After trading for Travis Hamonic and re-signing Michael Stone, the Flames were supposed to have one of the best defences in the NHL, at least on paper. On the ice? That hasn’t quite come to fruition, though recent improvements do provide some hope.
What they definitely do have, though, are a lot of capable players on the blueline – and even more knocking on the door to join them.
On a good, healthy day, this is the Flames’ defensive group:
|Mark Giordano||Dougie Hamilton|
|T.J. Brodie||Travis Hamonic|
|Brett Kulak||Michael Stone|
In addition to those six, there is also have quite the stable of high-caliber prospects. Rasmus Andersson could, and maybe should, be in the NHL right now. Juuso Valimaki and Adam Fox are coming off of stellar World Juniors performances, which have all been a part of what have been overall exemplary seasons since both defencemen were drafted. And don’t forget Oliver Kylington, already in his third AHL season, even though this is just the first year of his entry-level contract.
As difficult as it already is to see into the future, figuring out just where all 10 of these guys fit down the line is especially tough. There just isn’t that much room. Brett Kulak is playing in his first full NHL season; is he expendable? T.J. Brodie, Hamonic, and Stone all have three seasons left on their deals. Dougie Hamilton seems oft underused, but a couple of timely goals as of late could be putting him in a better light he should have been in all along. And age will likely be a question with Mark Giordano for the remaining five years of his contract, because that’s how professional sports go. Prospects are exciting in part because they have so many years ahead of him, and Giordano is on the wrong side of that.
At some point, somebody is going to have to go: whether it be a prospect or an established NHL veteran. A trade could see the forward group upgraded, while perhaps recouping some picks, or making room for a kid with massive upside (if it’s mid-season, then Andersson is the most likely candidate).
So what would you do? Try to ship someone out not only for assets, but to make room for a prospect, as well? Does it make more sense to do that at the trade deadline or in the offseason? Or would it be better to cash in on the high value some of these prospects have to bolster another area of the team that needs help, even if it could come back to bite the Flames?
Who’s the best player to trade, both in terms for the optimal lineup, and in terms for maximizing a return? Or would it be better to simply stand pat and wait for everything to work itself out?
The Flames have a logjam at defence, but it isn’t an immediately pressing concern. What would you do about it?