FN Mailbag: February 13, 2017

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Mailbag

We’re nearing the final quarter of the season and the Flames are still playing meaningful hockey. That might seem like a marginal accomplishment, but it’s worth celebrating given the club’s start to the season. 

Whether they keep playing meaningful games in April will depend very heavily on how they perform through the rest of February and what Brad Treliving accomplishes at the trade deadline. For Calgary to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs, they will have to fend off at least one of the St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings or Nashville Predators down the stretch. To have a better chance at that, they’ll need to firm up one of their real areas of need. 

Complicating this whole dance, of course, is the upcoming expansion draft. Not only will it influence the Flames’ choices when it comes to trades, but it will skew the marketplace around the deadline as well.

Right now Hunter Shinkaruk is probably the better player thanks to experience and maturity. In the long run, it’s difficult to say who will be the better player. Frankly, there’s a non-trivial chance both guys will top out as high-end AHLers.

Brad Treliving has been vocal about not wanting to acquire a rental player at the deadline. We can only speculate about his reasons, so here goes…

Like free agency in July, the trade deadline has an auction atmosphere that drives up asking prices. And like free agency, the chance of making a mistake is significant. In addition, the Flames aren’t really Stanley Cup contenders, so Treliving may not be interested in playing the short game right now. 

Personally, the only type of rental I’d like to see the team try is an audition for a potential long term fix. For example, picking up Cody Franson from Buffalo to give him 20 games next to T.J. Brodie. That way the Flames can better judge if he would be a good UFA signing in the summer. A kind of “try before you buy” scenario. 

I wish, but probably not. The only guys who tend to garner first round picks at the deadline are top line forwards, first pairing defenders and high impact goalies. Although Deryk Engelland seems to enjoy a good reputation around the league, he’s still an older guy with limited upside. 

Usually for the Engellands of the world you’re looking for something between a third and sixth rounder. Assuming the Flames are willing to shop him, of course.

Unless the organization has a clear (superior) successor in mind, I can’t see why they wouldn’t. Treliving hasn’t been perfect during his time in Calgary, but the club seems to be on the upswing in general. I’m not sure what management’s expectations were or are, but I’m pleased with the direction and position of the org relative to where they were at when he came aboard.

Good question! While we can’t be completely sure who will be available at the deadline, here’s a short list of under the radar guys to consider:

Forwards – Viktor Stalberg, P.A. Parenteau

Defenders – Cody Franson, Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl

Up front, Stalberg and Parenteau might be of interest. Stalberg has been cast in a defensive role since he made the league, so his offensive numbers don’t impress anybody, but his rates across the board are decent. 

Parenteau is the guy I wish the Flames had signed in the offseason rather than Troy Brouwer. He consistently has better than average shot and possession rates and is one of the better even strength scorers in the league. This year, for example, he has the third best relative corsi on the Devils and his 1.64 even strength points per 60 minutes is comparable to Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan this year (1.67 and 1.60, respectively).

On the backend, we’ve talked about Franson a lot around the site already. He’s big, right-handed, has good shot impact metrics, he’s decent offensively and he’s 29 years old. 

Smith and Kindl aren’t as well known. Smith is 212 lb. left shot who is a pending free agent in Detroit. A former first round pick, Smith was a good scorer in college and the AHL, but his offense hasn’t really translated in the show, which makes him seem expendable. 

Nevertheless, Smith has really impressive underlying numbers, albeit in a supporting type role for Detroit: 

Story 1-32

As you can see, Smith can’t score but has supremely good shot suppression rates (95th percentile). Potentially a useful guy to pair with Brodie. 

Kindl is similar. He’s a guy both Detroit and Florida soured on, but his shot rates are top flight (scoring, not so much). However, given his inability to stay in the lineup I wonder if there’s some off-ice issues of concern with the player.

Not really. In part because Jacob Trouba will be really expensive to acquire and in part because the team would have to expose one of Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie or Dougie Hamilton in the expansion draft in order to retain him. 

According to my colleague Ryan Pike, who contacted the NHL about this very issue, Sam Bennett is eligible to be taken in the expansion draft. Meaning the Flames DO need to protect him. 

Brouwer’s deal is a bad bet, but it’s not a total catastrophe. Simply because it’s not long enough or expensive enough to be overly damaging. 

I personally think he’ll be consigned to fourth line duty by year two or three of the deal (which is not a good way to spend over $4 million in cap space), but that’s still well out of the David Clarkson realm of disasters. 

Guys like Smith and Kindl mentioned above could be useful guys whom you could re-sign cheaply and expose to the expansion draft without too much anxiety. Patrick Wiercioch likely falls under this umbrella as well. 

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  • redwhiteblack

    Stockton’s offence has come to a halt. Won 3 of their last 19, lost 8 in a row and scored only 4 goals in their last 7 games. Getting even one goal a game of late has been a challenge.

    The system down there seems broken. So disappointing to see the potential talent trending downwards. We need to see real growth at the level and instead it has been a bit of a train wreck of late.

    • cjc

      As much as it pains me to admit it, Walter seems to be correct about this. Ryan Huska’s inability to get much out of the younger prospects two years running is very concerning. It’s not all on him – the players shoulder a lot of responsibility, and they’ve had some bad luck. Still, they’ve been shutout 5 times in their past 10 games. They scored more than 1 just once. It ain’t pretty, Huska should probably go.

      On the bright side, Gillies has been pretty good in this stretch (.914% over his last 8 appearances, only one bad one in that bunch; team consistently getting outshot).

  • everton fc

    Smith and Wiercioch would indeed be good guys to look into, not as rentals, but as depth that can be exposed to protect the likes of Kulak, and maybe Jokipaaka.

    And yes, Shinkaruk is much better than Mangiapane right now. And Bollig still has more goals than Porier, in six less games….

    If Boyle has value, and “lesser players” may have greater value, what’s Bouma worth? Or Chiasson?? Freddie H, for that matter??? (No, I don’t think we’ll move Chiasson, and I thibnk he’s done as good as he could have been expected, in the roles he’s been forced into).

    Moving Engelland, unless it’s for something close to a steal, in my opinion would be a mistake. We are not tough. He and Ferland add that toughness (boy, if Lomberg were bigger, and could score a bit more – even though he’s small, and I know he can’t be called up… He’ll be an interesting player to watch in camp, next year. We could use his guts, and I bet he’ll provide as much offence as both Bouma and Hathaway.)

    I still say we are painfully thin on the farm. I do believe Jankowski is ready. Which would mean either 3rd line minutes w.Bennett on LW, or Stajan moving up to third line, Jankowski slotting in between Ferland and Hathaway.