As of this morning, the Calgary Flames, along with all other NHL teams, have the ability to meet and talk with players who will be unrestricted free agents on July 1st. Calgary had a successful season last year, surprising many on their way to clinching a playoff berth and winning their first round series over the Vancouver Canucks before being knocked out of the second round by the powerful Anaheim Ducks.
Though the Flames had a solid season and thoroughly exceeded expectations, it doesn’t mean they don’t have any holes to fill. The group of free agents this year doesn’t have any franchise players on it, but there are many who could make this a better team next season.
The Flames overachieved for sure this year, and could use some help both in their top six forward group, and also on the blue line behind their top three of Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Dennis Wideman. Their top line of Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler doesn’t need any work, but the second line could use a winger to play alongside Sam Bennett and Mikael Backlund.
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The Flames may decide Backlund and Bennett are best suited to play center, and that would give them fantastic depth down the middle in Monahan, Bennett and Backlund. This would leave a few huge holes on the wing on the second line as both veterans Mason Raymond and David Jones struggled to match the production that their big contracts promise.
The Flames goaltending also appears to be in flux. Karri Ramo is a pending UFA and looks to be on his way out, but there have been rumours that Jonas Hiller could be on the trade block. This would leave Joni Ortio as the only returning goaltender, but he only has 15 games of NHL experience and would need a veteran to share the crease with him.
With the reasoning that the Flames definitely need to add a top six winger for next season, the fact they could use a fourth defenceman who is a true top four defender in this league, and the realization that they are slowly building toward being a truly elite team in 2020, not 2016, here are the top five free agents that the Flames should be on the phone with right now.