It’s no secret that the Calgary Flames need another top four defender. It’s also no secret that the free agent pool for blueliners is rather shallow this year. If Cody Franson has his heart set on staying out east, for instance, Calgary’s list of clear UFA targets dwindles rapidly.
The only other option is a trade. Obviously, Calgary can’t swing a deal before the expansion draft (since the Flames will already be protecting Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, and T.J. Brodie), but that doesn’t mean they can’t make a deal later.
So who is out there? And what would they cost to acquire?
Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche
Coming off a career high 13 goals and 49 points, Tyson Barrie suffered a step back last year (like the rest of the Colorado Avalanche). As a result, word is the right-shooting 25-year-old is on the auction block.
First, the bad news: Barrie costs $5.25M for the next couple of seasons, is not very big at 5’10”, 190 pounds and is suspect defensively, with his primary weakness being shot suppression.
Now, the good news. He’s the right age range for the Flames given their core group and he is way above average offensively. Given that Brodie is an above average shot suppressor, Barrie might make for the ying to Brodie’s yang:
The other bad news could be Colorado’s asking price. The Avalanche organization is trying to re-set their rebuild, meaning they won’t just be giving guys like Barrie away. The asking price will likely be Calgary’s 2018 first rounder or a collection of their quality prospects and/or a good, young roster player.
Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks
Even if he somehow makes it through the expansion draft without being chosen by Las Vegas, Sami Vatanen may be put on the market by the Ducks anyways. Anaheim has three quality younger defenders they will need to extend over the next 12 months: Josh Manson, Cam Fowler, and Shea Theodore. With Hampus Lindholm already making $5.25M, Anaheim may look to get out from under Vatanen’s $4.875M deal sooner rather than later.
Like Barrie, Vatanen is on the smaller side and better offensively than defensively. That said, he’s been a fairly solid second pairing guy for Anaheim over the last three seasons and could likely survive with a guy like Brodie in the Flames’ top four.
Like Barrie, though, Vatanen wouldn’t come cheap. The Ducks are not only a hated rival of the Flames at this point, they won’t be pressed to trade him this summer if the deal isn’t right since they can wait until the trade deadline or next summer before re-signing the other guys.
Chris Tanev, Vancouver Canucks
The 27-year-old Canucks defender has cropped up in trade rumours recently. Tanev is signed for another two years at $4.45M and is the exact opposite of the first two options.
Tanev is 6’2″, 200 pounds and his career high in terms of points is 20. However, he is one of the most effective shot suppressors in the league. Most people probably don’t picture Tanev when they think “defensive defenseman”, but that’s exactly what he is:
Whereas Brodie and Barrie or Vatanen could be deployed as offensive support with, say, the Monahan line, Brodie and Tanev would be a pure shutdown pair, perfect to skate with the 3M line.
Of course, the challenge in acquiring Tanev goes without saying. The player is signed for two more years to a reasonable deal and the Canucks are going to be reluctant to move him to a close, divisional rival. It’s almost certain there will be a lot interest in a player like Tanev this summer, and the price to the Flames will be even higher than other suitors.
Radko Gudas, Philadelphia
Fans looking for more bite now that Deryk Engelland is (probably) leaving the team will like the inclusion of Radko Gudas on this list. During his two seasons in the AHL, Gudas recorded 402 PIMs. As a sophomore in Tampa Bay, he collected 152 PIMs in just 73 games.
So he’s mean. But surprisingly, he’s a guy the math likes as well.
Seriously. Gudas puts up sneaky good underlying numbers. Particularly shot generation rates, which is exactly the opposite of what you might expect:
Oddly, his scoring at even strength was strong in terms of rates last year as well, although he didn’t play enough at ES or on the PP to put up great totals (six goals, 23 points).
Gudas is signed for two more years at $3.25M and is 27 years old. And although his name has popped up in trade rumours the last couple of years, there’s no real impetus for the Flyers to deal him. Although he’s not the type of marquee name who will necessarily command a big return, the package will have to be compelling enough to get Ron Hextall’s attention.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of trade targets, in part because we can’t be really sure what the market will look like until after the expansion draft. For now, these are some key targets to keep in mind, although the price of admission for any and all of them may be too much for the Flames to get involved.
However, assuming Brad Treliving will be in the market for a second pairing guy in July, who would you like to see the Flames get?