A hair over $40 million.
That’s how much general manager Brad Treliving spent on three new additions to the Calgary Flames after the first two days of free agency last year.
James Neal, Derek Ryan, and Austin Czarnik all had varying levels of success in their first seasons in a Flames uniform, brought in by an aggressive off-season from Treliving.
The same likely won’t be true next week however, as the Flames are waiting on one piece of the team’s core to come to terms on a new deal.
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Matthew Tkachuk is coming off a career season in Calgary, finishing fourth in team scoring with 34 goals and 77 points in what also happens to be a contract year for the 21-year-old.
Likely to surpass Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano as the highest paid member on the team, it’s safe to assume the restricted free agent Tkachuk will demand upwards of $8 million or $9 million per season.
With just a touch under $13 million in free cap room to work with, Treliving will be hard pressed to find room to add any big names this off-season to the core of Gaudreau, Tkachuk, and Sean Monahan.
Along with Tkachuk needing a new deal, the Flames also have to worry about a handful of other RFAs such as Sam Bennett and David Rittich.
While it’s likely going to be a quieter than normal off-season for Treliving, he’s still garnered a reputation as one of the bolder general managers in the league and will try to add some pieces on the cheap.
With that said, here are three players the Flames have been rumoured to add in a cash strapped free agency period, which begins on Monday.
1. Patrick Maroon (St. Louis Blues)
Position: Left wing, Right wing
2018-19 stats: 74 GP, 10 G, 18 A, 28 P, 64 PIM
After being bounced in five games at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche in the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Flames were met with plenty of criticism.
Much of that backlash was based around the fact that Calgary’s squad that led the team to the best record in the Western Conference wasn’t built for playoff hockey.
That’s where Patrick Maroon comes in.
One of the most memorable pieces of St. Louis’ Stanley Cup winning roster, the 31-year-old Maroon saved his best hockey of the year for the postseason.
Maroon potted three goals and seven points in the Blues’ playoff run, including a memorable double-overtime winner in Game 7 of their second round series against Dallas.
While never a premier point producer at the NHL level, Maroon has proven to be a valuable middle-six winger with some grit to his game that Calgary is currently lacking outside of Tkachuk.
According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, the Flames are among “several teams” that are interested in bringing the power forward on board.
Sounds like Flames are among several teams looking into Patrick Maroon.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 27, 2019
Making $1.75 million with the Blues last year, Maroon will likely get a modest pay raise somewhere around the $2.5 million range after his strong season in St. Louis.
2. Cam Talbot (Philadelphia Flyers)
2018-19 stats: 35 GP, 11-17-3, 3.40 GAA, .892 SV%, 1 SO
From the best backup in the NHL to another forgotten relic on the Philadelphia Flyers, it’s been quite the fall from grace for the former heir to Henrik Lundqvist in New York.
Cam Talbot became the talk of the league in the 2016-17 season after leading the Edmonton Oilers to the second round of the playoffs with a 42-win season that saw him set career highs in wins, goals against average, and shutouts.
Talbot has been on the decline every year since that magical run however, moved to the Flyers midway through last season in exchange for current Oilers backup goalie Anthony Stolarz.
Struggling in his fourth year as an NHL starter, Talbot put up a below .900 save percentage between the Oilers and Flyers and will be testing the free agent market next week.
Calgary was high on Talbot back in 2015 and were rumoured to be one of the teams that was close to acquiring him before Edmonton won the sweepstakes.
They might be interested in bringing on the Caledonia, Ontario native as per TSN’s Frank Seravalli, especially with the Flames likely to let 37-year-old Mike Smith hit the open market.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) June 25, 2019
Talbot was making $4.16 million per season on his latest contract, but there’s a good chance that number will come down drastically due to his play over the last two seasons.
3. Brett Connolly (Washington Capitals)
Position: Left/right wing
2018-19 stats: 81 GP, 22 G, 24 A, 46 P, 24 PIM
Speaking of players who have salvaged their careers, Brett Connolly is proof that all you need is the right fit to jumpstart your play.
A sixth overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Connolly struggled to find his footing over his first five professional seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins.
In 2016 after failing to have his RFA contract tendered by Boston, the big-bodied winger took his first steps into free agency and inked a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals.
After a decent year with 15 goals and 23 points in 66 games, Connolly earned himself another contract with Washington for two seasons and was a key contributor en-route to the 2018 Stanley Cup.
Earning his championship ring with six goals in 24 playoff games as a bottom-six winger, he followed that up with the best season of his career last year with his first 20-goal year, to go along with 46 points.
Although Connolly will probably be getting a bump to his $1.5 million bottom line in free agency, there’s not much chance that number balloons to anywhere close to $3 million.
That’s good news for Calgary, who could add an inexpensive but mildly productive winger to their team like Connolly.
Connolly’s agent has come out publicly saying Edmonton would be a good landing spot for his client, so Alberta is on the table for the 27-year-old.