When Milan Lucic suddenly trends on social media, you have to wonder if the Calgary Flames are on the brink of making a move, or the masses are just getting restless.
Lucic was a strong piece of the leadership core in Calgary last season. And while his salary-cap hit is a significant burden, it comes off the books next year and largely eats up the big Jonathan Huberdeau raise.
There’s no urgent need to move him.
Unless they’re looking to add another larger salary, of course.
We know the Calgary Flames are looking to compete for a Stanley Cup sooner and worry about the later … later.
It would have been easy to focus on a rebuild after being faced with losing two 100-point players a week apart to start the free agent season. But by bringing Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar aboard in the Matthew Tkachuk deal, Flames GM Brad Treliving made a statement.
And a statement made by Huberdeau after he signed an $84-million extension to add another eight years to his stay with the Calgary Flames might have been an Easter egg for what else might happen this summer.
“He wants to build a good team; he wants to go get players,” Huberdeau said of his dinner with Treliving.
The second part of that sentence has gone largely unnoticed. He wants to go get players.
Will Flames make another big trade or impact signing?
At the time, that might have meant centre Nazem Kadri, the top prize of what’s left on the UFA market. But there’s a belief he may already be committed to the New York Islanders, with GM Lou Lamoriello notorious for waiting until all his cap tinkering is done before announcing the moves.
A more cap-friendly centre could be Paul Stastny, but is he any better than Mikael Backlund? Will he take third-line centre money and battle a wounded Sean Monahan for playing time?
Barring that, there are others who offer potential. But perhaps no more than what the Calgary Flames already have internally. Recently renewed Andrew Mangiapane, Dillon Dube, or prospects Jakob Pelletier and Matthew Phillips could make an impact.
They could also go the trade route, where Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane’s days may soon be numbered with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Perhaps the Isles are forced to move Josh Bailey or Anthony Beauvillier to fit Kadri into the lineup.
Tyler Bertuzzi is entering a contract year following a career season and might be pried from the Red Wings.
Christian Dvorak and Josh Anderson have been rumoured to be on the block in Montreal.
And with Lucic’s name trending on social media on Friday, it’s clear the Calgary Flames are still top of mind as a team that still has some moves in the back pocket.
Some of these scenarios would mean relieving themselves of either Lucic or Monahan’s salary cap hit this season.
It’s entirely possible there’s some fire that could follow this social smoke. Nothing should come as surprising during one of the most tumultuous offseasons in Flames history.