Flames salary-cap dump targets? Martin Necas trade ideas? Mailbag

It is a tough time to be a Calgary Flames fan.

In addition to the team trying to make sense of its roster and future, this year’s Stanley Cup Final features its rowdy northern neighbour and a handful of former Flames in Florida Panthers colours. While some fans have latched onto Florida’s bandwagon — “Canada’s team” be damned! — we won’t blame you for not having any rooting interest in either team.

We are, however, thankful you still chipped in questions for our monthly Flames mailbag — even if you’re trying to wait out the nuclear spring like that one commenter who advised other fellow fans to hide in their underground shelters.

Note: Submitted questions may be edited for clarity and style.

What is a realistic trade & extension for Martin Necas and how does that fit with the reload timeline? — Jeffrey M.

For those who haven’t read it, here’s an article I wrote a few weeks ago about whether or not the Flames should trade for Necas. It covers the extension talk and whether or not he fits into the Flames’ timeline. (Spoiler alert: He could, but if he doesn’t fit or surpass his potential, that’s a lot of money to commit to. The advanced stats also say it might not be worth the contract.)

Since that piece, my outstanding colleagues Shayna Goldman and Harman Dayal outlined what a trade could look like. You’re either flipping one restricted free agent/young talent for another (think Casey Mittelstadt for Bowen Byram) or for a first-round pick and a prospect. The Carolina Hurricanes would rather have an established player, so I’m inclined to think they’d rather pick the first option.

The Flames have potential trade pieces in pending UFAs like Yegor Sharangovich, Andrei Kuzmenko and Andrew Mangiapane, but I’m not sure any of those players move the needle. I also wonder if the Canes would prefer a defenceman instead. But I don’t see the Flames making themselves weaker by making that trade.

One idea I thought of: Sharangovich (or Mangiapane, or even Kuzmenko) and the Flames’ second of their two first-round picks (No. 28) in exchange for Necas. The Flames would turn the lowest of their two picks into an established NHL player with a higher ceiling and part ways with an expiring contract in the process.

But I’m not convinced that gets done. Not with the number of teams interested and the potential asking price jumping up. I also don’t think the Flames should be parting with prospects to make this work.


Martin Necas trade destinations: 11 teams that could (or should) be interested

Do the Panthers make back-to-back Cup appearances — even one trip to the Cup — if Matthew Tkachuk had been traded to St. Louis and Jonathan Huberdeau remained a Panther? If the Panthers hoist Stanley this month, should Brad Treliving get his name etched on the cup? — Anonymous 

It’s funny to see this year’s Panthers looking as dominant as they’ve been. They squeaked into the playoffs last year and turned it into a surprise Cup Final run. Since then, they’ve turned themselves into a proven Cup contender in the Atlantic Division two years after they won the Presidents’ Trophy.

But what if those Panthers didn’t make the playoffs? They needed a six-game winning streak to push them into the postseason — right after Matthew’s dad, Keith, called the Panthers out on TSN Radio in March 2023. If Tkachuk had gone to St. Louis, maybe 101 ESPN in St. Louis would have gotten that phone call from Keith. And there’s no guarantee the Blues make it out of the Western Conference either with Vegas, Edmonton and Colorado looking like beasts. So, I’ll say no to the Panthers and add a big question mark to St. Louis’ hopes. But hey, maybe the Panthers still find a way to build a roster that gets them there anyway? We’ll never know.

As for the second part of your question, that is only if the Buffalo Sabres get the same credit. (Hello, Sam Reinhart, Brandon Montour, Evan Rodrigues and Kyle Okposo.)

If we started pouring through every mistake a GM made for every championship team, very few of them would go unblemished. But yes, Treliving parting ways with Tkachuk and Sam Bennett — and Florida maximizing their roles — played a massive role in the Panthers’ success.

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Could the Flames be interested in shopping Rasmus Andersson? (Sergei Belski / USA Today)

Would you trade away a player like Rasmus Andersson to get another top-10 pick in this year’s draft? What could that trade potentially look like? — Prajeya P. 

If I wanted to move on from Andersson and I wanted a top-10 pick in this year’s draft, I’d target teams like Utah, Ottawa and Seattle who want a defenceman to make the playoffs. But I’d also seek a fair return for a defenceman who has meant so much to the team and fan base.

He’s a top-pairing, right-shot, all-situations defender with a $4.5 million AAV that runs through 2026. I’d imagine some teams would be interested if the Flames were actively shopping him. I’m not inclined to think they are at this time, however. We can always re-evaluate if a better deal comes along or if we get closer to his contract expiring in 2026.

I also don’t think any of the teams mentioned above would be eager to make that move when they could get a much younger prospect on a cost-effective contract for the next few seasons through the draft.

But if I changed places with Flames GM Craig Conroy, I would at least consider it if the offer was right. However, I’d also rather get a younger player who could help the team sooner rather than later.

What are some cap dump useful players around the league that teams with cap troubles would incentivize another team to take off their hands? I’m thinking of veteran guys that the Flames could target to round out the roster like a centre and a defender (as long as they come with some picks or prospects). For example, what would the Flames need back to take on a contract like Pierre-Luc Dubois? — Perry L. 

If I’m a GM, I’m not as crazy about having Dubois on my team right now thanks to his contract that’ll pay him through 2031 — even if I’m being offered sweeteners. No thanks.

You should target cap dumps with shorter-term contract lengths if you’re the Flames. If they work out on your team, maybe you consider re-signing them. But more likely than not, you’ve accumulated an asset you can flip in a subsequent deal. Think of the Sean Monahan trade between Calgary and Montreal two summers ago (sorry).

Patrik Laine, whose contract expires in 2026, is a better example than Dubois. Despite the remaining term, taking him on would be much more palatable if the Columbus Blue Jackets were willing to throw in a good prospect or a high draft pick. His $8.7 million AAV can fit under the Flames’ current cap structure, but his AAV with salary retained would be preferable. More importantly, I hope he’s doing well after his time in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.

Toronto’s John Tavares is someone else I’d think of. His cap hit is expensive at $11 million, but it would only be for one season if you accommodated him. Also, his actual salary will be under $8 million according to CapFriendly. The Leafs are also in win-now mode, so it’s not out of the possibility they package a high pick or prospects to move the contract and make the cap space.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Ryan Johansen is another example. He’ll be a UFA in 2025 and he’s currently on a team with less than $1 million in cap space. He’s already carrying a cheaper cap hit at $4 million, so even the Flames wouldn’t be too hampered by keeping him on their roster for a season.

Will, and should, the Flames sign a UFA defenceman or trade for and sign a restricted free-agent defenceman? Or should they almost “gift” an NHL spot to one of the young guys like Ilya Solovyov, Jérémie Poirier or others? And why was Daniil Miromanov re-signed at a relatively high $1.25 million AAV, two-year deal? — Marty C. 

Yes. To all of this.

I’m not opposed to the Flames signing a UFA defenceman who could shore up their top four and play alongside Oliver Kylington (provided he’s re-signed). If the Flames feel they’re better off trading for a young defenceman to fit the bill, that’s even better than signing an older player through free agency. As long as it fits their modus operandi of getting younger and giving talent a better opportunity on the Flames.

So, what does that do for the younger Flames defencemen vying for roster spots? Let them fight for a spot in training camp and one player can impress you there. Right now, I’m not sure which of them are primary candidates to start the season in Calgary next year. Poirier needs more games to feel like himself after a tough season in which he battled numerous injuries. I think Solovyov needs more time before he can become an NHL regular. Hunter Brzustewicz will benefit from learning the pro game at the American League level after a successful OHL season.

As for Miromanov? I don’t hate the deal. It’s a low-risk bet on a defenceman coming off significant knee surgery who may have some upside to provide at the age of 26. The Flames could do worse than signing a player to an AAV higher than $1.25 million.

(Top photo of Patrik Laine and Dan Vladar: Leah Hennel / Getty Images)

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