There has been a lot of talk this offseason about who will be departing from the Calgary Flames next year. The Flames have several major players whose contracts expire next year, including Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. Flames fans have already had to deal with the sting of losing some of their favourites, and odds are more will come. However, with players departing comes cap space, and next year’s crop of free agents is world-class.
The Flames will have room to maneuver next year, and any gambling site would project them to be big movers and shakers. But who should they acquire? Let’s look at some free agents next offseason that the Flames could target if they want to stay competitive.
Connor Hellbuyck seems deeply unhappy on the Winnipeg Jets, and it looks likely he will not return to Winnipeg next year. Adding someone who is a consistent odds leader for the Vezina on Canadian betting sites would be a big deal. While the Flames have Jacob Markstrom and Dustin Wolf, Markstrom has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career, and Wolf may need a few more years before he’s ready to take over. If the Flames can find a way to get out of Markstrom’s contract, it would open up enough cap space for the team that they’d be able to go in on the Hellebuyck sweepstakes. Adding an elite, consistent goaltender would make this team much more dangerous.
William Nylander has said he wants to stay in Toronto, but it might be tough for the Maple Leafs to keep the whole band together and not surge past the cap. If that is the case, the Flames will certainly look into Nylander. Nylander is fresh off a career year with 87 points and 40 goals. He will be 28 in the offseason and still have several excellent years ahead. If the Flames want to create a dynamic first-line pairing with Huberdeau, Nylander is a sniper and an excellent option.
Jake Guentzel has had a wildly underrated career. He has been nearly a point-per-game player since 2018 and is a noted playoff performer. There have been some injuries, but if he hits the open market, expect teams to open their wallets. The Flames will certainly be a team that will kick the tires on Guentzel, and they’d probably have good odds of selling him on the city. Guentzel will be 29 in the offseason and probably will want out of Pittsburgh, who seems destined for a rebuild.
The Flames need help on the backend after a terrible season last year where the puck ended up behind the goalie too often. Toews would be a major salve to this issue. Toews has been a huge piece of the Colorado Avalanche’s success, but it is clear that they might not be able to afford him. A trade has even been discussed. If the Flames could get in on the Toews talks, that’d be a huge deal. He is listed as one of the top contenders for the Norris on sports betting odds and is an elite do-it-all defenceman. Adding him to this roster would be a major step forward.
Brandon Montour broke out majorly last season, with 73 points in the regular season and 13 in the playoffs. Now, Montour looks like an elite puck-moving defenceman with goalscoring abilities, and he will get paid on the open market. His frenetic style of play would add a major element to the Flames’ backend, and they will probably look into acquiring his services. He’ll need to show this season that it wasn’t just a flash in the pan.