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The Calgary Flames were always heading for a cap crunch this summer.
With Matthew Tkachuk, David Rittich, Sam Bennett, and Andrew Mangiapane in need of new deals – and a replacement being necessary for Mike Smith – there was going to be a shortage of dollars, even without trying to actively improve the team.
Now that the cap is set at $81.5 million, down from the expected number of $83M, things are tighter for the Flames.
Even if Tkachuk were to sign a bridge deal in the ~$5.5 million range, the Flames would be hard pressed to re-sign their key RFAs and find a backup, let alone make any upgrades elsewhere.
They're going to have to clear some dollars in short order. It sounds like GM Brad Treliving is working towards just that, with Elliotte Friedman speculating Michael Frolik *could* be dealt before free agency begins.
The marriage between Frolik and the Flames has been a little rocky over the last year. He has just one more season on his contract and is not going to be re-signed so it's hardly surprising he seems like the most likely guy to be moved for salary relief.
As far as potential landing spots go, I think there are quite a few that make sense.
The Hurricanes are an analytically-inclined organization that values two-way players (Jordan Staal, Nino Niederreiter, Justin Williams, etc, etc.). I know they're also cheap, but they just cleared $4+ million with the Calvin de Haan trade and they weren't exactly hurting for cap space prior. I could see the Flames working with them again.
Colorado has *checks notes* five forwards under contract for next season and nearly $40 million in cap space. They have to take care of Mikko Rantanen, J.T. Compher, Alex Kerfoot, and Nikita Zadorov but they'll still have a ton of money to spend. I could see them snagging Frolik in a trade for peanuts.
Another destination that stands out to me is New Jersey. They also have a ton of cap space – at least in the short-term – and Frolik would be a really nice fit alongside Travis Zajac and Blake Coleman on the shutdown line. They could eat up the tough minutes, freeing the likes of Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and co. to focus on creating offensively.
Whether Frolik is traded to one of those teams, or elsewhere, remains to be seen. He just (almost certainly) won't be playing in Calgary.
numbers via CapFriendly.com
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