With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, Flames general manager Brad Treliving has made it no secret he’d like to add to his forward group, if possible. Assuming Calgary is looking to supplement without removing anything from their current roster, the conversation becomes one about organizational assets.
The problem is, the Flames have depleted those resources over the last year thanks to acquisitions of players like Travis Hamonic, Michael Stone, and Mike Smith. The team isn’t running totally empty on tradable assets, though.
I split things up into three categories to assess Calgary’s trade chips, based less on my opinion of the assets in question and more on what seems realistic from the team’s standpoint.
Jon Gillies. Calgary’s 2013 third round pick finds himself in a bit of an organizational logjam. With David Rittich excelling at the NHL level and Tyler Parsons (more on him later) presenting a high ceiling, the Flames have cultivated a position of strength between the pipes. As such, Gillies seems like an obvious candidate for this conversation.
Rittich is the guy getting the NHL work right now, while all the intel I’ve gathered suggests Parsons is considered the true “blue chipper”. Considering that and the trade value carried by Gillies, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see him on the move prior to Feb. 26.
Gillies has a lot going for him. He just turned 24, so is still relatively young, especially by goaltending standards. He’s also bounced back very well from the hip surgery that wiped out his 2015-16 season, staying healthy since the two seasons since. Finally, Gillies is having a solid season in the American League; he sits 14-12-2 with a 0.915 save percentage, one of the league’s better totals.
Rasmus Andersson. This is a tough one, because I think Andersson is a stud and could be a huge part of Calgary’s blueline going forward. Looking at the organizational depth chart, though, you don’t have to squint to see the team using Andersson as a trade chip. With Dougie Hamilton, Travis Hamonic, Michael Stone, and Adam Fox all wielding right shots, the Flames are definitely deep on that side.
I can’t think of an NHL team that wouldn’t be thrilled to welcome Andersson to the fold. He’s 21, is an extremely gifted skater, and has outstanding offensive instincts; with 28 points in 40 games, Andersson is one of the AHL’s top scoring defencemen this season. If it were me, I’d be dealing one of Hamonic or Stone to make room for Andersson on the NHL roster.
If the Flames do decide to trade Andersson, though, the hope would be he’d be part of an acquisition of a true impact maker. Trading a defensive prospect like him for a mid-level rental would be really tough to see. Personally, I don’t think trading Andersson is the way to go, but I could absolutely see it happening. If that’s the case, let’s hope he’s not thrown away.
2018 draft picks. Calgary doesn’t have a ton of picks this year, but the ones they do have could be used as part of a package or in a deal involving a lower impact player. Here’s a look at how things shape up for the next three drafts:
|Draft||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Round 5||Round 6||Round 7|
Per the intrepid Ryan Pike, there are some conditions surrounding the team’s 2018 third round pick, making it more complicated to move. But trading one of their fourth round picks this season combined with one of their later round selections could probably net the Flames a bottom six forward, if that’s the route they wanted to go.
Honourable mentions. Knowing the team is relatively deep on the back end, I could see Calgary dealing either one of Oliver Kylington or Tyler Wotherspoon prior to the deadline. I can’t see either player garnering much of a return on their own, but as part of a larger package it might be more realistic.
Tyler Parsons. As we mentioned above, Parsons is the team’s highest rated goaltender, so it would have to be a pretty sweet deal to see him go. The only reason I put Parsons in this category is because of what we mentioned prior: the organizational depth chart.
We all know how well thought of Parsons is in hockey circles. He’s young, he’s athletic, he’s wired in an impressive way, and he wins. Because scouts have seen Parsons excel in recent high level situations (2016 Memorial Cup, 2017 World Juniors), he already has a solid cache across the league. The fact his first professional season has had ups and downs shouldn’t hurt his trade value much, if at all.
Adam Fox. So much of what we talked about with Andersson applies to Fox, except the latter is two years younger. Otherwise, there are myriad similarities: Fox is a right shot, a gifted skater, and possesses impressive offensive instincts. I just wonder if the Flames would be more hesitant to include him in a trade because of his age.
Fox’s college situation could drive his value down a little, if only slightly, which also puts him in this category as opposed to probable. Fox has the option to become a free agent come the summer of 2020, which is a valid, if small, concern. That said, his skillset and performance at this year’s World Juniors would make him extremely attractive. Just like Andersson, the only way Calgary can trade Fox is if they’re getting a big time return.
2019 first round pick. The Flames won’t draft in the first round this year, and dealing their first round pick in 2019 would make it two years in a row. Furthermore, if this pick were to change hands, Calgary would be without a selection in the first three rounds of next year’s draft. But, if the team wants to acquire one of the bigger name wingers available, they might not have a choice to include a first rounder.
Juuso Valimaki. While the Flames are nice and deep down the right side of their defensive depth chart, things aren’t anywhere near as flush on the opposite flank. So, not only does Valimaki look like a bona fide top four NHL defenceman (at the least), his left shot makes him even more valuable within the organization.
Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, and Brett Kulak are Calgary’s left shot D-men at the NHL level, while the aforementioned Wotherspoon and Kylington are options at the minor league level. Well, Giordano will be 35 next season, Brodie has struggled this year, and neither Wotherspoon nor Kylington are surefire NHLers. For that reason alone, trading Valimaki seems like a no go.
That point is underlined when you factor in how good Valimaki looks as a prospect. The 2017 first round pick is a point-per-game player with Tri-City, has appeared in two straight WJCs with Finland, and isn’t out of the question to challenge for a roster spot next year.
If Valimaki pans out as hoped, it opens up options for the Flames. It could allow them to use Brodie as a trade chip down the road, or at the very worst, would allow the team to have a replacement upon Giordano’s eventual decline (if that ever happens, of course, as the dude is a freak). Plain and simple, trading Valimaki has to be off the table.
Dillon Dube. You might do a double take seeing Dube on this list, but I think his inclusion is for good reason. One of Calgary’s two 2016 second round picks, Dube is fresh off captaining Canada to a World Junior gold medal and is having a great season with WHL Kelowna (38 GP, 25 G, 31 A, 56 P); that alone would make me reticent to trade him.
But, with Mark Jankowski an NHL regular, Dube also represents the team’s only true prospect down the middle. Knowing top teams are built with strength down the middle makes him a key future cog to begin with. Dube becomes even more important when you consider Mikael Backlund’s uncertain future with the organization.
If the Flames don’t lock Backlund up longterm, it leaves a massive hole down the middle and one I’m not convinced Jankowski will be able to fill, now or in the future. Dube is no guarantee in that sense, either, but man, everything I’ve seen from him leads me to believe he’s got the capability. I wouldn’t be eager to see Dube live in any circumstance, but the Backlund factor should make him truly untouchable.