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Flames comfortable with smaller moves during record-setting Free Agent Frenzy


The biggest signing the Calgary Flames made on Monday’s Free Agent Frenzy was locking up one of their own players.

The team announced a five-year, $28.75 million extension for forward Yegor Sharangovich, who could have tested the market next summer. Sharangovich had 31 goals and was a fixture on both the powerplay and penalty kill units last season. 

“He’s as skilled as any player here,” general manager Craig Conroy said.

“When you watch him in practice, some of the goals and plays he makes ... He’s got silky smooth hands," said Conroy. "He enjoys the city. He wants to be here. He’s a really good person.”

Conroy chose to be prudent with his free agency dollars. The Flames entered the day with nearly $29 million in cap space, but only gave out a handful of NHL contracts. 

They inked forward Anthony Mantha to a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the hope he can find chemistry with Jonathan Huberdeau, who is coming off his second subpar season in Calgary. 

“[Mantha] would be a guy we’re hoping can have some chemistry with [Huberdeau],” Conroy said. Huberdeau signed an eight-year, $84 million contract after his 115-point season in 2022 with the Florida Panthers, but has produced a combined 107 points in two seasons in Calgary.

The Flames also brought back forward Ryan Lomberg (two years, $4 million), who just won the Stanley Cup with the Panthers but was originally signed by the Flames as an undrafted free agent in 2017, as well as blueliner Jake Bean (two years, $3.5 million), a Calgary native who was previously with the Columbus Blue Jackets

Conroy was excited about what Lomberg can bring to the team. “It’s energy. It’s excitement. He’s ready to come…He brings that speed, that energy, and life to the room that you need. And the one thing now, he’s a Stanley Cup champ. He’s going to bring that pedigree with him too.”

Calgary wanted to do more. 

Their forward group is still thin, and they could use another depth blueliner or two. But at this stage of his plan, Conroy didn’t want to commit heavy term and dollars to free agents who might take minutes, opportunities, and, eventually, salary cap dollars from the Flames’ growing group of young players.

“We would’ve liked to have been in the centre market today,” Conroy said.

“There weren’t a ton of centres and the centres that did sign, it was a little out of what we were looking for.”

Contrast that with the Nashville Predators, who doled out over $100 million in contracts on Monday alone. Calgary just isn’t there right now.

“They brought in a ton of guys,” Conroy said, referring to the Predators.

“That’s a different position than we are. Unfortunately we’re not there this year. Who’s to say we’re not there next year, but we do want to see where our young guys are. We do want to give them a chance.”

The general manager also said that they have likely moved on from defenceman Oliver Kylington. Kylington missed 18 months because of personal reasons and tested free agency after his two-year, $5 million contract expired. 

“The door’s probably closed a little bit on that,” Conroy said.

“Really just the amount of years, that was about it,” he added, referring to the gap between the two sides in negotiations.

“We just moved in a different direction.”

Conroy used the phrase “growing pains” a couple of times on Monday while also referencing a “three-to-five-year plan.” 

Calgary will have a rookie goalie in Dustin Wolf, an inexperienced defence, and thin forward group. Despite not wanting to call it a rebuild, by dealing Jacob Markstrom and Andrew Mangiapane for draft picks and not signing impactful players in free agency, Calgary is setting itself up for a season where development will often come at the expense of wins and points in the standings.

Conroy’s hopeful, however, that the likes of Wolf, Connor Zary, Martin Pospisil, and others will learn from veterans like Lomberg, captain Mikael Backlund, Blake Coleman, and Nazem Kadri on how to succeed in the NHL on a nightly basis.

Lomberg said that he told his wife a few months ago that he had a gut feeling he’d return to the club that took a chance on him seven years ago. He’s eager to teach now that he has a Stanley Cup ring.

“The one thing that sticks out to me is that it’s harder than people think, which is why it’s so hard to win,” he said.

“You’ve got to do so many things that are hard and uncomfortable and that, quite frankly, a lot of people aren’t willing to do. So you’ve got to sacrifice things that you’re not willing to sacrifice. You’ve got to do the hard things over and over and over again and stay consistent, stay true to that. I’m excited to go and be an example.”