With an early and somewhat shocking first-round exit in the playoffs, many feel that the Calgary Flames are likely to make some changes this season to continue building their team into a contender. With plenty of salary cap issues already upon the franchise, the Flames will likely have to move on or trade some of their players in order to free up some much-needed cap room.
In a roundtable discussion, Postmedia’s Danny Austin, Wes Gilbertson and Kristin Andersen suggested several of those players, with defenseman T.J. Brodie potentially being the top name on the list. The 28-year-old Brodie has been a solid defenseman in Calgary for years, but with the emergence of rookies Rasmus Anderson, Juuso Valimaki and Oliver Kylington, the team might be better served by trading Brodie for another top-six forward after the disastrous signing of James Neal. Brodie, who will still has one year remaining on the five-year, $23.2MM contract he signed in 2014 at an AAV of $4.65MM, might garner quite a bit of interest from teams that need to upgrade their defense.
Other suggestions of players who likely won’t be back included 37-year-old UFA goaltender Mike Smith, who might be let go to give David Rittich a chance to become the starting goaltender next season, and forward Michael Frolik, who has had issues with the team due to his lack of playing time this season.
- The Athletic’s Jesse Granger (subscription required) profiles the injury of Vegas Golden Knights forward Erik Haula, who suffered a gruesome knee injury on Nov. 6 that saw his season come to an end after appearing in just 15 games. Interesting enough, he was close to returning to Vegas’ lineup during the playoffs had the team not been eliminated by San Jose in the first round. “He was probably a week to 10 days away from being able to practice with the team, and maybe three weeks away from playing,” Vegas general manager George McPhee said. However, Haula will scale back his aggressive rehab after the Golden Knights’ exit and now has four months to get close to 100% to begin next season. He is already penciled in to center the team’s third line next to wingers Alex Tuch and KHL star Nikita Gusev next season, which should be one of the strongest third lines in the league.
- The San Jose Sharks were forced to play without one of their top players in Game 1 in Joe Pavelski. The veteran forward suffered an upper-body injury in Game 7 of their first-round series after he hit his head following being cross-checked by Vegas’ Cody Eakin. However, despite being without Pavelski against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1, head coach Peter DeBoer praised his replacement, Gustav Nyquist, who moved up to the team’s second line and scored a goal in the team’s 5-2 win over Colorado, according to Curtis Pashelka of The Mercury News. “I thought he was really good,” said DeBoer. “We’ve been waiting for that kind of impact. The effort has been there, but we haven’t had the impact on the game like we got last night, which is something he needs to build on and bring some more of.” Nyquist will continue to play on the second line until Pavelski is ready to return. Pavelski is currently listed as day-to-day.