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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

Why the Flames won’t trade away their first rounder (but probably should)

The 2017 National Hockey League Draft has not been lauded for its depth. After Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier things drop off a bit and by the time the Calgary Flames are slated to pick at 16th overall it’s unlikely that the player they select will be an impact player for a long while. But for a few reasons, don’t expect Brad Treliving to ship his club’s first round pick out (unless there’s a fairly high pick coming back).

It’s a shame because if they used that mid-round pick the way they have in the past, it could be extremely useful for the team’s propulsion up the NHL’s pecking order.

One pick in the first 100

The Flames select 16th in the first round of this year’s draft. Their next pick is 109th, in the middle of the fourth round. Their second round pick was sent to Ottawa for Curtis Lazar. Their third round pick was sent to Arizona for Michael Stone. That gives them just the one kick at the can early on.

For those unfamiliar with him, Treliving’s a draft guy. He began his 2015 post-draft press conference with a half-apology to his scouts when he had to trade Calgary’s first rounder (and two other picks) to land Dougie Hamilton. To reiterate, he felt bad that he took chances away from his scouts to see their hard work reflected in draft picks – despite spending it on a 22-year-old roster player. After having them spend the year running around the world in dimly lit rinks to put together their draft list, Treliving’s preference is to give his staff as many kicks at the can as they can.

The Flames have knocked the ball out of the park with their last few first rounders. Sean Monahan (2013), Sam Bennett (2014) and Matthew Tkachuk (2016) are NHLers. They’re accumulating some depth on the farm. But they’re not in a position to throw away chances to accumulate more depth.

Unless you win a Stanley Cup, or come pretty close to it, not drafting until midway through the draft screams poor asset management.

A potential big upgrade

Two years ago, the Flames made the playoffs but drafted 15th overall (by virtue of being the worst team to make the playoffs). Instead of trying to figure out which middle-of-the-pack first rounder to roll the dice on – a player that wouldn’t be anything of consequence for a few years – Treliving traded for Dougie Hamilton and immediately made his team better without giving up a single thing on their roster.

The Flames desperately need goaltending. They have forward depth. They have defensive depth. Their best players, aside from Mark Giordano, are young and just entering their prime. Arguably the only thing holding the Flames back from taking a big step forward and becoming not just a playoff team but a potential contender is an upgrade in net. Any year they fail to fix their goaltending situation is a year they waste some valuable years from their best players.

In 2015, the Flames managed to upgrade their roster big time by trading a middle first round pick for Hamilton. Approaching the 2017 NHL Draft, the combination of a looming expansion draft and a flooded goaltending market add up to a tremendous opportunity for the Flames to upgrade their roster again.

Sum it up

The Flames probably won’t trade away their first round pick this year. It makes sense. If they did that, they wouldn’t pick until the middle of the fourth round – which would make them seem pretty silly. But given the state of the Flames’ roster and the goaltending market, the Flames could possibly do themselves a lot of favours if they managed to leverage their 16th overall pick in a swap for a goalie.

  • Parallex

    I agree (and somehow disagree at the same time)…

    I think the Flames are three pieces away from being something special. Piece #1 as you mentioned is a legit starting goaltender (a 1A/1B works as well… really what we’re looking for is 60 games of average or above goaltending performance the permutation in which we get those 60 games is irrelevant) the 2nd piece is a complementary top line forward (for Johnny & Sean), and the 3rd piece is a legit #4 or better d-man. Trading that 1st round pick will get us 1 of those pieces… but do we really want to create a development hole in the org that punting the entire top half of the draft will create when the result will be a team that still has two holes to fill? Trading that 1st strikes me as the move you make to get that piece that get’s you over the hump to where you want to go not the move you make to get you just a bit further down the road.

  • Christian Roatis

    Flames need a bluechip forward prospect to compliment the elite defense prospects they’ve accumulated, but if Niederreiter can be had in a package including 16OA, I wouldn’t hesitate.

      • icedawg_42

        I think most NHL GM’s hang on to that pick, but I think Tre thinks outside the box, and I bet he’s dangling that pick for exactly this kind of deal. Whether it happens or not remains to be seen, but I’d be all over either of these.

        • Denscafon

          I would only trade our first rounder if Murray or Raanta was coming back our way though I’m hoping it won’t cost that much since it’s a buyer’s market. Getting Niederreiter would be great but then Ferland or Lazar would be exposed. I don’t mind lazar going but I doubt BT allows that since we just traded for him. I really don’t want Ferland gone though

          • Kevin R

            Would never trade a 1st rounder for Raanta, Talbot never got a 1st. We just don’t have the 2nd & 3rd rounders which is the currency for a situation like Raanta. Even if Lazar was exposed, pretty unlikely Vegas take him before they pluck off Kulak. Murray is a pipe dream & if that dumbs Rutherford is wanting a huge return for Fleury because of his playoff run(according to Francis, take with a grain), I can’t imagine what he would want for Murray. I would rather cut a deal with Dallas or Detroit & move cap with the likes of Brouwer for 1 or 2 years of Howard or Niemi than give Rutherford the Kings ransom he expects on one of his goalies. Screw him, let him deal with McPhee or let the Jets give Trouba for Murray. Niederreiter is a guy I would give that 1st for + one of our good prospects. Nino is more than just an expansion draft issue for the Wild, they have cap issues & Nino is going to get a raise from the 2.9mill he was making. 5-6 year deal at 5.0-5.5mill per is probably where that kid will land & the Wild can’t afford that with Granlund having to be resigned. It would suck for our scouts to not see any picks in the first 3 rounds but they did get paycheques & they did add to the evaluation of what we are giving versus what we are getting in the trade.

  • Puckhead

    I doubt he moves the pick unless Lazar is part of the deal. If he trades the 1st and Lazar is lost via the expansion draft this will not look good for Tre (wasted 2nd round pick)

    • supra steve

      It’s also entirely possible that Lazar was picked up specifically to be made available to McPhee in Vegas, since McPhee was not able to trade for an active player at the time the Flames acquired him. If such a deal was pre-arranged, it would put Tre in the enviable position of being able to pick up additional assets from other clubs before the expansion draft, because he would already know that Lazar is McPhee`s pick. I hope that it`s the case, because if Rakel or Silfverberg could be had for a modest cost and or a solid No. 4 D….and not need protecting, then the cost of a mid second rounder was well spent on Lazar.

      • ThisBigMouthIsRight

        Wouldn’t it be nice if Vegas signed Engellend as a UFA in the pre-expansion draft window thus freeing the Flames from worrying about losing anyone at the expansion draft and thus could try and pick up on all their needs. One can only Hope!
        Although, I would like to see our Jr.Flames D-men given the opportunity before bringing in someone other than a serious bonafied top 4-D guy.

      • everton fc

        Interesting idea here.

        If we keep the first… We can use any of Gillies, Rittich (I still think he’s the better of the two, potentially), Kylington… In a move for a guy like Hayes (I still think Hayes is the best fit, in terms of forwards).

        If we could move Brouwer (to the Pens for Fleury, with one of Johnson/Rittch as the tandem), move Bouma (4th round pick?!)… Pickup Hayes w/o losing our first (the Rangers may lose Raanta, and their farm system has no one close to comparable). I’d consider Kylington and one of Rittich/Gillies.. Maybe throw in Chiasson… If the Rangers are truly ready to move Hayes, and they are thin behind Lundqvist if the lose Raanta…

      • Puckhead

        Yes, the Lazar transaction seemed odd at the time and still doesn’t make sense to me. Hope you’re right because it makes sense and I could see McPhee trusting Tre to pull it off for him

      • L.Kolkind

        That is silly that means we gave up a 2nd to protect Brouwer? I would rather have straight up traded LV our 2nd and have them take Brouwer. You think acquiring a player for a 2nd to protect one of Brouwer, Shinkaruk, or Kulak was worth it? Even worse if LV takes Lazar then we gave away our 2nd and Jokkipakka for literally nothing. That was simply a bad trade even worse now it handicaps our ability to go after better players that will likely be taken by Las Vegas such as Nino or Murray.

        We wasted a 2nd then, lets hope Trelvining doesn’t do something stupid with our 1st. Also, the Stone trade is straight up awful. He trades away a 3rd for a player that isn’t even better than the player he is replacing? Overall Treliving wasted our 2nd last year and this year 3rd and 2nd and all we have to show for it is Lazar. Those 3 trades significantly impact our prospect pool and were poor asset management. Each time the writers dignify it with “it was only a _”, but those add up and our lack of RW prospects hasn’t improved. Treliving has done poorly in my eyes this past year, he hasn’t realised that the rebuild isn’t over and wasted too many assets trying to “win now”, which got us swept in the 1st round. The Hamilton trade was great, it was a huge payment, but the return is worth it. Can you say that about many of the rest of his trades?

        • supra steve

          “That is silly that means we gave up a 2nd to protect Brouwer?”…No, it would mean Tre had protected every other player on his roster, even if they were not on his protected list, for the cost of a 2nd round pick in a weak draft. Acquire Hayes…he’s protected. Acquire another legit top 4 D, he’s protected. And all at a time when some players MAY be available for pennies on the dollar. So, if McPhee does covet Lazar, owning his rights protects the rest of your roster and makes Calgary a destination for teams desperate to get something/anything for players they would otherwise lose in the expansion draft.

  • kipper2004

    You gotta think that BT either moves a young guy that can’t be protected and the first round pick for maybe a couple high second rounders, or low first round and second round picks if they think the draft is weak. But sending the 16th pick for El Nino and maybe get a 3rd or 4th rounder back would hit a couple needs. I guess the shoe will drop soon when some team makes the first expansion trade move to establish the market. Should be fun on all counts!

      • Parallex

        They’re not going to take Kulak (with so many good young D-men available with more NHL pedigree why take Kulak?). I like Brett plenty but there are so many good d-men set to be available to them and VGK have requirements that they have to meet ($$ & Position) that I don’t think they’re going to burn a pick on a guy that hasn’t proven to be more then a fringe NHL’er yet. Not saying that I think Kulak is a fringe NHL’er but he doesn’t have the pedigree to be definitively called more then that yet.

        I think Calgary is going to be one of the last teams Vegas settles on. We won’t have anyone available that screams “must have” so I figure they settle on all the must haves from other teams and use Calgary and similar teams to smooth out requirements and roster balance. If I had to bet then I would bet we lose Chiasson as things stand now. He’s a legit NHL’er whose relatively young and won’t command a big ticket.

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          I don’t see Vegas taking eithe Lazar or Kulak. Kulak is an unknown commodit and there are much more highly regarded defenders available. Lazar was a first round draft pick and a fixture with hockey Canada’s junior program but not proven at the NHL level.

        • ThisBigMouthIsRight

          The thing is after they get their 23-man Roster + a couple depth guys, that leaves finding players to fill their farm roster. they get to pick 30 guys… So if the flames prospects are more attractive than the NHLers available/not protected… LV Could just as easily use their Calgary pick to help fill its farm team.

          • Parallex

            Who are they going to take that is both eligible and waiver exempt next season? I mean… what’s the point of taking someone for your farm when their original team (or really any team) can just pluck them back? I mean sure they can take someone for the purposes of stashing them on the farm… but that person won’t be any good so who cares.

          • freethe flames

            They are sharing a farm team this year so they will not need a full roster this year; next year they will. I believe they are taking over the AHL Chicago team.

  • Lets Get Something Clear

    While I agree that the Flames should be open to trading their first round pick I disagree that it makes sense to use it on a goaltender. Given that the market is flooded and considering the price paid for the most-wanted goalies so far (a 3rd for the rights to Darling and a 4th for Bishop’s) it seems like a first would be substantially more than what is required.

    • everton fc

      Agree. With no picks after 16 for a while… You have to probably stay the course…

      I could see BT:

      1. Moving up by trading the first and a prospect (unlikely)
      2. Moving down by trading the first for a second and a prospect, or two seconds…
      3. Doing nothing, moving a prospect to get a 2nd (unlikely)

      Lazar better be worth the 2nd.

  • everton fc

    Josh Anderson w/the Jackets would be a nice pickup on RW. Potential there. Wouldn’t move a first, of course… An probably fair to say “off topic”… But a big, rugged RW off a 17-goal season…

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I think it is too risky to trade the only pick we have in the top 100. As good as Hamilton is, some still feel that we would have drafted Barzal who could be a budding star. The decision to trade our First round pick, while being bold, could potentially follow Tre throuout his career. If Tre drafts poorly with his 16th pick in the first round, we can chalk that up to a poor read on a prospects potential… Which is quite common.

  • Newbietwo

    Stop saying the flames have depth in prospects! None of our depth are fully NHL ready!

    Furthermore we often are less that two players deep in prospects..

    Forwards: Jankowski and then tell me really who next? Last years picks aren’t proven valued assets yet, shink, poirer, klimchuck none of them show great in asset value yet

    Defense: kylington,Anderson fox….. and then what??

    If you start trading picks and prospects now you land us in the sutter era before blinking yet again..

    KEEP drafting players for two more years and see what you got.. once you have too many quality players to fill your roster that is when you know your cycle is working right

    • Puckhead

      Agreed. Now if we can only find the 3 missing pieces we need (1RW, 4D and 1 goalie) we could take our focus of of Stockton for a few years and give the prospects time to develop.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    So the question remains, is Lazar better than a second round pick at 46-47…. Right now yes. The only problem I see with the Lazar trade is that he is not waiver exempt and as a result he jumps the que ahead of more deserving prospects like Janko.

  • Skylardog

    BT’s hands are tied before the Expansion draft, unfortunately. If he adds a #4 D or a forward, someone is left exposed. The marketplace shows that a goalie is not worth a first rounder. He cannot give up Lazar, or he looks bad, and Ferland cannot be exposed or he is gone. Unless he has a deal up his sleeve with Las Vegas BT is stuck.

    I still see LV taking Kulak.

  • Schmenkley

    I would trade the first round pick + to get Drouin out of Tampa; just not sure what the plus would need to be, and that might kill the idea for me, depending…..

  • Garry T

    If you want Hayes and I do think there are merits to that, offer up Gillies for Hayes and either a good D prospect or a 2/3 rounder. That fixes the Gudreau line. As to our first, there are 3 terrific centres and 3 D available. Like Foote and Hague on D. If you like Neiderieter that much give up Brodie but make sure you get a 4 D and at least a 2nd this year for him. Push for more if possible as Brodie is a major asset. And I still like Drouin. Gotta be a deal there somehow or another.