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FN Mailbag: May 15, 2017

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Scratch Ben Bishop off the Flames goalie wish list.

The towering puck stopper was dealt to the Dallas Stars at the start of the week and swiftly signed with his new team, to the tune of a six-year, $29.5M deal. The cap hit is friendlier than expected at $4.92M per year, but Bishop traded some dollars for term and stability. His deal also came with a full no-movement clause and a no-trade clause for the final three years of the contract.

Some may see the Bishop signing as an opportunity lost, but it looks like a bullet dodged to me. Bishop will turn 31 in November, is coming off a down season and groin troubles, and doesn’t have the sort of numbers that suggest he’ll be Henrik Lundqvist good into his mid-30s.

Calgary is entering their contention window next year and is in desperate need of a quality goaltender. That said, they also can’t afford to be hobbled by a bad, immovable contract in net. Brad Treliving has lots of net options this summer and the biggest potential mistake has now been taken off the market. That’s a good thing.

I think most of the suggestions thus far – from Marc-Andre Fleury to Antti Raanta – are decent targets. The expansion draft is going to put real pressure on teams to get something for guys before they are plucked for nothing. Not to mention the fact that goalie supply far outweighs demand.

The most “realistic” trade option will likely be Fleury (or Matt Murray, if the Pens decide to keep Fleury after this playoff run). It is a near certainty that Pittsburgh will lose Murray to Vegas if they keep both guys (Fleury has an NMC and can’t be exposed in the expansion draft unless he waives it). As such, they will be the most desperate to deal before the day arrives.

I also think the Rangers will need to move Raanta given how good he has been the last couple of years and his super cheap contract ($1M). They aren’t going to expose King Henrik and Raanta will likely be Vegas’ number two choice behind the Pens’ Murray. Heck, even if Vegas picks up another starter elsewhere, Raanta would be a great backup option for them as well.

Given the pressures of the marketplace, I don’t think the Flames will be forced to deal a first round pick for any of the goalies that are currently available. That could change if another club creates some sort of auction, but there aren’t a lot of those teams around. With Scott Darling going to Carolina and Bishop signing in Dallas, the list of NHL clubs looking for starters is rather short:

  • Calgary (no goalies)
  • Philly (Michal Neuvirth)
  • Vancouver (Jakob Markstrom)
  • Buffalo (Robin Lehner – RFA)

As far as I can tell, this is the list of clubs that could be looking for netminding this summer. Markstrom and Lehner might be tabbed for starter’s duty in their respective cities, while Neuvirth is good enough to operate as a 1B option.

In contrast, here are all the UFA and likely trade market goalies:

  • Brian Elliot (UFA)
  • Chad Johnson (UFA)
  • Ryan Miller (UFA)
  • Jonathan Bernier (UFA)
  • Steve Mason (UFA)
  • Darcy Kuemper (UFA)
  • Anders Nilsson (UFA)
  • Mike Condon (UFA)
  • Marc-Andre Fleury or Matt Murray (trade)
  • Antti Raanta (trade)
  • Calvin Pickard (trade)
  • Malcolm Subban (trade)
  • Philipp Grubauer (trade)
  • Joonas Korpisalo (trade)
  • James Reimer (trade)
  • Mike Smith (trade)

That’s (maybe) four teams searching for goalies and at least 16 starter or backup quality puck stoppers. Treliving should be able to play hardball.

We can’t really say if the price paid will be worth the investment until we see the actual transaction. As set out above, though, the Flames are positioned to take advantage of a supply glut. If Treliving can leverage the expansion draft and low demand for goaltenders, Calgary could potentially pay dimes on the dollar for their next netminder.

Given the names listed above, here’s my shortlist for Flames goaltender targets: Murray (if available), Raanta, Grubauer, and Fleury (if available). Otherwise consider Pickard, Elliott, Mason, Reimer or Bernier.

I’m very much on board with considering Williams on a short-term, stopgap contract. The former King brings all the intangibles GMs and coaches love (leadership! Experience! Cup rings!), but he’s also still really effective:

Granted, Williams will turn 36 in October, meaning we can reasonably expect his performance to erode, but as you can see he has some room before he drops into “liability” territory. If Calgary can get him on a short, reasonable deal, it’s worth the gamble.

I don’t think there’s any chance the Ducks leave Jakob Silfverberg unprotected (or trade him) after the season and playoff run he’s had. He’s 26, coming off a career best 49-point year and scoring at a PPG pace in the postseason. Anaheim will move someone else if they have to, but they’ll keep Silfverberg.

I’d like to buy low on Jordan Eberle, but aside from the fact it’s unlikely Edmonton will deal him to Calgary, his $6M cap hit could be a problem.

This summer the Flames will be spending their money on goaltending and another top four defender, as well as raises for Sam Bennett and Micheal Ferland. They may have a lot of space left over after those moves, or they could be completely capped out, depending on how they go.

For the entry draft, the Knights will pick in conventional order starting with 6th overall. From Draftsite.com:

For the expansion draft, as far as I can tell there is no assigned “order” for them to pick players from other teams.

No. Unfortunately, Nail Yakupov just isn’t very good. His underlying numbers resemble Troy Brouwer’s, but he doesn’t get the intangibles bump in the mind of NHL decision makers.

My guess is he ends up in Vegas. Or the KHL.

It depends on who is available via trade and what player(s) fall to 16th overall.

I don’t know if the Colorado Avalanche are going to resume their auction for Gabriel Landeskog or Matt Duchene, but that might be a consideration. A team like Tampa Bay facing expansion draft pressures might also put Tyler Johnson or Jonathan Drouin on the trade block as well. Of course, the cap pressures I mentioned in the Eberle note above obviously applies to any of the potential trade targets listed here as well.

As for the draft, there’s a chance some high-quality guys will be available by 16, but talent could dwindle rapidly as well, depending on what happens in the top 15. If there’s little apparent difference between guys by the time the draft gets around to the Flames, Treliving would be well advised to trade down and acquire a few more lottery tickets, particularly since the Flames don’t have a second or third round pick this year.

When I noted there could be some good players available at 16 above, Nick Suzuki was the guy I was thinking of.

Suzuki’s numbers are sparkling and some of the best in the entire draft. He’s also one of the youngest guys available, having been born in August, which makes his output (45 goals, 96 points in 65 games or an NHLe of 36) all the more impressive. For context, Sam Bennett managed 36 goals and 91 points in 57 games (NHLe of 39) during his draft year.

Standing just 5’11” and weighing around 180 pounds, Suzuki isn’t the biggest RWer, which may be why he typically ranks in the middle of the first round according to most draft outfits. NHL Central Scouting has Suzuki as the 10th best NA skater, which puts him in 15-20 territory when considering European skaters, whereas ISS puts him 11th overall.

As a result, you’ll see Suzuki as high as a top six pick in some mock drafts to going in the late teens in others.

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  • Newbietwo

    Some of those goalies have back office verbals to sign after the expansion draft.. Reimer I hear is committed to Florida for example so that list will lessen somewhat

  • PrairieStew

    Agreed Kent, I think they avoided a long term liability in Bishop. Dallas is lamenting the $ they have tied up in old goalies now, they may be doing so again in 2 years. I wonder if Pittsburgh sees the opportunity to really capitalize on Murray’s value and get several future pieces. Would the Flames offer one of Gilles, Rittich and Parsons, plus one of Kulak, Andersson and Kylington, plus one of Jankowski or Dube, plus a college/European prospect for Murray ?

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      With the situation Pitts is in, I think that would be Way Too Much to give up for Murray, Heck “Gilles, Rittich and Parsons” could even be the next Murray? (most likely Parsons than the other two). In a Non Expansion Draft year Maybe… But Ptts has ZERO leverage as of right now other than any bidding war on said players involved. Selling the farm is Not a Good Idea.

      • PrairieStew

        Agreed, selling the farm is never a good idea, but Murray is a proven commodity. None of our young goalies are proven. Trevor Kidd had a pretty good pedigree coming out of junior as well, so don’t go counting your chickens on Parsons just yet. With the big 3 defense pretty established in the next 4 years the ideal situation is for all 3 of those young guys to become the bottom 3, but I’d give up one for sure to get the right goalie deal done; same with one of the forwards. Trading high probability potential for an established commodity is good business, especially since, for the time being Murray is very affordable. Pittsburgh’s starting position might be either Bennett or Tkachuk for Murray – which is a nonstarter – which is why I’d rather trade 3 commodities ( that we have multiple options for each) rather than an established player.

        • Kevin R

          I agree, if things go down in Pitt & Murray is the guy to be moved I would go all in for him but Rutherford is an unreasonable old SOB. I doubt our 1st, Shink & Gilles would be enough for that old goat.

        • ThisBigMouthIsRight

          I Think Murray is a great young goalie(maybe even Amazing), but he is not really fully establish yet, he has only played 52reg/21po NHL games so far in his early career. and that is playing for a very well established contender Pitts team. So many different factors go into determining what his acquisition price would be, esp given Vegas could take him for Nothing if MAF Doesn’t waive his M-NTC-NMC or no side deals are worked out.. It is a very interesting situation to say the least..

  • jakethesnail

    Don’t be too sure Pittsburgh will lose either goalie in the Vegas draft. The Pens could make a deal with Vegas in which the Pens left the player the Knights wanted, and possible draft pick or prospect in exchange for not taking MAF or Murray.

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      That is possible, But Vegas will want to take the Best Player Available and the bottom1st rounder in a “weak” draft year might not be too attractive. I’m curious as to what/who you might be thinking? Anything is possible.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      You’ve got it. No player gets selected without the full consent of the club losing the guy. NHL GMs form a very exclusive old boys’ club. McPhee was part of that elite club for a long time, so he is not some unknown firecracker who intends to blow out the cobwebs in that dusty, old club. Sure, clubs will have to make sweetheart deals with Vegas to not take certain players and to take others, but give and take is normal in all businesses. I fully expect that if the Pens lose either Fleury or Murray it will be via a trade where significant assets move to Pittsburgh. No giveaways here.

      If the Flames want a cheap goalie in every sense of the word, that Nazi-loving grease ball on the Islanders could likely be picked up in the bargain bin. Leave his politics at home and play great goal, he will be loved by Flames fans.

  • Backburner

    I wonder if a good use of Flames first round pick would be to send it to Vegas to take Brouwer?? That extra cap space could come in really handy when a guy like Tavares becomes a UFA next year. Just a thought.

    • Backburner

      Gaudreau – Tavares – Tkachuk
      Bennett – Monahan – Ferland
      Versteeg – Backlund – Frolik
      Lazar – Jankowski – Chiasson/Hathaway

      A guy can dream..

    • Lets Get Something Clear

      As bad a Brouwer was this season, his 4.5m for the next three seasons isn’t the end of the world either. If he becomes an effective 4th line player like Stajan he will still be overpaid, but certainly not to the point that it’s worth major assets to get him off the team. Trading a first round pick would just be compounding the errors.

      • Puckhead

        The problem with this is the term ‘effective.’ He was anything but ‘effective’ this season and was a detriment to pretty much every player he was on the ice with.

        • Lets Get Something Clear

          That’s true; which is why I prefaced it with “If”. Think of it as the best worst-case scenario (and Brouwer playing well in that role isn’t that hard to imagine). The point, though, is given how poorly this season went the only way that his contract can be moved is by using much more valuable assets. And, as the adage goes, two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • Just.Visiting

    I’d be really cautious on Murray. He looks enormous on the ice, but he’s actually really skinny. The change in the size of goalie equipment is a wildcard for him and some of the other goalies. I’m very comfortable signing Chad and seeing if one of the young guys can develop into a 1B by the last portion of the year and the potential 1A for the following year. If it was apparent that the plan wasn’t working, there would be trade options available in November. That would also let us understand more fully the impact of the equipment changes on our options.

  • Just.Visiting

    To solve the RW problem, move Matt to the first line and have either he or JG on the right side. Move either Ferland or Janko to LW on the Mikes line. It’s really about 2018-2019 and beyond, so I wouldn’t be keen on chasing ban aid vets.

  • Newbietwo

    It doesn’t matter if Pittsburg loses fluerry because his contract ends in one year and if really want to the penguins can sign him after that so they will go with Murray no matter what

    • Kevin R

      Wrong, Fleury has 2 years left. If he had only one, I think Pens would buy him out in a heart beat. Writing a cheque for $7.8 mill to a goalie that has carried them to the 3rd round is not a thing Lemiux will do.

  • everton fc

    Random thoughts…

    If, and only IF, the organization thinks they can both go deep in the playoffs next season, AND that none of our young players are ready on RW, AND, if we can’t put together a trade for a RW cheap, AND, if we can’t dump Brouwer’s contract somewhere (Vegas, to PITT for MAF, the latter something Rutherford will avoid)… On a 2 year contract, Justin Williams on a line w/Versteeg and Bennett (Bennett centering) would be a solid third line. If we can hold on to Chiasson, he moves to 4th line RW.

    Eberle scores 20 goals a season, and like Kessel was prior to moving to the Pens, he’s seen as poison. Some team is going to poach him from the Oilers, which helps Edmonton from a payroll perspective. And Eberle will succeed like Kessel succeeded, “Destination Elsewhere”. Whatever deal is made, it will be good for all parties. Seems any guy w/Eberle’s #’s would be getting his salary. Or close to it.

    Yakupov’s destiny is home. The KHL. Forever. I don’t see Suzuki on the board at #16. If Nicolas Hague is, I’d be okay with that pick – big, mobile defender who can skate, plays w/an edge, scores… Not a lot of those type of defenders on the board. But he, too, could be gone by the time the Flames go to the podium.

    I think the Flames should take a run at both Landeskog and/or Drouin. Not to acquire both (that would be miraculous, if affordable somehow), but would vertainly give us a long term expansion of our “core”. Eberle’s another I’d ask about. Would they eat cap? Would they take Brouwer’s salary, so they’re only ont he hook for $1.5mill?? Eberle’s only at $6mill thru 2018-19. If we are all considering cap hit with Brouwer’s contract going the other way (MAF has a “Modified NMC, as well. Eberle has no strings attached) why wouldn’t we look into Eberle? Highly unlikely Edmonton and Calgary ever trade again, with the rivalry… But if BT would somehow craft a three-team deal, where Eberle goes to, say, Carolina, and then Carolina send him to Calgary (just a concept)…

    We need a scoring RW….

    Adding Eberle and Justin Williams on the right-side would make us very dangerous, offencively. You re-sign one of Johnson and Elliott (I lean “the latter) and give Rittich a chance as a tandem (whatever goalie solution we seek has to be cheap but effective stop-gap for two years max…)

    Again, “random thoughts”….

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Interesting ideas..not sure how affordable, but adding both Eberle and Williams (or add Oshie in for one of them) would certainly (?) upgrade our RW. Oshie is a fair bit younger than Williams but may be double the price.

      • Puckhead

        No thanks to Eberle. He was invisible for the Oilers in the playoffs and is soft. We don’t need another one-dimensional soft player who needs easy minutes to be effective.

        • ThisBigMouthIsRight

          Exactly… Flames do not need another “Hope to be a 1st line guy” Only to be demoted down to the 3rd line, esp for 6-mill a season! If they are going after a 1st line RW… He Has To Be a 1st line RW guy, No “Hope” or “Maybes” about it, esp if Term & $$$ are part of the deal…

        • everton fc

          Like Kent, I only said Eberle’s an interesting “concept”. People said the same about Kessel. Being soft… Dogging it…

          Eberle may just need a new place to play. Helped other Oilers.

  • Kevin R

    I would make a call to Shero & see if Schneider is available & cost. A core like ours with the window just opening could be huge, yeah he’s 31 & has 5 more years at 6.0 mill. He’s a stud & will win us games for the next 3 years. Jersey is a long way from there window being open. They may be more open that people think & they have a few good ones ready. Knowing how due diligent Tre is & how his swing on Elliott kind of turned into a grounder, Tre may surprise us & pull off a Dougie type of splash at the draft & score the unexpected. I would a top Tender is very high on his list. Kent’s list of candidates have far too much uncertainty above. Tre needs to get the next one right.

  • Puckhead

    Tre has a budget, guys to sign, and will want some wiggle room against the cap. As such, I just can’t see him acquiring a high priced goalie and will not be surprised if the starter makes $3M or less.

    Makes more sense to find a decent 4D and limit the goals against this way.

    • Backburner

      I totally agree.. I would have no issues signing a UFA goalie on a short term, affordable contract with Parsons and Gillies coming up soon. They are all capable starters.
      I hope Tre spends the money on beefing up the D.

  • Franko J

    For the draft I would try and move down a couple of spots and pick up a 2nd or 3 round pick.
    Most experts predict it to be a weak draft, however, I see great potential for a few prospects who can actually compliment and improve the Flames that are not in the top 10. Albeit they make take time to develop, but if they pan out they will be good players in this league.
    If the Flames do decide to move the 16th pick I wonder where the need is greater—- RW or 4D? Who would be available?

  • freethe flames

    There is a lot of work for BT and his staff to get done. He needs to get his own RFA’s signed especially Ferland and Bennett(cost for the 2 of them will be between 5-6M) plus he needs to acquire or sign a goaltender prior to the expansion draft. If along the way to teams filing their lists for LVGK to pick from he can manage to find an upgrade on the last forward spot that would be great but unlikely. Then he needs to manage the draft; with only 1 pick in the first 100 he needs to get this right. Then he needs to decide on his own UFA’s does he resign Stone/Versteeg/Chiasson(RFA arb) before July 1. Then he needs to see if he can sign a #4d and another goalie. All for under $21m. Good luck.

    My wish list would look like this: Bennett 2 years @$2.5m; Ferland 3 years @$2.5m, then 2 of the following goalies Raanta/Condon/Johnson/Grauber unless we can get Murray(you could possibly have your goalie tandem for less than this years $4.5m). Then sign 2 of the following D Stone/Smith/Franson for under $8 total both for 3 years. Draft well which could mean almost anything from getting a gem at 16, flipping it for an NHL ready player, to dropping down to get more picks. I have not yet examined the draft profiles so I don’t have a favorite at 16 yet but I’m sure there will be plenty of discussions to come.