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NHL teams will be free to talk to the representatives of unsigned players in just over two weeks.
While I don't expect the Calgary Flames to be overly active in free agency – they simply don't have the money to spend – it's fair to assume, like most teams, they'll dip their toes into the waters and sign a player or two.
Let's take a closer look at three players who could be of interest based on a) need and; b) expected price range.
RW - Joonas Donskoi
EvolvingWild contract projection: three years, $2.847M per
The Flames are already a little weak on the right side and things will look even worse when Michael Frolik is inevitably traded. Donskoi could help solve that issue, and at a cheaper cost than Frolik.
The 27-year-old has produced at a 35+ point pace in three of the last four seasons. A lot of the points have come at 5v5, where he's been quite efficient – especially over the last two years. He managed 1.88 points per 60 during that span, good for 108th among regular forwards (high-end 2nd line rate).
In terms of raw production at 5v5, he accumulated more points than James van Riemsdyk, Nino Niederreiter, Mike Hoffman, Jonathan Drouin, Vincent Trocheck and Frolik, to name but a few.
Donskoi also helps drive possession, is a plus-defender, and can really skate.
He's not going to cost pennies but dealing Frolik and inking Donskoi should still offer some savings. If that's the case, he'd be my top target.
RW - Richard Panik
EvolvingWild contract projection (adjusted for two years): $3.417M per
Panik is a definite downgrade from Frolik in the defensive aspect of the game. He's a pretty good offensive player, though. Over the last two seasons, he's recorded more 5v5 points than Mats Zuccarrello, Kyle Palmieri and Max Pacioretty, and produced them at a more efficient rate than Elias Lindholm, Mikael Granlund and Nazem Kadri.
A player like Panik would also provide the additional bite Calgary seems to be after (he recorded more 5v5 hits than all but 48 forwards from 2017-19).
He's not the sexiest name out there. He is, however, fairly productive and affordable.
G – Cam Talbot
EvolvingWild contract projection: N/A
This past season was a total disaster for Talbot. There's no way around it. Even still, he owns a .915 save percentage for his career and has been at least average in five of his six NHL seasons.
The Flames are a very good defensive team (save for against Colorado). If they feel comfortable Talbot can rebound in a steady environment, which he didn't exactly have in Edmonton, he would be a nice buy-low option to platoon with David Rittich.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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