What in the world should the Calgary Flames do moving forward into the 2023-2024 season?
It's a question because the Flames, through dumb luck or something else, find themselves with a boatload of players with one year left on their contracts. Should they extend their contracts or let them walk?
The non exhaustive list includes Lindholm, Backlund, Toffoli, Hanifin, Zadorov, and Kylington.
There are talented players on that list. Those talented players missed the playoffs and many showed, in my opinion, low character doing it. We can miss the playoffs without most of them, quite frankly, and preserve cap space and recoup some draft picks at the same time.
My vision includes trading Backlund, Lindholm, Toffoli, and Hanifin.
I think a Lindholm gets you at least a first, or a real prospect, as does Hanifin. Backlund and Toffoli probably get you later round picks, but magic beans sometimes turn into something. Capital is capital.
Lets say you get two firsts, and two thirds for trading those guys. You can use that to trade for a real player if you wanted. You would have the cap space to accommodate whoever you bring in.
And Brad Treliving isn't here anymore, so you don't have to worry about the cap space going towards a 33 year old bottom six winger. Blue skies.
Or you could use those newly acquired picks, along with picks we have, to rebuild the prospect pool. It gives you flexibility and options going forward.
Here is the lineup:
It's a little gross, sure. But it's gross for 63 million. And honestly, it's really only gross when it comes to the forwards. You could get away with playing that defence, and the goalies are the goalies, you hope they rebound.
It's not going to win the Cup, but bringing back Backlund, Lindholm, Toffoli, and Hanifin isn't going to win the cup either. Why spend the money?
My roster does include some guys with one year left. I think Rooney is in that boat, along with Tanev, Zadorov, and Kylington. I think the org should be fine with losing those guys; they were all brought in as free agents save for Kylington, so you aren't losing 'assets' by letting them walk away, you didn't trade assets to get them in the first place. I would try to extend Zadorov and Kylington, with the latter being a bigger priority.
You would have roster spots for some buy low type candidates. Would Drouin and Huberdeau work? Probably wouldn't cost much to find out.
Again, if they bring everybody back, do they win a Cup? Probably not. I don't see two legit stud top-10-players-in-the-league forwards on that roster, I don't see a true 1A stud defenceman. You generally need these things to win a Cup.
To me, the options are: Spend 82 million to not win, or spend 63 million to not win. The benefit of the latter approach is you get draft capital or prospect capital, and a cleaner cap sheet going forward.