WWYD: Shake up the Flames?

It’s been a disastrous month for the Flames. 

Their goaltending has floundered, their offense has abandoned them and their special teams are suddenly lost. Nothing is working for Calgary right now and they are rapidly running out of time to shake out of this slump. If it continues much longer, the playoffs will be a distant dream.

So what can the coaching staff or GM do to shake the team out of this rut? Trade someone, fire someone or demote someone?

Trade Someone

This is probably the most popular option in most fan corners. It’s made more attractive by the fact that pretty much every notable or high salary player on the club is currently underperforming. 

Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of trades available out there right now. Brad Treliving might be able to make a fringe player swap, like the recent Tommy Wingels deal, but he’ll likely have to wait until closer to the deadline to trade anyone of note. By that time either the Flames will be past this dry spell or it will be too late anyways. 

The club suddenly needs everything – from defense, to forward depth to goaltending – so just about any notable addition would be welcomed. That said, even if Treliving were to find a willing trade partner right now,  you can guess they’ll be asking for one the Flames’ good, young assets. And the worst time to trade guys like that is during a slump, when their stock is at an all time low. No need to re-visit the Dion Phaneuf trade.

Demote Someone

Sam Bennett’s last assist was Dec. 4. The last time he was a plus player in a game was Dec. 27, which was also the last time he scored a goal (or a point for that matter), garbage time goal against Montreal aside. He gets outshot and outchanced almost every contest.

It’s been Bennett’s worst stretch of NHL hockey since he made the show. In fact, if he was almost any other kid in this organization, he would have been sent down to the AHL already. 

A noteworthy demotion of this nature may send enough of a message to get through to the dressing room. The natural candidate to come up would be Mark Jankowski, who besides being the only C of note on the farm, is also leading Stockton in scoring. 

He probably can’t be counted on to step in and provide top-nine quality play, but at least it would get Bennett out of his rut and let the team know something had to be done. 

Fire Someone

The nuclear option. 

With the playoffs rapidly slipping into the rearview mirror and the organization’s GM apparent without a contract, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that somebody sees a pink slip. Maybe it’s Glen Gulutzan or another member of the coaching staff… or maybe it’s Treliving himself. 

Honestly, I don’t endorse any of these actions myself. Sometimes when things go cold like this the natural inclination is to do something, anything to combat the feelings of frustration and impotence. But often the supposed remedy ends up making you worse in the long run. Dealing from a position of weakness in the trade market or making a kneejerk personnel decision out of a sense of panic can set you back rather than propel you forward.

Nevertheless, a sense of futility is starting to loom over the Flames. Simply waiting out the cold snap will become harder and harder the longer this goes on. 

  • Backburner

    This is the frustrating part..

    There is not trade to be made right now to be made that would make this team a contender.

    Any major demotions or firings would make Tre look bad.

    But if they do nothing.. it looks even worse.

    I will get shot down for this, but I would still consider a trade for Duchene to try and get the top line going.

    • Rockmorton65

      Who do you suggest moving for Duchene? I think he would complete our top six. But who do you give up? Take Johnny, Monny, 3M off the table, do you move one of the top 3 D? I’m genuinely curious.

      • Backburner

        and @Jumping Jack Flash..

        By the sounds of it Avalanche want a good YOUNG D, or good top prospects.

        I think the deal framework could look like this:

        To Col: 1st, Kylington, Jankowski, and Wideman.

        To Cal: Duchene, 2nd.

        Other prospects that could be on the table could be Gilles, Mangiapagne or Andersson.

        • Ranchman

          Really? Really? You clearly are dreaming if you believe Colorado would trade Duchene alone for those assets much less Duchene and a 2nd. Duchene won’t be moved without quality coming back and a mid round 1st, unproven (faltering?) AHL prospects and a boat anchor ain’t gonna cut it. Nice try though…

          • Backburner

            Typical FN response.. offering another suggestion would be really helpful. You’re dreaming if you think Bennett, Brodie, Monahan or Tkachuk is going back the other way

            I would say obviously Gilles, Andersson are probably our best prospects. But Janko, Kylington and Mangiapagne aren’t bad.

            Wideman would have to go back for salary cap reasons.

            But if Tre can’t make a deal work with a first a couple top prospects, then no deal is to be made.

            Fyi.. read this article if you think I’m way off:
            http://flamesnation.ca/2017/1/4/wwyd-wednesday-should-the-flames-trade-for-matt-duchene

          • Ranchman

            With all due respect to Mr. Wilson and his wwyd article, I highly doubt that the Avs would entertain the return he is (and you are) advocating. Duchene is a Team Canada level player. He’s an legitimate first line NHL center (a position that is arguably more valuable than wing) that has similar stats to Johnny but is bigger/faster. Johnny is a Hobey winner and Duchene is a third overall pick. He, like Johnny, is having a poor year and is not a defensive stalwart. He’s three years older than Johnny but they are very comparable players. Sometimes we fall in love with our own players and, I’d argue, unfairly discount other teams players. So, I’d ask you, if the roles were reversed, what would the Flames want for Johnny in a trade with the Avs?

            My guess, they’d want a first pairing defenseman or a first line forward, period. Further, they wouldn’t want a 3 for 1 made up of a bunch of unproven/inferior prospects and a mid round 1st. See where I’m going with this?

            Getting a 26 year old first line center is lottery winnings country. Look at what Nashville gave up for Johansen?

            So, I think you have to be realistic when you’re talking trades for star (maybe not elite) players like Duchene (and Johnny).

          • Backburner

            Fair enough, I just still can’t see Calgary parting with a top D, or a guy like Bennett.

            If the Avs wouldn’t be intrigued by say if Gillies and Andersson were on the table.. Might not be worth it.

  • Fan the Flames

    1 Move Bennett back to the wing
    2 Play Brodie with Kulak and put Wideman in press box
    3. Play Elliott until he drops
    4. Play Versteeg with Johnny and Money
    5 Put Bouma on waivers send him down and bring up anyone

  • deantheraven

    Maybe the shakeup should be a minor deal for some heavyweight security guard to keep those pesky slashers and bodycheckers away from JH. Or bring up another Hunter. Everybody plays a little bigger with a guy like that in the line up. Something they all could do a little more of.

  • shaner

    i didn’t think the goaltending against the oilers in any of there games was that bad this year, I just think that the flames played a superior team that got a few more breaks.

  • Tundradog

    Early on GG proved he was clueless, and the players knew it. Game 2 or Game 5 into the season, I can’t remember which, down by one with about 3 minutes left, and GG puts out Stajans line. It was over then and there. The top players knew it. The top players have never been on board since then.

    He really never had the room, therefore he can’t lose it. But most of the players quit on GG in the first month.

    The top players are all having sub par years. The young players are not progressing, they are regressing. The goalies are sub par. This after Elliott was the best save percentage goalie last year. But when you leave a player all alone in front for a perfect scoring chance, the goalie has little chance, and the save percentage tanks.

    The reason Corsi is so good this year is that the chances against have been so good that the puck goes in on the first shot. Offensively the harsh defensive responsibility means poor chances, and no imagination.

    In the opponents end the quality of the chances improve as players are allowed to push, and the quality of the shots taken improves, and pucks go in.

    GG has never been a puck possession coach. Dallas was worse after year one with him, and improved after he left.

    Fire GG and all the problems go away in a month or so. The players perform, the top guys play with heart, the young guys progress again, and the goalies get support.

    GG’s system is contrary to what gets players big contracts. To sign big you need points, GG stifles that, and the players know it. They need him gone to ensure they maximizes their potential.

    Make one change, fire the coach, and all of the problems with who to bench, who to trade, who to demote, disappear. What is sad, is we will let Elliot go for nothing at the end of the season, and he will shine in another organization. The damage GG is doing right now is monumental. His system, stubbornness and lack of leadership are killing this team. Don’t call out a top player like he did last night when you play the player with Chaisson.

    Send GG and all of his brought in assistants packing with him. Leave Gelinas in charge till the end of the season, or until a Julien or equivalent get released by some other team.

    Just firing GG and the team is better tomorrow.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Yeah, it’s all GG’s fault. You sound like a bitter baldy who has follicle envy of GG’s mop top, but I digress.

      The real problem with the Flames is something I spotlighted about a year ago–Gio. Quite apart from his boat anchor contract and noticeable diminishing skills, the captain is no leader. Last year’s escapade when Johnny and Mony and Bouma arrived at practice still suffering the effects of their piss-up the night before showed Gio’s lack of leadership. There is no record of Gio having taken any of the wayward trio to woodshed for some of that what you call tough love. Why?

      Legendary long-term Habs captain Henri Richard was famous for sorting out mavericks who brought disgrace to themselves and dishonour to the clubs.

      Davie Keon, another legendary long-term captain, who was famous for his gentlemanlike play on the ice, was a tiger as a captain and made sure all his teammates toed the line. The story of the young rookie who showed up at a team function wearing a turtleneck when the order was for all Leaf players to wear ties still lives on. The underdressed Leaf newcomer to this day says that the scariest moment in is his long and illustrious NHL career was when Keon tore a strip into him for not following the dress code. Tiger Williams squared off against all of the bag bad brawlers of the 1970s and 80s, but nothing put the fear in him as much as when Davie Keon pressed him up against a wall and told him in clear and simple language that no Leaf ever puts himself ahead of the team. After berating a player, Keon would always finish his dressing down with the words, “Do we understand each other?”

      If Gio showed that kind of real leadership as captain, I guarantee the team’s superstars would not be in the funk they have been in all season.

      Stripping Gio of the “C” and giving it to a guy who is ready and willing to be a real leader and the team is better today.

  • you all seem to forget the team that went to the playoffs under Hartley had a 10 gm losing streak in January that yr too. Guess what they turned it around. Flames can never just do thngs the easy way nope.

    The sky is not falling but there is some minor changes that need to be made. One of them is getting a top 4/5 dman in and getting rid of Wideman. I’d live with riding out Engellands contract but then he has got to go too.

    A deal for a Franson might be the best thing the Flames could do right now.He isn’t going to produce points but he can’t produce worse than Wideman and he wont give up 1/2 as much as he does.

  • BobB

    Never ruin or rush out a player over a coach who may not be working.

    There is a big difference between knowing how to coach hockey and knowing how to coach the team you’ve got.

    GG may be a genius at the former, but I’ve seen little evidence he understands (or perhaps even recognizes) the priority of the latter.

  • Ranchman

    With all due respect to Mr. Wilson and his wwyd article, I highly doubt that the Avs would entertain the return he is (and you are) talking advocating. Duchene is a Team Canada level player. He’s an legitimate first line NHL center (a position that is arguably more valuable than wing) that has similar stats to Johnny but is bigger/faster. Johnny is a Hobey winner and Duchene is a third overall pick. He, like Johnny, is having a poor year and is not a defensive stalwart. He’s three years older than Johnny but they are very comparable players. Sometimes we fall in love with our own players and, I’d argue, unfairly discount other teams players. So, I’d ask you, if the roles were reversed, what would the Flames want for Johnny in a trade with the Avs?

    My guess, they’d want a first pairing defenseman or a first line forward, period. Further, they wouldn’t want a 3 for 1 made up of a bunch of unproven/inferior prospects and a mid round 1st. See where I’m going with this?

    Getting a 26 year old first line center is lottery winnings country. Look at what Nashville gave up for Johansen?

    So, I think you have to be realistic when you’re talking trades for star (maybe not elite) players like Duchene (and Johnny).