5 things you need to know from Buffalo (so far)


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The countdown to the 2016 NHL Draft has entered its final stages with the Calgary Flames right in the middle of the action. The Flames have been connected to numerous trade rumours and will likely continue that way until they leave Buffalo on Saturday. With plenty swirling around so far, here are the top Calgary takeaways from Western New York so far.

Ahead are some quotes, so just a couple quick links before we get into it if you’re interested and want to hear the source material.

1. They’re looking hard for a goalie

While this might seem like a “duh” statement, it’s actually more of a motherhood declaration. The Flames are actively searching for a goaltender and that search has intensified in the last 24-36 hours. Everyone knows Calgary needs a goalie and the conditions seem to suggest an ability to strike a deal while at the draft.

General manager Brad Treliving admitted on Thursday morning his team is in a “number of markets” for a goaltender. He also admitted a confirmed expansion team in Las Vegas for the 2017-2018 season has had an effect on the situation, calling it an added “little wrinkle” to his team’s quest.

Assistant general Craig Conroy elaborated on the impact expansion could make when I spoke to him later on Thursday.

“Maybe it’s not the top guys,” Conroy told me. “Maybe it’s just a guy you like from the minors so it gives you more options. You look what [Matt] Murray just did…last year there were three or four guys that went to different teams. There’s guys out there, we just need to make sure we get the right guy for us.”

Conroy says the options for the Flames have opened up significantly since expansion was rubber stamped, so let’s see if it can help the team this weekend.

2. Trading for a goalie is desirable

Calgary’s mindset right now is focused on acquiring a goalie via a trade as opposed to free agency. Unrestricted free agency opens in a week and the Flames could upgrade between the pipes by going down that avenue, but Conroy says it’s not their top priority.

“Free agency you always get nervous because it could get limited and you don’t know how much you’re going to pay,” Conroy disclosed. “At this point we’re looking trade and then we’re going to see where that goes. If that doesn’t make sense…then we’re right back in ready for free agency and then you re-adjust.”

That quote kind of mirrors where my head is at with Calgary’s goaltending search. The more desirable options are definitely under contract to other teams for next season. From Ben Bishop to Marc-Andre Fleury and Brian Elliott, the biggest difference makers would have to be acquired by giving up assets.

As Kent wrote earlier, pending free agent James Reimer presents an interesting option via free agency. Unfortunately, he’s the best prize available in the annual bidding war with a fairly sizeable drop-off after that.  Calgary can’t put all their eggs in Reimer’s basket, so trying to get something between the pipes done via trade probably makes the most sense.

3. Prices for goalies are high

Asking prices in net are way up there, at least for now. That doesn’t mean they’re going to stay that way, though.

“Obviously with Andersen going to Toronto, it changes things,” Conroy said. “That kind of set the price so now we’re looking at that and we’re trying to figure out how we can make things work.”

The Leafs gave up a late first round pick and a 2017 second round pick to obtain Andersen’s rights earlier this week. From some of what I’ve been told, a deal like that is just the starting point for some of the goalies still available right now.

The Calgary Sun reported earlier this week the Penguins were asking for Calgary’s sixth overall selection as compensation for Fleury. I’ve been told it was more than that, though; the Penguins were asking for number six from the Flames AND something on top of that. That’s simply too high of a price to pay for Fleury.

The hope is to see some of these prices drop as the weekend continues. As Treliving said Thursday morning, you can’t acquire 2016 picks once the draft is completed so there is an expiry date on some of his currency. That deadline might convince potential dance partners to come off their high asks a little bit.

4. They’re not worried about losing Jon Gillies

This one is on the fringe a little bit but it certainly impacts Calgary’s course of action. With next summer’s expansion draft looming, there is some debate as to whether goaltender Jon Gillies would be exempt from protection lists or not. Remember, his contract started rolling at the end of the 2014-2015 season despite not seeing a minute of professional ice time until the following season. That puts his “second year pro” exempt status in the grey, but the team doesn’t seem worried.

“I’m pretty sure that’s not an issue,” Treliving revealed although he was unable to confirm on Thursday morning.

Gillies’s exemption status is obviously a big deal for the Flames. If he does qualify for an exemption, the team doesn’t have to worry about losing one of him or a potentially newly acquired goalie in the expansion draft. If on the off chance he does not qualify, though, it throws a rather large wrench into things.

5. It sounds like a forward is likely at sixth overall

Calgary’s cupboards are somewhat bare when it comes to high end prospect forwards. That’s mainly because Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and Sam Bennett are all playing in the NHL. Defensively, though, they’re a little more set with Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, and Brandon Hickey all in the system.

While Conroy didn’t come right out and tell me, it sure does sound like the Flames are leaning towards taking a forward with their first pick on Friday night.

“We feel very strong on defence,” he said. “We feel like we’ve got…with Engelland and Jokipakka we have we feel six guys we’re very comfortable with. You have that group, [it’s] not a priority but…like we always said, if it’s the best player in our mind and he’s sitting there then that’s who we’re going to take. If we could get a forward…it would be nice to have a forward to build around with Bennett, Monahan, Gaudreau. Add another high, high pick like that as a forward and a guy that you feel is going to be an impact player, that’s pretty exciting.”

Adding another forward like Alexander Nylander or, less likely, Pierre-Luc Dubois or Matthew Tkachuk would be huge going forward. It has become an organizational area of need once again while the back end is a little more set in the futures department. The Flames have a chance to draft a really strong forward prospect at number six and it sounds like they’re leaning that way.

  • al rain

    “the Penguins were asking for number six from the Flames AND something on top of that.”

    That’s crazy, right? It’s not just me with my Flames-coloured glasses on? That’s genuinely, certifiably, 100% batsh!t crazy. Right?

    I thought the 6#OA was a joke. But it looks like the ask is… more?

    Def scratching my head here this eve.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Sir, you are delusional. According to many of the posters on this forum, JR hasn’t slept for 72 hours as he is in full-panic mode envisioning the loss of MAF for nothing.

          All tre has to do is keep pitching Wideman and Stajan for MAF, and the old man will blink. In Tre I trust! He can do no wrong. Heck, he could go off the map and draft Pu with the 6th pick and we fanatical Flames fans would know it was the right move because Tre did it.

        • Backburner

          It makes sense that the Pens want a first round pick, as of right now they don’t have one.

          But to ask for the 6th overall will never happen.

          The only starter worth that pick right now is probably Holtby.

    • Baalzamon

      It’s not just you. Andersen went for the 30th and a second rounder. He’s more valuable than Fleury on account of being five years younger, cheaper, and under contract for longer. Oh, and just as good.

    • Backlund Best

      The ask is definitely crazy, the last goalie to go for a pretty high pick was when Cory Schneider was traded for pick #9 back in 2013(?). It just doesn’t happen, and even if it did, Fluery isn’t worth that.

    • smatic10

      Yea I was wondering why there wasn’t more outrage over that proposal. Rutherford was probably still woozy from the champagne when he suggested that trade. Regardless, he needs to get off his high horse and offer a proper deal. I’m glad we have a sensible GM who wont get fleeced in a trade.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Not at all. Rutherford is in the zone. All he has been doing the last half year is making all the right moves and winning a cup.

      Worst thing that happens to the Pens is that they lose MAF in the expansion draft, but how big a loss is that if it also means $6M off the books for two more years?

      Rutherford is like Lebron James in Games 6 and 7: a man who is so sure of himself that he believes he can’t lose.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Not at all in a cap world where your team is already close to the ceiling. Look at what the Hawks did recently to relieve their own cap issue. Wings may have to give away a top drawer prospect to another club to take PD’s fat contract. It’s the new way of doing business in the NHL. 9 to 5 no longer exists,

          Besides, there may be ample opportunity to move MAF once the new season begins. If next February the Flames are in the hunt for the playoffs despite wonky goaltending, the Flames will be pitching the whole nine yards for Fleury.

          A patient JR is going to get a lot more for MAF than if he behaves like a man with his hair on fire. When is panicking the recommended course of action?

        • Nedd

          Not if they get to keep him for another playoff run and maintain probably the best goalie tandem in the league for the next season. This gives them added security in case Murray isn’t yet 100% ready to take the reigns.

          So really Rutherford is likely to only trade him if they get something substantial, otherwise why bother? If his long term salary is a concern then they just need to expose him in the expansion draft where he’ll likely be taken (as you point out).

      • MWflames

        Incorrect. Fleury has a NMC, meaning he is automatically protected in expansion draft. Also, Pit cannot protected 2 goalies. So, worst case Ontario, they lose Murray, and are left with a declining, expensive asset in which they’ve already made clear is old news in Pit.

        This is why Rutherford has absolutely zero leverage. This is why he may have to pay for someone to take MAF.

        Any talk about 6th OA for MAF is made up crap as far as im concerned, not ever Rutherford could make that ask with a straight face.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Okay. Then what makes you think MAF will waive his NMC to come to Calgary? Are you suggesting the lure of being the #1 goalie on one of the worst teams in the league is a powerful lure to cause MAF to come here? Don’t take it personally, but Calgary is also one of the NHL backwaters, so it is hardly an attractive destination for a guy who has won cups and been Canada’s goalie.

          Fleury is also about glitz and glamor. He has done some fashion modelling and he used to date one of New York’s top models. I hardly think Calgary is on his radar.

          If JR wants MAF to waive his NMC, then he had better be prepared to give Fleury something to sweeten the move. Likewise, Tre would need to do the same for JR.

          • MWflames

            What on earth are you talking about (also @ Oilsersuck’s comment)?

            Your comments dont address the only point of mine: my point was that JR has no leverage askin for a big return, and that Pit is backed into a corner. A corner they have a year to get out of, but a corner nonetheless.

            Nowhere did I insinuate that MAF wants to play here, nor that calgary wants to trade for him.

            I wouldn’t be totally surprised, if Pit wants assets out of this situation, they may have to resort to trading Murray at face value.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        I’m not sure why anyone bothers engaging in conversation with this commentor.

        You seem to write comments in an attempt to convince FN to make a stupid decison and derail the Flames. NEWS FLASH: this site and every site like it has ZERO influence on Flames decisions. What the writers and commentors think and write are meaningless where the Flames organization is concerned. Nothing written here impacts what the Flames management does now or ever.

        Plain and simple your comments are consistently weird on all levels.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Thank you for complimenting me for being reliable and consistent! In a world where change happens rapidly, where friends suddenly become enemies where bad overnight becomes good, you view as a Rock of Gibraltar type. You’ve made my Friday.

    • cberg

      It is crazy, but Rutherford can keep him all year and go for back-to-back Cups and then worry about dumping a goalie. That’s what I would be doing. Flames need to move on to another option, and if Stamkos indeed goes to Free Agency Bishop will be kept too. Not a problem, other (better for the Flames) options still out there.

  • Backlund Best

    Glad to hear that it will likely be a forward taken at 6. Not even looking at what we have in the pipeline, trying to project what players will be, it’s definitely harder to project defensemen than it is forwards, and it doesn’t seem like there’s an absolute standout guy (like an Aaron Ekblad, who was clearly head and shoulders better than the other D in his class).

    That being said, provided someone doesn’t fall, I would be happy with any of Nylander, Keller, Juolevi, or Sergachev (in no particular order). Hoping for a forward, but I don’t think you can miss with any of those four players.

  • RKD

    Rutherford wants our 1st round pick and more for Fleury?! No way is Fleury worth that much. BT should tell old Jimmy to fly a kite. Unless they can move up from 6 I think they will keep their pick.

    • Kevin R

      Rutherford can pound & keep MAF. He’ll be getting pennies on the dollar if MAF is still a Pen at the next TDL. If he doesn’t get moved then, he’ll be kicking in a sweetener for us to take him next June. Screw him.

  • Thunder1

    Big and Local becomes Big and Local and Rich sometime, somewhere this weekend. If you know him, then you know, barring injury, the guy’s not getting any worse in the next three years.

    Big ang Local and the 35th for Bishop, I think.

  • everton fc

    We take Fluery for Stajan and our #53. Nothing else.

    We should sign Reimer – trade Wideman for the Reimer’s rights. This shed salary. If Reimer doesn’t sign, we can go after someone else.

    Bishop will be too expensive. Haven’t really thought of Elliott.

    And if Dubois is gone, please pick Nylander!

  • freethe flames

    With @13 hours until we draft I hope that BT does not overpay for either mAF or BB as anything we have heard rumored is crazy. It is way better to take our chances with the UFA route as we can control the term and cap hit and save assets. If he trades for a goalie today I expect(hope) it will be a low cost RFA back up or a goalie with 1 year on a bad contract for a bad contract. Anything else is madness.