Centers Still Available On Free Agent Market For Calgary Flames

By Randy Holt
Nik Antropov
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames are a team in rebuilding mode, but that doesn’t mean they’re not looking to improve. One of the objectives for the Flames heading into the offseason was to pick up a center to add to the top six. They haven’t done it yet, but that doesn’t mean that they are unable to do so.

In fact, there are still quite a few options to be had for the Flames out on the free agent market. None of them are exactly stars, as evident by the fact that they’re still available towards the end of July, but each represents a potential option in the top six or, at worst, the top nine.

The prize of the class remains Mikhail Grabovski. He is still without a contract after being bought out, despite his ability to hold down a top line with pretty much any team. We don’t know what type of deal he’s looking for, but money isn’t really a concern for the Flames at this point. Whether or not he’d sign on for a rebuild, however, remains to be seen.

A couple players that could fit the bill are Nik Antropov and Matthew Lombardi. Both are coming off disappointing stretches in the last couple of years. For Lombardi, that was mainly due to injury. Antropov has seen his production decline sharply after a very good 2009-10 season.

Either one may not be an option for a contending team, though. While neither is young at this point, each is in their early 30’s and could accept a one-year pact with a team like the Flames in order to try and build their value, setting them up for a trade at the deadline, or a decent contract next summer.

A similar situation is present in regard to Kyle Wellwood, who is another option. However, he’s likely to sign on somewhere on a one-year deal as a bottom six guy, potentially even with a contender. He doesn’t quite present the upside that any of the other three could. Bottom line is that the Flames want a center, and there is still value to be had on the free agent market. Especially if they have the intention of spinning one of them off at the trade deadline.

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