Brad Treliving talks Matthew Tkachuk, Brian Elliott

According to Brad Treliving, Matthew Tkachuk and Brian Elliott have something crucial in common: character.

“I like the players we added today,” Treliving said, following a productive first round of the draft. “I like the makeup, the DNA of them, too. Those kind of guys help you win, and I think that’s important.”

It’s safe to say the Flames had a very good day.

Matthew Tkachuk

Tkachuk was the Flames’ guy, and he’s got pretty much everything the Flames want. He’s smart, with great hockey sense. He’s competitive, and he’s won with that ambition. He can score, and he’ll go where he needs to to get those goals. He can excel with other incredible players; his elite line with the London Knights all fed off each other.

In fact, he’s kind of like Sam Bennett. “He is an absolute pain the rear end to play against,” Treliving said. “[He and Bennett are] hard-nosed guys; I call those guys they can play in April, May, and June when the rinks shorten up and there’s no space.” Tkachuk is already clearly a playoff performer: he’s won the Memorial Cup, which is one of the hardest trophies to win. And he had to work like hell for it, too.

A true warrior

In Tkachuk’s own media availability, he downplayed the injuries he played through in the Memorial Cup, simply brushing them off as things everyone has to go through in order to win. Treliving was far more willing to give him credit:

“To give you a little indication about what Matthew Tkachuk is all about, he had a bad ankle sprain, he had a banged up shoulder, he was getting stuff frozen to play every game in the playoffs, and he scores the game-winning goal in the Memorial Cup. A day later he’s at the combine. I think his summer lasted six or seven days. He’s already back training and working out in the Toronto area.”

A non-stop worker dedicated not only dedicated to winning, but with the talent to help a team to a championship? How can you not love the guy? He’s also a versatile forward, too – although he’s a left winger with a left shot, he played all three forward positions last year, and could potentially fit in anywhere in the lineup.

Worth waiting for

Tkachuk is very eager to get going with his NHL career, too. When he visited Treliving, he said, “You draft me, I’m going to make your team,” to which Treliving responded, “We’re not looking for the guy to make it the fastest – I’m looking for the guy who’s going to be the best when he gets here.” He’s driven – but he’s also young, and there are no spots guaranteed for him in the slightest. It may not be until the 2017-18 season we see him in the Flames’ lineup.

But he’s good, and exactly who the Flames wanted. They love his personality, and they love everything else about him, too.

“His hockey sense is, in my mind, elite,” said Treliving. “To go along with some good hands, a real bite to his game, and he’s just a dirty s.o.b. to play against. I love that combination.”

Brian Elliott

Elliott was the perfect fit for the Flames: a great goalie on a great contract that gives the team some major flexibility. He fits them now, and he might just fit them in the future, as a conditional third round pick was given up if he re-signs with the Flames – although they aren’t in any rush to extend him just yet.

Treliving recognized that Elliott may not be the most popular name; he certainly doesn’t get the fanfare others in the Flames’ goalie search have. But his cost to acquire was a reasonable one, and, as Treliving put it, “you dig into the numbers, this guy’s been one of the best goaltenders in the league for the last number of years.”

The Flames also believe Elliott is capable of grabbing the #1 mantle. He played 59 games this past season, including the playoffs, and posted fantastic numbers. Throw in the flexibility his currently short-term contract – $2.5 million for just one more season – gives, and the fact that he cost the 35th overall pick, and it’s a deal the Flames are extremely happy with. And they were able to get him because of the trades they made at the deadline, acquiring additional second round picks for Jiri Hudler and Kris Russell. “We don’t have extra second round picks, we’re not sitting with a goalie today,” Treliving said.

Good goalie, great person

The Flames love Brian Elliott the person. 

“You go and talk to teammates, you go and talk to coaches that have been around. He is loved by people that he plays with,” Treliving said. “We think that’s a really important thing. He’ll drive your practice. Anybody you talk to – I was doing my research – said he’ll be the hardest worker you have in practice. … You start going out in the market, you start talking about Brian Elliott, and it’s hard to find people who said a bad word about him.”

Elliott is currently in Croatia, but Treliving talked to him earlier in the day, well before the trade went down. “When he knew there was a potential opportunity to come to Calgary he was excited. And like I said, we’re excited about the person too. This guy’s got some juice and he’s – apart from being a real good goalie, which is paramount – he’s a real good teammate.”

And Joni

So, what about Joni Ortio’s status? Treliving confirmed that they still like him quite a bit, and while he had his fair share of negatives throughout the season, so did pretty much everyone on the Flames. He had a strong finish, though – and now, with a more experienced goalie in Elliott, the Flames have rounded out their goaltending age groups. 

Treliving may or may not be committed to the idea of Elliott as a starter and Ortio a backup, but there’s still plenty of time before the Flames take to the ice again – and therefore, plenty of time before a decision has to be made.

  • Stu Cazz

    I don’t believe BT is finished with the goaltending…perhaps signing Riemer or another experienced free agent….as much as I like Ortio he will no doubt have stiff completion at camp….hopefully he remains with the organization…

  • Hey BT, no more goalies please! Elliot is the starter, Ortio is #2, Gillies gets hot in Stockton. If goaltending is problematic in the middle of the season, there is cap space and trades to made then. Hopefully BT focuses on the contracts that need to be signed and the issues in Stockton concerning the development of their young guns there.

  • Franko J

    Again Treliving focuses on the # 1 team need in this year’s draft. The Flames needed a goalie and mission accomplished. Surprisingly not giving up any roster players or any prospects.

    Unlike Sutter who traded away too many second round picks for basically fodder, Treliving has managed to utilize the second round picks to build the team. Picks are major currency and right now Treliving understands what it takes to make the Flames better by acquiring 2nd rounders.

    Maybe I’m jaded and bias in my assessment, but the Flames are always making noise and never provide a dull moment on draft day. Always something happening with the Flames.

  • OKG

    Tkachuk… Monahan… Colborne… Jokipakka… Giordano… I worry we have too many players who won’t be able to have the foot speed to keep up with the likes of Kessel, Crosby, Malkin, Hagelin, Letang if we manage to break out of the West…our first contention window is coming up soon before Gio’s decline.

    Up North, McDavid, Hall and Puljujarvi present one of the fastest trios ever to play together to go with Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins, and Nurse. I’d hate to see them surge past us.

    Foot speed was a killer for the Capitals, the President’s Trophy winner, so what’s to say it doesn’t hurt us? It hurt the Sharks too, who were built as Treliving seems to advocate.

    Well, at least we have Brodie, Bennett, Jankowski, Gaudreau, Backlund, Frolik. Hopefully Kulak is promoted to the big club as well, his foot speed would be a welcome addition to our top 4 now that Russell is gone. I still think we need to acquire one more top 9 burner.

    • Truculence

      Lol, go back to Oiler Nation! In what world are Draisaitl and Nurse elite skaters? Outside of Mcdavid and maybe Puljujarvi, that collection of forwards is one of the most pathetic two-way group I have ever seen -and the Oilers’ record over the past years pretty much backs that up.

    • smatic10

      You know what’s a great draft tactic? Prioritizing foot speed over everything else. [end sarcasm]

      Tkachuk was the best available and that’s who we picked. It was the right move. We’re not a slow team by any means, we have speed and mobility. But we also have grit and skill. The Hawks have shown that a blend of all that can build a championship team. In fact, they’ve shown that three times since 2010.

      Just a reminder, Kessel and Hagelin were acquired through trades. If need be, the Flames can improve through that avenue.

      As it sits right now, the Oilers are the same dismal team from last year + Puljujarvi. You think the addition of one player is going to make them a drastically better team? We have better goaltending, defensemen, and one could argue better offensive depth (at least we have forwards that can play a 200 ft game).

      • BlueMoonNigel

        There are a lot of now ex-NHLers in their late 20s and early 30s who are out of the game because they lacked foot speed. Don’t kid yourself, the ability to keep up with the flow is huge and the need to be fast has never been a more important elelment in the NHL.

  • Prototype369

    I would very much like to avoid another three headed goalie monster to start off the 2016/2017 season. Treliving is smart enough to learn from his mistake from last year when he signed a bona fide starter on the decline in Hiller, a very good 1b goalie who was on the fringe of being a starter in Ramo, and an organizational investment that was streaky, but one that we didn’t want to give up on in Ortio. Elliot has proven himself to be a genuinely good starter in St Louis. I admit he was playing for the blues, a team about 2-3 times as good as the flames, but I am 95% sure Elliot will be comfortable in playing 55-60 games. I don’t know who wrote it on a different article, but he’s a Honda Accord, not flashy or elite, but solid and dependable. Ortio is at the point where he needs to play 20-30 games and show the flames organization what he’s worth. Elite, good starter, good 1b, or just a fill in back up. Like a certain goalie from Turku, Finland that took us to the cup finals, I have a good gut feeling about Ortio. In summary, please don’t sign Reimer, we don’t need him lol.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Comfortable playing 55-60 games. Based on what? The last time he played 55 games was 2009-10, when most Flame fans were still chanting the mantra “in Sutter I trust.”

      Has only played in 40+ games the last couple of seasons. To say 55-60 will be a breeze is a stretch.

      By acquiring Elliot, Tre did as I told him: don’t get a veteran goalie with a big contract and term remaining, like MAF or Howie, and don’t get a goalie poised to make gazillions: Bishop.

      My only beef with the Elliot trade is that Tre overpaid. He gave a high second for a guy the Blues were not going to resign and did not even have in their plans for the new season.

      According to KMOX, Armstrong would have been happy with a pair of 4ths for Elliot and then Tre came along and blew strong arm out of the water with a high 2nd and 3rd.

      Poor asset management by Tre because he could have got Elliot or a reasonable facsimile for less if he had been a bit more savvy.