Sunday Open Thread: What’s Missing?

When the summer began for the Calgary Flames, fans were mostly still awash in the afterglow of something foreign around these parts – a playoff run. Not only did they make an appearance, but the unthinkable happened: they won a playoff round.

So this summer’s hand-wringing has mostly been about “Man, if only the Flames could’ve had X” to get them over the top. And after a summer that saw the Flames horrid possession numbers buttressed by the additions of possession mavens Michael Frolik and Dougie Hamilton, the big question is thus: Were the Flames’ off-season additions enough to convince you they can win again in 2015-16? And if not, what are they missing? What did you want them to do that they didn’t?

I’m anticipating that the most frequent answer to “What are the Flames missing?” will be “cap space.”

But beyond that, I’m fairly pleased with Calgary’s depth throughout their roster, though their cap structure on their blueline does hamper their ability to work youngsters into the line-up unless there’s an injury or departure.

  • beloch

    Byron has been signed for one year at $0.9M. Byron has earned a longer contract than that, but Treliving appears to be keeping his options open for next summer. Letting a couple of depth players walk to open up some cap space may be a valid contingency plan for when the crunch hits.

    With Byron signed, the Flames have just under $2.2M in cap space to sign Ferland and, possibly, Schlemko. That’s doable, but it will put the Flames right up against the cap.

    With the squad currently assembled, the Flames are well positioned to defend their status as a playoff team. Hamilton was a big addition, and the Flames are now led by their youth, which we can reasonably expect to improve with age for the next few seasons. With some of the other bubble teams in the West taking a step back and the Oilers not improving nearly enough to pose a threat, the Flames will likely not need as many miraculous comebacks to make it into the post-season.

    All that being said, I’m not convinced Treliving is done just yet. The Flames are carrying more players than they need, which suggests some may be traded before October. While signing another big defender like Franson is a remote possibility, it’s more likely that we’ll see some trades. Wideman, for example, is currently a very valuable piece, but the return for a trade involving him might suit the Flames’ blueline better.

  • redhot1

    I wonder if this needs to be a “win now” year for the Flames. Given the cap situation, it’s the year we are guaranteed to have Gio and Hudler unless there’s a trade Wideman, both Hiller and Ramo as a tandem. It may be a few years before we are as strong as we will be this coming year. My concern is the young guns like Mony, Gaudreau and Bennett are still well shy of age 26 which is often the year of peak production for hockey players.

    After this year, the cap could affect resignings although I think Treliving has shown very strong cap management skills so far (Hamilton, Brodie etc) and is used to being frugal from the Coyotes. There is quite a bit of flexibility: Smid and LTIR, letting Jones go, not renewing either high-price goalie in 16-17. I’m hopeful he has a plan to manage the cap, so that if we do peak this year we rebound quickly.

  • BurningSensation

    It’s been a really good summer but we had a lot to address and it all can’t be done in a summer. There will still be some more moves this summer that will lower the cap. The team could very well be in the mix again for a playoff spot but we are still short at least one elite skilled top 6 forward and a top 6-9 power type forward. I can see Ferland and Poirier as potential players to fill those spots but maybe not yet. Trading Hiller and Raymond would be great moves. Buffalo and Arizona may be interested at some point. A trade of Wideman to a team like Buffalo or Arizona may be possible too. In a perfect scenario, we trade Wideman for an asset and then sign a younger Franson. I think the Flames management is prepared to stay with the rebuild but will also be flexible and jump at great opportunities such as the Hamilton move.

  • Burnward

    I think you guys need a second line left winger to play behind gaudreau. One that can put up 20-30 goals that would give you consistent scoring. Jiri tlusty wouldn’t be a bad option

    Johnny-Monahan-hurdler

    Tlusty-backlund-Bennett

    Not a bad looking top six at all.

  • redhot1

    What do we need to do?

    1. We need to sign Giordano so it won’t be a distraction nor a TDL move to ensure we don’t lose him for nothing.

    2. We need further development of the majority of the team (versus relapse), including both Ferland and Bennett whom we are expecting to be impact players.

    3. We need a couple AHL players to make the jump, whether out of training camp or early injury replacement. This would need to include a Top6 winger (likely Poirier) and at least one defenceman (Wotherspoon, Morrison, Nakladal, Kylington, Culkin and Kanzig are candidates).

    4. We need to move out at least 2-3 vets to open up both Cap space and roster spots. This is likely through trade but could be demotion to the AHL. If it comes via trade it’s better earlier than later, because waiting to the TDL can be too disruptive and there’s the temptation to rent players for a run by giving up young assets/picks.

  • BurningSensation

    The truth is that we are very close to having a roster powered by youth and balanced at every position.

    If we could swap Matt Stajan for Eric Staal, we’d be a legit cup contender.

    (note: we can’t)

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Here’s a trade scenario (after much salary cap and other research) for Flames to get rid of 4 decent but not star players for one top LW and a decent C to a team VERY desperate for both cap space and some lower cost forwards:

    To Flames: Brandon Sutter (C), David Perron (LW)

    To Penguins: Granlund (C/W), Byron (C/W), Colborne (RW/C), Ramo (G)

    Why does it work for both teams?

    Penguins save $360K on cap but more importantly fill 4 roster spots on 2nd to 4th lines and to have decent backup for only 1 year contract (Ramo) to inconsistent Fleury. Pittsburgh unforunately is overloaded with high-cost forwards especially with Kessel added, so needs to do something like this as well as sign someone like Fehr (at $2.1M), maybe re-sign Goc at discount like $1M (played there, traded to Blues), and re-sign Lapierre at $1M and then have 24 players signed with 528K in cap space so would demote G Zatkoff.

    Flames get a strong LW for 2nd/3rd line in Perron (with just 2 years left on contract) and a replacement 4th line C in Sutter (only 1 year left on contract) who is decent and lose 4 bodies so its not so crowded up front or in goal. However, Flames still have 16 forwards, 7 D at least, and 2 G on one-way contracts. Flames roster would like like this afterwards:

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler

    Perron-Bennett-DJones

    Bouma-Backlund-Frolik

    Ferland-Sutter-Jooris

    Extras: Bollig, Stajan, Raymond, Shore (2 are traded or demoted or go on injured list)

    Defense is:

    Giordano-Brodie

    Hamilton-Russell

    Wideman-Engelland

    Extras: Smid (maybe LTIR), Schlemko (re-sign) or 1 of the prospects depending on injuries like Smid and training camp injuries.
    Goalies are HIller and Ortio.

  • DestroDertell

    I doubt that Treliving would go into the season with the Flames up against the cap.

    There are too many forwards and too many high priced D-men.

    Wideman can command a good return based on this past season performance. Smid could be on LTI when season starts or could retire. Fill with Schlemko and Wotherspoon (if he is ready).

    David Jones is a UFA at the end of the season so he will be traded before the TDL. And as others have stated Raymond is merely taking away ice time from younger players that development time.

  • redhot1

    As some have mentioned, I think we shouldn’t make any rash decisions trying to get that elusive Top 6 forward or Top 4 D. We already got 2 of those this off season but at the cost of almost 11 mill in cap space. This season I think is a season of Addition by subtraction as in somehow getting rid of players that will hurt us in the future in signing our “core” or future stars (monahan/gaudreau/bennett). We shouldn’t be thinking of going all in this coming season and instead think about trying to be a contender every year. Only way to do that consistently is having success with grooming our prospects and cheaper players that can hopefully become something special (eg: Brodie/Gio)

    We’ll need to do the following:

    1) 1 of Ramo or Hiller needs to be traded asap for picks or prospects

    2) Try to trade the following players and replace them with cheaper alternatives within:

    Trade: Wideman/smid/Engelland/raymond/bollig/ Jones (not as urgent)/maybe stajan.

    Replace them with: Wotherspoon/Schlemko/Nakladal Ferland/Poierer.

    If any of the former players can’t be traded, heavily consider buying them out

    3) Deal with the Gio situation. Don’t wait till the deadline. If he’s gonna stick to his guns of 9 mill 7 years, trade him asap so we don’t need to deal with this mid season when pushing for a playoff spot. How this 1 contract is dealt with will be a defining moment for the flames, in good or bad.

    4) start to have negotiations with Monahan and Gaudreau and see if u can secure them for 6 years 6 mill if at all possible.

    We took a giant leap in the rebuild last year and took even greater strides in the draft/UFA market but we need to now be a consistent playoff/cup contender for the next decade, and only way of doing that is getting back control of our cap situation.

    • zachg

      I agree with most of what you have to say except the need to trade Wideman, If you move Wideman as you suggest in point and Gio as you imply in point 3 this team would become sigificantly weaker.

      Hopefully for the organization Smid goes on LTIR or if he does return to form we can trade him. IF BT could move any 2 of the 3 of Engs, Raymond or Bollig even for little return this team will be better through addition by subtraction.

      Simply out as we enter this eason wee have the same team as last year with two upgrades; one really significant and the second which is also important

      Hamilton gives us tremendous flexibility to ice 2 excellent defensive pairings and sound 3rd pairing with the players currently in the organization providing that they allow someone to replace Engs.

      Frolik allows us to have a true number one line with Johnny/Monny/Hudler and the possibility if the chemistry between players develop correctly to ice a 2a and 2b line and sound 3rd line.

      • PrairieStew

        I don’t think trading Wideman would be as detrimental to us as you say. We still have Gio for another year next year. If by some wild totally unlikely scenario Gio refuses to sign a team friendly deal & force us to trade him, we could get some pretty significant pieces back that could help acquire another top defender. Wideman’s value will never be higher & once Franson get’s signed, options are running thin for offensive blue liners.
        If Smid can’t start & career is finished, why would he retire? He will be a LITR fixture for the next 2 years & we will have to absorb his cap hit each fall.

        Engellend doesn’t need to get bought out, in fact he is a perfect option for the team for that 5-6-7 position. 2 more years is no big deal. Jones is off & one or both of our 4.0 mill goaltenders won’t be brought back either next year.

      • Slowmo

        I would agree that our D line would be very suspect if both Gio and Wideman go. The thing about both players is that their stock will never be as high as it is now, both having career seasons.

        Alot of people have said in prior article comments that they like wideman, but not the cap hit and i would agree. I highly doubt he will want to re sign here for less than what he’s currently making after putting up more points than he has ever (would you?). So trading him now to get back the most return we can and shedding that contract for the 16-17 cap crunch is important.

        If Gio is traded though right away, then I don’t see a major issue keeping Wideman this season, but I just don’t like the prospect of having both on the team at the same time anymore. Sure a D core of Gio/Brodie, Hamilton/Russell, Wideman/whoever looks really nice but it will most definitely impede on signing our young forward core. This is why i think the Gio situation needs to be resolved right away before we get into the old short sighted “going for it” mentality and not deal with these long term issues until the end of this coming season.

  • zachg

    Im very impressed with what the flames management has so far accomplished, but I look at the line up and don’t see any room for kids to make a push. Hopefully they stick to their guns and stand by the philosophy where they will make room accordingly. The only thing i hope they do is move raymond/ jones for pics

  • T&A4Flames

    With them having cap issues themselves, i wonder if a move could be made with MIN. Something like Vanek and Coyle for Hudler and Wideman with us retaining some salary. Maybe they throw in decent 3rd pairing D option and we add another piece. Just spit- balling here.

    • Slowmo

      Now your talking move 2 of our best players for 2 unknowns for our system why can’t we leave things alone as far as our top players go Wideman is a very Important part of team as for huds lets try and move some bottom players like Raymond and smid bollig players like that start brining in some kids don’t forget we have some big boys moving in and some AHL boys ready to go stop moving and trading and start playing our kids they have surprised for the last few yrs they come in and produce. I C Poirier and perhaps Carroll becoming hug assets next yr and if we move Staj we will replace with Arnold. Just a thought

  • PrairieStew

    Expectations are very high due to the fact that there have been 2 significant additions ( Hamilton and Frolik) with no subtractions and some expected growth from core players.

    Looking at what is “missing” I think the answer is another solid scoring winger.

    We know who the first line is. Gaudreau, Monahan and Hudler were, at times last season the best line in hockey. I can’t foresee a situation where this isn’t still the first 3 guys you send out on the power play.

    We know, for the most part, who the second line is. Some people call it the third line because it is the line that probably scores less, but gets the second most ice time playing against the other team’s first unit. Backlund with Bouma and Jones. Your top 2 PKer’s are on this unit as well.

    The third line – or secondary scoring unit – is the line that is not quite at the elite level. The Flames took a huge step in bringing in Frolik for this unit. If the Flames are to contend this line must have 2 more top notch offensive talents. Sam Bennett might be one of those. Markus Granlund may yet be as well. If however, neither of those guys are ready to centre this unit and it defaults to Stajan, Jooris or Shore then this is not at the level required to take the next step. IF, however, Bennett looks like a rookie of the year candidate then you have 2/3 of the line required. I do not see Raymond or Colborne providing the overall game required to make this a deadly line. To me this is the gap that, if filled might make this team a serious contender.

    There are obviously a plethora of 4th line options. Anchored by Stajan (expensive at $3.125), Byron, Jooris, Raymond, Colborne, Granlund, Shore, Ferland and perhaps callups Arnold, Agostino, Hathaway and Porier.

    We know the top 5 defense. Engelland is around as anywhere from 6-8. Nakladal and Wotherspoon could be in the mix and I agree that Schlemko would be a great re-sign, giving more time for Spoon and others to continue to develop. I think Franson could be a good addition – but only if you can move Wideman.

    Wideman has a no trade clause so if you move him – you’d have to be trading him to a contender he likes. The team I would target is Columbus. Although they missed the playoffs last year they had horrible injury luck. The addition of Brandon Saad makes them a better team and a team loaded with Left wingers. Columbus could use Wideman as an upgrade over Prout/Golbuef/Connauton; it could improve their PP and give Ryan Murray another mentor. With Saad as their top LW and Matt Calvert as the 4th LW, that leaves veterans Nick Foligno and Scott Hartnell fighting for ice time. This redundancy might lead them to consider a trade. Columbus has been rumoured linked to Franson but with less than $4m of cap space can’t do it. Moving a salary to get Wideman might be their way to improve.

    So, offer Wideman and Colborne for Nick Foligno and if they counter with Hartnell , ask for a pick to be included as well.

    Secondly – offer Raymond around the league at half price. If that doesn’t work, then Hiller must be offered at half price.

    Third – sign Franson and Schlemko

    So ideally it looks like this

    Gaudreau Monahan Hudler

    Foligno Bennett Frolik

    Bouma Backlund Jones

    Byron Stajan Shore

    Ferland Jooris

    demote Granlund Bollig

    Giordano Hamilton

    Brodie Franson

    Russell Engelland

    Smid Schlemko

    Ramo

    Ortio

    Subtractions $12.035 ( half of Raymond and Hiller, Colborne, Wideman, Granlund, $950k of Bollig)

    Additions $12.4 Foligno $5.5, Ferland $900k Franson $5 Schlemko $1

    14 forwards 8 d – 2 goalies. With Smid potentially to LTIR still $1m space without that happening