At the start of the new year we really couldn’t be sure if the Flames would be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. We head into the All-Star Break a month later with much more clarity: Calgary sits eight points out of playoff spot but only two points out of last place in the league.
It’s not over. But it’s over. Absent a miracle, the Flames are going to miss the dance this year.
So sellers it is. The good news is the club has a few UFA’s they can put up for auction (and maybe a few RFAs too). The bad news is we can’t really be sure what the possible return will be on any of these guys. Or if there will be a return at all.
In the spirit of this recent JW article at OilersNation, I took a look at who the Flames have available and whether or not the club should look to put them up on the trade block this year.
Trade Deadline Possibilities
Jiri Hudler ($4M, UFA ): Sell. A year ago Hulder would have fetched a King’s ransom for the club. Now we can’t even be certain there’ll be much interest. After leading the Flames in scoring a year ago, the 30-year-old RW is fifth on the club in points this year and has struggled with both injuries and inconsistency. He’s on pace for his lowest (non-lockout season) point total in five years and is suffering through the lowest SH% of his career.
On the plus side, Hudler has been a consistent 50+ point forward and he’s coming off a career best season. The Flames also have about a month to pump his stock back up, so it would help if Hudler turned things around in February. If he has a return to form, he’ll be Calgary’s most sought after deadline rental.
Kris Russell ($2.6M, UFA): Sell. The coach likes him, the media likes him and the team is reportedly trying to re-sign him. That said, the Flames probably can’t afford what Kris Russell will cost in free agency and he’s probably a bad bet to provide value at a higher dollar amount anyways.
Teams are usually eager to improve their defensive depth heading into the playoffs as well, so there’s bound to be real interest in the player.
Take the draft pick and run.
David Jones ($4M, UFA): Sell. Jones is a perfectly middling NHL winger. At his best, he can drive the net and score some goals. At his worst, he’s completely invisible. The Flames might be able to get something for the 30-year-old, but there’s also a good chance there won’t be much interest. He has just 14 points in 48 games after all.
Joe Colborne ($1.275M, RFA): Sell. Colborne is a bit of a divisive player. Some fans like his combination of size and hands and feel he might become a useful contributor to a winning team. His results continue to be ambiguous at best. He gets points at a decent rate, but the team consistently gets outshot and outchanced with Colborne on the ice and at nearly 26 years old it’s unlikely he’s going to get much better.
There might not be a lot of demand for Colborne, but if anyone offers more than a third rounder the Flames should consider it.
Markus Granlund ($767.5k, RFA): Sell. The Flames have been patient with Markus Granlund, moving him between the parent and AHL squad the last three years in the hopes he would develop into a solid two-way centre.
Although Granlund the younger has proven himself at the AHL level, he continues to flounder in the NHL, to the degree that’s it becoming increasingly unlikely he’ll prove to be anything more than a replacement level forward.
Granlund probably won’t garner much interest outside of some sort of package deal, but if his name comes up the Flames should consider moving him.
Derek Grant ($700k, RFA): Hold. The Heat’s best forward this year might garner some interest if only because he’s had a career season. The big centre is by far the best scorer on the Flames AHL squad this year and is also capable of winning face-offs. This combination of skills might put him on the trade radar as a useful depth option.
For those reasons the Flames should consider holding on to Grant unless they are given an absurdly good offer. Though he was a freely available minor league signing in the summer, Grant has proven to be an excellent AHLer and would be worth another look at the NHL level.
Josh Jooris ($975k, RFA): Hold. The Flames’ best bottom-six possession forward, Jooris has found himself in the Hartley’s doghouse this year for no discernible reason. A fast, tenacious forechecker and capable penalty killer, Jooris has good enough hands to score on occasion, though he’s probably never going to be a top-six forward. Nevertheless, Jooris is the Flames’ Paul Byron replacement and a cheap, young, depth signing worth keeping in the fold.
Karri Ramo (3.8M, UFA): Sell. Karri Ramo is a favourite of Bob Hartley, but his career stats suggest he is little more than an average 1B option in net (.906 SV% in 156 NHL games). The goalie market is pretty fickle so if a team comes along and offers the Flames something for Ramo, they should take it.
tl;dr version is the Flames are open for business at the deadline. At the very least, Brad Treliving should be taking calls on every single pending UFA on Calgary’s roster.