The Stanley Cup Final is underway! The Cup will be handed out sometime in the next 10 days, and then expect all heck to break loose in terms of trades, signings, and general chaos.

Let’s check out the mailbag!

Mark Jankowski was the Flames’ first round pick in 2012. He signed an entry level deal back in 2016. He’s played four pro seasons and is 26-years-old. He’s a pending restricted free agent whose qualifying offer would be $1.75 million.

Based on Jankowski being a fourth line center – and a healthy scratch for a good chunk of the playoffs – it seems probable that he won’t be qualified. That’s not to say he’s not a useful depth piece, but it’s likely that having Sam Bennett as a regular center would be better for the Flames long term and Glenn Gawdin would probably be close to as effective as Jankowski for significantly cheaper.

In a flat cap world, Jankowski as a depth piece is just too pricey for the Flames.

With six picks in the upcoming draft, it seems basically a guarantee that the Flames will try to grab a right shot skater of some kind. They have very few of them in the entire organization and likely feel they need a lot more of them.

There’s good and bad to trades and free agency when it comes to this off-season.

For free agents, you don’t give up assets – you just have to sign them and pay them. With so damn many goalies seemingly available (and a flat cap), that might keep salary asks reasonable. But if you’re the Flames, you might have a design to shake up your cap structure a bit with a trade, and the prospect of getting a good goalie already signed to an existing deal seems appealing. (But it does punt the “Who’s the top goalie?” football down the field quite a bit, again.)

Based on Brad Treliving’s track record with UFAs, a trade probably gives the club what they want and potentially creates some cap flexibility.

Yes, at some point. But how many fans get into how many games, and when they start showing up, is anybody’s guess at this point.

Here’s the list of teams with (a) their higher-paid goalie going UFA and (b) a probable protection spot in the expansion draft available for Markstrom:

  • Calgary ($16.910m cap space)
  • Chicago ($6.043m cap space)
  • Detroit ($34.675m cap space)
  • Ottawa ($39.596m cap space)
  • Philadelphia ($7.835m cap space)
  • Vancouver ($14.298m cap space)
  • Washington ($8.900m cap space)

If he wants to get paid, Detroit and Ottawa are flush with cap space. If he wants to win, Vancouver, Washington and Philadelphia look good. Calgary is somewhere in the middle, arguably. The fact that the Flames have so damn many friendly Swedes may help the Flames, though.

From a pure salary cap perspective, it’s easier to fit in, say, Taylor Hall, if you aren’t also paying Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan upwards of $6 million per season. With them it’s doable, but only if the back half of the roster is filled up with inexpensive depth players.

I’m admittedly a big fan of the draft as a developmental tool, having covered two of the last three on-site, and I’m on-site for most Calgary Hitmen home games. This draft class is really, really good, and the Flames could really add to their depth with some good early picks. With a flat cap for the next few seasons, grabbing a player or two who can jump onto the NHL roster in a couple years could be a huge boon for a team that would really like to push themselves to the next level.

I’m on Team Keep The Pick.

I like Dumba, and adding him to Calgary’s top four would be good – Mark Giordano, Dumba, Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin sounds pretty solid.

But take away Sean Monahan, and suddenly Elias Lindholm is a full-time center and the Flames have zero right shot wingers with NHL experience on their roster. Or Lindholm stays on the wing and the Flames’ center depth looks super, super lean.

Basically, trading Monahan for Dumba trades one problem (defensive depth) for another (center depth).