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?
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.
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.
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.