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FlamesNation Mailbag: Thinking ahead to trade deadline

Hockey’s biggest holiday is fast approaching, and with rumours swirling, it’s time to start wondering what the team is going to do. Who are they looking at? What will they trade? Should they? Is it worth it?

It is almost certainly too early to accurately judge what the team is going to do, if they do anything, but it wouldn’t be the trade deadline without rampant speculation.

A big thanks to Tomas for making my job easier by limiting it to four options.

Evander Kane is a good player, but certainly someone to steer clear of given his abusive behaviour off of the ice. I do not want him on the Flames.

Mike Hoffman is probably the clear cut choice for trade targets. Although the Flames are pretty deep at left wing, adding him is adding a bonafide top six winger, and allows you to move other players around (e.g. moving Micheal Ferland to the struggling third line, perhaps moving one of Sam Bennett or Matthew Tkachuk to the right side [although a trade for Hoffman, in my mind, involves Bennett]) to spread scoring around the lineup. Perhaps he can even play the right wing, which would be an additional plus.

I wouldn’t count out Rick Nash either. He may not be the player that routinely battled Jarome Iginla for scoring titles, but Nash is still a very useful player. He’s been one of the Rangers’ lone shining stars this year. We also know he can play RW, which gives him a minor leg up on Hoffman.

Nash seems like a high-value rental, but that comes at the cost of his low-value contract. He will come with a $7.8M cap hit, bad news for a team with about $2.2M in cap room. However, this apparent deterrent could be an opportunity for the Flames. Perhaps the Rangers eat a bit of salary, perhaps the Flames send back their own high-paid RW to balance the books. It’s unlikely, but certainly plausible.

On Zack Smith…

I’m going to answer this in a roundabout way, but the straight up answer is: I have no idea why.

Comparing him to Matt Stajan would be apt, as Zack Smith is pretty much younger Stajan.

Age at start of season Matt Stajan 5v5 CFrel% Zack Smith 5v5 CFrel%
27 2.65 4.16
28 1.01 3.54
29 1.64 0.34
30 -0.46
31 -5.44
32 -1.93
33 -2.44

Some important things to note: this is Stajan’s age 33 year, and he signed his four-year extension at age 29, the same age Smith is right now. Smith’s contract will be up after his age 32 season, which is huge. Smith is likely to start heading into that negative territory by next year, and will remain down low for the remaining term on his contract.

Which is why any trade involving Smith is perplexing. The Flames have depth at centre and on the left wing, and Smith supplants pretty much no one besides Stajan moving forward. Given the performance of Dillon Dube this past year, you feel that he’s more in line for that 4C spot more than anyone else. If that fails, perhaps Curtis Lazar gets a spin there to start the year if Dube can’t.

Regardless, the Flames have some non-Smith options there next year when Stajan leaves. The only other reason I can think of would be disappointment in Mark Jankowski, which, despite him being scratched last game, is certainly not a major concern in the org.

Smith and Dube are like Michael Stone and Rasmus Andersson. Perhaps it is wise to give that depth spot to an established NHLer if you’re uncertain of a prospect immediately stepping in, but if you marry yourself to term, you’re creating a logjam instead of a safety net. Acquiring Smith’s contract is going to clog up a space which can likely be filled by someone more competent, and certainly someone cheaper.

Even if you ignore the contract, there’s also the question of whether or not Smith would adequately replace Stajan in the immediate. His CA/60 and CF/60 are both worse than Stajan’s, and his CA/60 is the career worst for Smith. Playing on an awful Ottawa team probably impacts these numbers, but it’s hard not to be concerned.

Smith is an alright player on his own, and if the Flames acquire him, he could (not guaranteed) provide some solid depth down the stretch. But given that the Flames most need improvement in non-depth areas along with his contract, the interest makes no sense and I would be against any trade involving Smith.

I would go bold and say that all futures are untouchables. The Flames have already invested a first, two seconds, Brandon Hickey, either a 2018 third or 2019 second, and a fifth into this season. That’s six future assets, with at least three of them having a high chance at NHL success, for a season which is still below expectations. Given that the team owes a bit of its success to homegrown talent, I can’t see them trading away more to solve the issue.

Brad Treliving has rarely traded away prospects before, having only sent Hickey, Keegan Kanzig, Corban Knight, and Pat Sieloff packing. Of that list, we can see that he will likely refuse to trade any high-grade prospects. Picks are his currency, and he has none of them.

Besides, with a jam-packed NHL roster, the bait is certainly an NHLer.

He has nine NHL games to his name. That’s pretty much the beginning and end of it. AHL success is great, but his performance in the NHL is still lacking and sporadic, which is completely understandable. Even AHL standouts like Garnet Hathaway and Jankowski have had shaky performances in the NHL. It may be a shocker, but success in the AHL is largely the result of playing AHL competition. Being too good in one league does not necessarily mean you will immediately have success in the other. The gap between the two leagues is much larger than most are willing to recognize.

Not to say that Mangiapane is doomed to be some 20-point bit player for his career. He’s 21 and inexperienced. Success will come with time, but expecting him to be an offensive dynamo right from the get-go means you need to adjust your expectations. Perhaps playing him eight minutes a night is not the most optimal development plan, but it’s not actively harmful. He hasn’t been a major contributor offensively in his few games, and his defence is still a bit passive, so it’s understandable why he has a short leash in the NHL. Give it time.

I think he sticks around. They’ve already given him the “find a place” speech, albeit prematurely, so I think that’s a good sign for him. Playing him for 11 more games also means that the Flames keep his RFA rights rather than him becoming a group six UFA (25 or over, fewer than 80 NHL games played). That gives them a bit more incentive to keep him playing in case he happens to find that gear again.

Expanding on this, but I’m not sure what they’ll do with Hathaway at the end of the year. He’s regressed back to fourth line energy guy, and there’s some younger competition bubbling up from Stockton. He doesn’t seem to have major trade value, so I can’t see why they really feel the need to keep him around.

We are going to open this up to prospects too, mostly to make life easier for me. American football positions, as it is the Super Bowl.

Offence

QB: Mike Smith. Many would say a first line centre or a top defenceman would be a more workable translation for QB, but given the position’s importance to the rest of the team, I would say the goalie is the better option. Much like a QB, it’s much harder to win with a bad goalie than it is to lose with a good one. Also, it’s a given that every team needs a good one, but neither the NHL nor the NFL can find 31/32 good goalies/quarterbacks to play the sport at its highest level.

FB: Micheal Ferland. Just missed the cut for size for offensive lineman, so we’ll use him as fullback. His strength in the dirty areas will come in handy.

HB: Johnny Gaudreau. Many would prefer a bruiser like Ferland, but Gaudreau has the speed, creativity, and elusiveness to be a big value runner.

TE: Matthew Tkachuk. He earned comparisons to Rob Gronkowski on draft day, both in physicality and attitude, so it only makes sense.

WR: Mark Jankowski. Tall, lanky, and soft hands.

WR: Sean Monahan. Not as tall or lanky, but definitely has soft hands.

RT: Troy Brouwer. 6’3″, 215 lbs

RG: Hunter Smith. 6’7″, 231 lbs

C: Adam Ruzicka. 6’4″, 203 lbs

LG: Eetu Tuulola. 6’2″, 225 lbs

LT: Adam Ollas Mattson. 6’5″, 216 lbs.

This is quite possibly one of the worst offensive lines ever assembled. Not a lot of mobility and most of them struggle with defence and protecting things. RIP Mike Smith.

Defence

I’m going with a 4-3 defence.

LE: Mitchell Mattson. He’s tall and has a long reach.

DT: Rasmus Andersson. I used up a lot of the big boys on the offensive line, so Rasmus gets to play on the other line.

DT: Austin Carroll. Also pretty big and feisty.

RE: D’artagnan Joly. Read what I wrote for Mattson.

LOLB: Juuso Valimaki. Big, strong, fast, and a shutdown guy. I’m also running out of ideas, so.

MLB: Mark Giordano. Not the biggest, but great defensive mind and definitely loves crushing fools

ROLB: Garnet Hathaway. Energy guy, likes hitting, probably fast enough to set the edge for the run game.

CB: Sam Bennett. Cornerbacks are often physically built like wide receivers, but just don’t have hands as good enough to play the position.

FS: Mikael Backlund. Who else could you trust at the football position which requires the greatest defensive IQ?

SS: Michael Frolik. Naturally.

CB: Curtis Lazar. Maybe the defensive sense is lacking, but he certainly has the physical tools and speed to match.

Special teams

P: Matthew Phillips. Small, scrawny, nice guy, so a natural punter. Shame they waived Freddie Hamilton, as he would naturally be a punter.

K: Dougie Hamilton. Dougie has physical tools that could make him useful at many different positions, but he is definitely a kicker just because kickers are the weird guys on every team. He’d be the slotback if we were playing Canadian, but maybe someone should’ve asked this question back in November.



  • Flames fan since 83

    Why Hoffman and not Mark Stone from Ottawa? Is it because Stone is an RFA at the end of this year?
    Anyway, I would prefer 6’3″ Right shot, Right winger, 205 lb, Stone over Lefty Hoffman.

  • Off the wall

    The Flames are shy of a top 9 RW. I don’t see why we’re active at trade deadline, unless Treliving finds someone to fill that position.

    Treliving is also reluctant to give up our prospects, so I don’t know how we’re going to manage a trade. I really hope that they give Bennett more time. It wouldn’t be prudent for us to dangle him as bait. Just my opinion.
    If we could find a RW who could play on the 3rd line with Bennett, I’d be happy with that.

    Johnny will be happy today. His Eagles won. It was a great Super Bowl game.

    • Kevin R

      It would be complete insanity to include Bennett in a Hoffman deal. Just look at the stats of Hoffman, he will be 29 this year & he has 1 more year left after this contract. He didn’t break out & start to score goals until he was “25” years old. Bennett is 21. WTF would we want to give Bennett for this guy, we aint that good that he will put us over the top & win the Cup. Then when his contract expires, then what????? You want to give a 30 year old big money on what will be his last multi year contract?? I wouldn’t even want to give Brodie up for this guy… sorry. We need to do nothing at the TDL but maybe play better & the coach can coach better. If anything, if Leafs want an offensive Dman like Brodie & are willing to give up Marner in a deal, that’s different. We already gifted Ottawa a 2nd rounder for Lazar, that’s enough freebees for those boys. Heard Domi may be available, would rather see what it would take to get him, Brodie + something.

      • everton fc

        I still like Bennett, and hope we hold onto him.

        Funny you bring up Domi – I was thinking about his value this weekend. He’s on pace for 6 goals. And Brodie is worth a 1st, and Stone can probably get us a 2nd, in this market. Brodie for Marner would be well worth a look.

        • Kevin R

          Arizona have lots of high end prospects & have to be getting tired of lotto picks. Brodie would fit nice with Eckman-Larson. Arizona may not necessarily need a first rounder we don’t have to acquire Domi. Brodie is a nice contract for next two years that may be appealing to them. Brodie’s contract would have some appeal
          to the Leafs as well.

          • everton fc

            Christian Fischer would be the player I’d be after. Merkley would be the other, but Fischer’s 6’2″/214lbs.

            Domi’s goal production the last two years is as concerning as Sam Reinhart’s, the the latter seems to have picked up his offencive game a bit (yes, I know Domi was hurt last year…)

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          Not sure why everyone is so hot for Marner, he is Johnny lite and we have the original. We need a shooter and I don’t think Babcock loves Nylander. I can’t see why Brodie and Bennett couldn’t get us. Nylander and Kapanen. My only concern is that Bennett is built for the playoffs and Nylander may not be… But I would still do it.

      • Trevy

        I agree, you have to hold on to Bennett, I still think he’s not being used properly but hopefully that’ll come down the road. Hoffman is a good player but no way I give up Bennett to get him. Salary cap wise it wouldn’t work either. Domi is definitely intriguing, but don’t see us getting another center

    • Kevin R

      ps OTW, my post is agreeing with you. Too many people want to trade him & have given up on him. Look at the bump Janko gave him initially, can you imagine if we could score a Domi or Marner to play on that RW with those two instead of Hathaway or Brouwer.

      • everton fc

        Hathaway would be an ideal 4th line/RW here. Agree Marner or Domi (or Pageau) would be better options. Not a hockey fan, nor analyst alive, would disagree.

      • HOCKEY83

        You don’t want to give up Bennett but you want to trade for Domi or Marner who are worth more than Bennett and Brodie combined. Brodie has been in the league 7 years and his stats are trending downward. Bennett is also worth very little at the moment. He has to at least have one decent NHL season to be worth something. Flames have no picks to trade so which of the Flames actual good players do you want to get rid of to get either of these guys because these teams are not stressing they know they’re not making the playoffs. They will be asking top dollar for any of their players.

  • buts

    It’s Monday and I know I sound like a broken record buts here I go…..Mangiapane’s lack of success is again the result of his usage by GG. Trading for anyone is a mute point as GG will use that player in a way where he will give the least amount of production to the team hence making trades would only be to help the team next year which is the only positive reason. It’s wrong to evaluate anyone on this team including Brouwer, Brodie, Stajan, with the way these guys have been used by GG and playing GG’s system. Shaking up the lineup by inserting Bart and sitting Kulak and Janko…..really, seriously? Is this guy delusional? Unless BT changes the coaching staff which BT won’t……the most we will see is a quick first round exit.

      • cberg

        Mangiapanne came in and played limited minutes with a bunch of plugs on the fourth line, turning it into a much more effective line that could generate a ton of chances. All you guys that are selling the “Mangiapanne not ready, he’s a bust” story are not being honest and using the zero points to back your narrative. When you’re carrying the line and generating chances but relying on two “sniper” vets who have what, 3 goals between them on the season zero points is pretty much to be expected.

        • HOCKEY83

          I haven’t read anyone say Mangi was a bust. Saying a player isn’t ready doesn’t mean he’s a bust. I do agree it’s unfair as well as unintelligent to say he’s not done well since he’s been up. Playing on the 4th line with limited minutes is hardly being given a chance to show your stuff. Throw him up on Gaudreau’s line and you’d see a completely different player and the same could be said for Ferland if you throw him down on the 4th line with limited minutes. Ferly is only as good as he is because of the line he plays on.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I think it is a bit of both. Mangi gets knocked down too easily but Johnny would be hard pressed to make much happen as a rookie with 7 mins on the fourth line. Let’s not forget who his linemates would be Lazar and Stajan… Empty net goals would no longer be a sure thing.

  • Jessemadnote

    I actually think the Flames are looking at JG Pageau. Right shot, fast, spark plug, defensively responsible, 25 years old bottom six guy can play wing or center. No idea what the price would be but worth investigating in my mind.

    • Trevy

      Or how about Josh Leivo, 6’2”, 210 winger, right shot. Tor has no room for him and he stated he won’t go back to the minors. Could be a diamond in the rough at a cheap cost

      • ThisBigMouthIsRight

        Ya that’s odd, a Right shot that plays LW? As he was a third rounder we might even be able to get him and a late pick for one of our high pick prospects on the farm? Say…one of Shinkaruk, Poirier? Unfortunately with Leivo’s limited ice time its hard to figure out if he would be an upgrade from what the Flames already have(up and on the farm).

          • Trevy

            Treliving would have to spin some black magic for that to happen, but would love to see it. Also, just for reference, Leivo had 10pts in 13 games last season for the Leafs. It’s just another case of too many bodies and they can’t give him proper ice time. I think worth a gamble, maybe a Klimchuk, Poirier or even Lazar gets it done??

  • Mike Kennelly

    Fantastic article. A lot to mull over and contemplate. However according to Brian Burkes interview they will be hanging on tight to the roster and future young drafts. Versteeg will soon be back in time to fill the missing gap he created. Let’s face with the limitations of what we have to offer for a rental player or trade I think we would lose in the long term.