Friday is July 1, best known in Calgary Flames circles as Jarome Iginla’s birthday, Canada Day, and the onset of the National Hockey League free agent signing period. It’s the third July 1 as general manager for Brad Treliving as well.
What can we expect from the festivities? Here’s a brief glance at Treliving’s two previous July 1s in Calgary.
The Flames were coming off a pretty impressive end to the 2013-14 season, winning two-thirds of their games following their mid-January donny-brook with the Vancouver Canucks. Treliving made three July 1 signings.
- G Jonas Hiller (two years at $4.5 million each)
- D Deryk Engelland (three years at $2.917 million each)
- F Mason Raymond (three years at $3.15 million each)
Where to start? Hiller’s signing made sense, as the Flames were bereft of good internal options and Hiller was a “name” but also a pretty savvy acquisition in terms of his playing style. His game completely fell apart in 2015-16, but that’s neither here nor there. The Engelland deal was a bit heavy cap-wise, likely because Engelland was part of a bidding war between teams that wanted (a) a right-shooting defenseman and (b) somebody that played a physical game – both of which were things the Flames highly valued at the time. Raymond was coming off a 40-point season with Toronto (on a great $1 million cap hit), and the Flames gambled that he’d be able to continue that for his hometown team. (Whoops.)
These were the majority of Treliving’s 2014 moves, though he added Devin Setoguchi and Corey Potter at the end of the summer. There was a lot of Brian Burke in those moves – an emphasis on established names and “safe” moves – but you can also see the underlying logic behind them. I wouldn’t say he was calling the shots, but it’s a lot like when a child is learning to ride a bike; they might steer a bit, but the parent is still propelling them primarily.
Setoguchi and Potter didn’t really work out, but the Flames had a pretty great 2014-15 season and Treliving went into the summer of 2015 looking to grab a few things to fill the team out and help them take the next step.
- G Karri Ramo (one year at $3.8 million)
- F Michael Frolik (five years at $4.3 million each)
- F Derek Grant (one year, two-way deal at $700,000)
The entirety of Treliving’s 2015 summer moves were conducted on July 1 and they were all fairly logical. He re-signed Ramo (after trying unsuccessfully to land a bigger fish at the draft), added two-way winger Frolik (in a move that the fanbase lauded) and minor-league center Grant, and then traded Max Reinhart to Nashville for a conditional draft pick. The Frolik and Grant moves, in particular, gave the Flames much-needed forward depth, provided the club with a middle-six shutdown line (Frolik with Mikael Backlund) and adding Grant provided a much-needed staking horse for the AHL kids (and some nice NHL depth).
None of these moves had huge downsides, Ramo’s knee injury aside, and everybody performed basically as anyone would have hoped they would when they were all signed. The moves were all logical, yet there was seemingly a different logic than was at play the previous summer; can you imagine Brian Burke seeking out Frolik rather than adding some beef in the off-season? I think it’s safe to say that Treliving primarily (or entirely) drove the bus in the summer 2015 moves.
Based on the pattern we’ve seen so far – a bunch of big moves in his first summer and more strategic moves in his second – I don’t expect we’ll see a really busy July 1. Heck, the Flames don’t have a ton of cap space anyhow. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more targeted, strategic moves like the acquisitions of Frolik and Grant.