We’re midway through October! The draft and free agency are behind us! Who knows when hockey will return?

As we wait, let’s dive into the mailbag, folks!

Short-term first: Let’s operate under the assumption that the 2020-21 schedule is 60 games and consists primarily of stretches of back-to-back games, three games in four nights, and four games in five nights. Whenever the schedule is laid out, the Flames will sit down, carve out a plan, and then communicate with Markstrom and Rittich. I would expect the Markstrom start range to be 35-40 games and Rittich’s to be 20-25, give or take a few.

Now, long-term? Rittich isn’t going to be the long-term, undisputed starter in Calgary. Markstrom’s signing basically built a big neon sign outside Big Save Dave’s housing pronouncing that. Now, can he be a really good, well-paid secondary goalie here? Probably! But a lot of it depends on how this next season goes, how Rittich feels about the potential fit elsewhere, and how some of the Flames younger options look. Tyler Parsons is a project now and Dustin Wolf and Daniil Chechelev are both 19. Rittich could end up being a nice bridge to those kids, if he wants to be.

It’s being targeted for the week before the 2021 NHL Draft, but the timing of both of those events are very much up in the air and dependent on the 2020-21 NHL season schedule.

The current school of thought seems to be:

  • Mark Giordano & Rasmus Andersson
  • Noah Hanifin & Chris Tanev
  • Juuso Valimaki & either Oliver Kylington, Alex Petrovic, or a cheap right shot UFA they haven’t signed yet


Pat and I talked about this a bit during Friday’s FlamesNation Live on Facebook, but the Flames feel they have a good group that has the talent to go on a run. And that window is basically the next two years, because there’s probably going to be a flat salary cap (for awhile) and here’s the contracts that are up following the 2021-22 season:

  • Johnny Gaudreau ($6.75 million) – UFA
  • Matthew Tkachuk ($7 million) – RFA
  • Andrew Mangiapane ($2.425 million) – RFA
  • Mark Giordano ($6.75 million) – UFA

That’s the team’s three biggest deals coming up all at once (and Mangiapane), representing about $23 million of cap space or 28% of the total cap. Giordano will be 38 when his deal expires and probably won’t get as large a deal, but there’s going to be some huge fundamental decisions that need to be made about the Flames roster construction and cap management.

Adding Markstrom ends Brad Treliving’s annual phone calls to every other GM in the league about goaltending, and adding Tanev gives the Flames some depth. But neither really changes the 2022 challenges and decisions they’ll need to make.

I’m not sure what “next season” refers to, so let’s do both possibilities:

  • 2020-21: 90% odds that both are on the roster
  • 2021-22: 50% odds that both are on the roster

(We got a lot of roster questions expressing concern about the top six.)

Completely based on chatter and how much they’ve tinkered lately, I’d throw out Philadelphia, Minnesota, Columbus, and perhaps New Jersey.

(We got a lot of roster questions expressing concern about the bottom six.)

Honestly, the moves the Flames have at their disposal are probably low-risk signings of penalty killing forwards to replace Tobias Rieder. Beyond that, barring somebody getting moved out there’s simply no spots among forwards and no cap space among the entire roster to work with.

Two things led the Flames to sign Chris Tanev rather than retain TJ Brodie:

  • The Flames were focused on re-signing Jacob Markstrom as their top priority, so Brodie’s camp when looking at their other options.
  • By the time the Flames were done with Markstrom, Brodie had signed with Toronto for a $350,000 raise. Given the Flames’ cap situation, it’s difficult to see how they would’ve fit Brodie (at a $5 million cap hit) and so Tanev fit their cap situation better.

As for why they liked Tanev? The Flames’ blueline has a bunch of young, offensive-minded guys – Andersson’s 23, Hanifin’s 23, Kylington is 23, Valimaki is 22 – and Tanev brings some veteran leadership and more of a defensive style. Effectively, he replaces Hamonic on the second pairing and Brodie and Hamonic in the locker room.

Nate Schmidt is a bit younger, a left shot, a $5.95 million cap hit, and more offensive-minded. Even if the Flames had a crack at him in a trade, it’s not clear if he’d scratch the itch that management appeared to have.