Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

WWYD Wednesday: Bring back Brad Treliving?

The Calgary Flames’ season ended last week and as of writing, the club’s general manager Brad Treliving remains without a contract for next season. Until now it seemed outlandish that the organization would move on from Treliving just three years after bringing him in to replace Jay Feaster, but here we are.

The Flames have made the playoffs two of the last three years under the current GM and enjoyed a solid step forward this season, despite being ousted by the Ducks in the first round. Then again, like most managers, Treliving’s record isn’t perfect.

Are his errors egregious enough to justify a new voice at the top?

Let’s take a look at both sides of the ledger to get a feel for Treliving’s work so far.

Best moves

  • Dougie Hamilton trade
  • Micheal Frolik signing
  • Kris Versteeg signing
  • T.J. Brodie signing
  • Drafting Matthew Tkachuk
  • Glen Gulutzan/new coaching staff hiring

Worst moves

  • Troy Brouwer signing
  • Deryk Engelland signing
  • Lance Bouma signing
  • Paul Byron lost on waivers
  • Three headed goalie monster to start the year (2015-16)
  • Brandon Bollig trade

Intermingled with the good and the bad are what I’ll call neutral moves for lack of a better term. Some of them are draft picks that are too early to call and some are trades that were either of little consequence, are still playing out, or were good bets that didn’t quite work as planned (i.e. Brian Elliott).

Aside from the lingering issues in the crease, what we see so far is Treliving’s best moves cluster at the top of the roster (with the exception of Versteeg) and his worst moves cluster near the bottom (with the exception of Brouwer). That’s why the Flames mostly have their core in place, but would do well this summer to trim a bunch of fat off the cap if possible.

Not listed here are moves Treliving DIDN’T make that were probably beneficial. For instance, not trading the sixth overall pick for Ben Bishop or Marc-Andre Fleury in the summer counts as a big win. So does not re-signing Kris Russell or Joe Colborne when they were pending free agents.

Certainly not a flawless record, but arguably more good than bad. Still, is it enough to warrant another contract? Or should the Flames move on and let someone else build around Treliving’s core?

  • OKG

    Take the chance on Conroy. He’s learned the work ethic and philosophy from Treliving, but has more knowledge of the game at the NHL level without Tre’s minor leaguer biases (i.e. Engelland / Bollig / Bartkowski / Brouwer etc )and also spent three years learning the ins-and-outs from Feaster, who people seem to forget was a guy who built a championship team.

    Conroy will lead us to the promised land, Treliving will lead us to no man’s land – the treadmill or should I say the Tremill.

  • Avalain

    This shouldn’t be much of a discussion. Keep Treliving. He’s made some mistakes, though I’d argue that Engelland wasn’t nearly as big of a mistake as it seemed at first. It was perhaps a year too long, but chances are if he had one less year that money would have either gone to Johnny and Brouwer or would have just sat there giving us some more cushion that we didn’t actually need. Maybe it could have been used for someone else, but I actually doubt it. As for Engelland himself, he played decently on the 3rd pairing and while he struggled at the top, he was only there because of injuries and he did enough to make the playoffs.

    As for his other misses, well, a lot of them happened early in his tenure. He seems to be learning (Brouwer notwithstanding) , which means that this is the worst time to get rid of him.

  • redwhiteblack

    The Brouwer signing at the time was forecasted by most on FN as a bad one. It was worse than any of us predicted. Maybe BB is behind most of the bad ones. BT seems competent which is why I wonder how much of these bad decisions are his alone. Hopefully lesson learned by management in general. The coming summer is one of our most significant ever, so don’t F it up.

    • McRib

      Yeah, of all those “worst moves”, most or all can be attributed to BBs truculence movement, especially the ones early in BTs tenure where he wouldn’t have gained full trust yet (Engelland, Bouma, putting tiny Byron on waivers, 2014 Draft, etc).

      One thing I really like about BT is he is in on everything, whenever there is a good deal done even if it wasn’t us it always comes out in the end that we were right there in the negotiations. You don’t hit homeruns like Dougie Hamilton if you aren’t constantly calling teams doing your due diligence. Plus the 2015/2016 Drafts make me really happy as well.

    • Jobu

      Agreed. Many of the bad moves and bad drafting has Burkes name all over it. Perhaps this is why Tre isn’t signed yet… he wants to make sure Bug Brother isn’t dictating too much. Side note: I love how Burke starts every conversation with “Brad is the GM, here…”

    • Cheeky

      Remember BB hired BT because he had the same vision with regards to truculence. Not pinning it all on BT as their team including assistant GMs have input, but BB is not playing puppet master to BT. Just as some great deals he’s done, he’s also done some bad ones. Im ok as in this game you cant be perfect, sign him but allow him to rectify and ammend his mistakes.

  • Fan the Flames

    You can’t blame Tre for the Bouma contact that was an Arbitrator that gave him that money . The Flames could have walked but they would have not receive anything for the asset . BT was smart enough to not go to arbitration with Colbourne.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Good discussion Kent. I must admit I am getting tired of hearing how the Elliott trade was a mistake by Tre. Like you stated, given what we knew of Elliott based on his track record it was a good pick up. Elliott had elite stats with STL which only told part of the story. This was a case of a good goalie with a great defence. I think Tre makes that trade 20 out of 20 times. It is unfortunate that Elliott struggled with consistency and confidence when he was given the starter role.

    • TheRealPoc

      Re: Elliott – just because something doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean it was the wrong play. I think it’s pretty clear the FO’s preference was Bishop, until the terms & acquisition cost no longer made sense. Elliott for a 2nd & 3rd, with only 1 year remaining @ $2.5M AAV, represented demonstrably better value and made far more sense for where this org is. I’d still make that move today, and I’m saying that as someone who doesn’t think they should resign him.

      Interestingly enough, I think Bishop and Fleury actually represent much better value this time around. Bishop as a UFA coming off a tough year is intriguing – we’re still talking about a career .919 guy who probably isn’t done playing at a high level – but term is the major concern. As for Fleury, the acquisition cost will be substantially lower approaching June than it was last summer; if the org feels Gillies & Rittich are ready for the opportunity to push for NHL jobs (maybe as a backup in 2017-18, then potentially as a starter moving forward), Fleury’s two-year term represents a pretty nice bridge to that succession plan, and it’s very likely to be one of, if not the shortest term commitment you’ll be able to find for a starting goaltender this summer (unless Elliott’s inclined to look for a one-year “prove it” deal to rebuild value).

      Or, they could just say “YOLO” and give Darling 5 x $4M…regardless, there are options, and that’s due in large part to the flexibility Tre maintained by making a more sensible bet last June instead of a bigger bet.

      • Flint

        There are 3 maybe 4 teams truly in the game for Scott Darling – CGY, PHI, BUF. The expansion draft complicates things a lot – he may end up in Vegas. ANA, VAN, EDM could be as well, if he passes through the expansion draft. CGY is basically the only team that is going to be offering a starting role this year of those teams (less Vegas). I don’t see that driving Darling’s value up to 5x4mil! He’s only played something like 70gms in the NHL. I think he could be had for a steal if you tell him it’s his job to lose.

        • TheRealPoc

          I don’t think his market is that limited; off the top of my head, Dallas is a notable omission from your list, they need a starter in the worst way imaginable. We’re also one season removed from Florida giving Reimer 5 x $3.4M with the understanding he’d be, at most, platooning w/ Luongo at the onset of that deal.

          I get the sample size isn’t huge for Darling, but the proxy I’d be thinking of is Talbot – the Oilers made a pretty large bet based on a 57 GP, .931 sv% resume, a year out from a required extension. Closing in on 200 GP now, he’s a career .922 sv% tender and great value at ~$4M/yr.

          Darling’s a career .923 sv% tender through 75 GP (albeit behind a great team), is a year younger (28) than Talbot (29), and the only asset required to land him is cash. I think there’s a very compelling case to be made by his representation as to why he should be making Reimer money at least.

          • Flint

            Dallas is a cap conservative team with two former #1 goalies signed to almost 10 million in cap hit and you think GM Jim is going to add an unproven Darling at 5x4m to that tire fire?

            Dallas needs a #1 goalie for sure, but first they have to get rid of one of theirs.

            Lastly… all of Bishop, Elliott, Mason, Miller and Bernier are UFA’s. And each of them are reasonable arguments to be safer bets than Darling.

            Elliott was one of he best goalies in the NHL the previous 4 yrs before he signed for 1.3mil less than you advocate giving Darling. Look how that ‘safe bet’ turned out.

          • Flint

            I’ll add…I think iy’d be good for a team who can take the risk on Darling to take it…like CGY is.

            But Darling is not like Talbot until he is like Talbot. The Oilers got a good one, but more often than not you don’t. I don’t want a GM who pays out big on a hope and a prayer.

  • TheRealPoc

    At the end of the day, this team is about to enter its first window of true contention since ’08-’09, with a really good young core, minimal bad financial commitments to gripe about and a significantly improved prospect pipeline. In present day, this is already a top ten possession team and Tre didn’t have to mortgage the future in the least to get there; moving forward, I can only think of a few teams who are more flexible & better prepared to augment the core for future Cup runs (with Toronto being the obvious example). We’ve been set up for future sustained relevance, for the first time in a long time.

    For that reason alone, Treliving deserves to finish what he’s started here. I’m excited for this summer, and really excited to see this team make the final push towards the elite tier.

  • KenBone18

    He’s a bum. If it wasn’t for Tre we wouldn’t have been eliminated in the playoffs. Also the Gaudreau contract negotiation was a fiasco. I’m not saying Gaudreau ins’t worth the money (he is) – Tre played chicken with the RFA and the RFA won. Not only did it disrupt the training camp (leading to the worst start on record) but it set the tone for how management handles the core. He should have just given him whatever he wanted (he’s our franchise forward) rather than drag things out just to cave.

  • BringtheFire

    Well, I remember an incident…a GM once said to a player; “Hey, player! You’re awesome! We’re going to pursue you aggressively, you’re going to bring toughness and skill, you’ll mentor young player x and we’ll put a letter on your shirt before you’ve proven anything!!”

    That could be Troy or Dion.

    Bollig, Byron, Engellan, Booms…they’re all Burke’s calls, people.

    I feel like I’m in crazy town sometimes.

  • ronipedia

    The GM has about 23 million dollars in cap room available this off season. It is a huge opportunity to improve the team. He can basically remake the bottom 6, the bottom 3 and both goalies. It’s a big task. To go to a new GM that’s totally unfamiliar with the team at this point in the rebuild doesn’t make sense to me. Conroy is an option, but he’d still be a rookie GM. The team’s trajectory is clearly on the upswing. Sign him.

  • Flint

    WWID? I would bring him back… provided he guarantees me, prior to signing on the dotted line, that he doesn’t pursue Bishop, nor Fleury, nor Miller, nor re-sign Elliott (unless it is for less than 2.0million which won’t happen), but will very strongly pursue Scott Darling and will not pay him more than 2.0million.

    And that he does everything in his power to rid us of Troy Brouwer.

  • buts

    The handling of wideman alone by not getting rid of him, the refs/league screwed us on many many calls, GG’s player usage, Raymond, Byron, Bollig, Brouwer, Bouma, not getting a #1 goalie, England, Bartkowski, Baertchi, the love for minor leaguers and much more lead me to think Conroy would do better. “Too many cooks spoil the broth” maybe fire Brian Burke move BT up and Conroy to GM.

  • Southboy

    NO. Reasons:

    1. Gaudreau’s overpaid
    2. Bouma overpaid
    3. Gave up too many picks for Eliiot, and will overpay him this offseason
    4. Brouwer waayyyy overpaid
    5. Englland/Bartowski
    6. Gave away Byron
    7. Does not have it in him to make a big deal to bring in what we need
    8. Also other than points, Hamilton is the biggest 6’3 sissy signed over 5.5 million league wide.

  • PrairieStew

    Right now the biggest thing sticking in everyone’s mind is the Brouwer contract. It’s bad – but remember what else was signed last year for UFA wingers. Louii Eriksson, Milan Lucic and Andrew Ladd all got more money and more term than Brouwer. It will hurt more later if he continues his slide, but potentially those other teams will hurt more and for longer. It won’t hurt too much next year with Wideman and Engelland coming off. It is 18-19 it may hurt some when Backlund has to be resigned but you have Stajan and Bouma and the Raymond buyout coming off. The final year of Brouwer’s deal is the year we need to resign Tkachuk.

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Agreed that other FAs with decreasing value signed for more…never mind past ones before current CBA that are handicapping teams with real Cup potential like Gaborik and Brown in LA and arguably Hossa in Chi.

  • ngthagg

    Not having Treliving signed at this date is as bad as not having Gaudreau signed for training camp. We’ve gone over Treliving’s record many times. But what about this angle: what does it say about this organization to let Treliving go? What does it say to the coach? Is he going to be replaced the next time the team hits a rough patch? Is he going to have to sell his methods to a new GM? Is he going to have to change how he coaches to match his new boss’ preferences? What does it say to the players? They knew the expectations when they signed with Brad, but are they going to be trade fodder because they don’t fit the new GM’s prefences? What about the scouting staff, who have been preparing for the draft and free agency for one man only to have to change to meet the demands of someone else. What does it say to the fans, who are finally getting a taste of a new identity for the post-Iginla Flames, only to see more churn behind the scenes?

    Not resigning Treliving at this point would scream bad management to me. GM is a long term position, not to be decided on a game by game basis, but at least on a season by season basis, if not longer. And the Flames have been improving, and are set to continue that path for the long term. Treliving is doing what he needs to do. He needs to stay.

  • Derzie

    With Kent’s list I would single out Gulutzan as ‘wait and see’. This year he was both terrible for a long stretch and great for a long stretch. Jury is still out. Also, sweating Johnny was unnecessary and harmful starting the season. That said, Tre should stay unless they have a better option (which they probably don’t)

  • KenBone18

    The fact that the team Tre built couldn’t beat the ducks once, but our neighbours to the north won game 1 on the road equates to a FAIL. We need a new GM who can make us competative – look what Chiarelli did in 2 seasons.