The Flames stumbling through the first six weeks of the season already has the fan base scrambling for answers. Everyone reasonably expected the club to take at least a modest step forward this season, but instead they are near-league worst in just about every aspect of the game.
A few weeks ago we talked about how long Glen Gulutzan has to turn things around. Things have since turned to hypothetical shake-up trades. Dougie Hamilton’s name is already surfacing in trade rumours, while others are starting to wonder if the organization should flip Mark Giordano’s deal before it becomes toxic.
When you get off to a 6-10-1 start, nothing is sacred.
There are a trio of justifications to making a blueline big trade now:
1.) Disrupt the dressing room enough to shake the players out of their apparent stupor.
2.) Avoid having to expose Brett Kulak to the expansion draft.
3.) Acquire more forward depth.
The first justification is reminiscent of the Dion Phaneuf trade in 2010 and has the whiff of panic about it. On the heels of a nine game winless streak and in the teeth of sky high expectations, Darryl Sutter flipped his prized young defender to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a handful of magic beans (Phaneuf, Keith Aulie and Fredrik Sjostrom for Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan and Ian White).
Although Dion didn’t sustain his reputation as a difference maker over the long-term, at the time the move was one of the major errors that ruptured the cult of personality that had built up around Sutter. He would resign as Flames GM less than a year later in December 2010.
Which is to say, Making deals under duress and when your major assets may be undervalued rarely leads to good outcomes. The Flames struggled even after Phaneuf was moved in 2009-10, finishing 10th in the West.
On the other hand, there is the expansion draft to consider. If Kulak continues to be an every day NHLer, Calgary with have to expose two of him, Giordano, Hamilton, T.J. Brodie and Jyrki Jokipakka. Trading one of the “big three” means avoiding the risk of losing Kulak for nothing to Vegas.
Finally, there is the issue of forward depth, particularly on the Flames’ right side. We knew heading into the season that starboard was a big question mark. Unfortunately, it remains a significant weakness, especially with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau struggling to be competitive with a rotating cast of RWers. The hope was the young duo could carry the likes of Alex Chiasson at even strength, but that has proven to not be the case thus far.
Shake up the room, keep Kulak and improve the forward ranks. Is this reason enough to shop either Mark Giordano or Dougie Hamilton, Flames fans? If so, who would you trade and for what in return?