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FlamesNation Mailbag: May 22, 2017

The theme of Brad Treliving’s offseason this year will be filling in the gaps on the Flames roster: Right wing, bottom three defense, and the goaltender problem.

When Treliving arrived there was still some foundational work to be done. Since then, Calgary’s core has mostly filled out with the maturation of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, and T.J. Brodie, as well as the addition of guys like Sam Bennett and Dougie Hamilton.

What’s left is solving the crease dilemma and buffing up the supporting cast with guys who are a.) capable and b.) relatively cheap.

Calgary has the wherewithal to sign maybe one more star or at least impact player thanks to the departure of Dennis Wideman, Deryk Engelland, Ladislav Smid, and Brandon Bollig. After that, it will be about bargain hunting – or aggressively promoting and developing the supporting cast from within the org. Entry-level contracts are the best value deals in the NHL, after all.

The fourth line is a headache if Treliving can’t trim the fat this summer. It’s difficult to promote from within or operate efficiently with Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma, and Troy Brouwer clogging roster spots and sucking up $10M in cap space.

If Vegas isn’t inclined to take any of those guys and if Calgary can’t find a partner willing to absorb a bad deal, they may have to consider a demotion (Bouma) or buyout (Brouwer) to clear things up a bit.

A buyout of Brouwer’s deal would cost the Flames $9M, or a $1.5M cap penalty that would stretch over six seasons according to Cap Friendly. That is a big chunk of dough and we’re only one year into his deal, so I doubt Flames ownership will find that palatable.

Calgary can save over $1M on Bouma’s deal by moving him to the minors (the cap allowance for demotions goes up slightly next season). That said, his replacement is likely to cost close to that amount, so the savings is a wash. The only reason to do this, then, is the player replacing Bouma is considered more useful to the team.

And maybe the team does that. No doubt they are itching to see Mark Jankowski slide up to the show this season, so there’s a chance they swap him out for Bouma. That lets Janko “intern” with Stajan on the fourth line for a year before the latter moves.

Brett Kulak is clearly the top candidate right now given his age and experience. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if Rasmus Anderson and Oliver Kylington get a look at some point. The darkhorse is also 21-year-old Brandon Hickey, depending if he signs or not.

Kulak has quietly put up good underlying numbers during his 30 games in the NHL so far. If he’s not snagged by Vegas, it makes the most sense to give him a shot to finally make the team outright. We’ll see if any of the other hopefuls make a case for themselves otherwise.

We can’t really speculate on this topic right now since we don’t know how the expansion draft will shake out. In addition, the entry draft and then free agency both occur in rapid succession after expansion, further muddying the waters.

I think Calgary’s best bet this year is to go shopping for defensive depth on the UFA market. While they probably aren’t in the market for Shattenkirk, they can potentially land decent options like Brian Campbell or Cody Franson for reasonable deals.

Like Daniel Pribyl or Jakub Nakladal, I don’t think Calgary can plan around Rutta if he happens to sign here because he’s a still relatively unknown commodity. At 26, the hope would be he could step in and be an NHLer right away, but it’s impossible to be certain until that happens.

With Rutta, I would tentatively pencil him onto the third pairing, but be completely prepared for him to spend the entire season in the AHL.

It would certainly help. Calgary’s starboard side is in particular disrepair these days thanks to the Brouwer gamble going south. Right now the Flames only have Michael Frolik (left-handed) and a converted left winger Micheal Ferland (also left-handed) to populate the top six.

As such, I would say that Drouin is not the ideal candidate for the Flames since he’s also a left-handed left winger. As Mike pointed out in this article, the big get for Calgary this summer would be Nino Niederreiter from the Wild. Not only is he big (212 pounds), young (24), and right-handed, Nino is everything the Flames need to round out the top of the rotation right now. He’s an above-average scorer at even strength and way above average at driving possession, particularly in terms of suppressing shots against:

This is the linemate that could take Gaudreau and Monahan to the next level. Personally, I would be willing to put Calgary’s 16th overall pick as a starting point for negotiations in order to land this player.

The Rangers seem to be somewhat ambivalent about Hayes, so it’s hard to say. They are definitely in an expansion bind, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they make him available.

Hayes isn’t in Drouin or Niederreiter territory, so the asking price should be lower – perhaps much lower if NY gets desperate. Unfortunately, the Flames also lack the currency that is typical to these kinds of deals with no second or third rounder in the upcoming draft. That means they’d have to dip into the prospect pool a bit or convince the Rags to take a couple of 2018 picks instead (unlikely).

So what do the Flames have to offer then? Some combination of Kylington, Andersson, Hickey, Jankowski, Mangiapane, Matt Phillips, Dillon Dube, and Adam Fox and/or mid-round pick might get it done.

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  • freethe flames

    What are peoples thoughts of 6’3 220lb RHF Josh Anderson out of Columbus? 23 years old 17 goal 12 assists as an NHL rookie. Columbus is not going to be able to protect everyone.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Great! Trade for Anderson and then expose and possibly lose Lazar to LV. Great asset management! With that kind of asset management, the Flames could build a new barn themselves with all the money they save from firing all their scouts. Why have scouts when the club deals its draft picks? When was Daryl Sutter brought back as GM?

      • supra steve

        And if we had been told 6 months ago that all the expansion draft was going to cost the Flames was a mid second rounder in a weak 2017 draft, how many of us would have been satisfied with that? If Lazar is exposed and lost in the expansion, then I believe that he was obtained for that sole purpose, because Tre valued his current assets more than he valued that 2017 second.

        • Parallex

          Probably less then you think.

          Folk should stop acting like the 2017 draft is some kind of turd sandwich… it’s not. It looks weaker then average at the top sure, but I wager there is probably little difference in terms of quality from picks 20-210 vs. last year.

          • supra steve

            I’m looking forward to this draft as much as any year, but that does not change the reports that it appears to be a weak draft. I doubt there will be Andersson/Killington type prospects available with that second. Perhaps Ottawa knocks it out of the park and gets a franchise player with that pick…and perhaps I’ll win the 6/49 tomorrow.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    Yup, Niederreiter is a RW Left Shot! Just watched some Niederreiter highlights… Then you have Jakob Silfverberg
    LW that Shoots Right? So unless the Ducks can ditch one of their top 4 D-man(4-F – 4-D -1-G, protection)… He could be available due to the expansion crunch.

    • supra steve

      Silfverberg would be a great grab, but if ANA has several young D men available (Manson, Despres, Montour, Theodore) , he may well pass through the expansion draft unclaimed. ANA unlikely to sell cheap on any of these young guys, because moving one or two still leaves good young players up for grabs to Vegas. Their best course for ANA is to either just bite the bullet and let Vegas choose, or move an asset to Vegas to steer their pick to the player that ANA would prefer to lose.

  • Puckhead

    Kent, why doesn’t the NHL address fans perceived differences in officiating between the regular season and playoffs? Is it that losing teams and their fans are looking for blame or is there something more to it?

    Has anyone ever looked into this from a statistical point of view? Is it fact or fiction?

    • Parallex

      I’m not Kent but my opinion on the matter is that…

      A: If the NHL addressed every fan perceived slight The NHL would need to employ every PR firm on the planet (and it wouldn’t make much of a dent)

      B: The NHL likes it’s arbitrarily enforced rulebook and inconsistent officiating.

  • Rexx

    In regards to Nino vs Drouin, I would definitely consider parting with Our 1st + A prospect + whatever to grab Drouin. The kid has a very high ceiling and would fit into our core perfectly (skill, age etc). Yes it sucks that he’s not the desired wing position, but if a player like this is available, I wouldn’t pass it up. Hard to see Tampa biting though 🙁

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Brian Campbell? The old fella is as soft as they come. The D core of the Flames is already no contact, so why add Campbell to the mix? He is good at clearing and moving the puck, but so too are Gio, Brodie and Hamilton. Might want some size and nastiness slotted in spots 5-6. Campbell is no longer a top 4 defenceman in this league, and he ain’t mean enough to be a 5 or 6.