If the Calgary Flames are to shake things up at all before next season, the most obvious position to do so would be at the back end.
With that in mind, we open up the Flames mailbag with a question about the possibility of Brad Treliving landing the most prized defenceman on the open market.
We’ll cover that, the design of Calgary’s new event centre, the team’s next jersey retirement, next year’s coach and even a Jiri Hudler reference for old times’ sake:
Q: Can the Flames sign Alex Pietrangelo?
They’d love to, but that would be a hefty price tag to squeeze into a flat cap.
It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility, as the Flames have five expiring contracts on the blue line that free up plenty of cash.
A signing of that magnitude would preclude the club from re-signing T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort, but it would give them a power-play anchor to take the reins from 36-year-old Mark Giordano.
What makes the 30-year-old St. Louis lifer even more enticing to the Flames is the fact he plays on the right side, where the Flames could certainly use a boost.
It’s a longshot for sure, but with Treliving at the helm it’s a (slim) possibility.
Q: Is this it? When the new arena is built, is this the boring new building we’ll be stuck with, or will it look more… “wow?”
This is not a rendering of what it will actually look like, no.
Organizers are on the verge of announcing which firm(s) will design the building.
Suffice it to say, the new event centre won’t be as iconic as the Saddledome.
With the relatively modest budget of $550 million, officials have made it clear function will trump aesthetics. It’s a longshot that it would be as stunning as the outside of Rogers Place in Edmonton, but you can bet the challenge will be to try topping it.
Q: Who’s next to get their jersey retired? It better be #14.
That’s probably a good bet.
Theo Fleury certainly deserves to have his No. 14 hanging in the rafters of the Saddledome, as there’s also a pretty good argument for him being elected into the Hall of Fame based on his numbers (second in Flames goals and points and fifth in games played, finishing with 264 goals, 466 assists in 791 games.)
Miikka Kiprusoff is another candidate, but management would likely have a hard time tracking the enigmatic netminder down in remote Finland to be there when his No. 34 is honoured.
There’s still a significant push to have Al MacInnis’s No. 2 and Joe Nieuwendyk’s No. 25 retired, which didn’t happen when they were the only two named to the controversial Forever A Flame club.
Q: Do you see any new progress on the NHL’s return to play?
No. Still a pipe dream, in my eyes.
Q: How many of the new defence signings do you see making the big club next season?
Connor Mackey will almost undoubtedly get some playing time with the big club next year.
As a first-year pro, my guess is the 23-year-old Minnesota State all-star will start the season in Stockton, before being one of the first call-ups.
At six-foot-two, 205 pounds, he has the size and the hockey smarts to make the jump. It’s just a matter of adjusting to the pro game before the highly-sought-after blueliner gets an NHL audition.
Depending on injuries, we may also see Colton Poolman for a spell.
The 24-year-old North Dakota captain is also gifted physically and will likely benefit from AHL experience before making the jump.
Q: What do the Flames focus on with their first two picks in this summer’s entry draft?
Brad Treliving insists there’s never a focus in terms of positioning, which his draft record can attest to. His philosophy revolves entirely around taking the best players available on their list, regardless of size, position, background or needs.
Case in point, with the 14 picks the Flames have made since taking Juuso Valimaki 16th overall in 2017, the Flames have not drafted a single defenceman.
Q: Who do you see coaching this team next season?
Q: Did Jiri Hudler do some crazy things while in Calgary that you can tell us about?
He used to bring his tiny dog into the Saddledome and let it run around the dressing room and hallways. Not exactly nuts, but it was a little different, for sure.
I know you are after some salacious tales based on local rumours, but I’m not going there! I’ll let the internet handle that.