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.
Kekalainen said #CBJ wouldn’t trade No. 3 pick – even if offer is worthy – until first two players go off the board in Friday’s first round.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) June 22, 2016
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.
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.
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.”
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) June 23, 2016
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.”