Flyers Picking the Bones in Calgary

The Calgary Flames have three key players in need of contracts this summer, being forwards Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau and Andrew Mangiapane. With each player undoubtedly looking for a healthy raise after spectacular seasons, there’s a good chance Calgary won’t be able to afford all three. In all likelihood they’ll probably keep two, but which two poses an interesting variation of possibilities for teams looking to strike on whichever player doesn’t get a contract.

Matthew Tkachuk is 24 years old and has scored 40 goals and 100 points during the 2021-22 season. He’s up to 379 points in 428 NHL games so far in his six seasons in Calgary. His three-year, $21 million ($7 million aav) contract is coming to an end at the end of this season, he will be a restricted free agent.

South Jersey’s own Johnny Gaudreau has 38 goals and 111 points, the first time he’s eclipsed the 100-point plateau after reaching 99 during the 2018-19 season. His six-year, $40.5 million ($6.75 aav) contract that he signed in 2016 is expiring, he will become an unrestricted free agent.

Andrew Mangiapane just turned 26 and is enjoying his breakout season with 35 goals and 55 points, easily toping his previous career best of 18 goals and 32 points. His two-year, $4.85 million ($2.42 aav) contract that was signed after an arbitration filing is over. He will still be a restricted free agent.

Given Tkachuk and Gaudreau are coming off 100-plus point campaigns, there’s a good chance the Flames will try and keep both, but it may be financially impossible without making significant shakeups elsewhere on their roster.

Chances are Matthew Tkachuk is more than likely the one guaranteed to return. Given Gaudreau is aging and Mangiapane isn’t totally irreplaceable, the 24-year-old Tkachuk, who just keeps getting better, who’s also a restricted free agent, will be priority number one in Calgary.

The Flyers have been linked to Gaudreau thanks to his South Jersey roots, meanwhile they could look down the offer sheet route at either Mangiapane or Tkachuk. They run into some issues there because the Flyers do not own their second round pick in 2023, making most financial categories of an offer sheet impossible. They can offer between $4.1 and $6.1 and anything above $10.2 million. So, theoretically, they could offer sheet either one of Mangiapane, who will probably fall in the six million range, and quite frankly a 10-plus million offer sheet for someone like Tkachuk shouldn’t be too far out of the question. It would mean the Flyers would have to give up four first round picks, including their 2023 pick, but it’d be the going price for a 24-year-old premier forward.

The other option for the Flyers is trying to capitalize on the Flames’ as sellers. If they’re looking to keep all three, there will have to be some serious cap shed from the team, potentially including Sean Monanhan, Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, or even Mangiapane’s rights if he’s the odd man out. While the Flyers themselves aren’t really in a position to eat a bunch of cap dollars, if they can acquire a position of need in a cheap trade from a desperate team, it’d be hard to turn that down.

Calgary is probably going to do whatever they can to keep all three players, but it is not going to be an easy task and will more than likely lose one of them. For the Flyers, It’s a case of beggars can’t be choosers. Whichever player the Flames ultimately part with should be on the radar in Philly. Obviously the crown jewel would be Tkachuk, but Gaudreau or Mangiapane wouldn’t be terrible consolation prizes either. Even acquiring someone like Sean Monahan whose got one year left on his current deal at $6.7 million cap hit could be of interest for a team like the Flyers desperate for center depth. Whatever route the Flames end up taking, and we’ll find out within the next few months, expect the Flyers to play the role of apex predator and be in the mix for whoever finds themselves exiled from Calgary this offseason.

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By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: awinninghabit.com / flamesnation.ca / thehockeywriters.com

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