Calgary’s post-season chances are somewhere between 15% and 30%, and based on GM Jay Feaster’s recent tweet that "our mandate is to win now" are unlikely to be among the sellers making a lot of waves at the trade deadline.
Though likely to merely stand pat, Calgary has $4.3 million in cap space now, and $5.2 million at the trade deadline, and could be buyers if they go on a bit of a roll in February.
If instead February proves to be a struggle, there are a lot of players potentially available to NHL teams looking to rent someone to improve their own post-season picture. Here are Calgary’s most recent moves this year.
Rene Bourque, Brendan Mikkelson, Brendan Morrison, John Negrin, Patrick Holland, 2nd Rounder, Niklas Hagman
Mike Cammalleri, Blair Jones, Blake Comeau, Karri Ramo, 5th Rounder, Brian Connelly, Akim Aliu, Krys Kolanos
The Calgary Flames have been trying to become both younger and faster. Top penalty killer and goal scorer Curtis Glencross is out six weeks, but even when he was in the line-up Calgary needed more top-six scoring. They could also really use some solid defensemen, but if the picture is bleak enough they are likely going to give preference to trade offers that include draft picks and prospects.
The Calgary Flames will likely be so hesitant to move established players like Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, Mark Giordano, Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Tanguay that a team would be far better off looking elsewhere for such pieces. You know, unless they’re willing to part with someone really special like Gary Leeman or Steve Bozek.
$3.5M for 2 more years
Rented from Toronto in the Dion Phaneuf sell-off, and subsequently overvalued during contract negotiation by former GM Darryl Sutter. Currently playing on the 4th line, and just like the deal that sent Ales Kotalik to the Buffalo Sabres this summer, Calgary’s likely to throw in something of value to any team willing to take this contract off their hands.
$2.5M for 1 more year
A power play specialist who simply can’t be trusted at even-strength, even when sheltered carefully on the 3rd unit. Could actually be a welcome addition to a team that already has plenty of solid minute-eating defensemen and cap space but needs a little help with the man advantage. Available for a late pick, an AHLer or a bag of practise pucks.
Unrestricted Free Agents
A 3rd-pairing veteran stay-at-home defenseman with a 2004 Stanley Cup ring. Hard hitting, but slow and can’t kill penalties. Likely to move, probably in exchange for a middling pick or prospect.
A 2nd line centre who has consistently been one of Calgary’s top power play options. Has gradually evolved into a more two-way player, killing penalties and playing top opponents in lead-defending situations. Might not be available unless Calgary’s post-season chances really start to plummet, at which point he could be obtained for a solid pick or prospect.
Acquired in the Daymond Langkow trade with the Phoenix Coyotes this summer. A veteran jack-of-all-trades, has been primarily used as a two-way, third line forward and penalty-killer, occasionally filling in on the 2nd line. Like Jokinen, only available if Calgary starts to tank, at which point he can probably be acquired quite reasonably for a fast-skating prospect or decent draft choice.
Currently injured, but could be surprisingly useful 2nd or 3rd line forward if healthy. Plays solid two-way hockey but is unlikely to be moved due both to his health and the likelihood of his being undervalued in any trade offers.
A veteran defensive-minded defenseman being used as a penalty killer and on the 2nd pairing with Mark Giordano. Was acquired by Washington from Colorado last year for Tomas Fleischmann, but could likely be acquired from the Flames for far less, unless they’re still in the playoff hunt at the time.
Veteran depth forward being used on the 4th line, and a secondary penalty-killing choice. Has played just three post-season series in his entire ten-season career, but could be worth picking up for a little depth. A tough player, but no fighter – Kostopoulous has the worst won-loss fight record of any current NHL player. Would likely move for a middling pick or prospect.
An accomplished high-scoring AHL defenseman, signed as a free agent this off-season and has played on Calgary’s 3rd unit quite capably almost all year. The Flames might be more attached to this replacement-level blueliner than they should be, and reject otherwise reasonable offers of a middling pick or prospect.
An accomplished fighter but an absolutely brutal skater who has played just two games in the past two seasons. Has been on waivers multiple times with no takers. Available for free.
Was one of the league’s best fourth-liners in 2009-10, but the veteran is having a rougher go of it this year. Has never played in the post-season (Columbus, Phoenix, Los Angeles, NY Islanders and Calgary), but could be useful depth on a play-off run. Likely available for a middling pick or prospect.
Essentially an AHL-level fighter, with skills otherwise so poor that a play-off roster spot would be a tragic waste. Acquired from New Jersey for a 5th round choice in the 2012 draft and would gladly be dealt for less.
A gritty AHL-level player, unlikely to be of value and on this list only to make Leblond and Ivanans look more attractive.
Restricted Free Agents
The Flames are unlikely to move any of their RFAs unless they have no long-term plans for them. Newly acquired players like Blake Comeau, Blair Jones, Akim Aliu, and Brian Connelly are likely to be re-signed.
Mikael Backlund has been playing some of the tougher, top-six minutes and one of the few forwards with whom the Calgary Flames enjoy territorial advantage, but has had absolutely brutal luck leaving him looking terrible on paper. It would be a shame if Calgary gave up on him because he’d be an absolute steal for any club that could entice the Flames to bite on what would likely be a very modest trade offer.
Played well in all but one of his five outings when back-up Henrik Karlsson was injured, possibly well enough to have won the job if Karlsson wasn’t already signed for next year. Given their recent acquistion of Karri Ramo, Leland Irving might actually be available, but not for nothing.
A tiny forward acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in the summer’s Robyn Regehr trade. Used mostly as an injury call-up in a 4th line role, and has looked mostly terrible. Given his age and his potential he’s not likely to be available for trade, and probably wouldn’t be useful to anyone in the short-term anyway.
Other RFAs: Logan MacMillan, Jordan Henry, Ryley Grantham, Stefan Meyer
How the Calgary Flames respond to trade offers depends on how the next couple of weeks unfold. If any teams are looking to acquire a sound defensive depth option on the blue line like Cory Sarich or Scott Hannan, or a little scoring help up front like Olli Jokinen or Lee Stempniak, they have to hope Calgary falters the next couple of weeks – otherwise the only players available will be of the far less desirable 4th-line variety.