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Flames to Work Kraken Trade to Avoid Big NHL Expansion Draft Loss?

Unless the Flames can work out a deal with Seattle to protect him, Calgary might lose Mikael Backlund during the NHL expansion draft.

Predicting who will be selected by the Seattle Kraken franchise during the NHL Expansion Draft is a more difficult exercise than trying to predict which players teams will be forced to leave exposed. There are exemption factors to consider, contract requirements that play a role, and a format choice for teams which makes ruling out certain names pretty easy.

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Andrew Mangiapane Calgary Flames
Andrew Mangiapane Calgary Flames

For each NHL team, there are a handful of names that will be left exposed and it’s a matter of selecting one of those names from the list. When it comes to the Calgary Flames, the list of potential available forwards is fairly attractive. As Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic writes in a recent article, the Flames “will lose a forward they really don’t want to part with.”

Duhatschek took a closer look at who the Calgary Flames might lose and narrowed it down to four names: Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube.

As such, Duhatschek adds that unless the Flames make a pre-arranged deal with Seattle, the Flames can only protect three of these players and he believes Backlund might be the odd man out. The organization might try to avoid losing the talented Swede and thinks it is incredibly possible the Flames try to work out a deal ahead of the draft.

Why Mikael Backlund?

Duhatschek goes on to say that the size of his deal and his age are the two biggest factors behind the Flames likely leaving him exposed. He writes:

We’ll make Backlund available, based strictly on two factors: His contract and the number on his birth certificate (he’ll be 32 by the expansion draft). Seattle will have a lot of cap flexibility. But do they want to burn a substantial amount on a 30-something forward, earning over $5 million per season for three more years? Maybe not.

The problem the Flames run into if the Kraken bite is that Backlund is that he’s a huge presence in the locker room, especially when it comes to the team’s Swedish “posse” — a group that includes Lindholm, Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, plus newcomers Markstrom and Joakim Nordstrom.

So, even if the team loses the player they deem expendable, they’ll ultimately wind up losing someone they would rather not see leave. Not to mention, Backlund is a close-to 50-point player despite not getting top line minutes.

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