Know the pic quality is awful but Kekalainen, Chiarelli and Treliving are all talking together now pic.twitter.com/rpOBICc826
— Mike Halford (@HalfordPHT) June 24, 2016
For about a 90 minute stretch on Friday afternoon right before the first pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, Flames twitter was losing its collective mind.
With hype of a potential trade up to third overall and right into the promised land of Jesse Puljujarvi, Flames GM Brad Treliving and Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen were having long, involved discussions every 10 minutes (or at least, it felt like that). It surely had to be about the pick.
“We were looking at possible scenarios to move down,” Kekalainen confirmed post-draft.
About half an hour after it was first reported that the Flames and Blue Jacket GMs were talking on the floor of the First Niagara Center, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli joined Treliving and Kekalainen in discussions.
A three team deal? Treliving confirmed exactly that on Sportsnet 960 after the first round, saying he had discussions “involving picks” and there was a “three team deal” in the works but “nothing was close.”
Trelving is known to downplay a lot of things and shares very little with the media, which appears to be the case here because Peter Chiarelli seemed to disagree with Treliving’s assessment of the state of the deal.
“We were about 75% of the way to a deal,” said Chiarelli when asked about the fourth overall pick. Chiarelli also said he only had one real possibility to deal that pick, and given the intensity and quantity of huddles between the three GMs right up until the picks were made, that was the deal. Even outsiders agreed.
“I was pretty certain something would get done with the third and fourth overall picks,” Canucks President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden said on TSN 1040 in a post-draft interview.
So, our dreams were not just dreams. They were very much a reality; it just came down to asking price, and maybe a bit of a big mouth from Kekalainen.
Jason Gregor of OilersNation and many other places was also on TSN 1040, and said the Oilers were set on trading down – presumably to six – until they got wind that Columbus was interested in Dubois at three. The original plan for Edmonton had been to take Russian defenceman Mikhail Sergachev at fourth overall (or wherever they were drafting), but Chiarelli still preferred Puljujarvi to any rearguard.
At some point during the discussions, it was revealed to Chiarelli that Columbus would not trade down past four because Vancouver was dead-set on Dubois, and Columbus was not willing to risk the third guy on their board. Realizing that Columbus would take Dubois at three if it came down to it, the game had changed.
Chiarelli was now trading away Jesse Puljujarvi.
Like any smart negotiator would do, he upped his ante. Probably by a significant margin. Since the Flames were highly unlikely to include Dougie Hamilton – the right-handed top pairing defenceman Edmonton craves – in any deal, and Edmonton loved the big Finn to begin with, the three, four, six swap was dead in the water.
Chiarelli and Kekalainen had another few discussions after Treliving recused himself, but at that point all hope was lost.
Hardly a huge tragedy, as all three teams walked away from this quite happy, but an extremely interesting wrinkle to what is always a day packed with storylines, nonetheless. In the end, the Blue Jackets got their guy at three, Edmonton lucked into another exceptional talent and the Calgary Flames got the next best thing to Puljujarvi in the scrappy and skilled Matthew Tkachuk.
The days and hours leading up to 2016 NHL Draft seem to have been filled with a ton of hot air – which I suppose is par for the course this time of year – but there was one rumour that was more than that. For the second straight year Brad Treliving almost pulled off another blockbuster, franchise-altering trade.
It didn’t quite work out in the end, but the Flames still came out aces, and it gave us a heck of an entertaining, adrenaline-filled ride.
So what do you think the three-way deal looked like before Edmonton got wind of Columbus’ preference at third overall? The Flames made the Elliott deal immediately after, so perhaps the 35th overall selection was involved? Sound off in the comments!