Brad Treliving on July 1: a retrospective

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.

  • I’d like to see Okposo, and here’s why:

    I’ve seen a lot of fans suggesting options like Brouwer or Helm or Brett Connolly as right wing options. However, what the Flames really need is a top-six right winger. We have one of those right now (Frolik), and most good teams have two. Even assuming Colborne walks, we have a glut of bottom-six RW options (Chiasson, Bollig, (at the moment) Shinkaruk, Hathaway), and what we really need is a top-six RW.

    Many fans wish to acquire one of Brouwer or Helm or Connolly or someone in that mould because the top RW options are all going to be expensive; however, in order to land a player capable of thriving with Johnny and Sean, we’ll need to pay significant cash. I’m OK with paying 6 million x 5 or 6 years for Okposo, because he’s a proven first-line winger.

    Even if he has been buoyed in Long Island by a good centre in Tavares (and I don’t think that is the entire story), well, here in Calgary he can be buoyed by good linemates in Johnny and Mono.

    Sooner or later, the Flames need to make a step forward up front. Okposo’s younger (he’s only 28), and has first-line skill. He should be a primary target for Treliving tomorrow — unless, of course, the price goes WAY too high (into the 7 million range).

    • CofRed4Life

      I’m not opposed to Okposo, but how do we fit him under the cap? I think that’s one of the bigger issues, and why cheaper options are more appealing (I personally would like to see Connolly)

    • DoubleDIon

      Is this the season to do it though and is Okposo the player to go after? I’d argue the answer to both is no. Next year we lose 12.91 million in bad money. I’d prefer a short term solution on a one year deal that can play in your middle six. Someone who is more like Stempniak than Okposo. Go after Jamie McGinn or Troy Brouwer if they are willing to go light on term.

      Next offseason there are lots of options. Sure, some will be extended but there’s names like Marchand and Benn available. I’d rather throw 9 million per at Benn than 6 million per at Okposo. If you spend that on Okposo you’re probably never a cup contender even though you likely make the playoffs next year. Benn could push us over the top into contender status.

    • everton fc

      I like what you’re saying, but can’t see how we afford him. We need to wait one more year, when some of these big contracts fall off. Who is an good UFA candidate in 2017-18? Or, by then, Tkachuk and Shinkaruk, Pribyl and maybe even Poirier, are ready to contribute.

  • Styxx

    For fun try this out:

    Add David Backes ($5M) to patrol with Gaudreau & Monahan
    Add Matt Martin ($2.2M) to Jankowski and Hathaway
    Sign Colborne ($2.8M x 2 years)
    Backes & Martin help transform the team culture, provide missing mental tenacity and propel it forward

    To afford these moves:
    Provide 2-3 year bridge contracts totalling $8M for Johnny/Monny (“saves” $6M for a couple years)
    Trade Wideman (retain $2M; frees up $3M; else buy him out)

    Line Up:
    1. Gaudreau/Monahan/David Backes – stalwart leadership when the going gets tough, counters Lucic to Edm, brings speed & skill & tenacity, opens up space for the kids
    2. Tkachuk(Poirier)/Bennett/Frolik – skill, speed, secondary scoring, responsible
    3. Stajan/Backlund/Chiasson – excellent defensive line
    4. Matt Martin/Jankowski/Hathaway – great 4th line: hitting, energy, havoc

    Extras: Poirier (after 9 games for Tkachuk), Bouma, Colborne, Ferland

    • freethe flames

      Not really. It seems that the numbers have been relatively set by other contracts; Forsberg, Barkov= Monahan somewhere around $6m a year, and Tarasenko at $7.5 for Johnny; the hold up is probably term. If the Flames want the full 8 years the players might want a little extra. The one issue might be someone offer sheeting Monahan (I believe I read somewhere that Johnny can’t be offer sheeted but I do not know that for sure).

      • Sanintarious

        Monahan has the potential for an offer sheet, however Gaudreau isn’t eligible to be offer sheeted. He only played 1 game for his first season, so he hasn’t played enough games to have that option.

        • Just a Fan

          I am not sure where you are getting this. Gaudreau is 22 years old. That is why he is an RFA. If he was a year younger he would still be on his entry level contract and we would be having this discussion next year.

          As I read the CBA (I’m not a lawyer) an offer sheet is available to any RFA who is unsigned and who is not scheduled for arbitration.

          I believe that both Monahan and Gaudreau could sign an offer sheet tomorrow and Calgary would have to match. Further I believe that their respective agents have been talking to every team in the league and know exactly what there value is and if they might expect an offer. I am worried about both but more about Monahan because he is a center.

          • piscera.infada

            It has been widely reported.

            It’s a strange little “loophole” (I use that term loosely, because it isn’t actually a loophole, it’s just not outright stated in the CBA) that Gaudreau falls into. The relevant sections are thus:

            Sec.10.2(a) notes that players who sign their entry-level contract between 18 and 21 and play 3 years of NHL hockey (a “year” is ten, or more games in one season), are eligible “Group 2 players”–likewise, if they sign between 22-23, it’s 2 years; and 24 and older, it’s one year.

            Sec. 10.2(c) stipulates that when an entry-level player has played less than the required number of games to become a “Group 2 player”, the club that singed the entry-level contract “[and] makes [a] Qualifying Offer will have the exclusive right to negotiate with any such Player“.

            Gaudreau signed his entry-level contract on April 11, 2014 (when he was 20 years old). As such, he has not fulfilled the required number of games to become a “Group 2 player”. Yes, the first year of his contract is “burned” in absolute terms (as an eligible “season” under his SPC), but he is not eligible for an offer sheet because he never “played” that first year in the NHL–per the CBA, of course (the 10 game limit required for “Group 2 players”).

            Hope that helps? Like I said, a little vague, but it’s in there.

      • Hockeyfan

        JG can’t get offer sheets but money can. I was thinking maybe Flames don’t want them on same contracts and that is causing cost problems. Fair value i would think would be Money 6 to 6.5 mil for 6 years, JG 7 to 7.5 mil for 5 or 6 years.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Personally, I feel the deals are essentially done on Johnny and Monny. BT has likely not announced it so he can play the free agent game. The minute both are locked in at a combined14 million, without any other deletions is when everyone can do the math on what is left to play with. Once this happens BT loses his leverage. I would find it strange if Monny and Joe who have active ambassadors for the Flames over the summer are not rewarded.

    • freethe flames

      While I was hoping this would happen I’m beginning to think his value may go up after tomorrows shopping spree for over priced RHD defenders is over. Some team will not get the RHD who can play on their PP and then we might see the trade. He may look very good to someone if the Flames eat some salary.

  • Backburner

    Wideman not bough out.. so either they plan on trading him, or they aren’t planning on signing many free agents.

    With all the free agent defenseman now available: Wisniewski (Right), Jason Demers (Right), Matt Greene (Right).. does that make the Larsson acquisition even worse?

    • Hockeyfan

      For sure it does. Another bad Chia decision . They had to start doing something to improve the function of their defense. I hope to see a big improvement in the Flames d function next year with Elliott in net and a new coach.

  • freethe flames

    I expect very little to happen for the Flames, their cap situation being the reason. However I would not be surprised to see some low cost forwards being signed.

  • Styxx

    The real interesting question where we may see some answers tomorrow is….what type of team philosophy does Treliving think is needed to win.

    For the last few years we’ve had:
    – suffocating defence & size/heaviness mixed with some elite skill (LAK, SJS, ANA, STL)
    – greater elite skill with less size (CHI, TBL, PIT)

    This year Pittsburgh brought elite skill with an added high focus on speed to beat a heavy skilled team in San Jose. An aberration or a trend?

    So what type of team (and therefore players) does Treliving feel will form the cup-winning brew in 3-5 years time?

    Reportedly he’s after Matt Martin and has an interest in Lucic. Both are truculent Burke-type players, and lend themselves to being able to battle the California teams.

    On the other hand Okposo & Boedker fall more into the CHI / PIT style players.

    Only 1 more sleep to find out 🙂

      • Styxx

        I agree. Very slow. Floats defensively. However he oozes leadership, would protect the kids, and bring tenacity to the team.

        If Tre feels that type of leadership profile is needed I would go after Backes or bring home Ladd. However they’re both very expensive too.

        • Willi P

          You’re right, not a goon. “Goons” will drop the gloves, man on man. Lucic is just cheap and dirty. Spears to the groin, threatens people in the hand shake line when he loses, gets in night club altercations. No class. Kind of like Kassian with more skill. He has diminishing foot speed which was limited to begin with and will likely be ineffective in 2-4 years. Any GM giving him more than a 4 year deal will regret it.

  • freethe flames

    With @6-7m to spend at FA BT needs to get the best bang for his money; which probably means no big fish for the Flames and I’m okay with that. I would rather he come away with 4 NHL players that make us better than overpay for someone. Next year when he has cap space he can look at the big contracts.

    If we came away from FA with:
    1 of these 3 defenders signed; Nakladal, Wiercoich, or Trotman for 2 or 3 years.

    2/3 of these forwards; Marchessault, Smith-Pelly, B Bennett, Connolley, Jooris or Pirri again for 2-3 years.

    and a back up goalie: Ortio, Johnson, Enroth or ???

    I would see this FA as a good one. Also if homegrown Joe signed for @2.2m I would be happy but I suspect he gets a better offer than that.