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Four Reasons That the Calgary Flames Should NOT Trade for Martin Nečas

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Martin Necas Flames Hurricanes

Ok. You read the title. Put your pitchforks and torches down for just a minute. Let’s catch up.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman made waves throughout the hockey community on Friday when he weighed in on what he believes to be the next course of action for the recently eliminated Carolina Hurricanes during a particularly loaded May 17 episode of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast.

Friedman touched on topics such as retaining head coach Rod Brind’Amour, forwards Seth Jarvis and Teuvo Teravainen, and, perhaps spiciest of all, what happens next with star center Martin Nečas.

“Nečas, I have believed for some time. That one, to me, just probably won’t work out there. I just don’t think they’re gonna do what Nečas wants to do.”

Calgary Flames enter stage right.

With a tidy $19,824,167 in cap space and only Oliver Kylington, Nikitia Okhotiuk, and perhaps AJ Greer to resign, Flames general manager Craig Conroy has a world of options this summer when it comes to improving his team.

He can try to bring back Chris Tanev. Maybe bring in an agitating mentor for Martin Pospisil in the form of Tyler Bertuzzi.

Jack Roslovic or Anthony Duclair would add some much-needed speed to the forward ranks.

Or, Conroy could swing big on Martin Nečas.

Martin Nečas

The 25 year old from Nove Mesto na Morave, Czechia, brings an enticing combination of speed and skill. His ability to change speeds, read defences, and utilize space in tight are high-end.

 

 

Martin’s bread-and-butter wrist shot has a lightning-quick release – but doesn’t generally astound in velocity. The 12th overall pick in 2017 opts to carefully pick where he’s shooting as opposed to rocketing it at the net and hoping to find a seam.

Fresh off a 24 goal, 29 assist season in 2023-2024, Nečas makes a strong case to earn more money and deployment.

53 points may not be superstar-level production, but that may be explained by a couple of factors.

One, Nečas’ most common linemates this season were Michael Bunting and Jack Drury. Two, an upper body injury had Martin on the ropes in January. The high-speed all-position forward missed six games between Jan. 2 and 19 and likely had some physio homework to take home even after he returned to play.

His 2022-2023 season may be what Nečas and his representation use as a point of contention when defining what his annual average value when negotiating a new contract as a restricted free agent this offseason.

A 28 goal, 71 point season certainly paints a more optimistic picture when it comes to future production.

The primary difference between campaigns was deployment. Bunting and Drury certainly have value as hard workers who can score, but they simply do not compare to being saddled with Andrei Svechnikov for most of the previous season. The two played over 461:40 together in 2022-2023 before factoring in line change variance, adding or taking a minute here and there.

In 2023-2024? Svech and Nečas played a mere 163:07 together.

OK. Great player. Seemingly a perfect fit for the aggressive transition style that Ryan Huska is going for. What’s the problem?

Well, there are four problems.

 

#1: The Contract

Nečas requires a new contract this summer after completing a two-year, six million dollar deal that firmly falls into the prove me category.

With two +40 point seasons and heavy deployment as a center, Martin had already proven that he was worth more than $3,000,000 per year. With a 71 point season under his belt and a decent playoffs (four goals, five assists for nine points in 11 games) this postseason, it is time to pay Martin Nečas.

It appears that Owner Tom Dundon and the Hurricanes aren’t sure about backing up the Brinks truck just yet.

“Alright, but he’s an RFA. Just qualify him at $3,500,000 and kick it down the road.”

Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, it won’t be that easy. Signing his first contract at 18 and completing his fourth NHL season in 2023 makes Nečas salary arbitration eligible.

Arbitration is an ugly process.

Teams will bring evidence to argue that the player isn’t worth as much as they claim they are. Players have left arbitration meetings in tears. Even if things are kept friendly, the result will be an arbitrator awarding a short-term deal primarily based on production comparables.

What AAV does Nečas project? Three players come to mind.

Nick Suzuki, had two +40 point seasons and a 61 point season to his name when he signed an eight year, $63,000,000 deal in 2021. The annual average value on the contract is $7,875,000. The deal buys up three UFA eligible seasons and maintains his rights until he’s 30.

Kevin Fiala broke out with the Minnesota Wild in 2021-2022, scoring 85 points. The then-25-year-old Swiss hadn’t scored more than 54 points before that. Much like the Hurricanes, Bill Guerin and the Wild were skeptical about going the distance after one solid season.

Fiala was dealt to the Kings and signed a seven year, $55,125,000 deal worth the same as Suzuki’s deal annually; $7,875,000.

That same exact number is no coincidence. Mr. President, the eagle has landed. We have an idea of what the precedent might be.

One more.

Arizona offensive wizard Clayton Keller was just 22 when he signed an eight year, $57,200,000 deal that averaged $7,150,000 annually until the summer of 2028. He had two 40 point seasons and a 65 point season on his record.

If Martin Nečas goes to arbitration, he will most likely get a one or two-year deal worth around $7,500,000 per season. Betano promo code. Once the deal concludes, he will be free to sign elsewhere as a UFA.

From a Flames perspective, you’re gambling big-time that Nečas will evolve into a first line player, his upper body injury is a thing of the past, and he’ll enjoy living and playing hockey in Calgary, Alberta. A seven or eight year deal would be signed before he had played a single game in a Flames sweater.

Sound familiar?

There’s another issue with handing out roughly 8-9% of the team’s salary to Martin Nečas.

 

#2: The Style

You won’t find anyone in the Hurricanes organization falling over themselves to classify Nečas’ game as “hard nosed”.

For those watching the playoffs this season, you may notice a recurring theme through almost two rounds:

Size pays, and the meaner your roster is, the better.

The second round of the Western Conference has been a bloodbath. If Martin Nečas is your go-to center in any given round, you’re not going to like the narratives starting to circulate by game three.

 

#3: The Cost

We talked about how much the contract would cost already. Then there is the matter of what it would require to trade for Martin Nečas out of Carolina.

Luckily, we have already defined precedent.

 

To LA

Kevin Fiala

To Minnesota

Brock Faber
2022 first-round pick (No. 19 – Liam Ohgren)

 

On the bright side, the Flames don’t have a prospect as good as Brock Faber they could give up for Nečas. That deal looks like the Steal of the Century in retrospect.

Faber ranked 6th in the NHL in ice time per game at 24:58 a night. At just 21 years old, the Maple Grove, Minnesota product generated Norris hype at points during the 2023-2024 campaign.

There is no way Nečas would cost that much, but a grade-A prospect and Vancouver’s first-round pick would surely be in play. For a team looking to accumulate draft capital, trading two high-quality futures would be a tough pill to swallow.

“Alright. We get it. You’re just a hater. You never want to see a Nečas Flames jersey.”

Not quite. In fact, the Flames really do need a faster lineup if they’re going to keep running a hard transition counterpunch offence- but there is one more reason not to bite on the prospect of acquiring the six-foot-two, 189-pound forward.

#4: The Timing

Prepare to groan as a Flames fan.

The age of 25 might be in perfect range for this strange, non-conventional “retool” that management and ownership are selling.

Skip the draft process. Here is your ready-made NHL star – kinda.

Add in that he’s a bit of an underrated Slavic hockey player with high-end puck skills (see: Sharangovich, Kuzmenko, Miromanov), and it’s hard to imagine that Conroy isn’t on the phone with Don Waddell talking price as you read this.

The issue is that if ownership and management truly want to compete, they will probably need to slash and burn for a few years.

Jerry-rigging expendable talent from competitors isn’t likely to produce a team that can compete with pedigreed, top five talent in a best-of-seven series.

Dallas has Heiskanen, Vegas has Eichel and Pietrangelo, Vancouver has Pettersen and Hughes, Edmonton… Edmonton. You get the point.

Bringing in Nečas right now would all but ensure that the Flames stay out of contention for a top five pick over the next three years.

 

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