Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Free Agent Frenzy 2015: 12 UFA Possibilities the Flames May Be Eyeing

"I'd like to order a goalie, a defenceman and a forward."

"Got it. Your total comes to $27.2 million, please pay at the next window."

Last year on July 1 in his first trip to the NHL fast food restaurant Free Agent Frenzy, new Flames general manager Brad Treliving left the drive thru with Jonas Hiller (2Y/$9M), Deryk Engelland (3Y/$8.75M) and Mason Raymond (3Y/$9.45M).

That was a pretty expensive visit but he was hungry. With the spare change in his pocket, he then returned two days later and picked up the equivalent of a slice of garlic bread in defenceman Sena Acolatse (1Y/$700K NHL or $150K AHL).

When it comes to signing veteran NHL free agents over the last five years, Calgary has alternated between making significant moves and not. Here's a recap of notable players signed within the first two weeks of July 1 going back to 2010. This excludes the re-signing of players already with the team.

2014 - Busy - Signed Engelland, Raymond, Hiller
2013 - Quiet
2012 - Busy - Signed Jiri Hudler.
2011 - Quiet (Derek Smith and Guillaume Desbiens do not count as "notable")
2010 - Busy - Signed Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen, Tim Jackman

That trend would suggest this Wednesday could be a quiet one for Treliving and I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case. After all, he's just coming off a busy weekend at the draft in which he acquired Dougie Hamilton. Plus, he already signed two defencemen in the spring in Kenney Morrison and Jakub Nakladal.

That said, if he does ink anyone on Canada Day, here are a dozen UFAs that might be of interest to the hockey club for various reasons. While this year's UFA group would hardly be considered a bumper crop, there are a few good fits in there for Calgary should the money and term make sense.

Note that if Treliving does bring in a defenceman, that could mean the end for a veteran already here. A name that you think about in that regard is Dennis Wideman, whose value has never been higher after a career season. Wideman has a big contract with two years left still at $5.25M. With Hamilton's arrival and Wideman potentially in line for a reduced role, maybe there's a top four fit elsewhere out there and the 32-year-old can be moved for an asset. It's something that is at least worth exploring.

A couple goalies are on my list also. As I documented here, there is a need to bring an established goalie to Calgary either this summer or next at the very latest. If Treliving pulls the trigger and brings in a goalie right now, that likely means Jonas Hiller would be shopped around.

12 Unrestricted Free Agent Possibilities:

1. RW Michael Frolik
Size - 6-foot-1, 198 lbs
Age - 27
Last Contract Average Annual Value (AAV) - $3.3M
Pro - Fills a void on RW, entering his prime, decent size, solid scorer, favourable advanced stats
Con - Will likely cost over $4M per season.

2. C/RW Eric Fehr
Size - 6-foot-4, 212 lbs
Age - 29
Last Contract AAV - $1.5M
Pro - Size, can score, brings character, good on PK, versatile, could be undervalued
Con - Injuries have plagued his career

3. D Cody Franson
Size - 6-foot-5, 213 lbs
Age - 27
Last Contract AAV - $3.3M
Pro - Big, has upside, heavy shot, plays right side, entering prime, favourable advance stats
Con - Has moved around, used sparingly in playoffs, will be expensive, will he ever fulfill his potential?

4. RW Joel Ward
Size - 6-foot-1, 226 lbs
Age - 34
Last Contract AAV - $3M
Pro - Physical, good hands, big game player, character guy, can play top six, might come cheap
Con - Older so too much term would be risky and rumour is he's asking for four years.

5. RW Justin Williams
Size - 6-foot-1, 189 lbs
Age - 33
Last Contract AAV - $3.65M
Pro - Perfect fit as second line RW, tons of playoff experience, big game player
Con - Like Ward, age does not make him a long term fit if he's looking for lots of term.

6. G Jhonas Enroth
Size - 5-foot-10, 166 lbs
Age - 27
Last Contract AAV - $1.25M
Pro - Solid veteran, just entering his prime, athletic, second round pick pedigree
Con - Small, hard to gauge his upside after playing in Buffalo, hasn't proven himself as a No. 1

7. C Cody Hodgson
Size - 6-foot-1, 192 lbs
Age - 25
Last Contract AAV - $4.25M (bought out by the Sabres)
Pro - Top 10 draft pick pedigree, shoots right, could convert him to RW, young, potential upside
Con - Attitude concerns, what went wrong in Buffalo?

8. D - Johnny Oduya
Size - 6-foot-0, 190 lbs
Age - 33
Last Contract AAV - $3.375M
Pro - Veteran with tons of experience, Stanley Cup winner, close friend of prospect Oliver Kylington
Con - Shoots left, could be expensive for what he brings given his resume, age isn't ideal

9. D Matt Bartkowski
Size - 6-foot-1, 196 lbs
Age - 27
Last Contract AAV - $1.25M
Pro - Still young, cheaper third pairing option, good depth add, almost traded for him once before
Con - Limited upside, would he even be an upgrade over Nakladal or Wotherspoon?

10. D David Schlemko
Size - 6-foot-1, 190 lbs
Age - 28
Last Contract AAV - $1.187M
Pro - Useful depth player, cheap, versatile in can play increased minutes short term, knows team
Con - Bottom pair skills

11. RW Chris Stewart
Size - 6-foot-2, 228 lbs
Age - 27
Last Contract AAV - $4.15M
Pro - Has first round pick pedigree, plays RW, capable of being a power forward, still young
Con - Career has been on a steady decline, dressing room fit a concern, lots of risk

12. LW Matt Beleskey
Size - 6-foot-0, 204 lbs
Age - 27
Last Contract AAV - $1.35M
Pro - Plays physical, can score, top six potential, coming off a breakout season, young
Con - Offence may have been a blip, will command big (too much) money

Honourable Mention

G Karri Ramo
Size - 6-foot-0, 215 lbs
Age - 28
Last Contract AAV - $2.75M
Pro - Familiar, still young, has shown glimpses of No. 1 potential, has been getting better
Con - Might be expensive, play can be inconsistent, hasn't proven he can be a No. 1

By the way, have you liked Flames From 80 Feet on Facebook yet? Go there and do so now. It's just another way to be alerted to new Calgary Flames articles that I've written.


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