We’re about a month away from the deadline and the Flames are still kind of in the playoff race. If they can put together a solid February, there’s a good chance they’ll still be in the chase when March rolls around.
If nothing changes, Calgary should have just enough cap room to add one moderately sized contract via trade. That means if Brad Treliving is going to buy at the deadline, he’ll likely have to concentrate on just one of the Flames’ three main priorities: another scoring winger, a top four defender or better goaltending.
So what should he prioritize?
A Top Six Winger
A rotating cast of less than ideal characters has played with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau this year. Troy Brouwer, Alex Chiasson, Micheal Ferland… none of them have proven adequate. As a result, the Flames have been a one line hockey team this year, with the Backlund trio doing most of the heavy lifting.
Even if Gaudreau and Monahan rediscover their mojo in the final third of the season, adding another quality top six forward couldn’t possibly hurt the team. Aside from helping diversify the Flames’ attack, it would also push guys like Chiasson and Brouwer down the rotation where they belong.
Potential Targets: Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford, P.A. Parenteau, Radim Vrbata, Patrick Sharp
A Top Four Defender
The Flames’ defensive rotation has been a sore spot all season. With T.J. Brodie struggling to drag around Dennis Wideman on the left side, Calgary has mostly struggled along with one effective pairing in Dougie Hamilton and Mark Giordano.
Another legit top four guy would give Brodie a more capable partner and move Wideman down to the third pairing where he belongs.
Potential Targets: Cody Franson, Michael Stone, Dmitry Kulikov, Patrick Wiercioch, Ron Hainsey
Depending on how February goes, this may or may not still be considered an area of need. Both Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson have resumes that suggest they should be able to turn things around, but that remains to be seen.
If both guys are still mediocre or worse over the next four weeks, Treliving may start looking to solve his current (and ongoing) goaltending trouble by acquiring one of the bigger names that should be available ahead of the expansion draft.
Potential Targets: Marc-Andre Fleury, Ben Bishop, Petr Mrazek
As you can see, there’s a lot of potential options. The big moderating factor, aside from the Flames’ available cap space, will be the cost to acquire one of the targets mentioned. Obviously adding Landeskog or Duchene would be nice, but it’s going to be much more expensive to pry them out of Colorado than, say, Vrbata out of Phoenix or Parenteau out of New Jersey.
With all that in mind, what would you prioritize at the deadline?