Gawdin, 24, will actually become a Group VI unrestricted free agent next summer should he fail to secure a full-time role in Calgary’s lineup this season. With just seven games under his belt to this point, that certainly isn’t a guarantee, though he has put up big numbers at the minor league level. Originally selected by the St. Louis Blues in 2015, Gawdin became one of the most dangerous offensive players in the WHL in 2017-18, scoring 56 goals and 125 points in just 67 games for the Swift Current Broncos. He led that team to the WHL championship and then took that success right into the professional ranks, posting seasons of 38 and 47 points in his first two years in the AHL.
Now, after making his debut but recording just one point in seven games, he’ll be in a battle for NHL playing time with several other depth forwards. The fact that the Flames brought in Trevor Lewis and Tyler Pitlick probably doesn’t help Gawdin’s cause, but he still could be in line for a roster spot.
Kirkland on the other hand is a longshot for any consistent playing time at the NHL level. The 25-year-old has yet to make his NHL debut after being the 62nd overall pick in 2014, and had just two goals in 16 games for the Stockton Heat last season. Kirkland is a good minor league player to have in the system and he potentially could bring some size to the bottom of the Flames lineup, but with the number of other forwards under contract, it seems unlikely he’ll break camp with the team.