Three prominent members of the Calgary Flames 2024 UFA class are leaning towards not re-signing
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing2 months ago
A huge summer could be ahead hours south of Edmonton as three prominent members of the Calgary Flames’ 2024 UFA class are leaning towards not re-signing with the team.
The news comes a year after the team lost Johnny Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets and a subsequent blockbuster trade sent Matthew Tkachuk to Florida.
Now, according to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, forwards Mikael Backlund and Elias Lindholm are both leaning towards not re-signing with the team. Defenceman Noah Hanifin, meanwhile, has reportedly made clear to the team he has no desire to re-sign with the team.
In Lindholm’s case, Seravalli reported that the Flames “rolled out the red carpet” with an offer to keep him with the club. There’s be no definitive response, but Seravalli added that “general league speculation” is that he’s leaning towards moving on.
When it comes to Backlund, one of the longest-serving members of the team playing in Calgary for 15 years, his lean towards not re-signing comes as a “bit of a surprise,” Seravalli reported.
Hanifin’s desire, meanwhile, is clear in that he wants to move on from the team. Seravalli noted that while it doesn’t guarantee a trade, Calgary knows where he definitively stands.
The news is significant for the Flames. Losing Gaudreau at the last minute to Columbus stung the franchise leaving them stunned, and they tried to recoup as many assets as possible when it came to flipping Tkachuk to the Panthers for a conditional first round draft pick in 2025, Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar and prospect Cole Schwindt.
While on the surface the deal appeared to be a steal for the Flames, who subsequently signed Huberdeau and Weegar to long-term deals as the Panthers did the same for Tkachuk, it turned out to be anything but. Huberdeau and Weegar both struggled in Calgary in their first year, while Tkachuk played a significant role in helping the Cats reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but it appears now that the Flames would’ve been better off opting for a rebuild and a tank for a top draft pick. Even if they weren’t able to land the top overall selection and the ability to transform their franchise overnight with Connor Bedard, there’s more than enough tremendous prospects at the top of the class.
Even if the Tkachuk trade happened the way that it did, the Flames surely could’ve gotten a significant ransom for the services of Huberdeau and Weegar, who at the time were coming off strong seasons for the Panthers. Now they — along with Nazem Kadri — appear to be sunken costs, at least for the time being.
The smart money says Huberdeau and Weegar likely have some rebound in their game and will look to do so under new head coach Ryan Huska, but the season Kadri had helping the Colorado Avalanche win the cup — one that helped earn him his seven-year, $7-million AAV deal — appears to be a one-off.
Nonetheless, this summer is about to get interesting in Calgary. With Hanifin making clear his desire to move on, I’d be willing to bet he’s someone who will be on the move this off-season. He carries a cap hit of $4.95-million for next season.
And when it comes to Lindholm and Backlund, those are two significant pieces for any team. Lindholm costs $4.85-million against the cap, while Backlund $5.35-million. If the Flames were willing to eat money on these players, it would certainly up their trade value.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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