By Robert Munnich
The Flames head into the 2022 free agent frenzy with more questions than answers. Regardless of what happens with Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames are going to need to fill out the bottom of their roster with a mix of internal prospects, trade targets and free agents.
The main qualities the Flames should be looking for in filling out the bottom of their roster is speed and affordability. It was evident in the Flames playoff losses to the Colorado Avalanche in 2019 and Edmonton Oilers in 2022 that they need to get faster.
Calgary also has to stop giving big money, big term contracts to aging, 30+ year old forwards who are on the downside of their careers. No more Troy Brouwer, James Neal or Blake Coleman deals. More times than not those deals turn into anchors on your salary cap. I would avoid players like Nazem Kadri, Evander Kane, Ondrej Palat, Ryan Strome, Ben Chiarot, etc.
Here is a list of fast, inexpensive forwards the Flames could target.
Josh Archibald – RW – Right Shot – 29 Years Old – 5’10, 176 Pounds
Archibald is an interesting candidate for the Flames to consider. He is coming off a tumultuous season with the Oilers after refusing to get vaccinated. He then contracted both COVID and myocarditis. Archibald was allowed to play at home and on the road after Archibald’s cardiologist gave him a medical exemption for the playoffs.
Because of Archibald’s 2021/22 drama filled season, he could be a perfect buy low option for the Flames. Archibald is one of the fastest skaters in the NHL, he’s very physical, and can play on a 3rd or 4th line. He has scored at a 10+ goal pace (over 82 games) in his last 3 full seasons and ranks 34th in penalty killing ice time from the 18/19 – 20/21 seasons.
Contract Estimate: 2 Years X $1,500,000 AAV
Tyler Motte – LW – Left Shot – 27 Years Old – 5’10, 192 Pounds
Tyler Motte is coming off a couple strong seasons, predominately with the Vancouver Canucks. His time with the Rangers was littered with injures in the regular season and playoffs.
Motte is a versatile forward who excels defensively and is a great penalty killer. He also has a little bit of offensive upside to his game and underrated skill. He has scored at a 10-goal pace (over 82 games) in every season since the 2018/2019. Motte would bring some much-needed speed, physicality, and ability to kill penalties to Calgary’s 4th line.
He has run into injury trouble over the last 4 seasons which should bring his AAV on a 2- or 3-year contract.
Contract Prediction: 2 Years X $2.150,000 AAV
Mattias Janmark C/LW – Left Shot – 29 Years Old – 6’1, 205 Pounds
The speedy, 29-year-old forward is coming off an underwhelming stint with the Vegas Golden Knights where he battled injuries and struggled to find a permanent role in the Vegas lineup. His value has diminished in amongst the 2022 crop of free agents. It’s not long ago that Janmark was worth a 2nd and 3rd round pick in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights.
There is some value in bringing in Janmark as he can player center and left wing. And he has proved he can produce some offence. I see an opportunity to buy low on a player who didn’t get a fair shot to thrive in Vegas.
Contract Prediction: 2 Years X $1,950,000 AAV
Wild Card – Noah Gregor – LW/C – Left Shot – 23 Years Old – 6’0, 190 Pounds
I wrote in depth about Noah Gregor last week. Check it out here.
The Flames would have to offer sheet Gregor as he is an RFA with the Sharks. San Jose is in cap hell and Gregor could be plucked from their roster. He finished last season strong and played well for Canada at the World Championships. He is fast and has a great shot. I see a lot of value in this player.
Contract Prediction: 2 Years X $1,386,489
The key for the Flames this free agent frenzy is to not sign another 30+ year old to a big money, big term contract. They can take advantage of teams in tight salary cap situations via trade if they want to make a move for a top 6 forward and top 4 defenseman. They need to be frugal with how they spend their money on free agents.