Updates from Conroy: UFAs, main camp, captaincy, goaltending, prospects

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 29: Craig Conroy of the Calgary Flames attends the 2023 NHL Draft at the Bridgestone Arena on June 29, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 29: Craig Conroy of the Calgary Flames attends the 2023 NHL Draft at the Bridgestone Arena on June 29, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Prior to the Flames’ final game at the Young Stars Classic versus the Winnipeg Jets, general manager Craig Conroy sat down with Flames Talk’s Pat Steinberg, during which he squeezed a ton of insight on the Flames’ UFAs, training camp, the captaincy, goaltending, and prospects into a 20-minute segment.

You can listen to the interview here, but I’ve broken it down into bite size pieces for easy digestion below.

Conroy on Calgary Flames UFAs: Lindholm, Backlund, Hanifin, Kylington, Zadorov, Tanev

Here’s what Craig Conroy had to say about Flames players set to become unrestricted free agents next summer:

  • Players were unhappy last season and need some time to see what the team is like this season.
  • Trading a player who’s set to become a UFA just for the sake of making a deal “doesn’t make any sense.” If the right value was to become available in return, perhaps things could change.
  • Management needs to be realistic. They’re aware players like Lindholm and Backlund are unsigned. If, as the season gets underway, it becomes clear that they’re not going to re-sign in Calgary, the more challenging part of the job begins with checking what the market value is for them at that point in time.
  • Changing the culture and character in the Flames’ locker room could help make their decision(s) easier.
  • On the potential distraction of having unsigned guys on the roster, every team has UFAs and the players will need to do their job to the best of their ability, especially if they want new contracts. Hopefully the buzz surrounding Calgary’s UFAs dies down.

Takeaway: Don’t expect a trade for Elias Lindholm to happen anytime soon. As for extensions, Conroy didn’t give much up. It sounds like we’re either waiting for the season to get going before contract talks get busier or Craig has some info he chose not to share.

Conroy on Calgary Flames main training camp

Main camp opens on Wednesday the 20th and Conroy had the following to share:

  • The contemporary NHL training camp provides much less practice time than camps of the past. Guys are showing up in shape, but time is limited.
  • Some goals for camp include giving players – especially younger ones – a real chance early on, holding a competitive and hard-working camp, and finding chemistry among players.
  • In terms of training camp planning, Conroy and management staff have been hands-on with Huska and the coaching staff.
  • Marc Savard has “seven or eight” different power play groups in mind he’d like to try during the pre-season, but has a pretty good idea of what the top unit(s) could look like.
    While this could change, Huska may want to see what the regular season lines could look like earlier on in camp.
  • Yegor Sharangovich should be given plenty of opportunity in camp.
  • Connor Zary will also get a good look. Flames staff made the decision for Zary not to participate in the Young Stars Classic in Penticton in order to get his mindset ready for main camp.
  • The mandate for Calgary’s pro scouts is to keep an eye on PTOs and waivers around the league, but the Flames’ focus remains on providing opportunity in camp for in-house prospects. The training camp roster is pretty much set; it would be easy to add PTOs, but that’s not the model in Conroy’s mind.
Calgary Flames prospect Connor Zary
HENDERSON, NEVADA – FEBRUARY 26: Connor Zary #47 of the Calgary Wranglers on the ice before the game against the Henderson Silver Knights at The Dollar Loan Center on February 26, 2023 in Henderson, Nevada. The Silver Knights defeated the Wranglers 2-1. (Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images) /

Takeaway: Get excited for main camp. We should get a chance to see potential lines and special teams units in the near future. I for one am especially intrigued about Savard’s power play. Don’t expect any PTO signings, but get up for a more youthful pre-season for the Flames under Conroy and Huska compared to a Treliving/Sutter camp.

Conroy on Calgary Flames captaincy

Conroy also shared some insight on the Calgary Flames captaincy decision.

  • Players in the room have to provide some insight on that decision.
  • While Conroy has his opinions on who some captain options could be for the Flames, head coach Ryan Huska probably has a “better feel.”
  • The belief that a captain is needed in a Canadian market remains, although it’s not an easy job.
  • Flames captaincy announcement timeline: “I think it’ll play itself out and when it’s ready… it’ll just happen.”

Takeaway: If players in the room are highly involved in the decision, does Mikael Backlund become the front-runner for the formal captain’s role?

Conroy on goaltending: Markstrom, Vladar, Wolf

On goaltending, Conroy had some updates as well:

  • Jacob Markstrom had a focused and “dialled in” summer. He was self-motivated and got himself skating early on in the summer.
  • The goaltending department, management, and coaching staff have an idea of how to start the season.
  • “The one thing we don’t want to do – especially with Dustin – is not have him play in games.”
  • Vladar wants to play more games.
  • “All three guys can win games.” Conroy believes in Markstrom, Vladar, and Wolf.
  • Something of note is that Dustin Wolf will not require waivers this season.
  • Dustin Wolf is a great pro and he’s not going to worry about what he cannot control.

Takeaway: Unless something changes with the roster, expect the Flames to start the regular season with a plan to get all three goaltenders into games.

Conroy on Calgary Flames prospects at the Young Stars Classic

Lastly, here are a handful of thoughts from GM Conroy on the Flames prospects prior to puck drop in the last game of the Young Stars tournament in Penticton:

  • Some prospects who were at the Young Stars tournament will attend main camp and get in the lineup – potentially after some veterans get into pre-season action.
  • Wins and losses are not the primary concern at a prospect tournament; Flames management is focused on individual progression.
  • Matthew Coronato was not playing his game in the first game against the Canucks’ prospects, but looked much better in second game. Staff want to take the pressure off of him and let him be “the best version of himself coming into main camp.”
  • Could Matthew Coronato be a player like Mike Cammalleri? If so, we would be “very, very excited.”

Takeaway: Mike Cammalleri was awesome as a Flame. I hope he’s doing okay despite the recent BioSteel news

Next. Flames players who are due for a bounce-back season. dark