Brad Treliving: ‘This is the time of year you try to improve your team’

We’re just a little over a day away from the 2016 NHL Draft finally – finally! – getting underway. There have been some trades, some movement, and a lot of conversations before it, but as we approach the day itself, things ramp up.

To that end, Brad Treliving has, understandably, been a busy man. His team has an obvious need: goaltending. His team has a relatively high pick: sixth overall, though it could always be higher. In short, his team has a lot of stuff to do right now, and in his own words, “This is the time of year that you go out and try to improve your team.”

Treliving spoke this morning before the festivities really begin.

About the draft

There has been a lot of chatter about the Flames trying to move up from the sixth overall pick. When asked about it, Treliving said, “If you’re crystal balling it, we’d be picking at six. But we’ve got some time before the draft; we’ll see how that flows.”

While the draft is a busy time and therefore probably more prone to lying general managers, it doesn’t sound like there’s any interest in moving down. “We like six,” Treliving said. “That’s a pretty good pick right now.” The Flames are always going to be open to options, of course, but there won’t be any movement for the sake of movement.

Should they retain the sixth overall pick, they’re prepared. “If you stay at six, it’s like anything else: there are five guys that can go before you. You can sort of take a guess at who those are, and it puts a group of players that are gonna be there at six so we’ll be prepared. We’ll be prepared regardless of what takes place above us.”

But what about moving up? Treliving said if he stays at six. But he also pointed out in his scrum that we’re getting close to the deadline, and that’s when things get real. The picks are “now currency.” “I think as you get closer to tomorrow night things start to reach a peak,” he said. So if the Flames are going to move up, expect something then.

As for everything after, the Flames feel ready to go. “You’re 24 hours out, so you’re pretty set in terms of your groupings. It’s all the flow – as things start coming off the board, you’re reacting to it,” Treliving said.

About expansion

With Las Vegas officially getting a team and the expansion draft rules finally set, expansion was a big topic with Treliving. The draft this weekend is already different from last year’s because of it, as we’ve seen some teams – such as the Ducks, with Frederik Andersen – make moves in preparation for the expansion draft.

However, that’s not the case for everybody; Jim Rutherford, for example, seems to be patient regarding the status of both Pittsburgh Penguins goalies. “Remember, it’s a year away,” Treliving said on the expansion draft. “That idea that now there’s expansion everybody’s going to be just dying to just give you players – that’s not quite the case.”

At this stage, teams are preparing for it: both internally, and looking towards others. “You’re looking at every other team and see where there might be issues, where there might be matches. Whether that means that something’s going to happen today, tomorrow, or might be something that happens at the deadline, might be something that happens next year this time.” Expansion isn’t necessarily going to dictate this weekend, though it should still play a role.

In the Flames’ case, there’s one major detail to look at regarding expansion: Jon Gillies. He’s only played seven pro games through the course of one season, but technically, he has two years of professional experience.

When the Flames signed Gillies at the end of the 2014-15 regular season, they burned a year of his contract. That’s one. Though he was injured for most of 2015-16, he was a professional, and a year on his contract was spent. That’s two. According to expansion draft rules, players with three years of professional experience or more will have to be protected. The 2016-17 season will be Gillies’ third year.

So if you’re going strictly by the book, Gillies will have to be protected. Treliving doesn’t think that will be the case, though. “Pretty sure that’s not an issue, but can’t really confirm that right now,” he said. He’s expecting to know more later today.

If Gillies does need to be protected, then that throws an additional wrinkle in the Flames’ goaltending plans. Acquiring a goalie already with a no-movement clause that would have to be protected could be a risky move. 

About goalies

The Flames are currently the only team in the NHL without a starting goalie. They have nobody ready signed for next season, and that will have to change. (“They tell me it’s good to have one!” Treliving said about goalies during his scrum.)

It’s possible it changes this weekend at the draft. All of the general managers are here together; deals get done, and trying to find a fit with another team can easily happen here. Finding a goalie this weekend sounds like the Flames’ preference. Free agency is the other option, which will be just around the corner; however, options there are much more limited.

As has been reported throughout the week, Treliving is being extremely thorough in his goaltending search. “We’re in a bunch of different markets on that,” he confirmed. What he couldn’t confirm was if he was close to acquiring one or not: “Things may happen, things may not happen right now. I couldn’t predict the timing.”

About free agency

Until Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are re-signed, the Flames are in an uncertain cap situation at the moment. They’re going to be getting significant raises, and with the cap going up to just $73 million, space will be tight. 

“We’ll probably stick our toe in there and get a sense of the [free agent] market. At this point in time I wouldn’t expect us to be real active in the market,” Treliving said when asked about free agency. 

When asked about the possibility of buying players out, Treliving said, “We’ve talked about it. We haven’t made any decisions on that.”

  • everton fc

    I think signing Bishop at top dollar is a mistake. We build our defence like a wall in front of a tandem. Ortio/Gillies “someday soon”, Ortio and a competent backup next season (whomever that may be).

    Once we unload some of these dead salaries, we’ll be in a better position to see if one or both of Ortio and Gillies can play a #1 role here in Calgary. Focus on the wings. Especially right-side (though depth on the left side ain’t Stanley Cup calibire, unless guys like Shinkaruk prove NHL-ready. I think he is…)

    • BlueMoonNigel

      You’ve got the right idea. However, I see you have Ortio/Gillies. That is not likely happening in 2016-17, so who is your stopgap if Ramo isn’t ready in October? I have no problem running with Ortio as my number 1 and then bringing in a has been who works cheaply to fight it out with Ramo for the backup role or to dress as Ortio’s second if Ramo isn’t fully recovered when the new season begins.

  • cunning_linguist

    Honestly, I’m just not very excited at the prospect of a blockbuster trade for a goalie (especially if there is any price tag higher than a 2nd rounder). I feel like next year isn’t our cup year…we just need someone solid enough that our team can keep growing and developing without being undermined by a Hiller-esque seive.

    IMO, a James Reimer-type signing is completely fine, and costs us nothing but money.

    • Burnward

      If Tre can add a legit starter and another legit top 6 winger…they might be closer to being competitive than we think.

      I really think that goaltending affected this team so negatively last season, it kind of hid all the good things.

      Monny and Johnny are almost already as good a 1-2 punch as there is…stats wise…and they’re still kids and getting better.

      Dougie was what we hoped for the last half of the season.

      Gio and Brodie are absolute rocks. Brodie there off the hop will be huge.

      Nak looks competent. Wideman will probably be moved.

      And maybe new coaching is just what they need? I liked Bob and thought he could have easily gotten another season, but fresh blood could get em going.

      Backs and Frolik should be solid in a shutdown role.

      Lots of good pieces.

      Just have to fill in the blanks.

        • Burnward

          My thinking is…you only have what, nine forward spots and four-five defense spots that truly matter…many of those spoken for, and a lot of decent kids knocking at the door.

          Plus a lot of picks.

          I’d be spending.

      • Kevin R

        I can’t agree more. You get a goalie like Bishop that makes big saves, I think we see the best of Brodie/Gio & Hamilton. If Wideman can get moved, I think Jokipakka can settle right into being a rock solid #4. & we have lots of great options for 5-6 pairing. Saw the redraft for 2011, Gaudreau would be #1 overall, Hamilton would go #10 & Jokipakka would go #30. That’s amazing considering I thought he was a throw in on that Russell trade.

  • Kevin R

    If Gilles has to be protected is a huge piece of information, no wonder Tre hasn’t made any deals pertaining to a goalie. I think there are two big scenarios here:

    1/If Gilles needs to be protected… ouch. So then we need to go after a goalie that well bridge us 1 year, act as the goalie we expose & protect Gilles. The options in that case would be probably Bernier or Reimer. Pick your poison.

    2/If Gilles is exempt, then I target a Bishop or Fleury & resignOrtio to a cheap 2 year deal & expose Ortio next year. I wouldn’t be afraid to go after Bishop, the guy is an awesome goalie & I can’t imagine the confidence it would give our 3 mavericks on the blue line having Bishop watching their backs. Not sure what the price is for Bishop, I wouldn’t even want to speculate, I would only hope it’s for picks & prospects. Maybe Hickey & a conditional 2017 2nd, where if Bishop resigns they get our 2017 lottery protected 1st & if he doesn’t they get our 2017 2nd. We can maybe throw in one of our 2016 4th rounders if needed.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    The Flames have a bunch of NHL “carrots” to dangle as trade bait. I’d love to see them traded for picks, prospects, and a reasonably priced goalie.

    Raymond, Stajan, Bouma, Bollig, Colbort (depending on what he gets signed for), Wideman, Smid, Engelland.

    They could likely all be replaced by current Heat players, or new draftees, or prospects coming back.

    It’s going to be an interesting weekend!

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      Maybe Benning will take all of those guys for Markstrom plus one of Etem, Vey, or Virtanen. He strikes me as the kind of guy that could be convinced that 2 pennies are worth more than 1 nickle.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      What exactly is your definition of a carrot? The guys you listed are more or less guys who fill out rosters and keep a team at or just above the cap floor.

      The Flames have very little to deal unless they move core pieces–big mistake–or deal draft picks–failed strategy under Sutter.

      Flames have to work themselves out of the mess they are in, not compound it by taking on a big, stupid salary like Bishop is going to get. Lot’s of cap space opens up next year, so why not be patient and let the bums come off the books before adding more big contracts? Sure they can try and trade the bums this year, but failing that and not wanting to do any buyouts, keep them and see if they can be moved during the season. Pretty sure Wideman could have been moved last spring had he not been injured. Engelland could be moved next February as teams add depth for the playoffs. Depending who the GM in Vegas is, Tre might be able to make a sweetheart deal with him for Stajan.

      Of course, what I am promoting isn’t very sexy or salacious, but neither was HBK when they were first put together and neither are Crosby’s linemates.

      • DeadRedRedemption

        Bang on. As much as we all want something to happen this year, we’re going to have to wait it out until the albatross contracts come off the books.

        2016-2017 will be a good year.

        2017-2018 will be an exciting year.

        2018-2019 will be an awesome year.