The 2017 trade deadline is less than two weeks away. The Calgary Flames are currently one point out of a wildcard spot in the West, with their nearest opponent (the Kings) owning two games in hand. SportsClub Stats puts Calgary’s chances of making the postseason at just over 30%.
So the playoffs are within reach, but the club is in a precarious position. Any sort of extended losing streak over the remainder of the season will surely sink their chances of making the dance.
So what should Brad Treliving do? Are the Flames buyers or sellers?
The Flames (59 points) are competing with a handful of clubs for the final playoff spots in the West. Aside from the aforementioned Kings, there’s also the St. Louis Blues (63 points), Nashville Predators (62 points) and Vancouver Canucks (56 points). Calgary only needs to beat out two of these four clubs in the final quarter of the season to make the playoffs.
As noted by Dimitri Filipovic recently, the Flames are a team with very clear roster needs, suggesting they could dramatically improve their performance (and therefore their playoff chances) by making a few key moves:
Unlike most of their competition that lacks the means to address holes in their lineups, Calgary possesses a rare combination of clearly defined needs and the flexibility to actually go out and do something about it.
Whether it’s at the trade deadline or this summer, there are two notable things that GM Brad Treliving and his staff need to explore: find a complementary third wheel for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, and give T.J. Brodie a defence partner who can keep up with him.
A top line winger and/or a competent top four defender are painfully obvious areas of need for the Flames. If they could firm up their attack behind the 3M line or get Dennis Wideman away from top six competition, it will make the top of their rotation far more imposing on a nightly basis.
To do this, Treliving can either shop for a rental or a more expensive, longer term solution.
Potential rentals include:
- P.A. Parenteau
- Thomas Vanek
- Radim Vrbata
- Jaromir Jagr
- Drew Stafford
- Cody Franson
- Brendan Smith
- Michael Stone
- Patrick Wiercioch
- Dmitri Kulikov
Longer term “buys” include:
- Matt Duchene
- Gabriel Landeskog
- Evander Kane
The Flames can likely afford two of the cheaper rental guys listed here or one of the more expensive contracts. Keep in mind the big names will come with much bigger price tags and could contribute to cap headaches beyond this season.
In return, the Flames have a few things they can offer. Almost any name on the Stockton Heat could be in the conversation (including Mark Jankowski, Andrew Mangiapane, Hunter Shinkaruk, Emile Poirier, Oliver Kylington, Rasmus Andersson and Jon Gillies), as well as high-end prospects like Brandon Hickey, Adam Fox and Tyler Parsons.
Calgary could also dangle their first round pick, which could settle anywhere between 10-20, depending on how the rest of the season goes. Depending on the return, a guy like Sam Bennett might be the key to a package as well.
Instead of gambling worthwhile future assets on a relatively low chance at the playoffs, Treliving can sell off expendable pieces and then iron out his roster problems at the draft and free agency this summer instead.
Calgary doesn’t have a lot in the way of desirable commodities (that they’d be willing to part with), but they could certainly put guys like Deryk Engelland (UFA), Dennis Wideman (yeah right), Matt Stajan (one year left), Kris Versteeg (UFA), Lance Bouma (one year left), Alex Chiasson (RFA), Garnet Hathaway (RFA), Jyrki Jokipakka (RFA), Tyler Wotherspoon (RFA) and one of Brian Elliott (UFA) or Chad Johnson (UFA) on the auction block.
Trading some of the depth players probably wouldn’t represent a true “sell” by Treliving (he could likely do this without really harming the Flames’ playoff chances), but moving guys like Versteeg or one of the goalies would certainly signal a focus shift to next year over this one.
So what would you do? Keep in mind the Flames have seen a big upswing in their underlying numbers since December and Brad Treliving does NOT have a contract for next season. In his position, would those two facts compel you to buy aggressively at the deadline? Or would a conservative strategy be more prudent given the Flames’ place in the standings and the options available?
Buyer or seller? What do you think the Flames should do?