What if the Flames do nothing at the trade deadline?

Since becoming the Calgary Flames’ general manager in April of 2014, Brad Treliving has built up a reputation as a man of action. He’s been busy throughout his tenure, including making fairly hefty transactions at basically every major milestone in the National Hockey League’s calendar.

But with the expansion draft looming just over the horizon and the Flames in a precarious position both cap-wise and in the standings, what if Treliving doesn’t do anything at this year’s trade deadline? Here’s why that might very well happen on March 1.

Great expectations

Let’s establish one key thing: it’s reasonable to assume that Treliving will try to do something in regards to altering the NHL roster because he’s done it at basically every major signing or trading event on the league’s calendar since arriving here.

  • 2014 Draft: Traded for Brandon Bollig
  • 2014 July 1: Signed Deryk Engelland, Mason Raymond and Jonas Hiller
  • 2015 Trade Deadline: Traded Curtis Glencross and Sven Baertschi for picks; claimed David Schlemko off waivers
  • 2015 Draft: Traded for Dougie Hamilton
  • 2015 July 1: Signed Michael Frolik
  • 2016 Trade Deadline: Traded Jiri Hudler, David Jones and Kris Russell for futures
  • 2016 Draft: Traded for Brian Elliott
  • 2016 July 1: Signed Chad Johnson and Troy Brouwer

But wait…

If you’ll look at the big events over time, you’ll notice that there usually seems to be a method to Treliving’s madness. During his first summer, he tried to fix a bunch of different problems at once – adding a goaltender, defender and some forwards in one fell swoop. It didn’t work out great, but by the end of the season some of his pragmatism seemed to be revealed: the Flames were on the verge of a playoff spot, and he sold. The team had no further plans for Glencross and Baertschi, so off they went for picks.

Fast forward to the summer of 2015 and Treliving seemed much more targeted in what he did. Instead of drafting 15th overall, he traded some picks to get Hamilton and fix the defense. Instead of making more wild swings on July 1, he signed Frolik.

In each subsequent big event, the moves seem calculated and logical. Even the signing of Brouwer – which we’ve maligned, and rightly so, due to its term and cap hit – comes from a place of logic in the sense that the Flames likely felt they needed to have a veteran presence in the locker room and add a guy that has played deep in the postseason several times.

The logic may be wonky, but the aims are much more calculated than his summer of 2014 “fix everything at once” approach.

The Team’s Needs

Three years into his tenure, what does Treliving’s team need?

Well, they could probably use another forward for their top nine and another defender to improve their second pairing, but with the expansion draft coming up they probably don’t want to spend assets to get somebody who could be gone to Vegas on June 21. Similarly, teams probably won’t be too keen to burn assets to grab players from the Flames just for them to walk on July 1 as free agents or for them to to get claimed by Vegas.

The Flames probably would like to get some stability in goal. It’s unclear if a trade would accomplish that and, even if it would, if they have the stomach to expend the assets right now – while they’re on the bubble – to get that transaction done. Case in point: Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s not clear if he’d be an upgrade, nor is it clear whether the cost of acquiring him would be a good strategic bet.

In other words: unlike in the other seasons under Treliving’s watch, there are no obvious moves for him to make at the deadline from a pragmatic, team-building standpoint. Heck, with the signing of Matt Bartkowski, the team’s even basically met their expansion draft exposure requirements with goaltender Tom McCollum, Bartkowski, and forwards Lance Bouma and Matt Stajan probably being dangled.

If they make trades they’ll be trades for the sake of trades, which doesn’t seem like Treliving’s style.

And so…

Based on Treliving’s history and the needs of the team, there’s a pretty significant chance that the Flames don’t do anything big at the trade deadline. The team still has gaps and they’ll need to make some changes over the summer, but the team may very well be better served trying to upgrade via free agency or simply promoting from within their minor league system.

  • freethe flames

    Doing nothing is unacceptable. If he does nothing and we miss the playoffs he should resign. If he makes a trade for rentals and we miss at least he tried to do something. If he does nothing and we make the playoffs then he loses the UFA’s so what. If he makes a trade and we make the playoffs (rental RHD) then he looks good.

    Ideally he makes a trade that upgrades the top 9 for someone he needs to protect and finds a cheap upgrade at RHD. (rental is fine) Again don’t overpay.

    • deantheraven

      Any deal he can swing at this year’s deadline is not going to be a make-or-break playoffs deal. This team has to be in a much more secure playoff position, IMO, to warrant any kind of deal looking to improve the club “now”. trade whatever expiring assets you can for picks and/or unexpansiondraftable prospects.

      Please, for the love of Kipper, don’t trade for Fleury!

      • Kevin R

        MAF wouldn’t be my first choice & we certainly don’t need to make a TDL move if we were looking at him again as been hinted by the Hockey Panel.

        If Pitt don’t move him at the TDL & they have very few choices, the price keeps dropping to the point where Rutherford will have to give value to move him. We include a salary dump like Bouma or Stajan for Fleury & perhaps a Poilliott or Guentzal, that wouldn’t be as far fetched as many may think. We need two years to develop Gilles & Parsons, Fleury fits the time table. Elliott is going to want at least a 3-4 year deal & will be expecting a raise. Unless he gets red hot & backstops us to the playoffs, I don’t see Tre going down that path. So then that leaves us back to square one. We can get in a bidding war for Bishop, but I don’t see that happening or we pull an Oiler & try to get the same success they have with Talbot. Ironically, Rangers have another backup ready & so does Chicago. But there is risk in taking a leap in faith in an unproven #1 goalie again.

        Personally, if we fix the bottom half of our blue line that is anchored with Wideman, Smid & Engellend, I think Bishop or Fleury can be successful here. Those 3 right there give us $11.5 mill in space we didn’t have last September. Surly we can find a decent #4 for 4.0-5.0 mill & still allocate money to some resignings on the forward side of it.

        But if we are able to sell a few UFA players, if we did nothing would not be the end of the world.

      • freethe flames

        As Kerr said on the radio this morning; “making the playoffs in this league is hard to do and when you are in a place to do so you owe it to your fans, your team to do something to make the playoffs,” and I agree with him. Moving some of our assets:UFA’s, late draft picks and B prospects to add a rental who can help us make the playoffs is worth it. If somehow you can add a longer term piece then even better. If the prices are too high for a rental then you need to be moving your own rentals and be getting some draft picks in return. If Bartowski is the only move BT makes then this is a failure.

        The chances of late round draft pick in this years draft ever helping this team is extremely slim but adding the right rental could help them make the playoffs and this experience will likely be helpful long term.

    • Waldo

      I would definitely disagree with the way you seem to think… it appears making the playoffs is the end all be all.

      Should we trade away future assets to scrape our way into a team that losses in the first round every year? Or should we focus on becoming a team that contends year in year out? You dont get to the top by trading assets as a bubble team

      • freethe flames

        What future assets would I be trading away? How many guys taken in the late rounds ever become NHLers? We currently have 4 first rounders playing in the AHL that are not dominating that league. It looks like Janko may become an NHLer, Shinkaruk seems to be a tweener(I have not given up on him yet), Klimchuk also seems to be tweener and Poirier appears to be someone they have given up on. So if moving him as part of a package and a late rounder means adding a guy who might help us make the playoffs then I’m good with this.

        You become a team that contends by learning how to compete every night and by learning how to win. To do that you need to sometimes make tweaks to your team. Let’s remember that bubble teams sometimes get on a roll and go further than anyone expects. Would another year of playoff experience for guys like Johnny/Monny/Tkachuk/Backs/TJ/Dougie/Sam be more valuable than a 4th rounder and a B prospect; for me the answer is yes.

        It’s not like I’m saying go back to the Sutter way of trading you second rounder every year to get a rental. The most I would pay for a rental is 4th and some or own UFA’s, RFA’s and our b prospects.

  • Sanintarious

    Would anyone be completely against Halak? He had a terrible start to the season, but so did the entire Islanders team. They’ve turned it around and Greiss is getting the wins. Halak is getting his confidence back in the AHL and is on a pretty decent deal that could tie the Flames over till Gilles and Parsons are ready. I think he would be a smarter addition then an older, higher paid MAF. Bishop worries me a bit. He’s on the wrong side of 30, and it could be crippling if they signed him to a big contract and he continues to struggle.

    Just a thought….I know he was on waivers before, but perhaps Islanders would retain some salary and or take a bad contract in return.

      • Ogie Oglethorp

        Steve Mason (face palm)

        But my bigger question is “stop gap” for what? I keep hearing that we need to rush out and find a short term fix. There is this myth circling out there that we have the future taken care of – presumably with Gillies – and that we just need to keep plugging the hole short term.

        This is crazy. The goalies in our system are far from guarantees. If anything this year has made it clear that putting hope on the system is at best a spin of a giant roulette wheel. At best.

        Enough with this cast off, ageing, stop gap BS. We need a legit goalie to build for many years. Closer to the age of the core. I doubt that happens at the trade deadline.

        In hindsight it sucks we didn’t push harder for Talbot. That type/age of goalie is 100% exactly what we need. And the Oilers got him for a 2nd round pick if I recall correctly.

  • JoelOttosJock

    Wouldn’t surprise me if the Boston pizza kid didn’t do anything..would be a bad move solidifying him out the door..so wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Hopefully Burke leaves before he completely f**KS this team up. Why isn’t Lanny our president?

    • Stu Cazz

      Unlike the Oilers the Flames do not assign team icons to key management positions and assume the franchise will be in good hands. The Oiler model is unique and is a loser model i.e. Kevin Lowe.

      Lanny is a great Flame and will always be. A manager he is not.

      • JoelOttosJock

        No the flames give it to Brian Burke who has burnt down not 1…not 2..shit yes ladies and gentlemen 3 NHL franchises to date! Not sure which is worse..giving the reigns to someone whom is iconic for helping put this team on the map or as I stated above..3 teams.

  • Denscafon

    I am actually ok with with Tre not doing anything major at the TDL. Even if we do make the playoffs, are the flames really a team you see going the distance? I don’t as we have too many anchors (wideman) and holes that can be fixed to be a true contender this year. Next year I believe is the year we need to make bigger moves since a ton of bad contracts ends and the whole vegas situation has passed so things will be alot less complicated.

  • JoelOttosJock

    Sorry if this is a double post..but my comment doesn’t seem to be anywhere here. The Flames instead of entrusting the president position to an ex player..whom is widely respected and revered throughout the league to a bully of a man whom has f**ked up 3 previous NHL organizations. Burkes track record speaks for itself.

  • everton fc

    Perhaps our goalies aren’t the issue. Perhaps our defence and our goalie coach are. That said, I see the logic in the post above about MAF, if we can get someone we can use… Pouliot is one of the assets the Pens have that most teams would ask for to take Fluery out of Pittsburgh. However, who else is on their roster in Pitt and Wilkes-Barre that could make a deal work? And what do the Pens need, really? They could (may) win the Cup “as is”… (amazing how well Schultz is doing there).

    If we trade for a goalie, we’ve failed. We have Rittich and Gillies on the cusp, Parsons a few years away. Keeping Elliott or Johnson w/eitehr Rittich or Gillies (I think Rittich would be the safer choice), getting a new goalie coach, strengthening our defence (“sans” Wideman will automatically do this)…

    Where we are thin is 1st/2nd line forwards. We should hold onto Versteg, if possible. Bouma needs to go. We need to focus on a forward. Not a goalie.

    I’d also “dangle” Brouwer at the expansion draft. His salary will be a millstone very soon.

    • Southalb43

      I completely agree with letting Brouwer go in the expansion draft. His salary is about 3 million per year higher than it should be. Quite frankly, he is a similar player to Bouma only a right shot, 5 years older and played with highly successful teams prior to Calgary (I am a huge fan of Bouma, but he is a bottom 6 forward). As nice as it would be to keep versteeg, his playoff experience, cap hit and ufa status at years end may be perfect for a contender. Either goaltender, and most of the roster should be in play at the deadline in my opinion, apart from a good stretch of 10-15 games this year, this team has been too soft and inconsistent.

  • smith

    Why would anyone want MAF? He has been worse this year than Johnson and over the long haul has been worse than Elliot. He also has 4 more years left at a high cost.

    Leave the goalies alone. Try and add another forward to protect since we have a spot open for another.

    A defense man (to fix top 4 which does seem to be the bigget problem) does not seem likely, unless the flames do something extreme. i.e. acquire a defense who does not need protecting.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I agree with evertonFC @12 that the goalies may not be the problem. Defence and coaching may be more to blame.

    Wideman, Engelland (and Smid) will be gone next year (hope hope) and replaced by either farm hands who are ready to take the next step (Kulak, TSpoon, Andersson, Kylington) or an offseason signing. That may be the biggest change in goaltending the Flames could make.

    I don’t foresee any big moves at the deadline. No one is taking Wideman or Engelland or Brouwer or Bouma, so what’s left?

    • everton fc

      Kylington’s offence on the farm concerns my eyes when I look at his stats thus far. What I’ve read is he’s “settling in” as a defenceman in the “A”. What does that mean?

      I wonder also about Andersson’s skating. Any word? I’ve read he’s not the fleetest of foot…

      I’d have to think the Bartkowski signing spells doom for Wotherspoon, in terms of his being with the organization much longer. Maybe a good thing for all parties (see Brendan Mickelson for possible professional comparable?)…

      I think a team would take a run at Engelland for the right price. But we are soft team – without Engelland, Ferland and Tkachuk, we are very soft… So I see us holding on to Engelland, which is the right move, unless you get a 2nd for him – but with next year’s draft class “so-so”…

      Someone would take Bouma for the right price. Which is a pick. How about Bouma for Lazar?? The Sens will see Lazar as far more valuable than the rest of the league. He’s another Shinkaruk at the moment. Perhaps a package w/the Sens w/Bouma and ?? going to Ottawa, Lazar and ?? moving west… Then again, Lazar’s anotehr Shinkaruk – not what we need.

      Just thinking out loud here….

  • T&A4Flames

    We shouldn’t do much except for trying to acquire a legit right shot RW. All other holes can be looked at once the expansion draft has been done. The only other possibility is locking up a goalie that we can protect.

  • Pond Hockey

    Unless the boys get on a hot streak from now until the trade deadline it’s hard to justify making any moves. The Preds and Kings have games in hand and the Blues are pulling away.

    The Flames are frustrating because their level of play is like a box of chocolates where “you never know which one you’re gonna get.” Hard to roll dice on the playoffs at the TDL when this is the case.

  • Watts Mitel

    The deadline is for contenders to fine tune their lineup. Not for bubble teams to fix major holes in hopes of making the playoffs. I agree solidifying the bottom 3 D in particular the number 4 spot could turn the current tandem into above average from below.

  • PrairieStew

    I would far rather see selling than buying. With so many eastern teams still in it I think it will be a seller’s market. I still think that if you retain salary on Wideman and throw in a fringe non contract prospect (eg Rafikov, Harrison) he might be worth a third round pick. Engelland is worth more. If the Flames lose 4 of next 5, then it’s a total fail if he hasn’t gone in to sell mode by Feb 27. Versteeg’s been very useful too – but someone offers me a second round pick I think I’m taking that too – remember Hudler returned that – and Russell got more. I’m also listening to offers on Matt Stajan knowing he’s a potential expansion target and teams might not be willing to pay the price on Duchene or Hanzal and they want a centre.

  • freethe flames

    At this point all we know about the trade deadline is that Fiddler was good for a 4th. We will be able to judge the trade deadline by what certain players go for. There are many UFA’s I would say are upgrades on the Flames UFA’s/RFA’s. Once the market is set we will be able to judge what BT has done.

  • TrumpeterSwan

    At this point selling is the smart move. Adding someone else and mortgaging the future would not be wise. This team is not ready to make a cup run and a 4 and out first round in the playoffs is not worth it.

    There is a lack of depth in most position on this team, aging veterans and under performing stars. Start moving out non core pieces for what you can get.

  • Waldo

    I feel like im missing some information when it comes to deadline talk…. but Alex Killorn or Ondrej Palat will be exposed by the tampa bay lightning due to the NMC’s they have on the books.

    Why are niether of these 2 in our trade talks in any capacity? As Left handed LW’s are they not able to play the RW at all?

  • C Watson

    Any trades that Treliving makes now would be made from a position of weakness. Basically, no GM will trade anything more than a 5th, 6th or 7th round pick for any of the assets that Calgary would be willing to give up. Calgary has no cap space to even think about adding more high priced and ‘over the hill’ cast offs.

    The weaknesses that need to be addressed are not necessarily on the playing roster. The effectiveness of goalie coach, Jordan Sigalet needs to be seriously evaluated and the whole coaching staff in Stockton has shown limited ability to develop any of the young prospects into full time NHLers. When was the last time any prospect has graduated to full time duty from the minors?