The Calgary Flames have inked their final restricted free agent, signing Connor Mackey to a two-year contract. The deal will carry an average annual value of $912,500. Mackey was eligible for salary arbitration but decided not to file. CapFriendly reports that both years of the contract are actually two-way, with Mackey earning $150K at the AHL level in 2021-22 and $175K in 2022-23.
Mackey, 24, was an undrafted free agent signing by the Flames out of Minnesota State-Mankato in 2020, after several NHL teams showed interest in him. He made his NHL debut in 2020-21, playing six games, but spent most of the year at the AHL level with the Stockton Heat. In 27 games for the Heat, he registered 16 points, the exact kind of offensive production that made him so intriguing coming out of college.
Standing 6’2″ with good skating ability, there’s reason to believe that Mackey could secure a full-time spot on the bottom pairing in Calgary this season. The team has bid farewell to captain Mark Giordano, opening up plenty of minutes to be spread around. While he’s certainly not guaranteed any playing time, Mackey’s direct competition is players like Oliver Kylington and Andy Welinski, not players that have done anything to lock up the job so far.
Interestingly enough though, Mackey’s waiver status may actually end up leaving him on the outside looking in when the season begins. Of the defensemen in contention for the last few spots, he’s the only one that is still waiver-exempt and can go to the minor leagues without issue. Kylington and Welinski have both cleared in the past, but depending on how the Flames want to deal with their cap situation, Mackey could end up being bounced up and down through much of this season.