We’re just short of a month away from the most wacky day of the year, the National Hockey League’s trade deadline. This season’s deadline is 1pm MT on March 2, a time in which the Flames will be on their long, long Brier road trip.
Who would the Flames like to move? Who will they be able to move?
Let’s have a brief look!
You can divide the players the Flames would be willing to trade into three broad groups.
EXPENSIVE DEPTH PLAYERS
These guys are all good, functional contributors – most of the time – but just make a tad too much money for the roles they play. Guys in this group include:
- David Jones: $4 million cap hit for a pretty solid checking winger (when healthy)
- Matt Stajan: $3.125 million for a third or fourth line center (and PK specialist)
- Mason Raymond: $3.15 million for a third line winger with some speed
- Dennis Wideman: $5.25 million for a #4 defender with a great point shot
- Ladislav Smid: $3.5 million for a solid #5 defender with non-existent offensive game
- Deryk Engelland: $2.9 million for a #6 defender who will hit and scrap, if needed
If you’re the Calgary Flames and somebody asks for one of these guys, you say yes and hang up the phone. However, the combination of cap hit and/or term for these guys probably explains (a) why you’d be willing to move ’em and (b) why few teams will really want any of them.
By redundant, I mean guys that are good at what they do, but that the team may think they have internal options that are similar or upgrades.
- Paul Byron: Really good complementary asset. Fast and good at creating chances, just bad at finishing them. But if Emile Poirier (or another winger) pushes for a spot, where does Byron fit in?
- Mikael Backlund: Sean Monahan has shown he can eat up tough minutes. Stajan has a hard contract to move and seems to have a 4th line niche. Jooris is a good 3rd line option. Sam Bennett is turning pro and needs somewhere to play. And you have Bill Arnold and Markus Granlund waiting in the weeds. I’m not saying that they will move Backlund, I’m just noting this is why they might look into it.
- Max Reinhart: Reinhart may be where Roman Horak was when the Flames moved him. He’s good. He just might not be good enough to push into the NHL full-time in this organization, and the team may not want to have him hang around in the AHL and stagnate.
- Sven Baertschi: Don’t kill the messenger, but he hasn’t kicked the door down and taken a spot like Josh Jooris, but there’s still some shine on him and if you can flip him to get a potential top-four defender, you might do it. That said – he’s super young, so I doubt they do anything rash quite yet.
- Ben Hanowski: A big physical winger. But the team has guys like Michael Ferland and David Wolf who arguably have made better cases for NHL time than he has.
And finally, we have the guys with expiring contracts that don’t already fit into one of the two previous categories:
- Karri Ramo: A solid netminder, who perhaps has some injury concerns. If he can stay healthy, he’d likely be an upgrade for a lot of NHL teams on their existing back-up.
- Raphael Diaz: He’s been a steady #7 for the Flames in a very specific role – he’s a power-play specialist who moves the puck fairly well. If a prospective team potentially has a solid defensive defender to pair him with, he could really help out a contender. And he went to the Stanley Cup Final last season, so he’s got playoff experience.
- Curtis Glencross: Arguably Calgary’s most tantalizing asset – if he’s healthy – Glencross is a hard-nosed winger with a underrated defensive game. Oh, and he’s got a no-move clause in his current deal. I think his injury status causes question marks, as well as his ability to veto deals. But don’t rule it out.
SUM IT UP
I think the Flames will be trying to make moves by the deadline, but here’s the primary issue: the guys they want to move probably aren’t guys other teams really want to acquire, and the guys other teams want to acquire probably aren’t guys they want to move.
It’ll be an interesting few weeks.