdeau and a top-of-the-lineup all-around defenseman in Mackenzie Weegar. It’s clear from GM Brad Treliving’s actions that the Flames are intent on building on last season’s 111-point campaign and competing for a Stanley Cup, despite the roster turmoil. They certainly look poised to do so, boasting a roster that includes a Vezina Trophy contender in net, a balanced, skilled forward corps, and a stout defense.

Outside of negotiations on a new contract for RFA defenseman Oliver Kylington, the team looks decently set, outside of one crucial area. As things currently stand, there’s a bit of a logjam on the Flames’ defense. The recent addition of Weegar, the extension of Nikita Zadorov, and the signings of Nicolas Meloche and Dennis Gilbert have left the Flames with nine defenders on one-way contracts, with a tenth on the way once Kylington’s contract is settled.

NHL teams typically carry seven defensemen on their active roster, rarely carrying more unless there are special circumstances, typically injury-related considerations, in play.

At a glance, a solid chunk of the Flames’ defense is set in stone. The pairing of Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson is rock-solid, and since Kylington’s breakout season in 2021-22 came next to Chris Tanev, it’s definitely possible coach Darryl Sutter wants to keep them together. And then there’s Zadorov and Weegar, two players who belong in the Flames’ nightly lineup.

So, as things currently stand, the Flames have six proven NHL defensemen on their roster, occupying the six slots in the nightly lineup typically reserved for defensemen. The result of this abundance of riches is that Treliving will need to make a choice about how he pursues the construction of his opening night roster, and each route is not without its risks.

Author: Lucy Green