Flames Trade Deadline 2015: Gio’s Injury, and the Fork In the Road

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From a media perspective, if Mark Giordano was going to get injured this season, it was going to be this week. If nothing else, the injury and the uncertainty surrounding his status has shone a bright light on some very real worries people around the hockey community have about the team.

Moreover, it provides a chance to get a real glimpse at what, exactly, Brad Treliving thinks of the team he’s inherited from his predecessors. With the uncertainty around Giordano, we’re at a fork in the road, balancing a few different perspectives and needs. And the potential for the team to slide back in the standings without the captain raises the spectre of the team attempting to acquire stop-gap measures to fill the void until his return.

THE CAUTIOUS PATH

This is the path that advises prudence and balance. After all, the team officially began the rebuild just two years ago when it began stripping the roster down and selling players for scrap. It’s a process, and patience is necessary. If they lose, they lose, but the key thing to keep in mind is improving the team long-term.

What kind of moves are on the cautious path? I’d say swapping out pending UFAs and other expiring or declining assets for picks, prospects or another organization’s spare parts qualify. Treliving’s trades to-date can be qualified as cautious transactions – a third for Brandon Bollig and Corban Knight for Drew Shore. If they work out, great. If they don’t, the price isn’t crippling.

Moves I’d anticipate on the cautious path are ones involving Karri Ramo, Raphael Diaz or Curtis Glencross. The idea would be to continue the organization’s step-wise progression by adding draft picks to give the scouting staff more kicks at the can in June, or more young players to give the developmental staff more young minds and bodies to mold. If the team gets a player that’s early in their pro career, or hasn’t started it yet, it’s probably a move that fits into this category. If the team sheds salary or cap space, it’s also probably a cautious move. But it’s also potentially one that reaps rewards over the summer or in the years to come.

THE AMBITIOUS PATH

This is the path that sees how close the Flames are to a post-season berth, their first since FlamesNation was launched in 2009, and goes “Oh man, it would be great to bring playoff hockey back to Calgary!” This is the path that looks to get the Flames resources to get them over the hump and into the post-season.

Bear in mind that returning to the playoffs merely gets the team a spot at the table and is not a guarantee of success. Heck, I’m sure that most odds-makers would see Calgary get run by either Nashville or Anaheim if they crept into a wild-card spot. But the ambitious path seeks to further the work that was done in prior years, and while I don’t think it can be denied that the team is making progress, a playoff spot is something tangible and real that can be held as a bellwether of future success, rather than the team relying on moral victories.

It was great that the team did so well after that January brawl in Vancouver last season, but nobody took them seriously because they were a country mile from a playoff spot. Making the playoffs? That’s a step towards being taken seriously. But it’s also a case where the team would probably get older and add salary in order to load up for a playoff run. If a trade seems like one that Jay Feaster or Darryl Sutter would’ve made, it’s probably an ambitious move.

And there’s a good chance they’ve over-paid to land an asset.

CONFLICTING NEEDS AND WANTS

The big challenge Treliving must balance is this: I don’t think it’s possible to add older bodies for a playoff run AND younger assets and picks. And I don’t think it’s possible to address Calgary’s organization needs on both paths, outside of making maybe a move or two here or there. (I don’t think adding Bryan Allen for a late pick really hurts the Flames long-term, but over-paying for a more high-profile defender definitely might.)

Calgary needs puck moving and possessing players. They need speed. They need right-handed shots, preferably defensemen. They need players in the early years of their pro careers, so they can reap the rewards of having inexpensive depth players when the Johnny Gaudreaus, Sean Monahans and – yes – Mark Giordanos of the world get their raises. But if you go crazy at the deadline with an eye towards losing in one round this year – and that’s what would probably happen – you might hinder your team’s ability to win two or three rounds in a couple years because of short-sightedness and dumb asset management.

On the surface, Brad Treliving appears to have a plan. He added a much of arguably over-paid bodies over the summer. Why? The rest of the team was young, and they needed to hit the cap floor with bodies that could fill out a roster. The good news is that the young part of the roster is the good part and the filler players all seem to serve a function and can be cycled out in another year or two, potentially entirely. But the challenge will be to resist the temptation to overpay now and replace these fairly inexpensive cap-floor filler bodies with more expensive ones.

What’s that old saying? Everyone says they have a plan before the bullets start flying.

This deadline is the first real test of Brad Treliving’s tenure as Calgary Flames general manager. By the time Monday is over and done with, we shall likely have an indication of which path he’s chosen.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Yup! Not sure how Pike missed this ‘Optimistic move’ by Trelliving. By my eye the GM has made some good moves (on balance), which also included a low-risk and cheap Setoguchi singing and a very good signing in Hillier. On the other hand his Grit-chart unicorns have been very bad. Bollig continues to steal a spot of other players that are ready to play and much better. And Engelland *gnashing teeth every time I say his name* has been the worst player on the roster. Please make him the next Clarkson dump.

      So, my bold and unsolicited recommendation for Mr. Trelliving, more young skill, no selling the future, no more signing players who’s only qualities are grit, size and ‘great in the locker room’ regardless of the date on the calendar.

  • everton fc

    We obviously need d-men. I won’t beat to death again my hope we move Glencross to the Rangers for a young d-man or John Moore.

    We also don’t score much, of late. Not scoring by committee. We could use some scoring, but that’s secondary.

    Ramo stays. If Ortio were healthy, I might move Hiller.

    Please get a defenceman. Or two!

  • Greg

    As the season enters Q4, the games tighten up and get much tougher. The Flames are simply too small to compete when the chips are down and are definitely too small to complete in a seven game series with teams like Anaheim or LA. BT needst to go out and acquire “functional size” not just size. I like the play of Ferland and think he could fill this role but clearly Bolland hasn’t. Looking to the future, it’s tough to send out a line like Monahan, Hudler and JG against the Ducks and expect production. And in a 7 game series, it wouldn’t be close. Good year for the Flames but need two solid d-men and two specific forwards for their bottom 6.

  • everton fc

    This is indeed an interesting fork in the road for a team that has built an identity and exceeded all expectations. If you do not add something you need at this time might you be saying that all your hard work means nothing(identity is attacked)or if you go all in you destroy the rebuild. Can we add an established veteran Dman ie Yandel without paying to high of a price; he helps now and has one year left which does not destroy the rebuild. But what is a legitimate cost? Would Sven(a former first), Sieloff( someone who still might make the show but still has lots of work to do) and next years 2nd rounder get it done or is it too much/not enough?

    BT needs to move Glen+ but what do you get in return or does he mean too much in the locker room now that Gio is hurt.

    • everton fc

      No way that package gets you Yandle, hearing Maloney is holding out for a 1st + for Vermette knowing teams are desperate for a Centreman. It’s a game of chicken to the final TDL hour.

      Now, I looked at the standings & we are not out of this thing. To come this far & roll up the white flag is ludicrous even if our chances of getting past the 1st round is slim to none. The confidence & experience for this young group is huge. Now look at a huge stat on the box scores on NHL.com. Look at teams like LA, Chicago, Tampa & they all have very good defensemen & take a look at their TOI. Then look at our Flames last night & gander at the TOI for Brodie, Wideman & Russell & compare that to the other 3. Those poor guys had nothing left near the end of the game when we were pressing for the tying goal. In fact plays that used to be made were not being made because fatigue flat out affected the decision on the ice. This has to be addressed. The best teams have a way better balanced workload for even some of the top dmen in the game. My point: maybe lets parlay GlenX & an NHL playing forward on an ELC & give what some cap strapped teams need. Washington has Green as a UFA, but want to make a playoff run. How about GlenX & Diaz & let’s say a 3rd for Green with a conditional 2016 2nd if we resign Green. Green could step in & play 20 minutes with Brodie & resigning Green next year after a 20 game audition & perhaps playoffs would probably not be a bad thing. If BT doesn’t address a proper Dman, the losses will no doubt mount up because Im sorry, Wideman & Russell are not 30 minutes per night defensemen. Some extra 2nd,3rd & 4th round picks have zero interest to me. We are ranked 2nd in Hockey Futures, that tells me we have a lot of young good hockey players we are in the process of shaping & moulding & developing.

  • Greg

    Best case scenario in my mind is we trade Glencross for a 2nd, and then use that 2nd to bring in a defenceman. Someone like Wiercioch or Petry would be ideal. It helps plug the Gio hole while he’s gone, fix the third pairing when he’s back, and improve the long term D situation given they are young enough. And doesn’t cost you future assets.

    Now whether we can actually get a 2nd for Glencross, or a 2nd would be enough to get a younger and not-terrible D man… ?

    • everton fc

      Where are the Flames at with contracts?
      Erixon or Schlemko may be a move they should/could make providing they don’t lose any flexibility at the deadline by doing so.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        I completely agree. If Erixon isn’t better than Engelland or Diaz now, then he can spend the rest of his playing days in the AHL. Karma is a bitch Tim, and it may not be done with you yet.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      OMG! How weird would that be. I think Ken King would put a veto on that move but I haven’t really followed this kid, but what is his deal, how has he failed so badly with the Rangers, Columbus & now Chicago?? He had a lot of potential, is anything left or is this kid done, seriously just put aside the BS he pulled with us.

  • MonsterPod

    Treliving signed Engelland because Orpik went to Washington for 5.5. Niskanen, same thing. Now Leddy has signed for about that over 7 years with the Islanders. We’re not at the stage to get into those bidding wars.

    I don’t love Engelland at all, but at the stage the Flames are/were, BT brought in a (relatively) low cost dman to play a 5/6 role and be able to scrap once in awhile.

    He surprised me and did really well against Gazdic in Edmonton. Last night he yanked somebody off Brodie in a scrum. He’s our Matt Greene and I don’t hold BT’s feet to the fire over it. The money is a non-issue to the organization at the moment.

    But yes, of course, he should not be playing where he was last night. They need to get Wotherspoon into the top four stat.

    I don’t know why we would want Yandle. Isn’t he a Wideman clone and making the same money? Point producer but a cheater in his own end? I would like to see some size in our top four. My preference is gunning hard for Johnny Boychuk on July 1st. Duhatchuk mentioned Luke Schenn out of Philly. Decent size, top four, some contract left and only 25. I would move Baertschi/Granlund ++ there.