Could Jon Gillies be the Flames’ best trade chip?

Because the Tampa Bay Lightning are one of a couple of teams with two really good goalies on their hands, naturally, we turn to them as a potential trade partner. Ben Bishop’s contract is expiring soon, and he’s a proven quality starter with a young up-and-comer on his heels.

But let’s flip that around. What if the Flames traded for the up-and-comer, Andrei Vasilevskiy, instead?

And what if they dealt Jon Gillies in exchange for him?

The journey

So, this idea all came together earlier today. Way back, I was conversing with someone who follows the Lightning about what it would take to acquire Ben Bishop; today, I went back to her and suggested what it would take to acquire Vasilevskiy instead – and suggested the Flames’ sixth overall pick, similar to the deal at the 2013 draft that saw Cory Schneider go to New Jersey for the ninth pick.

We took it a little further and threw Jonathan Drouin into the mix, because why not? If he still wants out of Tampa Bay, Calgary’s a fit for him, too. Sam Bennett still needs a best friend like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan are.

At which point Kent chimed in that at that rate, Tampa might want Gillies in exchange.

And that’s when things really took off, as we all simultaneously realized: there could be a real fit here. Maybe not at these exact parameters – i.e., switch out Drouin for Alex Killorn if necessary – but Gillies could be the Flames’ best trade chip.

The rationale

The Flames need a starting goalie. Players like Marc-Andre Fleury and Ben Bishop are options, but someone a bit younger – someone not yet in his prime, someone the same age as the rest of the Flames’ core – is probably preferred. Someone like Matt Murray or Andrei Vasilevskiy.

All three of these goalies came out of the 2012 draft class. While Gillies likely isn’t ready for an NHL role just yet – particularly due to his lost rookie professional season thanks to hip surgery – Murray and Vasilevskiy likely are. We’re talking about three young goalies with high-end potential, but two of them have already taken that next step.

This is where things start to work out to the Flames’ advantage. Because under the proposed rules, teams can only protect one goalie in the expansion draft.

The Flames do not have to worry about that. Gillies is exempt from it.

The Penguins and the Lightning do have to worry about that. Especially with Fleury and Bishop both having no move clauses, which forces their teams to protect them – leaving their young goalies wide open to be taken for nothing. (Bishop still needs to be re-signed, but if Tampa does that, what’s the bet his new contract includes another NMC?)

The likelihood the Penguins and Lightning want to lose their young prospective goalies for nothing seems very low.

Enter: Gillies. Let’s say he gets traded to Tampa in exchange for Vasilevskiy. There may be some other parts to this theoretical deal, but this is the main focus.

Calgary gets: immediate goaltending help who could very easily be the long-term solution for the Flames’ netminding woes. We’re talking about 22-year-olds, here. They’re not proven starters just yet – but they’re more proven than Gillies at this point in time.

Tampa Bay gets: a high-end goalie prospect who isn’t ready quite yet, but doesn’t need to be protected in the expansion draft. He’s less proven than his counterparts, but there’s still a lot of great potential right there, and he isn’t going to be lost for nothing.

Keep in mind, this isn’t restricted to Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay – Detroit, with Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard, could be a candidate, as well. There are a lot of possibilities here.

Build around a deal as you must, but at its core level, both teams get something they need. It’s a potential win-win, and one that could speed up the Flames’ rebuild that much faster.

  • cberg

    Although that’s a possibility, I think Gillies has more upside than Vasilevsky, so I’d be reluctant to do the trade. Swap McDonald in for Gillies and then yes. Perhaps I’d do the Gillies trade for the Penguins back-up (Matt Murray), since he’s a bit more proven. Finally, definitely would not do the trade for Mzarek, and I’m 50-50 with Anaheim’s back-up (John Gibson). Look, Gillies proved himself over and over in College. He carried his team multiple seasons and led them to a National Championship. In my view he’s right up there with the best of the best of the in-question back-ups. Also, for consideration, there is some debate as to whether Gillies is actually expansion draft ineligible out not, since he was back-up (practicing) two years ago after he left college.

    • Baalzamon

      Okay… I love Gillies too, but you’re overvaluing him so badly.

      Vasilevskiy, Gillies, and Murray are all from the same draft class. They’re all the same age (in fact, Gillies is the oldest of the three). Given that the other two have proven more at higher levels over a longer period of time there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to think Gillies has more upside.

      And as for Gibson… if that trade is on the table you take it. No questions asked.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      Remind me why Pittsburgh trades Murray to Calgary? That’s funny trading a 6’4 190 lb , 22 year old, goalie who has shone in the playoffs and makes just over .5 million.
      I think the guy has just earned a position in Pittsburgh ?

  • Derzie

    Goalies under 25 are voodoo and those over 30 are ticking time bombs. We need to adhere to the age rules and to the mantra that goalies that are not the right age and proven, are voodoo. No first round pick should ever go for a goalie. We need to grow Gilles and bring in an average or above, proven goalie in the 25-30 range. The only assets we should give up are those we have in surplus (middling forwards? overpriced pylons 🙂 We are not in a ‘win now’ so we should only give up young assets if we’re sure they won’t work out for us. Gilles should not be on any table right now. if that hampers our chances, so be it. He has enough promise to take the chance on.

      • cberg

        Gillies’ track record to date is better than either or those two. Based on that I’d say he has just as much potential to get to their level, and even a possibility to go far beyond. Saying that, no-one can predict the future, there is risk with all these guys.

    • T&A4Flames

      I don’t fully agree. In essence, yes, I believe we should look to pay as little as possible and try to trade only from a position of strength, but the saying goes, you have to give up quality to get quality.

      We all hope that a quality tender cold be had for little more than a swap of bad contracts, questionable prospects an cap relief, but that isn’t an easy sell.

      I would give up some quality assets, but there are some that aren’t worth the risk. Gillies is our fall back and shouldn’t be included in a deal like this. Not when there are other options and the market is set up for buyers, not sellers.

    • SmellOfVictory

      They wouldn’t do it. Drouin was a 3rd overall pick to begin with, and he is currently putting up a point-per-game in the playoffs. I don’t think Tampa is going to trade him for essentially a 6th overall pick.

      This trading Gillies idea is interesting, though. I think I’d do it for Murray or Vasilevskiy. While both goalies likely have more value in a vacuum, the expansion draft (assuming Gillies doesn’t require protection) might equalize that value so it could be a straight swap.

    • Baalzamon

      I say, when making trade proposals, simpler is better.

      Gillies and a second (probably the 35th overall) for Vasilevskiy. I think that gets it done if Gillies is exempt from the expansion draft.

    • Danomitee

      Are you people high? This would never happen. Have you guys been watching any play off hockey? Drouin is lighting it up, I don’t think he’s going anywhere anymore and if he did it they wouldn’t trade him for those 3 picks and gilles alone. This isn’t EA sports

      • Backburner

        Wow. You don’t think they would trade Drouin for three picks AND Gillies!?

        Drouin might be lighting it up right now, but has no where near met the expectations compared with other people in his draft class like Barkov, Mackinnon, Monahan.. etc.

        Don’t think for a minute that Yzerman would be so forgiving either.

        You’re high if you think that Yzerman is going to get Monahan or Bennett.

        I think the 6th overall, a 2nd, and Colborne is a decent return for a player who wants out.

        Gilles and a 2nd for Vasilevskiy is a no brainer.

      • The GREAT Walter White

        Remember just a few months ago all the trashes I got for suggesting we should trade “superstar third line C Backlund ” for “unproven spoiled brat Drouin”…

        Good times….


        • Stu Cazz

          Your mere suggestion that Yzerman would even consider Backlund for Drouin is laughable…Yzerman would want a Bennett or Monahan in exchange..sorry that is not happening anytime soon…

          • The GREAT Walter White

            It’s obvious now, weed….

            When Drouin was a snot nosed spoiled brat with a bad attitude was the time to trade for him.

            Now everyone is in love with him again.

            The skill is in looking past the garbage and spotting the potential. A skill far too many lack…


          • Stu Cazz

            A skill that Yzerman has is not trading a young top prospect for an inconsistent veteran who seems to score at will when pressure is not a factor and the games are no longer on the line…

    • FlamesFan1489

      As awesome as this would be, the way Drouin is playing and the more proven potential (and draft pedigree) with Vasi vs. Gillies, you’re probably not getting their first round back in this trade. Gillies has high potential, but after the surgery he just had, he may have dropped his trade stock until he proves he’s full healthy.

      Essentially Drouin for the picks is good value, leaving Vasilevskiy and a first rounder for Gillies and Colborne? Not likely.

    • RedMan

      there is no doubt this would be an amazing trade for Calgary – but NOT so amazing for Tampa.

      Tampa would get a 6th overall pick that may or may not ever play in the NHL, a solid goalie prospect who may or may not be an NHL’er, and Joe – a ‘good’ middle-sixer that is a late bloomer, and has some decent tools…

      Flame would get a very young forward who is scoring a point per game in the playoffs and a goalie who looks to be ready to step into a bigger role in the NHL, and a late 1st rnd pick

      Seems to me Tampa takes a significant step backwards here.

      I don’t get the feeling that last fall’s drama with Drouin will be as much a problem going forward given his performance since coming back. Amazing how easy it is for teams and players to make friendly when things go exceptionally well.

      • cberg

        How about we cancel out Tampa’s 1st and our 35th since they are basically equal? That leaves Drouin for the 6th and 53rd(1st and 2nd rounders) and Vasilevsky for Gillies and Colborne.

        If you look at it that way its not too bad, just that Tampa is giving up assets more proven versus Calgary’s future potential.

        Finally, Drouin is a darling at the moment, but if you look at his full year its a way different story. To say his value is now, and in future is going to be “PPG in the playoffs” is fallacious. That’s the epitome of small sample size. In the same way I could sell the 6th overall as Tkachuk, with a 2PPG scoring rate in his playoffs (current level), way better than Drouin, and that is also true.

        Truth is, trades are always risks. Given Drouin’s coming around and playing well for TBL now I’m guessing the trade request is water under the bridge, but perhaps not. Time will tell. Also, Vasilevsky, for as well as he is playing WILL likely be dealt if expansion happens and The NMC players must be protected, as has been widely speculated. Again, Time will tell.

        • Kevin R

          Really don’t think Drouin is even going to be on the table at this draft the way he is playing. Yzerman was taking his time when he was holding out & he will especially take his time while he still has a year ELC left. So 1 full year for Drouin to take a leadership role on Tampa, especially with Stamkos probably moving on with little return is probable. Now if they have trouble signing him next year, that’s a different story.

          Same with Murray. He is playing too damn good for the Pens to move him, he’s cheap, has a few years of ELC & he’s playing like a franchise goalie. Cap space is huge & they badly need it. They can take their time trading Fleury but he definitely is price sensitive. I definitely would not be adding Fat Ras in any deal. If we are giving them 2 2nd round picks, that would be about it, they want a prospect like Hickey or Klimchuk, then they need to take Raymond or some other salary back, maybe even Wideman. Fleury would help the Calgary Flames & would be a no brain decision any GM would do if they just went through the goaltender gong show we just did.

          I get the Gilles angle but he is unproven & coming off hip surgery, don’t think that gets anywhere close to Vas or Murray, probably part of the package but Im not liking the value coming back, we would be selling him very very low. Sorry, but until he establishes a sample size in Stockton, we simply don’t know what we have. We can speculate, but it’s really hard to pin down what actual value other GM’s would put on Gilles versus us Flame fans who are praying is our future franchise goalie.

  • T&A4Flames

    “It’s a potential win-win, and one that could speed up the Flames’ rebuild that much faster.”

    Or it could fail miserably and bring the rebuild to a crashing halt. As you said, Vasilevskiy and Murray aren’t quite proven. There has been several instances over the years where a young goalie came in and blew the doors off in their rookie season or in a ‘no-choice’ scenario in the playoffs because the starter gets injured, only to come crashing down the following season with heightened expectations. Wasn’t Steve Mason one of these guys? Had an incredible season with CLB, got a big raise (I believe) then proceeded to fall apart.

    Add any other goalie to this type of deal and I’m in. But, add Gillies, and I am now crossing my fingers it works out as it was hoped to.

    I still believe the best course is to hold out until 1 or 2 teams become a bit more desperate to get something before they face the possibility of losing a good goaltender for nothing.

  • Christian Roatis

    There’s a whole lot of “this guy plays for my team so he is going to be a superstar for sure” going on here.

    I love Gillies too, but he’s an unproven pro with freshly received hip surgery. He’s no saviour yet.

  • wot96

    Before I trade for a goalie, I want to see what the goalies that are out there look like playing under the new equipment rules. Sorry, I don’t think you trade for anyone until you find that out.

    • MontanaMan

      I would guess that professional hockey people will be able to figure out which goaltenders overly rely on the size of the goalie equipment and which are athletic enough to excel regardless of the equipment, In your world, you would need time to “assess the goalies under the new equipment rules.” Your assessment would take 40 games? Too late. Fail.

      • wot96

        I never said anything about how long it would take to assess the goalies. I assume it will take a full season as they adjust and their individual coaches find ways to minimize the flaws in their game, if that’s possible. Is that too long? No, I don’t think so. I think the Flames are more than one good goalie away from being a real contender. I don’t think they need to go out and get a number 1 goalie at the expense of some other need yet.

        Why? Because of an imminent expansion draft and cap hell next year, that’s why. And hey…wait a minute…maybe they can use that year to evaluate how the goalies they have or the goalies they were thinking they would like to have perform in a new context. That new context is smaller equipment btw, just helping you keep up.

        As for professional hockey people? I think they have some advantage over the rest of us. It is afterall their day job. But you know, if you really envy them, you could go take Burkie’s Sports MBA and call yourself a professional (but one just looking for an opportunity). Burkie will thank you but that’s really all it takes to call yourself a hockey professional. I mean, hey, look what Hartley was doing before he became a coach – honest hard work that had nothing to do with hockey.

        But I don’t think they are that much better than most of the people posting here. ‘Cause, you know, who would hire a “nerd” to run a hockey team. Oh wait, that just happened. In fairness, I guess we’ll see how that works out. But anyways, if it were easy, or even if professional hockey people had the skill and near omniscience that you ascribe to them, the draft would be about 4 rounds and no player chosen would ever be a dud barring injury. And it isn’t, is it?

        As for whether they could forecast good goalies from bad? Umm…no. Goalies are voodoo. And besides see: I especially like this quote “[t]he general managers want to see how the change in goaltending equipment will affect scoring before entertaining other ideas.”

        This necessarily implies they don’t know (let that sink in a little) how the equipment rule changes are going to impact scoring and goalies as a whole, or individually, actually. These professional hockey people are going to well, you know, assess the situation before changing the rules further to enhance scoring. Huh.

        Thanks for coming out.

  • Greg

    Pretty sure Gilles would be expansion draft exempt, assuming it’s happening next year.

    Gilles had no pro-games until this year. So there is a possible trade to work here – although I suspect teams will be happy to wait until next year’s trade deadline to get a better read on Gillies before pulling that trigger.

    As a side bar: I wonder if those 11 playoff games last year means Bennett has to be protected now?

  • freethe flames

    All the threads today are rather interesting and instead of discussing them on each one on their own thread I thought I would express my opinion in one.

    The Flames have just finished year 3 of a rebuild and are still significantly far away from being a true contender. Acquiring a world call goalie alone will not solve that reality. End of discussion. Overpaying for either Bishop or MAF as suggested is a waste of assets. Better to sign a UFA or trade for one of the back up RFA’s and allow the rebuild to continue.

    Trading the sixth pick overall unless you get some significant help now and in the future is bad asset management. The other day some suggested Kuemper, Tuche and Minny first rounder for the 6th and a throw in and it got eaten alive. I’m not saying this is a perfect trade but it’s has some merit.

    I have spent some time looking at the salary cap for most teams entering next year and almost all teams save a few have real issues. Teams probably need 45 players under contract to meet their organizational needs and the only team close to that is Columbus at 42. Almost every team has some significant players they either need to resign or replace this season. The only ones with significant space are IMO Arizona, Buffalo, NJD, Toronto and maybe the Oilers(however if they sign a legit top 4 defender their cap space will quickly be eaten up).

    Klimchuk while a first rounder has never been projected as a top 3 forward at this level; rather a middle six forward and based upon year that is probably still true.

  • Juan Valdez

    I don’t like the idea of giving up on a player before they’ve been given a chance to prove themselves.

    Additionally, Gillies is a monster (Height: 6′ 6″, Weight: 225 lbs). He doesn’t need to move around much to stop the puck.

  • Stu Cazz

    Relax everyone…Gillies is the Flames #1 top rated prospect. Trading him and our #6 overall is a storyline and speculation in order to generate feedback on FN….Flames will stay the course and build through the draft…obtaining a credible veteran goalie will be done, given the many options available, without giving up the future…..

  • KACaribou

    OMG forget the Drouin talk.

    The Flames have about as much chance of getting Drouin, as someone on a hockey blog far, far away suggesting their team could trade a few picks, an unproven goalie and a third line winger in trade for Sam Bennett and a couple of picks besides.

    Drouin has freak talent which is only beginning to emerge. Bennett same deal. Not going to happen.

  • Rockmorton65

    As much as I’d like to see Drouin riding shotgun with Sam, I don’t think he’s available anymore.

    Both the issues of ice time & productivity have, seemingly, been dealt with. Unless there’s some pettiness on either side, I don’t see a scenario where Drouin doesn’t get a shot in training camp.

      • Rockmorton65

        True. He asked for a trade because he felt he wasn’t getting an opportunity to prove himself. The team didn’t think his productivity warranted more playing time. Now he’s getting a regular shift and is, I believe, a ppg in the playoffs.

        Now that he’s getting what he wants and is doing well, you’d think things would be back on track.

          • freethe flames

            If Stamkos returns? Even if he returns for the playoffs and that is questionable; Tampa has to think long term and Druoin has stepped up and can be part of their future. I suspect that things have gotten much better for him and all talk of his trade demands have disappeared. If not based upon his playoff performance the price has now probably become prohibitive for the Flames.

          • Rockmorton65

            While its true he may not be in that role once Stamkos returns, its hardly “fact”.

            It will be very telling, however, if Stamkos does go into the lineup and Drouin is the one who’s sat. I dont see how TB can sit him at this point, but crazier things have happened.

  • everton fc

    I’d rather have Stamkos than Drouin. And they won’t be trading Drouin anyways. Move on…

    As for Gillies – he’s played seven professional games! His value, outside Calgary, isn’t what we think it is. Ortio has more value. Even Ramo.

    Finally… Please stop talking about moving Backlund. He’s perfect w/Frolik, here in Calgary. And Colborne won’t slip to much. He and Ferland make guys like Bouma and Jooris expendable. All we need is league average goaltending. Our defence is solid, or looks to be, “on paper” (and I don’t mean statistically). If we can run w/Ortio and Ramo for one more season, find a genuine 1st line RW (6th pick/prospect?), if Shinkaruk and Ferland can legitimately fill a LW and RW slot on lines one thru four… We have a lot of players we can package with that #6 (Bouma, Jooris, Wotherspoon, Nakladal, Wideman if we east salary… Prospects like Kulak…) to make a bid at a legitimate RW.

    And there’s always free-agency…

    We need to relax. The Russell trade looks to be a real steal, as well. Brett Pollock may be closer to “ready” than Poirier. And Jokipakka looks like he can play 80 games and not hurt us.

  • freethe flames

    After the performance of Val last night I suspect the asking price just went up. Speaking of goalies and their playoff performance does anyone think that Dallas keeps either of their goalies? I suspect the cost of signing Reimer just went up. Leaving on the market of UFA goalies either of the two guys Dallas will likely dump or Chad Johson or Enroth. Both of whom will be relatively inexpensive and adequate stop gap goalies. From the RFA market everyone’s darling Andersen of Anahiem(does anyone else think that maybe just maybe based upon the playoffs that Ana might have soured a bit on Gibson?), Kuemper out of Minny, or Pickard out of Colorado. The latter two will cost less in regards to assets and far less money than Andersen.

    The Flames will likely be looking for a stop gap goalie rather than a long term solution in part because of Salary Cap issues.

    • jakethesnail

      If you think that the Flames should be in the market for a “stop-gap” only goalie, then resigning Ramo and Ortio for next season is just as good an alternative as the ones you mentioned. If Flames got average goaltending last season Flames would have made the playoffs.

      If the Flames look at the future, getting a young goalie with lots of upside now makes more sense than getting a stop-gap goalie.

          • Baalzamon

            Lol. Chad Johnson is neither more proven nor an upgrade over Ramo. He’s a pointless lateral move at best. Ramo has played more games, plays more games per season, and has more consistent results.

          • Burnward

            I can see your point about Johnson if he hadn’t posted better numbers and Ramo wasn’t coming off a serious knee injury

            As it stands, I’d roll with Johnson and feel much, much more comfortable about it.

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            I think the Flames and the fans are in for a rude awakening if they think second tier goaltending is gonna get the job done for Calgary. They need to help solidify this team for the future . Find a true number one in net and I think this team will really progress next season.
            Calgary fans are very high on the forwards and defense . Ask yourself this … Do you think the goalies cost them 10 wins last year? That’s 20 points. Good enough for a playoff spot?
            Never mind guys like Ramo ,Ortio. They have been given opportunity and sometimes played ok but more often than not they did not succeed when given the chance.
            Time to move on.

        • jakethesnail

          Stop-gap goalie gives me the notion that you get a goalie to fill the gap of 2 years while Jon Gillies becomes an NHL goalie and the Flames roster matures more.

          Why not go out and get a true number one goalie that may be with you 5 or more years. The Flames young forwards and D-men will progress along better with the number one goalie.

          If Jon Gillies is good enough to beat out your number one in two years then so be it. You can trade your number one who would likely have more value than Joe Stop-Gap!

          • Burnward

            I’m down with that.

            Just beyond tired of messing around in the net. Get it sorted. No more maybe’s or long shots.

            And I’m all in on Gillies. As I’ve probably made very clear…ha!

          • freethe flames

            Who would you suggest we get? What is the cost of said trade? What is the cost of the contract? I would love for the Flames to find a true number 1 goalie and be competitive because of it next year; but I don’t know who. Every name that fits the idea of a number 1 is either extremely costly in regards to assets and/or prohibitive because of our cap situation. If and only if teams get worried about losing an asset for nothing because of expansion will we get a number 1 for a low cost. Ward from Philly might be available but is what we need? It is very likely Dallas gets rid of at least one of their goalies which creates a bidding war for the top candidates.

          • jakethesnail

            Oops! I forgot! OUT DAMNED SALARY CAP! Flames hands are tied because of Wideman, Raymond contracts…
            However, MA Fleury and Ortio combo would be a million dollars cheaper than Ramo and Hiller was!

          • Kevin R

            Million dollars??? Combined those two were 8.3 mill& add the $600K one way deal Ortio was on & I can’t imagine Ortio getting a raise, So I would say it’s safe to say that an Ortio Fleury tandem would be 2.5 mill. cheaper than what we paid last year. Ironically that gives us a top 10 goalie & we just covered Gio’s raise.

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            Totally agree. Generally Flames fans are really high on the forwards and D so if what you need is a goalie go out and get a good one.never mind a stop gap goalie. This is exactly what this team needs most.

  • brodiegio4life

    young goalies are just so unpredictable and risky that I doubt either team would want to swap young goalie prospects, just stick with the ones they already have

  • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

    Sorry, you don’t trade your Number 1 prospect in year 4 of a rebuild. ESPECIALLY when his value is unproven… what if he turns out better than Murray or Vas? If he plays backup this year, he will be essentially where they are now by the end of next season…. let’s get a goalie on a 1 year deal and see what Ortio/Gilles really are, work from there.

  • Deef

    Even with all the solid arguments, I have my doubts that Vasilevskiy would be the one up for grabs; apparently hes ‘the second coming’. If Bishop wins a cup this year it might change some perspectives though.

  • McRib

    Andrei Vasilevski is collectively seen as the best up-and-coming goalie since Carey Price, he has absolutely world class upside. It’s Ben Bishop that would be traded and I don’t think we are in a position in the rebuild to be trading a young chip like Gillies. I also don’t think Gillies helps us get a goalie, Vasilevskiy is going to play 60+ games a year for the next 10-15 years. Why would they need another top goaltending prospect? Just my two sense. I don’t mind trading Gillies as a chip just not for aging Goaltender, after missing most of the year with injury I also don’t know how much value Gillies has on trade market right now.

    • Burnward

      It’s a pretty common surgery for young tenders, I do believe.

      Full recovery is pretty much guaranteed and their mobility is almost always better after.

      This kid is going to be a stud.