It’s the last week of October and the Calgary Flames keep signing players! With new faces in town, it’s time to delve into this week’s edition of the mailbag.

Honestly, I think Jakob Pelletier (2019’s first rounder) has a chance next season (2021-22), with Emilio Pettersen (2018 sixth rounder) ad Dmitry Zavgorodniy (2018 seventh rounder) as dark horses. Basically, I think the small, speedy, smart wingers have a shot.

Probably, yeah.

If you’re the Flames, you probably don’t have the cap space to give Rittich a raise to stick around and with Jacob Markstrom now cemented as the top goalie, they can’t offer Rittich more than being 1B (or the clear-cut backup). They don’t have any strong internal candidates for the backup gig yet, but that’s not Rittich’s problem. If you’re Rittich, you’re hoping you can impress this season and then perhaps get a gig somewhere with a bit more upward mobility.

My guess is if we get divisional play to minimize travel in the regular season, we’ll see something similar in the playoffs with the same goal in mind and probably a playoff format grouping divisions together initially.

That said, it’s way too early to guess what hockey will look like when it returns.

Honestly, aside from cap-wise, it makes no sense from a hockey perspective to trade Derek Ryan right now. He’s a bit pricey for a third or fourth line centre, but he’s been excellent in his role and the Flames have a bunch of question marks behind him on the depth chart – Glenn Gawdin and Adam Ruzicka have zero combined NHL games.

And creating cap flexibility by trading Ryan only to blow it all on one signing would be counter-productive.

There hasn’t been much chatter in either direction for Kylington. He was qualified, so the Flames have his rights. And unfortunately for the Swede, he doesn’t have much leverage. There’s no time pressure for the Flames to sign him and with so many players on loan in Europe, there aren’t a lot of gigs for Kylington to go to Europe to pursue.

And so, we wait. I would imagine he signs a one-way deal for close to league minimum and begins the season, whenever it begins, as the seventh defender.

Honestly, if there’s any kind of pre-season I’d love to see Gaudreau and Monahan moved apart for a bit and tried out on different lines. Maybe Gaudreau-Bennett-Lindholm (in some combination) and Dube-Monahan-Lucic could be fun groupings to try out.

If by “next season” you mean 2021-22, I would say there’s a great chance. Kinnvall has been one of the top offensive defenders in the SHL over the couple seasons and it was a big coup for the Flames to get him. He was a coveted free agent league-wide.

I think we’ll see one (or both) of Bennett and Lindholm at centre for a good chunk of the season. Lindholm at centre pushes Monahan down the rotation a bit and makes it easier for the Flames to roll four lines and wear the opponent down.

Things would look something like this:

  • Gaudreau-Lindholm-Bennett
  • Mangiapane-Backlund-Tkachuk
  • Dube-Monahan-Lucic
  • Leivo-Ryan-Simon

(Man, that fourth line could be killer.)


The whole purpose of most of their moves this off-season has been lineup flexibility and depth. Valimaki also hasn’t played a wink in the NHL since the 2019 playoffs. They’re excited for him, but trading Hanifin before Valimaki plays any NHL games is crazy talk.

I’d expect Ward to be a bit more assertive with his lineup decisions now that he has a full-time gig and new contract. He seemed a bit too hesitant to make changes in the post-season. The roster changes that Brad Treliving has made seem aimed towards allowing Ward to mix-and-match new combinations more readily, as a lot of the new faces can play multiple roles and positions. It’ll be interesting to see what Ward does with the flexibility.