The hype surrounding Brad Treliving and his forward-thinking ideologies took hold of the Calgary Flames this calendar year. The former Arizona assistant GM’s first full year running an NHL organization of his own yielded many positives, though a few nagging underlying issues still exist.
All management is capable of fault, but the improvements made by Treliving in 2015 definitely outweigh the existing negatives. Now, as 2016 approaches, the Flames brass led by Treliving will have a new assortment of hurdles to navigate as the Flames continue to try and build off this calendar year’s success.
A TIMELINE OF 2015 FOR BRAD TRELIVING AND COMPANY
As part of content growth that FlamesNation has been working on, we’re happy to unveil the first of many new infographics.
Below is a brief timeline of the major transactions and decisions that Treliving had a hand in. You can click here for a full high-resolution image of it. You can also check out a detailed list of all transactions with the Flames in 2015 here.
The acquisition and subsequent extension of Dougie Hamilton surprised the entire hockey landscape. This would be one of many mic drops Treliving delivered this past year as he snagged Hamilton for three picks (15th, 45th, and 52nd in 2015).
Calgary graciously ensured Hamilton was locked up for the foreseeable future with a six-year deal at $5.75M AAV days after being acquired.
Signing free agent Michael Frolik to a five-year contract at $4.3M AAV started off the free-agent frenzy of July 1st for the Flames. Frolik, coming off two strong seasons in Winnipeg, was exactly what the Flames were looking for in RW depth.
In his 30 GP this season (prior to injury), Frolik has been everything as advertised. His 16 points may not seem like much, but the added boost in the RW position was sorely lacking in the organization. (Besides, he’s still tied for seventh in team scoring despite those games lost to injury.)
The 2015 NHL Draft alone was one giant mic drop after another by the Flames. No first-round pick, no problem. Rasmus Andersson, followed by Oliver Kylington, Pavel Karnaukhov, Andrew Mangiapane, and finally behemoth Riley Bruce might have been Calgary’s strongest showing in decades. Kylington was particularly impressive, seeing as how he snagged a projected first rounder at 60th overall.
The future of the Calgary Flames net may lie square on Jon Gillies’ shoulders in a few years time. And Treliving, seeing the body of work Gillies displayed in the NCAA, signed the 2012 third-round pick to a three-year ELC. Unfortunately his first professional season was cut short due to a hip injury which required surgery.
Still, there is legitimate optimism for goaltending in this franchise if Gillies’ recovery and trajectory continue in the direction we have already seen being taken.
Small but calculated decisions:
- Re-signing depth for Stockton like Bill Arnold, Bryce Van Brabant, Drew Shore, and Kenny Agostino all to one-year contracts. It might not seem like much but keeping depth on short contracts definitely adds increased cap flexibility to the team in both the short and long term.
- Micheal Ferland’s two-year extension that may be the start of something great for the punishing winger after a decent rookie campaign earned him a roster spot, a contract, and the opportunity to prove the league he is here to stay.
- Claiming David Schlemko from Dallas. Easily one of the best depth options for a third-pairing and/or seventh defenseman. Though he wasn’t re-signed at the end of 2014-15, Schlemmers provided fans with a highlight-reel goal and capable depth down the stretch. Depth, but more importantly capable and cheap depth is at a premium these days. Schlemko was later signed by New Jersey in the summer.
- Mikael Backlund’s three-year extension is beloved by one group of fans, maligned by another. He doesn’t produce elite offense but he drives play and can play above-capable two-way hockey, too. As Monahan and Bennett are likely to be the future 1-2 combo of the future, this contract gives the team a legitimate centre who can shutdown the opposition on the third line.
- Low-risk, potentially rewarding entry-level contracts on Austin Carroll, Kenney Morrison, and Garnet Hathaway may look to be added depth down the road providing they pan out at the pro-level in Stockton.
- The signing of future integral parts of the Calgary Flames’ future such as Andersson, Kylington, Mason McDonald, and Hunter Smith. All four, in some way shape or form, hopefully will have an impact in some way in the organization.
STILL UP IN THE AIR
When his new extension kicks in, Giordano will be 33 and there is already valid concern over his decline so far this season. In the last few weeks his game has returned to form, but it still creates legitimate questions over when his descent from top-pairing to depth will transpire. With the Flames currently on the hook for $6.75M until 2022, it’s easy to see why there is worry over this possible risk on the salary cap in years to come.
Lance Bouma’s extension was inevitable and there is a lot of misguided faith he can repeat, to some degree, what he did last season. Bouma capitalized with a three-year contract worth $2.2M AAV from an incredibly inflated SH%. Whereas many find ways of praising his penalty killing prowess, on the contrary it’s much more negative than positive.
If he can repeat a reasonable sum of goals and justifiably provide a positive impact on the PK then maybe the value exists. Fortunately if the contract ends up being a problem if results don’t justify the dollars, it’s still capable of being buried. Factor in being injured for 30 games and it shrinks the window of producing even further.
The goalie situation in Calgary looked to be all but settled at the end of the 2014-15 season. It looked to clearly be Hiller/Ortio moving forward, at least until Karri Ramo was re-signed on July 1. From there on, it took an even more radical turn as both Hiller and Ramo played like hot garbage to start the season. Rather than solve the situation correctly (waiving Ortio), Ramo was waived first.
An injury to Jonas Hiller gave Ramo the chance to redeem himself. Since then, he’s started nearly every game while Hiller has struggled on ice and with illness. Ortio was waived (despite cries from fans) and has subsequently struggled in Stockton.
Coupled with the goalie fiasco, the decision to waive tiny human Paul Byron and lose him on waivers to Montreal was a miss. Byron, known for being an effective forward on the PK, has been relatively successful in Montreal this season. His impact on the PK in Calgary: missed, and it’s very apparent.
That’s not to say he would have fixed everything, but there is significant evidence to support he was one, if not the best forward on the PK in 2014-15. His three shorthanded goals with Montreal add more salt to the wound that is the Flames’ current penalty kill.
WHAT LIES AHEAD IN 2016
As a calendar year, 2016 may be one of the most interesting years to come, more so than we could have expected. We know that there is an abundance of question marks, like what to do with Jiri Hudler, Kris Russell, and David Jones.
All of who may be victims of the pending contracts for Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. Which is fine, as all three have some value as the trade deadline approaches. Even though 2015 was an incredible season relative to recent years past, 2016 makes for one of the most interesting for the Flames and fans alike.