Trade rumours, draft projections and free-agency anticipation fuel the NHL world this time of year, on top of watching who will emerge as this year’s Stanley Cup champion.
Some Calgary Flames-related tidbits to chew over:
Heat is on
Space race: The Los Angeles Kings have cleared some salary-cap space in their recent three-way trade with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Should their cap-strapped Pacific Division foes — namely the Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights — be worried? Maybe.
The Kings do need to look at maybe re-signing goalie Joonas Korpisalo, who will soon become an unrestricted free agent. They will also need to give forward Gabe Vilardi a healthy raise from his $825,000 salary last season.
They’ll need to secure an NHL-calibre goalie in any event to pair with Pheonix Copley. Still, they have about $7 million in cap room following the big trade.
I won’t even mention Anze Kopitar’s $10M annual salary will come off the books next summer. If Kopitar keeps playing and re-signs with the Kings, it won’t be for that number. Summer 2024 is when things would get interesting with all that additional cap space and with the likes of Adrian Kempe, Kevin Fiala and Phillip Danault already locked into long-term contracts.
Backs’s got heart: Flames veteran Mikael Backlund is a finalist for the NHL’s King Clancy trophy, given annually to the player who shows leadership on and off the ice and contributes positively to the community.
Crease-Wrangling: The Calgary Flames signed Oscar Dansk to a new one-year, two-way deal by the Flames. Because someone’s got to patrol Calgary’s AHL crease next season if Dustin Wolf sticks on the NHL roster.
Stanley Cup final
Vegas Golden Knights: Bruce Cassidy still feels the sting from being fired by the Boston Bruins a year ago and is relieved he doesn’t have to face his former squad in the Cup final as head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Florida Panthers: Head coach Paul Maurice is hopeful defenceman Radko Gudas will suit up for tonight’s Game 3 after leaving Tuesday’s loss following a punishing hit by Golden Knights forward Ivan Barbashev.
Across the NHN network
Philadelphia Flyers: Trade-rumour chatter surrounding starting goalie Carter Hart is starting to reach a fever pitch.
Montreal Canadiens: The Flyers showed with their recent involvement in a blockbuster trade with the Blue Jackets and the Kings why the Habs shouldn’t spend big in free agency this year.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Dave Molinari details why these six Pens players in Steeltown should improve next season.
New York Islanders: The Flames’ Mikael Backlund has competition for the NHL’s King Clancy trophy: Isles captain Anders Lee is also a finalist. Edmonton Oilers blueliner Darnell Nurse rounds out the field.
Stuff around the NHL
2 for The Show or no?: Adam Fantilli, projected to become the second player taken in the NHL Draft later this month after consensus top pick Connor Bedard, hasn’t decided whether he’ll turn pro after he’s picked or if he’ll return to U.S. college hockey for another season with the University of Michigan.
Fuel dump?: NHL insider reports the Winnipeg Jets are exploring trade possibilities for three key players: Pierre-Luc Dubois, Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele.
Debrin-cut: Ottawa Senators forward Alex DeBrincat has submitted a list of teams to which he would approve a trade, says another league insider.