The most important move of the Calgary Flames’ off-season was never going to be a trade, draft pick or unrestricted free agent signing. Rather, the Flames’ biggest transactions of the summer were always set to be the signings of Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary’s two bright, young stars who were both restricted free agents this off-season.
The Flames have taken care of the former, inking Monahan to a seven-year, $44.625-million deal, and they’re working on getting Gaudreau’s deal done. According to Flames GM Brad Treliving, the Flames have “every confidence” that they can find common ground with Gaudreau, but Monahan took it one step further, making it clear that he believed Gaudreau would be signed without missing a minute of action.
“It takes time,” Monahan said, via NHL.com’s Aaron Vickers. “I’m positive he’s going to be here for Oct. 12 and be playing for the Calgary Flames. I’m not worried about it. Brad is doing his work on that part. I’m just looking forward to getting off to the World Cup and playing with him there, and continue that chemistry into the season.” Read more
The Calgary Flames have never shown anything but confidence when it came to getting Sean Monahan locked up to a long-term deal, and that was with good reason as the club announced Friday that they’ve finalized a seven-year pact with Monahan.
Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the contract will reportedly pay Monahan $6.375 million per season, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. That means Monahan is set to earn $44.625 million over the lifetime of the contract.
For Flames GM Brad Treliving, getting Monahan locked up to a deal that stayed below $6.5 million is an outstanding move and it’s the right salary at the right time for Monahan. It puts his cap hit in the same range as Filip Forsberg, Mark Scheifele and Nathan MacKinnon, three major restricted free agents who were in similar situations before signing contracts extensions earlier this off-season. Read more
It’s the middle of August and most of the NHL’s personnel decisions have been made. Sure, we’re waiting on Jimmy Vesey and Kris Russell, but the most irritating situation out there must be in Calgary, where the Flames are still in negotiations with their two best forwards, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. So what’s the hold up?
Matthew Tkachuk’s absence from Team USA’s National Junior Evaluation Camp may have raised some eyebrows at first, but the 18-year-old winger is a lock to make the team regardless of his participation. That is, if he’s even given the opportunity to go to the tournament by the Calgary Flames.
Tkachuk, who was selected sixth-overall in the June draft, was one of the most highly touted prospects come draft time and is coming off of nearly a year straight of on-ice action. From evaluation camp the year prior to the end of the Memorial Cup, Tkachuk played 86 games last season. That’s not including scrimmages at evaluation camps, practices in the OHL or any other exhibition contests. With that in mind, Flames assistant GM Craig Conroy told the Calgary Sun’s Kristen Odland that Tkachuk’s absence from the on-ice portion was expected.
“It was kind of the plan,” Conroy told Odland. “We just want to make sure he’s 100 percent ready to go. He could have easily played but even USA Hockey said, ‘We know what he’s all about and that’s it.’ He looks great, we’ve seen him but this is just to give him a bit of a breather.” Read more
The suspension saga for Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman still doesn’t have a conclusion with the NHL seeking to have the neutral arbitrator’s decision to reduce the suspension to 10 games vacated. That may be the least important news about the incident, though, as it sounds as though linesman Don Henderson may be lost from the officiating ranks.
Henderson, who was on the receiving end of the hit that led to Wideman’s 20-game suspension, reportedly underwent surgery to repair damage done from the incident. According to the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont, Henderson’s surgery was to repair “two ruptured disks in his neck,” and the surgery could have a terrible result for the 47-year-old linesman.
Dupont spoke with one of Henderson’s fellow referees, who said the linesman’s career could be over. Read more
Brian Elliott has never appeared in more than 55 games in an entire campaign, but after five stellar seasons, the Calgary Flames are finally giving him the opportunity to prove that he can be a true No. 1 netminder in the league. And Elliott couldn’t be more excited.
During his Flames introductory press conference Wednesday, Elliott, 31, said that goaltenders want to be wanted, and it’s not hard to understand why he may have felt as though he was never meant to be anything more than a part-time starter in St. Louis. When the Flames sent a second- and conditional third-round pick to the Blues ahead of the draft to acquire Elliott, it made it clear that Calgary views Elliott as the full-time starter. It will be his first shot at the role, too.
Though he spent the past five seasons as part of the Blues, the first three years in St. Louis were spent sharing the net with Jaroslav Halak. And when Elliott was finally starting to look like he could take the job from Halak on a nightly basis, the Blues dealt for Ryan Miller, who stayed no longer than one post-season run. Miller’s exit was followed by the emergence of Jake Allen and Elliott was again sharing starting duties. But while all of this was happening around him, Elliott continued to put up better numbers than any of his goaltending partners without being handed the full-time reins.
“There’s only one net out there and both guys want to play,” Elliott said. “That’s what’s tough about trying to be a good partner and a good teammate when both guys want to be in the net. You don’t make it to this level without treating every practice, treating every workout, treating every game like a No. 1 goaltender. I like to say you’re selling yourself short if you’re just going out there to be a backup.
“It’s something that I’ve worked hard for my whole career. Just to get that opportunity, that’s all you want. It’s what you do with that opportunity.” Read more
It should really come as no surprise that of the 25 players who were slated to go to salary arbitration this summer, none has actually sat in front of the arbitrator and 22 of them have resulted in contract resolutions. That’s pretty much the standard these days.
And it should also come as no surprise if the remaining three are resolved well in advance of their hearings. Well, except Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche, largely because we have no idea what Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy are thinking these days. He actually might end up going. He’s slated for Thursday. (Martin Marincin of the Toronto Maple Leafs is scheduled for Aug. 2 and Michael Stone of the Arizona Coyotes is on the docket for Aug. 4.)
Playoff turnover is a hallmark of the NHL’s salary cap era. It’s rare to see a single franchise entrenched in a contending position for decades at a time. The Detroit Red Wings are the remarkable exception. Typically, we see plenty of playoff squads slide out of the picture from one season to the next, while several also-rans sneak back into the big dance.
Five Canadian teams qualified for the playoffs in 2014-15, and all five missed in 2015-16. The Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets slipped out, replaced by the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars. The 2015-16 playoff picture consisted of 31.25 percent “new” teams. That’s down from 43.75 percent the year prior but still constitutes significant turnover.
Chances are, it’ll happen again in 2016-17. Which recent qualifiers might slip out of the post-season and which might claw their way back in?