FN Mailbag – February 8, 2016


The big topic for Flames fans remains the trade deadline. Calgary’s players and management are still solely focused on an unlikely playoff drive (chances at about 16% after the win over the Canucks), but pragmatism has begun to sink in for just about everyone else. 

I’ve actually liked how the Flames have played post-All Star Game. If the team can continue to play at this level, it should result in one of two positive outcomes: either they go on a fantastical run and make the post-season or they fall short and their collection of sellable assets grows in value. 

After this season, Calgary is entering into the “get competitive” phase of any competent rebuild. As such, it may be their final chance to leverage a mass “selloff” at the trade deadline. Here’s hoping if the playoff bid falls short they’ll be able to collect some noteworthy pieces instead – something they too often failed to do at the onset of the current restructuring project. 

This week in the mailbag we look at what the Flames should be selling and targeting at the deadline. 

Predicting the trade market can be tricky, but I think it’s entirely possible both Hudler and Russell will be considered “top-30 pick or prospect” assets. Remember, the Flames managed to get a 2nd and 3rd for Curtis Glencross last year and a 2nd round pick for Reto Berra the year before.

That said, you never really know. A few years ago, the org couldn’t get more than 3rd rounder for Mike Cammalleri. Of the three players, Cammalleri was (and is still) by war the most impactful.

Anything that can be considered a long term asset should be the primary focus. The only exception to that rule would be an established RW pending UFA, assuming the Flames have the ability and intention of retaining him next year.

It’s unlikely the Flames will be able to add another big ticket on the blueline given the persistence of the Wideman, Engelland and Smid contracts. The best the Flames can hope for is cheap, good value filler like a David Schlemko.

Up front the club has a very real need to add a top six winger or two, but we won’t know how much cap flexibility they’ll have until Gaudreau and Monahan are re-signed. Okposo and Eriksson are definitely two good targets, but there’s a chance the club won’t be able to afford them.

Q: How much does Wideman’s suspension hurt his value ?

Considering that Wideman probably didn’t have much value in the first place, it more or less wipes it out. If he doesn’t manage to get the 20 games reduced at appeal, Wideman’s suspension takes him seven games past the deadline, which is a big chunk of the stretch drive. It’s unlikely a club will want to give up anything of value for an expensive player with a year left on his deal who won’t even be around for 40% of the final quarter of the season.

Unless the Flames decide to re-sign one of Hiller or Ramo, no. There are numerous potential UFA and trade options, including Andersen, Howard, Bishop, Raanta… the list is long.

This isn’t a Flames question, but in general I think most NHL general managers should be “sellers” at the deadline given the heightened demand and asking prices for players. Not too long ago Doug Wilson managed to get a couple of 2nd round picks for Douglas Murray, even though he had long since been a useful NHL defender. Though I don’t think Nashville should go in for a sell off like the Flames, they could certainly see if there’s opportunity to prune some dead weight.

  • cberg

    I’d love to see some Flames trades starting this week. I believe the playoffs are out of reach and it’s time to focus on the LT and evaluate some of the better prospects.

    • MattyFranchise

      Agreed. Lots of people have been saying as much for most of the season.

      Sometimes I think that while they’ve been selling play offs to the fan base they’ve actually been chasing the high draft pick all along, especially after that disastrous start.

      I dunno, this team drives me nuts.

  • RedMan

    I think that the UFA/RFA market has changed so much over the last few years, and continues to change, due to the salary cap and Canadian dollar… even the players escrow payments are going up, and cap space is gone for most teams…

    So all the historical data regarding trades/rentals etc is misleading. there is a new reality, as witnessed by the UFA’a that now languish on the vine so to speak. (see Glencross for local example)

  • RKD

    But Corey Hirsch predicted not only would the Flames make the playoffs but that we would reach the Stanley Cup finals! If they could get a 2nd round pick for Baertschi, Berra, and Glencross, they could get the same or more for Hudler, or Russell. Teams are asking about both players right now. They’ve got to move out veterans who are being paid too much and underachieving. I would rather they eat half of Wides salary for the rest of this year and next year to not play instead of having him in our top 4. Nakladal and Kulak should be here playing on d.

  • CofRed4Life

    I think in terms of goalies, Enroth and Raanta are the most appealing free agents to me, since they won’t cost too much, and I think have great potential. They could be a short term solution while our potentials develop in the AHL.

  • ngthagg

    I’m not on twitter, but I have a question for the next mailbag: How have the Flames done this year on developing their prospects?

    Hartley’s recent refusal to even consider playing Nakladal over Engelland and Smid has me wondering: is this going to be a wasted year for prospect development?

    • mattyc

      IMO Hartley is coaching for his job this season. This really takes away any motivation he would have to develop players, and instead goes with the guys (rightly or wrongly) he thinks will get him the next W. Until they pull the plug on the season, I wouldn’t expect much to change.

      EDIT: btw – this isn’t to suggest that I think Smid and Engelland are any better than Nakladal, just that this is how I percieve Hartley sees it.

      • mattyc

        It amazes me to see how many people think Nakladal is the answer. There was a reason he has never been in the NHL and he is 28 years old. Do you think 29 other teams just missed on this guy????

        • Tomas Oppolzer

          There were something like 10 teams courting him last year when he wanted to come over to the NHL. 29 teams missed out on Giordano, St. Louis, Panarin. Him being undrafted and coming over at 28 doesn’t mean he isn’t an NHL level talent. Also, nobody here thinks he’s the answer. We think he’s worth giving a look on the bottom pair for 10 minutes a game.