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Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Things we learned from Brad Treliving’s chat with Bob McKenzie

The Young Stars Classic tournament is good fun. Not only is it a great chance to see prospects in action, but TSN’s legendary broadcaster Bob McKenzie does his annual lengthy chats with Canadian general managers. His chat with Brad Treliving is 51 minutes long and hits a lot of marks that you’d expect it to, with Treliving holding his cards close to his chest.

But here are a handful of things that McKenzie got out of Treliving that were a bit illuminating.

Treliving sought out an established, experienced number one goalie.

“We felt we needed somebody that had been there as a number one guy. Mike has done that.”

Treliving gave much of his “usual” answer about how athletic and motivated Mike Smith is and the low odometer on him given his age, but this was about as blunt as the Flames’ general manager has been about what he was looking for in the goaltender market.

Glen Gulutzan and Jordan Sigalet contributed to the decision to acquire Eddie Lack.

“Our goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet spent, this was a project for him for the last number of months is just looking at every available goaltender out there, watching clips of their last couple of years. He felt with some tweaks we could get Eddie back to the Eddie that was in Vancouver.”

Given that Gulutzan had Lack in Vancouver, him providing intel is logical. But the Flames utilizing both (a) their extensive video library and (b) their goalie coach to target potential backups was a pretty interesting detail.

The Travis Hamonic trade was as much about loading up the blueline as it was about properly slotting the kids into the NHL roster.

“We needed to solidify our top four. We feel we’ve got some young kids coming. It’s unrealistic at this time to place them or put them in a role where they’re going to be relied on in a top four role.”

The trade gives them the ability to transition the kids and shelter them on the bottom pairing, rather than having to play them over their heads out of necessity. (McKenzie paired together Stone and Bartkowski when asking a question about Stone, but Treliving cautioned that there are kids pushing for the six and seven spots.)

Matthew Tkachuk worked on his strength and his quickness over the summer.

Remember the three or four partial breakaways that Tkachuk got caught by defenders on during the season? Apparently Tkachuk does, because he trained with Gary Roberts over the summer. He apparently weighs about the same, but the distribution of the weight is likely different now.

Mark Jankowski is on the cusp of being an NHLer.

“He’s, to me, checked all the boxes. He should be pushing now for a job. … He’s doing all the things guys do when they make the step to the NHL.”

Treliving said he hates singling guys out, but Jankowski is the guy he’s most interested to see in main camp.

The Flames are likely holding onto their cap space as an insurance policy.

Right after discussing holding a couple roster spots open for kids on purpose, Treliving mentioned that sometimes you’re waiting on a young player and they’re not ready yet. The cap space they have allows them some flexibility to add at the trade deadline, or even early in the season if a player they’re hoping to take a step in camp doesn’t do it.

  • Skylardog

    Only thing that struck me was the influence of Sigalet and GG in acquiring Lack. Here’s hoping this isn’t another Grossman GG has close ties to. We have all been questioning Sigalet over the last season or 2. Not exactly the recommendations I was hoping for in picking a goalie.

    Maybe GG can get this one right.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        I don’t know. HIller and Ramo were never gonna work. Elliott didn’t want to be here and Johnson was a backup, interchangeable with someon like Lack.

          • piscera.infada

            Elliott wanted to be back

            How do you know that? No one really knows either way, but it is somewhat reasonable to assume that the way everything ended last season, parting ways was likely what both parties wanted.

          • TheoForever

            @ piscera
            Because he indicated it. I can only find the following quote from Elliott after game 4, referring to possible contract talks:
            ‘I hope that doesn’t go into the decision. We’ve all been around this game long enough to know it’s a body of work and not just a couple of games here and there….’

          • Skylardog

            Spoke to a Flames staff member. He indicated that the parting was mutual. He said Elliott sat by himself, and did not interact with teammates. Not saying that is a bad thing for a goalie, but not really the culture the Flames have developed.

          • Skylardog

            @TheoForever

            I don’t know that answer. Not sure if he just felt like he never fit in or whether this was his personality. The very bad start may have made him feel like an outsider though. Tough on a guy when he feels he is letting his team down, even harder when it is a new team.

        • oilcanboyd

          Saw an interview with Elliott after season ended and he said he would have liked to come back , but that Tre told him that the team was going in a different direction. Problem with Johnson was that he felt he played his best game even when he was lit up…

    • supra steve

      I would think that GG and Sigalet also had something to do with parting ways with Grossmann and Elliott last season? GG also had to have had something to do with letting Chiasson walk. This assumption that GG has undying love for players that he has coached in the past seems like it really is not a thing.

      • piscera.infada

        Doesn’t fit the tidy narrative though. “Everything bad, is GG… Everything good is purely coincidence”.

        As for Sigalet. If someone actually wants to tell me that they have any real idea how to assess the job of a goalie coach, then I guess I’ll defer to them.

        • TheoForever

          ….most people would look at performance of a goalie and if he gets better under his direction….
          …since no goalie ever has gotten better with Sigalet, assumption is made…………
          It could be wrong to make such an assumption, but if he isn’t making people better why is he there?

          • Baalzamon

            Ortio’s best season ever was under Sigalet while he was with the Heat. Sigalet was also Calgary’s goalie coach when Hiller posted a .918 sv% (his best season in four years) and Ramo had a solid .912 (his best season ever).

          • supra steve

            So, it was Sigalet who was responsible for Elliot’s horrible start, then his ending the season strong, then him really sucking in the playoffs?

            Also for Johnson’s strong first half, then his so so second half.

            How did he pull that off?

          • TheoForever

            Hiller goes from good to bad. Johnson goes from good to bad.
            Elliot goes bad – good – bad. Ramo is consistently ok.
            Most of it is on the goalie, but the coach is there to help him along and get most out of him.
            Not every coach is compatible with every player, that’s a fact. As an example Lack and his struggles, everybody is blaming ‘the change in style due to the goalie coach’s influence’.
            People are hoping that Sigalet can fix that.
            It is clear that some coaches work best with some players due to style, communication, chemistry. etc. If the two don’t work well together, as in show positive results then you change one either goalie or coach, sometimes both.
            In case of Sigalet, one cannot show a Flames goalie that has drastically improved under his tutelage.

          • Skylardog

            I really was thinking more of the Grossman signing and him playing early in the season. Sigalet has been a target of many on here, whether right or wrong, but I tend to believe that goalies since Kipper seem to run into a career ending or near ending disasters here in Calgary.

        • BendingCorners

          Hard to measure since the biggest impact on a goalie’s numbers (besides his own performance) is how well the team in front of him plays defense. The Flames have a done a poor-to-average job of that the past few years so only an elite goalie should have been expected to have good numbers. Elliott, Johnson and Ramo would all look better this year because our defense is better and the forwards have a better more structured game – and more talent. If Smith and Lack are still even average goaltenders their numbers should look above-average.

          • Baalzamon

            The Flames have a done a poor-to-average job of that the past few years so only an elite goalie should have been expected to have good numbers.

            The thing is, that argument doesn’t really work for last season. The Flames were top ten in the league in both scoring chance and high danger chance suppression last season.

          • BendingCorners

            Baalzamon, can you point me to your source? Our bottom three defensemen last year were pretty bad so the team having top-10 stats in shot suppression would be a surprise. Overall I think they were #14 which isn’t bad, so maybe it was just the goalies. Dennis and two others were on the ice for 20-25 minutes a night though, so replacing them could lead to a massive improvement.

          • Baalzamon

            naturalstattrick has such numbers though the vanilla scoring chance numbers seem a bit suspicious. Nevertheless, the Flames rank 9th in HDCA/60. Basically it just illustrates how good the top three D were last year (and how good they look to be for next season, considering the problem players are all gone and upgraded).

          • BendingCorners

            You’re correct Baalzamon. According to that web site the Flames major problems last year were goalies that had trouble stopping the puck and skaters that had trouble shooting from HD areas in the OZ. The team may have fixed one end but unless they expect their young players to simply be better, there is still a problem up front. Too many passers not enough shooters. Sometimes volume matters.

  • McRib

    “McKenzie paired together Stone and Bartkowski when asking a question about Stone, but Treliving cautioned that there are kids pushing for the six and seven spots”

    Treliving has been so reluctant to give secondary prospects NHL spots the last few years, but I am fine with it, because it was explainable (our top young prospect weren’t ready). That said if Matt Bartowski gets a spot this year over Brett Kulak, Andersson, etc I am going to seriously start doubting if he will ever be willing to turn it over to younger players.

    I like this answer though from Treliving, it sounds like he thinks some of these younger players are ready, I just hope they get a shot. Brett Kulak in particular would have been a better performer down the stretch over Bartkowski last year.

  • Fan the Flames

    A lot of people talking about the Flames goaltending and it has been inconsistent since Kipper hung them up but a big part of the poor goaltending has to rest with the lack of depth on defence . Last year we endured Wideman Jokipaka, Grossman , these 3 made England look good and he was pretty marginal .

  • First Name Unidentified

    Nice work Ryan. Been a long time member, posting for the first time since the website changed. I listened to the full 53 minutes on TSN but you did well on drilling down some important messages. I, for one, am super excited about the upcoming season. I believe we have a legit starter in Smith for the first time since Kipper. We have a defense that can play efficient, puck moving game to complement his and our top two forwards will be amongst the top in the league given a familiar system and training camp. I also think a line of Chucky, Bennett and Versteeg will be dominant.
    We are looking good.

  • Ivan Drago

    Flames goalie situation is a dumpster fire as usual since kipper retired. That’s ok though it’s an overrated position. Lots of cup winning teams have had poor goaltending.