In life, opportunities come from strange places. For the Calgary Flames, the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft may be one of those strange places. A Twitter report from Sportsnet hockey guru Elliotte Friedman indicates that one of hockey’s better value pieces may be available on the trade market before the roster freeze at 1 p.m. MT today.
Because of protection issues, word is FLA's Jonathan Marchessault is potentially available. 30 goals, great contract.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 17, 2017
Marchessault, 26, is one of the league’s great success stories over the past year or two. While not particularly big at 5’9″ and 165 pounds, he left Tampa Bay last summer as a Group 6 free agent and landed in Florida on an incredibly inexpensive two-year, $750,000 per deal with the Florida Panthers. Then he put up 30 goals and 51 points, finally converting his reputation as a good AHL scorer into some NHL success. While it’s unlikely that he’ll have the same offensive production in 2017-18, he’s probably the exact type of depth that the Flames are probably seeking this summer: a right-shot player that can play center or the wing.
If Marchessault’s available, as noted by FlamesNation teammate Mike Fail, it’s because Florida’s trying to protect eight skaters and a goalie in an effort to hold onto more of their young defenders. It’s likely they’re protecting a group resembling Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trochek, Nick Bjugstad, Alex Petrovic, Keith Yandle, Aaron Ekblad and Mark Pysyk, with Yandle’s no-move clause – which Florida gave him voluntarily, mind you – gumming up the works. That protection group leaves guys like Marchessault, Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen in the wind, with Marchessault’s age and cap-friendly deal making him a prime option for plucking by Vegas.
What would it take for the Flames to land Marchessault? It’d probably be a conversation centered around expansion-exempt prospects or reasonably high draft selections. In terms of prospects, one has to wonder if the Flames would be willing to part with some of their young defensive depth – Oliver Kylington, Rasmus Andersson, Adam Fox or Brandon Hickey – to shore up their forward group for the immediate future. In terms of picks, perhaps the Flames could dangle next summer’s second rounder, given they were so eager to trade this year’s for Curtis Lazar – and given that Marchessault is already a better NHLer than Lazar is likely to become. He’s basically a right shot Paul Byron, and the Flames have been missing Byron since Montreal claimed him off waivers two seasons ago.
In terms of protection, acquiring Marchessault probably wouldn’t cause too much of a ruckus since Florida likely wouldn’t acquire from Calgary anybody who would change the Flames’ protection list. Slot Marchessault into the last forward spot – the protected forwards would then be Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland and Marchessault – and leave everything else the same.
It might be far-fetched to imagine the Flames could land Marchessault, but given the alternative for Florida is losing him for nothing it’s probably worth a shot and – given Brad Treliving’s previous wizardry in grabbing Dougie Hamilton without losing a roster player two summers ago – seems oddly up his alley.