Aside from goalie, the other area of glaring need for the Flames heading into next season is RW. With the loss of Jiri Hudler, Calgary’s most established and highest scoring right winger is (left handed) Michael Frolik. If Joe Colborne’s career season prices him out Calgary’s plans (entirely possible), the club’s depth gets even more scarce on the starboard side. To whit:
- Michael Frolik
- Josh Jooris (RFA)
- Daniel Pribyl
- Emile Poirier
- Hunter Smith
Yikes. It seems Colborne’s agent has a bit of leverage in upcoming negotiations.
Of course, the Flames have the option of converting some of their LWs to the other side, but even then the depth chart starts to thin out pretty quickly. After Gaudreau and Bennett (if he plays LW), the Flames have Micheal Ferland, Lance Bouma, Hunter Shinkaruk, Mason Raymond, Brandon Bollig and… this is starting to get depressing.
So unless Treliving miraculously manages to draft Jesse Puljujarvi to play with Monahan and Gaudreau (which doesn’t look likely), he’ll be on the look out for the RW options on the market this summer.
Here’s a list of some of their potential trade options.
RW Trade Options
Kevin Hayes, 24 years old
Kevin Hayes ticks a lot of boxes for the Flames. The right age at 24 years old, he’s also got good pedigree and size (6’5″ and 220 pounds). Formerly a first round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, a massive jump in scoring on Johnny Gaudreau’s wing turned him into a hot commodity after his senior season at Boston College.
As a result, Hayes decided not to sign with the Blackhawks, instead opting to ink with the New York Rangers as a free agent. Like Tim Erixon before him, though, the Rangers were happy to welcome Hayes into the fold, but apparently soured on him relatively quickly (despite respectable results in Hayes’ case).
Hayes has averaged about 15 goals and 40 points over his first two seasons in the league. He’s mostly been deployed as a sheltered middle rotation option in New York, even though his scoring rates at even strength are actually quite strong. From Own the Puck:
In fact, all of Hayes’ numbers are above board, from scoring to possession.
The only areas of concern are sample size and circumstances: Hayes only has two seasons of NHL hockey under his belt at about 12 minutes of even strength ice time a night, making the available pool of information relatively small. In addition, he ate up fairly soft minutes, with a zone start of 60% and only middling quality of competition.
That said, Hayes’ most frequent linemates at 5on5 last year were Oscar Lindberg, Viktor Stalberg and J.T. Miller, so it’s not like he was playing with stars either.
Bottom line: a lot of Hayes’ numbers at even strength are top line quality, but we can’t be sure if they are really an accurate reflection of his skill level given the info we have so far.
That said, Hayes may not cost a huge amount to obtain in a trade. He strikes me as a decent bet.
Valeri Nichushkin, 21 years old
There was a lot of hype surrounding the 6’4″, smooth skating Valeri Nichushkin heading into the 2013 draft. Some thought he might sneak into the middle of the top five given his combination of size, speed and natural offensive acumen. Many thought Dallas got great value when they picked him 10th overall.
Three years later and Nichushkin has struggled to live up to those expectations. His NHL career thus far has been riddled with inconsistency and injury. His best season to date was his first, scoring 14 goals and 34 points in 2013-14. His sophomore year was all but wiped out by injury (eight games, one assist) leading to a disappointing effort this past season.
By the time the playoffs rolled around, Nichushkin wasn’t a trusted player in the Stars’ forward rotation. In the post-season, he played just 10 games and finished with the fourth least amount of ice time amongst Dallas skaters. He managed just a single assist.
Unlike Kevin Hayes, none of Nichushkin’s results are noteworthy. In terms of production and possession at even strength, he’s solidly mediocre across the board. He also played with better players (including Spezza, Janmark and Seguin at even strength) but was almost nearly as sheltered (about 54% zone starts).
None of that is a point in Nichushkin’s favour. You can sort of see why he hasn’t really won anyone’s confidence in Dallas at this point.
Of course, Nichushkin is still very young (21 years old) and still boasts the impressive array of skills that put him on every scout’s radar in 2013. It may be he just needs a fresh start and more time to develop.
Andrew Shaw, 24 years old
The Hawks’ third line buzzsaw Andrew Shaw may not be as intriguing a name as Hayes or Nichushkin, but he’s a solid, established NHLer who could potentially be had for pennies this summer thanks to Chicago’s cap situation.
Shaw is also just 24 years old, but he already has over 320 NHL games of experience under his belt. He’s acted as a kind of swiss army option for Quenneville the last two seasons, moving up and down the forward depth chart as needed. He’s spent time with everyone between Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa to Andrew Desjardins and Marcus Kruger the last year or so.
Shaw isn’t overly big and his ceiling probably tops out at the 15-goal, 40-point guy he’s developed into for the Hawks. He’s not a player who would permanently fill the top line RW position, but could be a stopgap if other options fail.
Cam Atkinson, 27 years old
Cam Atkinson is the smallest and oldest player on the list, but he’s also the highest scoring. The 5’8″ Boston College alum has scored 20+ goals in three straight seasons for the Blue Jackets and was tied for the team lead in points last year with Brandon Saad.
Atkinson is mostly a sniper. He gets shots and scores goals at an above average rate, but isn’t going to wow anyone defensively. His size is also ostensibly an issue given Calgary’s already diminutive top six. Of course, Hudler wasn’t exactly big either and that seemed to work out okay.
Atkinson is signed for two more seasons at $3.5M, so his contract is extremely reasonable. The question is, how much would it cost to acquire him from Columbus?
Nail Yakupov, 22 years old
Patrick Stefan. Alexander Daigle. Rick DiPietro. Sometimes the first pick overall just doesn’t work out.
Nail Yakupov is rapidly sliding into some ignominious company. His career high in his first four seasons is just 33 points. Last year he slumped to just 23 in 60 games, good for 10th on the Oilers.
What’s more, Yakupov’s underlying results are dreadful. The only thing he does better than an average third line forward is generate shots on net, and even then only slightly. He makes his teammates worse in terms of possession and is terrible defensively.
The only reason to consider Yakupov at this point is to bet on his raw abilities and somehow hope that leaving Edmonton would reboot his development. Given what it might cost to get him from the Oilers, though, I’m not sure it would be worth it.
Of the guys listed, Kevin Hayes seems to be the best fit. He’s the right age, right size and most of his results are encouraging. He also likely won’t cost too much to re-sign this summer either – an added bonus for a club with cap concerns.
Nichushkin or Atkinson are probably second, depending on whether you’d rather bet on proven results or potential. Shaw is a plan C type guy and Yakupov can stay in Edmonton.