The Calgary Flames were admittedly involved in a ton of trade conversations over the 2016 draft weekend in Buffalo. At the end of it, though, the Flames had made just the one deal with St. Louis despite arriving at the NHL’s annual convention with ten picks. While one trade might fall short of the expectations set by all that fun speculation, it doesn’t mean Calgary’s weekend was a disappointment.
I thought Brian Burke laid it out really well on Saturday morning. The President of Hockey Operations joined me on Sportsnet 960’s draft broadcast and explained why speculation rarely leads to consummation, especially on the draft floor.
“The way this business works, really, truly, it’s like, you’re lucky if you chase seven deals hard, you’re lucky to make one,” Burke said.
“I’m not talking about one phone call. [I’m talking about] where you talk about a framework, follow it up with another phone call, another phone call, another phone call. Now you’ve invested three or four hours in this deal with your staff…and a lot of them at the end the other teams says no or you say no. You chase a lot of rabbits in this business that go down holes. You only catch rabbits, you know, once in a while. We spent a lot of time leading into this draft, we spent a lot of time [Friday] on the floor at this draft, and came up dry with a lot of things.”
It seems like the Flames were very much in a rabbit hunting mood this weekend. We all saw the Twitter conversations and the television shots on Friday night. We all heard the growing speculation of something happening between Calgary, Edmonton, and Columbus and their first round picks. Nothing ended up happening, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying according to general manager Brad Treliving.
“There was lots of discussion the last couple days, even in the hours leading up to the draft starting on different scenarios,” Treliving told me. “You know, a trade, a three way trade, we had some different things that we looked at.”
I wasn’t overly surprised to see the Flames stand pat on day one. Moving into the top five is so rarely seen these days and even though Calgary tried their best, the price was just too high. It didn’t matter anyway; Matthew Tkachuk, the guy they were trying to move up to pick, fell to the Flames at number six overall.
Day two was where I thought we might see a few moves from Calgary, but more of the minor variety. Treliving packaged some picks last year to move back into the second round for Oliver Kylington, for instance, and I thought moves like that were more likely. They used all eight of their remaining picks, though, and Treliving gave the impression of a much quieter trade market.
“I wouldn’t say any of the discussions [on day 2], other than, you know, we looked at a couple things in terms of moving picks back and forth. I would consider it as future talks for things at a later date.”
Making all eight of their day two selections is just fine, as is leaving Buffalo with nine new players. Actually, make that ten thanks to Friday’s acquisition of goaltender Brian Elliott. The Flames did make one trade, let’s not forget, and it was a pretty major one. It’s even more significant they got that deal done with St. Louis in what is a rather stagnant climate.
“The market is kind of stalled right now,” Treliving disclosed. “You can see this happen, again, financially, people trying to move contracts, you’ve got free agency, and so it’s a bit of a plugged market right now.”
Hey, it might have been a clogged marketplace, but Calgary still mined some gold from it. Elliott makes them better right away, and nine new prospects improves them down the road. Was it the sexiest Flames draft ever on the trade front? No, probably not. But they made their team instantly better and didn’t get fleeced. I think we can chalk that up as a win.