Let's face it - this year's crop of free agents can be described as underwhelming ... at best. Brad Richards is really the only big name in the class and given the amount of teams reportedly in the running for the pivot, he'll likely fetch around $8 million per season mark and will get a long-term deal. That kind of contract doses cold water on the thought the club may take a run at Richards but when general manager Jay Feaster shipped Robyn Regehr and Ales Kotalik to Buffalo, he opened up $7 million in cap space.
"We wanted to create that flexibility," Feaster said on Monday. "We're in a much better position today with flexbility than we were going into the draft."
Right now, the Flames have 13 forwards and four defencemen under contract next season. RFA blueliners Chris Butler and Brendan Mikkelson have been given offer sheets. While both RFA's give the Flames more depth, they won't be filling a top-four role. With the departure of Regehr, the team is likely in the hunt for a shutdown defenceman who can slip into that role.
My guess is the team will look at adding to the defence via trade and will look for forwards through the open market. While the entire UFA crop is thin, there are hardly any top four defenceman available. The forward group has a bit more depth so it's easier to get more bang for your buck at this position.