Since becoming the Calgary Flames’ general manager in April of 2014, Brad Treliving has built up a reputation as a man of action. He’s been busy throughout his tenure, including making fairly hefty transactions at basically every major milestone in the National Hockey League’s calendar.
But with the expansion draft looming just over the horizon and the Flames in a precarious position both cap-wise and in the standings, what if Treliving doesn’t do anything at this year’s trade deadline? Here’s why that might very well happen on March 1.
Let’s establish one key thing: it’s reasonable to assume that Treliving will try to do something in regards to altering the NHL roster because he’s done it at basically every major signing or trading event on the league’s calendar since arriving here.
- 2014 Draft: Traded for Brandon Bollig
- 2014 July 1: Signed Deryk Engelland, Mason Raymond and Jonas Hiller
- 2015 Trade Deadline: Traded Curtis Glencross and Sven Baertschi for picks; claimed David Schlemko off waivers
- 2015 Draft: Traded for Dougie Hamilton
- 2015 July 1: Signed Michael Frolik
- 2016 Trade Deadline: Traded Jiri Hudler, David Jones and Kris Russell for futures
- 2016 Draft: Traded for Brian Elliott
- 2016 July 1: Signed Chad Johnson and Troy Brouwer
If you’ll look at the big events over time, you’ll notice that there usually seems to be a method to Treliving’s madness. During his first summer, he tried to fix a bunch of different problems at once – adding a goaltender, defender and some forwards in one fell swoop. It didn’t work out great, but by the end of the season some of his pragmatism seemed to be revealed: the Flames were on the verge of a playoff spot, and he sold. The team had no further plans for Glencross and Baertschi, so off they went for picks.
Fast forward to the summer of 2015 and Treliving seemed much more targeted in what he did. Instead of drafting 15th overall, he traded some picks to get Hamilton and fix the defense. Instead of making more wild swings on July 1, he signed Frolik.
In each subsequent big event, the moves seem calculated and logical. Even the signing of Brouwer – which we’ve maligned, and rightly so, due to its term and cap hit – comes from a place of logic in the sense that the Flames likely felt they needed to have a veteran presence in the locker room and add a guy that has played deep in the postseason several times.
The logic may be wonky, but the aims are much more calculated than his summer of 2014 “fix everything at once” approach.
The Team’s Needs
Three years into his tenure, what does Treliving’s team need?
Well, they could probably use another forward for their top nine and another defender to improve their second pairing, but with the expansion draft coming up they probably don’t want to spend assets to get somebody who could be gone to Vegas on June 21. Similarly, teams probably won’t be too keen to burn assets to grab players from the Flames just for them to walk on July 1 as free agents or for them to to get claimed by Vegas.
The Flames probably would like to get some stability in goal. It’s unclear if a trade would accomplish that and, even if it would, if they have the stomach to expend the assets right now – while they’re on the bubble – to get that transaction done. Case in point: Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s not clear if he’d be an upgrade, nor is it clear whether the cost of acquiring him would be a good strategic bet.
In other words: unlike in the other seasons under Treliving’s watch, there are no obvious moves for him to make at the deadline from a pragmatic, team-building standpoint. Heck, with the signing of Matt Bartkowski, the team’s even basically met their expansion draft exposure requirements with goaltender Tom McCollum, Bartkowski, and forwards Lance Bouma and Matt Stajan probably being dangled.
If they make trades they’ll be trades for the sake of trades, which doesn’t seem like Treliving’s style.
Based on Treliving’s history and the needs of the team, there’s a pretty significant chance that the Flames don’t do anything big at the trade deadline. The team still has gaps and they’ll need to make some changes over the summer, but the team may very well be better served trying to upgrade via free agency or simply promoting from within their minor league system.