Flames do the expected with qualifying offers

- June 25th, 2012

What, were you expecting something wild and crazy, such as offering every draft pick you own just to move up two spots in the first round?

(The Islanders apparently did that in the hopes of moving from No. 4 to No. 2 this weekend, but were rebuffed by the Columbus Blue Jackets. I’m still not sure what’s crazier, making such an offer or not taking it, but that’s another tale.)

The Flames announced Monday they’ve made qualifying offers to pending restricted free agents Mikael Backlund, Leland Irving, Akim Aliu, Paul Byron and Blair Jones.

In turn, Blake Comeau, Ryley Grantham and Logan MacMillan weren’t given offers, therefore will become unrestricted free agents.

All those moves are obvious. Backlund is coming off a disappointing, injury-filled season and it’s coming time to prove he’s a legitimate top-six player, but we’re talking about a 2007 pick who just completed his entry level contract and has so much growing to do in his game.

Irving took some big strides last season and showed quite well during his NHL stints, but also lost the starter’s job in Abbotsford at playoff time. However, he and Henrik Karlsson are pegged to battle for the No. 2 job in Calgary, and don’t be shocked if the loser in that battle ends up playing in Europe.

Jones, who was a solid player after coming over via trade in early January before suffering a broken foot, is in the plans as a third- or fourth-line centre.

Aliu and Byron will be given solid looks to making the Flames this season, but both have to earn it. Aliu has all kinds of size and talent, but has had trouble keeping his head together in years past. As for Byron, the small but skilled forward, has to mature his game.

As for the trio allowed to walk. I’m guessing the Flames would like to re-sign Comeau at a lower price, but a player who collected just five goals and 15 points on year after scoring 24 goals must prove he still has game.That kind of season isn’t worth a US$2.5 million ticket.

Comeau has plenty of tools to be a good NHLer, especially speed, but was far too inconsistent last season, as well as lost his scoring touch. He would be a good third-line winger. Whether he has to take a big cut – say half of what he received last season – or receives a similar contract elsewhere remains to be seen.

As for MacMillan and Grantham, they’re both a case of showing nothing more than being career minor leaguers. MacMillan was a first-round draft choice of the Anaheim Ducks a few years ago, and appears to have fallen off the map. Grantham doesn’t appear to have the potential to be a NHLer, so it’s the right move by the Flames to not have him signed to a NHL contract.

Categories: Hockey

Subscribe to the post

Leave a comment

 characters available