Flames Trade Deadline 2015: Inventory

The National Hockey League trade deadline is an interesting time. Doubly so for the Calgary Flames, who are in the bizarre situation of being in Year 2 of a rebuild AND contending for a spot at the post-season. This after several years of “going for it!” and missing the post-season entirely.

In many ways, GMs at the trade deadline can operate like children in a gift shop – rather than focusing on what they have and what they need, they can fixate on what they want. So as we kick off the wildest week of the hockey year here at FlamesNation, we begin with a glance at where the Flames are organizationally and where they need to go.

Come along, Bort!

Areas of Need

The Flames have established themselves as a hard-working team this season. In the words of Steve Dangle, do you know what you call a hard-working team that’s good? A good team. So the Flames have some work to do, still, upgrading the talent on their roster. There probably isn’t an area that can’t be improved on this roster. That said, the club has a few players who can be difference-makers up-front and three real solid defenders in Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Kris Russell. Jonas Hiller is a good goalie, as well.

If you asked the Flames general manager if there’s a single area he’d like to improve – and he was asked this earlier this week – he’d say the defensive group. The team is very top-heavy defensively, and the way to beat the Flames is to isolate and wear down Giordano and Brodie, the team’s two best players. Getting a right-handed defender who can play with Kris Russell would allow the Flames to open things up, similar to how developing the Bouma/Backlund/Jones line allowed them to use the Gaudreau/Monahan/Hudler group differently. Depth helps everywhere.

The team would probably also love to add defensive prospects to bridge the gap as their first-year AHL defenders mature, and some additional tough-minutes forwards. With Curtis Glencross likely on the way out, the team probably hopes they can find a rugged winger like him to eat up minutes and provide some physicality.

In essence, Calgary could use a bit of everything. Until the team emerges from the rebuild wilderness with a clear-cut direction, they need to provide themselves with options at every position to complement their existing core.

The Market

It’s quite early in the silly season to judge specifically what the price will be for specific players, but based on the moves made so far by other teams we can make educated guesses.

The Flames most likely to be moved are Curtis Glencross and Karri Ramo.

Glencross is a middle-six forward at this point, but he’s got an underrated scoring touch and a mean streak, something a lot of teams covet. Here’s a comparable for a moment: back in December, the Chicago Blackhawks sent Jeremy Morin – a perfectly capable bottom six player – to Columbus for Tim Erixon – a fine third-pairing defender. Considering Glencross is better than Morin, has a track record and a scoring history, one could surmise that he should garner Calgary at least a comparable player – a middle-six forward of some kind or a second or third pairing blueliner. (Or a second rounder, depending on a team’s level of desperation). In other words, should Glencross move, I expect them to get something good. This shouldn’t be a Ruslan Zainulin situation here where they lose a good player for nothing. (See also: Rene Bourque netted the Habs Bryan Allen, and Glencross is better than Bourque.)

Ramo is a capable netminder who seems to have settled into the NHL niche of “good back-up,” in that when he plays the team doesn’t get lit up. Like Glencross, he may be an injury concern, but once again, I think as a short-term option, he has value. The Jhonas Enroth deal seems to give an indication that Ramo could net something in the vicinity of a third or fourth round pick.

Cap Space

Per our pals at NHL Numbers, the Flames present boast roughly $13.39 million in available cap space. They also play to a full house on most nights and have an ownership that, while having been diminished of late due to commodity prices falling, are still financially solvent to the Nth degree. The Flames have cap space and are authorized to spend to the cap by ownership.

For next season, the team has most of the key pieces locked up. T.J. Brodie will be in the first season of his new deal, paying him roughly $4.65 million annually. Key pieces Mikael Backlund and Lance Bouma will be restricted free agents and likely to get nice raises over the summer. But even with all of that, the departures of Glencross and Ramo will open up that financial space, and barring the team going hog-wild with acquisitions, it’s unlikely that their cap situation will be that much different next season. Earlier this month, I projected they would have in the vicinity of $17.4 million in cap space, putting them around the cap floor (again).

The Flames have the space and the financial wherewithal to basically do anything they really want to do, cap-wise.

Draft Picks and Future Assets

Back in the Darryl Sutter era, the Flames had few picks to work with and were lousy at drafting.

Flash forward to today, and the team has a few picks and are a bit better at drafting. Right now, the club has several young assets that could be put into play.

In the 2015 Draft, the Flames currently hold almost all of their original picks. Their fourth round pick went to San Jose in the T.J. Galiardi deal (and subsequently was sent to Nashville). Beyond that, the club has a single pick in each round and hasn’t acquired any other picks. I would expect them to do so by the draft, so keep an eye on that. (For the curious, the Flames haven’t traded any other future picks for the next few drafts, either.)

Brad Treliving has repeatedly state that he’s unwilling to part with what he terms “A assets”: young players, top picks and prospects. That does mean, though, that he would be willing to move – for the right price – complementary assets and secondary prospects.

That would likely include forwards like Max Reinhart, Kenny Agostino, David Wolf and Ben Hanowski, and defenders like John Ramage, Brett Kulak and Ryan Culkin – guys that are good, but maybe not quite a fit (or in a position that could stand to be upgraded) I wouldn’t also be shocked if Mark Jankowski was available, though it’d shock me if he were moved. I would image that the players who would be off the table would be names like Emile Poirier, Markus Granlund, Bill Arnold, Michael Ferland, Sam Bennett and Morgan Klimchuk.

However, I wouldn’t be shocked if Sven Baertschi wasn’t on the move. Like Jankowski, Baertschi is an asset from a previous regime with some baggage, and if Treliving is trying to put his stamp on the organization and potentially simplify things a tad, one could see him packaging Baertschi with another asset in an effort to get some young defensemen for the organization. Beyond Baertschi and Jankowski, though, I cannot see any high picks from recent years being on the move.

Conclusion

It’s hard to get a precise handle on what the Calgary Flames will do at the deadline. It seems extremely likely that Curtis Glencross is on the move, though his destination and the potential return are mysteries. However, the deadline is also an opportunity for Brad Treliving to put his mark on this organization, particularly with so many forward prospects performing well and a lot of players in contract years.

It’s going to be a fascinating next several days around here.

        • Derzie

          If you look at it from a statistical perspective, we won’t be a top team for a few more years. Gio will be on the decline and getting something now would be really valuable.

          BUT, statistics aside this team IS Gio. Removing him is essentially starting all over again. He is more than a player with stats. He is the identity of the team. The heart & soul. The guts. That is why suggesting he could be valuable to trade is a non-starter.

          Gio is the Flames and the Flames are Gio.

          • piscera.infada

            Well said. The only return that would be sensical in my mind is if Florida comes a long (in a fit of drunken stupidity) and offered you Ekblad, this year’s first, plus…

            It’s an interesting discussion, but there’s no way you get a return that makes it worth it.

      • JohnyR

        If the playoffs were out of the question then yes, I would. The return would have to centre around our biggest needs, 1st rd. pick, young right winger with top line potential, young right shot defensemen with top pair potential.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Why would we trade Gio?

      He’s a number 1 defender on a great contract and he will get a raise in a few years. As he gets older and less effective, he can slide down to the second pairing while TJ takes over the number one position with…someone. Given the current alternatives, he can probably play on the third pairings after he has his first grandchild.

      I suppose if you can trade Gretzky in his prime, you can trade Gio. But the price would be so high, unless it is a non-hockey trade – get him a Stanley Cup kind of thing – that I struggle to conceive of anyone actually paying it.

      So…no, thank you.

      • JohnyR

        None taken, if they brought this up I was unaware. Being on the east coast I can’t tune in on my way home from work.
        I knew there would be strong feelings about this, I ask one question though… 5 years from now when this team is peaking, what would be more important…a 37 year old Gio or (potentially) the pieces that we all know are missing? I’m a fan of his, always have been, but I’m a fan of the Flames even more. This team has holes to fill but leadership and work ethic we have lots of even without Gio.

  • JohnyR

    Glenx and Ramo packaged for a first. Let me dream.

    Sven in a top 6 LW position replacing GlenX for the remainder of the season, see if he can actually do something.

      • JumpJet

        I think Ramo could still get traded if the Flames take a downgrade on a backup goalie, just like the Enroth trade.

        Nashville, Philly, Washington, NYI, NYR, and Florida are all teams that could use a safety net in goal going into the final stretch. Emery is the only expiring contract from those teams, though.

          • piscera.infada

            Won’t happen. If Hiller goes down once you’ve traded Ramo, are you going to ride Brad Theissen?

            Any deal where Ramo is traded and a lesser back-up comes back, reduces the already meagre return. Frankly, a “2nd-for-Berra”-esque return isn’t going to happen again. That was insanity.

            **Edit: Sorry, that was intended for @JumpJet.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    You pretty much nailed this post Pike, I agree with everything you’ve written. Given the Flames relative depth at forward, a true 2nd pairing defenseman is on the top of the list for needs here.
    As far as a GlenX replacement for the this season goes, putting Jones in a defensively responsible role seems to be the best option, and promoting a AHLer in a more sheltered role.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    An excellent, comprehensive precise of where we stand Mr. Pike. But for shits and giggles, we need to discuss Dennis Wideman, who wasn’t mentioned in your write up. He is in the the top twenty for scoring defensemen, throws some good hits, and is capable skating backwards. He is no Anton Babchuk. He looks good as a secibd pairing defenseman, he would be seeing first line privileges on a team like Phiadelphia. Why don’t we shop him for a stay at home guy?

  • ChinookArchYYC

    An excellent, comprehensive precise of where we stand Mr. Pike. But for shits and giggles, we need to discuss Dennis Wideman, who wasn’t mentioned in your write up. He is in the the top twenty for scoring defensemen, throws some good hits, and is capable skating backwards. He is no Anton Babchuk. He looks good as a second pairing defenseman, he would be seeing first line privileges on a team like Phiadelphia. Why don’t we shop him for a stay at home guy?

  • ChinookArchYYC

    An excellent, comprehensive precise of where we stand Mr. Pike. But for shits and giggles, we need to discuss Dennis Wideman, who wasn’t mentioned in your write up. He is in the the top twenty for scoring defensemen, throws some good hits, and is capable skating backwards. He is no Anton Babchuk. He looks good as a secibd pairing defenseman, he would be seeing first line privileges on a team like Phiadelphia. Why don’t we shop him for a stay at home guy?

    • piscera.infada

      Yaaaaaa Poirier!!!

      It could mean Glencross trade, but Byron on IR and Stajan on personal leave (child imminent – congrats to him and Katie, hope all goes well).

  • Avalain

    Well the goalie side of it just got real interesting. Miller could have a pretty serious injury & word is King Henrick in New York is done for the regular season. Ramo’s value might have just spiked up. But if we win some road games this week…….

    It’s funny, when you take a step back everyone has similar needs & that is why trades are hard to make. Paying the price for a need guts you where you had the piece you moved. Everyone(NHL GM’s) are reluctant to part with young assets, BT isn’t alone in that thinking. So really, what top 4 dman is available where the asking price won’t be very one of our young studs or 1st rounder? All taboo around here, right? I guess we can wait until July & offer Boychuk a truck load of money & overpay him for the next 5 years & that’s if the Islanders don’t resign him because he is enjoying the playoffs with that team. I guess the same goes for Franson/Sekera & Petry. Give up cap space asset & zero player assets. Problem is, how many of these guys will actually make it to July 1? Huge risk if this plan fails, because we’ll be moaning for the same top 4 dman next year & trash each other for suggesting Yandle as a rental.

    So what really can the Flames do this week that won’t get the FN masses out with pitchforks & get WW taking over BT’s job?

    I think Flames this year has been a revelation & we have some real nice young pieces graduating to the NHL & making a mark. But we have to give to get. Jersey has surplus young D that look pretty good. Jersey also has the most pending UFA’s of any NHL team with 10, 6 in their forward ranks. Jersey has a huge hole in quality forward young players. Jersey are also on the cusp of a rebuild. I say we give them what they want. I think BT really likes Shore & if it weren’t for the waiver rule that Granlund currently has, we would be seeing Shore called up over Granlund. Granlund & Bart would be pretty nice pieces to offer up for Larsson who is now playing 20+ minutes & playing well. I know everyone will scream what kind of over payment & the love affair with the potential of both young players but this is the kind of deal we need to make to move this rebuild further than where we have been this year.

  • Rockmorton65

    Good article. My only issue is all the implication that Wideman is not very good. I agree he’s the weakest in our top 4 but I don’t think we necessarily move him down a pairing.

    I really like the chemistry he and Russell have and would propose that even if we get a Dman who’s better than Wideman get him anchoring the bottom pairing. I seem to remember our run in ’04 had a great balance of strength in every pairing. I think we should try to replicate that.

    So… Glenny for Seidenberg?

  • everton fc

    Our only moveable assets are certainly Glencross, maybe Granlund, and maybe a prospect like Baertschi, as Reinhart and the rest are not going to be that attractive (maybe Shore is, but I doubt they move him.

    It would be strategically suicidal to move Ramo in the midst of a playoff run. That’s how I see it, with Ortio out for 2 months. And I’m not quite sure I agree with the post that Shore gets the call up over Granlund if the waiver issue were indeed a non-issue. Granlund hasn’t hurt us here. It’s not like Shore’s tearing up the AHL since he moved to Addy. Granlund has proven he can be an everyday NHL player. At least to my eyes. He’s not perfect, but he needs NHL reps.

  • amaninvan

    I’ve noticed that there can’t seem to be any discussion regarding trades this team may or may not make without the name Baertschi coming up. I may be in the minority, but here are my thoughts. I personally think that if a package can be put together involving Sven (or any other prospect not named Bennett or Poirier) that addresses positional need (defense), or significantly improves the team, then yes maybe you see what you can get for him. But let’s face reality: the kid has very little market value of his own. Ok, so he was drafted by the previous regime and hasn’t really established himself as a true A prospect with the Flames yet. That much is true. So should the Flames trade him away for another draft pick/prospect that may or may not or pan out and may or may not be as good as Sven is already? The kid has a very high ceiling, and is only 22 years old. This organization has spent time and development on him, but in all honesty, they really haven’t given him a fair opportunity to properly make his mark on the big team. Has he gotten consistent top 6 ice time with quality line mates, a ton of PP time and some sheltered zone starts? Not really. Playing this kid for 7 or 8 minutes a night, with inferior line mates, and very limited special team play really isn’t giving us a clear indication of what he is all about. To trade away a young unproven yet highly skilled player, one that has the potential to be an offensive star with this team for years, without properly evaluating him first is, IMO, just foolish.

    • everton fc

      Look, no one has said to just dump him for a 2nd or 3rd round pick or some obscure prospect. You have good logic in your post but obviously Flames management has seen something else. He is a RFA this July & that is going to be a tough negotiation. If this Management for whatever reason feels he doesn’t fit, so be it. He becomes a very good piece in a package for a much needed piece of our puzzle. Packaging him up to get a player like Larsson or Severson or Gormerly is not giving up on the young player. Dmen take longer to develop, even the good ones, you have to pay a bit of price for that. Look at Tspoon, he is no where near taking on a 2nd pairing role, he hasn’t bulldozed his way onto the bottom pairing. It just takes time. Paying a price to accelerate the blue line aspect of our rebuild seems like a smart thing to do. You trade Sven, we have Klimchuk going pro next year to replace him.