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WWYDW: Trade a defenceman?

So the coach was fired, but the Flames still have plenty of work to do.

One area that may see some changes is the defence. Not only did what was originally such a highly touted group massively underperform, but there are a number of prospects who will likely be pushing for a spot come training camp. Something is going to have to give – and in all likelihood, it could be that one of the Flames’ starting six gets traded.

On most nights, the Flames ran with the following group, with very few exceptions when all were healthy:

Mark Giordano Dougie Hamilton
TJ Brodie Travis Hamonic
Brett Kulak Michael Stone

Of the six, Kulak is the only one whose contract is up; he’ll be a restricted free agent and can likely be retained for a relatively cheap sum. Everyone else costs $3.5 million or more, with the middle three all having another two years on their deals, Hamilton with three more years, and Giordano, four.

Some are more likely to be on the trading block than others, but for the sake of argument, let’s run through the pros and cons of trading all of them.

Mark Giordano

Pros: He’ll be 35 to start next season, which, in professional sports, is pretty old. Trading Giordano now would be selling high on him, which means the Flames could get that much greater a return to upgrade other areas of their roster. Also, he’s a left shot, and Juuso Valimaki, also a left shot, is like, right there.

Cons: Giordano is still the Flames’ number one defenceman for a reason: age be damned, he is still very, very good at his job. He scored 38 points over 82 games last season, including 13 goals, all the while playing number one minutes in all situations and maintaining a 57.67% 5v5 CF. He also seems to at worst be a stabilizing force, and at best elevate whoever he’s partnered with. Maybe he’ll fall off at some point, but in the meantime, all signs are that this is still an excellent player, and the Flames will be worse off without him.

Dougie Hamilton

Pros: He’s big, he’s a right shot, he scores a lot, and he’s signed to a pretty good deal for all of that. What that means is, should he be traded, the Flames should get a great return for him. Also, Rasmus Andersson is also, like, right there.

Cons: The Flames’ biggest problem heading into this offseason is their lack of scoring. I’m having a really difficult time figuring out how trading away their best offensive defenceman – 17 goals, 44 points, led the team with 270 shots – solves that. Maybe, instead of giving up on a 24-year-old (will be 25 to start next season) defenceman who already has a 50-point campaign under his belt, just, like, play him on the first powerplay unit the entire year or something.

TJ Brodie

Pros: He has been really not great the past couple of seasons (i.e. since being split from Giordano). But if he still holds some value around the league, then it may be time to cash in now rather than later. The Flames can probably still get a solid return for him, and open up space for, say, Valimaki.

Cons: Brodie was also really, really good not too long ago. He can still pick up points. He’s still an excellent skater. Maybe playing on the left side instead of the right really did mess him up that badly. Who knows what caused this sudden, massive drop off – but if it can be fixed, would you really want to give up on the player?

Travis Hamonic

Pros: Maybe the Flames can get a first and two second rounders for him or something. Also, something something Andersson.

Cons: This is the one that’s most difficult to see happening, since the Flames just paid a pretty penny to get him, he’s on a good contract, and he may not score a lot but there really isn’t much fault to find in his game. And they probably wouldn’t be able to get a first and two second rounders for him; if anything, trading Hamonic would likely yield a lesser return and have cost the Flames a handful of high quality assets for one non-playoff season.

Brett Kulak

Pros: He isn’t that vital to the Flames’ defensive group, so they wouldn’t be losing too much by trading him. And Valimaki is probably better.

Cons: The Flames are unlikely to get a worthwhile return for Kulak. He doesn’t play a big role, but he’s also a pretty solid presence on the backend. And, at 24 years of age and with only one full NHL season under his belt, it’s entirely possible Kulak has more to offer. Getting a late round pick probably isn’t worth losing out on that potential upside. Worst case, he’s a very trustworthy seventh defenceman.

Michael Stone

Pros: The cap hit doesn’t match the play or responsibilities, and if the rest of the NHL sees value in him, then you’ve gotta pounce on that. Really, since the Flames traded for Hamonic, Stone’s presence on the roster has made very little sense, and the boasted defensive depth he provided went absolutely nowhere. And Andersson is probably better.

Cons: Do you manage to get a late round pick for Stone, or do you have to give up a little extra to get someone else to take on his contract?

So… what would you do? Would you trade any of the Flames’ main six defencemen? Who, and why? Or would you leave the group intact, and see what another coach can do with a set that was so highly touted 10 months ago?

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  • Mas Bennett

    Moving Stone regardless of return seems like the right call to free up cap space and a roster spot. If Brodie can fetch a Top 6 RW, go for it. Other than that I’d stand pat.

  • Robhouli

    I don’t think any major moves are made until a new coach is hired. The new coach may want to do his own assessment on the group before any decisions about player personnel are made.

    • BiggDogg

      D Core could go a lot of different way depending on the type of coach we get. If we get an old school coach, probably stays very veteran heavy. That being said, I like the idea of trading one of Brodie or Stone to open up space for Rasmus.

  • Joeyhere

    I think this is self evident
    We need to make room for at least one of the prospects (Valamaki, Anderson) and
    We desperately need a top six scorer
    Kulak and stone won’t get you that rerun
    Trade Dougie and you need to find offensive d man to replace him
    The team has too little heart as it is – can’t trade Gio
    Trading Brodie is the only option that both opens a spot and could potentially get a decent winger
    Sorry TJ “its not you it’s us” oh who am I kidding it’s you –

      • Joeyhere

        Tj would be the key piece required to get you a top six winger – Pike listed several on Mtl, Ottawa or Tor he thinks the flames are
        Looking at that I agree make sense

        • freethe flames

          So you are saying Stone from Ottawa; I suspect it would take more than TJ and would they do that deal; I’m not sure. Gallagher from Montreal a possibility with some tinkering around the edges, you are not getting Marner or Nylander for TJ. So be more realistic.

          • BendingCorners

            Repeat after me folks: Right Hand Shot, Right Hand Shot, Right Hand Shot, Right Hand Shot.
            Mark Stone, Gallagher, Perron, Nylander, Sam Reinhart, maybe Eberle or Vanek but probably not. That’s the list of targets.
            If it takes Brodie and Stone/Kulak then so be it. If those players can’t be obtained then do what you can with what you’ve got and wait another year.
            Grabbing another LHS will not improve the team.

          • Hockeysense9393

            It always makes sense…left shots on LW, right shots on RW…but with smart players…there are always examples against that rule. Forsberg on Nashville plays on his off wing. Half of Vegas seems to play on their off wings…including Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and Neal. There are tons of examples that work really well…if the coach is willing to try that of course lol

          • Hockeysense9393

            I can see the Flames going for either Pacci or Hoffman, but will take a little more then Brodie. Maybe Kilington as well? That would give them a top 4 and a good defence prospect.

          • Hockeysense9393

            I know what your saying though…and if there was a chance that we could get either of those players without selling the farm…I would say do it. Pacci is talented and has an edge (never mind captain material). Hoffman has talent and smarts. So load it on the left? Also, I think you have a good point with Chucky doing ok on the right side. That guy is one of the smartest players on the team…and if anybody could do well on his off-wing…it would be him. I wasn’t putting it down… if you could get either of those guys for Brodie/Stone and a couple pieces? I would do it.

        • Rocky Mountain Blues

          Even though Brodie is a left shot, he has always preferred playing right defense. Gulutzan forces him to play on the left side and he never seemed to adapt. After a couple of months of the failed experiment you would think Gulutzan would have tried him back at the right side to see if he could get back his game, but no, 2 years later he was still trying to force Brodie to play on the side he isn’t comfortable at.

          • Trevy

            Ok so everyone seems to want to give Brodie a pass and I totally understand why, although I don’t wholeheartedly agree. That being said, how do we acquire a top six RW? The strength of this team is our plethora of dmen. If you’re not going to deal off the roster and don’t say Stone or Hamonic cause one won’t get you more than a 4th and the other we just acquired, then we would have to deal Fox, Andersson or Valimaki. I don’t think that’s wise, except for maybe Fox based on uncertainty of him signing. We don’t be have picks to trade, so maybe it’s Bennett you dangle, but I would give up Brodie before Bennett all day. At the end of the day, Brodie makes the most sense

          • FL?MES


            I agree 100%. Bennett would net you another ‘struggling’ player looking for a fresh start. A prospect will also not get you a legit top 6 player. The only sensible option left is to trade Brodie.

  • freethe flames

    The other possible top 6 forward we have is Janko. As a rookie he scored 17 goals but was inconsistent as many rookies are. I would give him a pass. He should have made the team out of camp but was sent down to AHL were he was dominate for the Heat. He had some opportunity on the PP at times with mixed results. The line of he Bennett and Hathaway had some good games but quite frankly Hathaway is not a top 9 forward(more on him another day) When Monahan went down Janko should have been teamed up with Johnny right away but of course the now fired GG waited to the last game to try it. Janko has a lot of work to do to be a top 6 forward including getting stronger but IMO has the offensive IQ to get there; if he does step up his game I like the chances of him being a top 6 forward. He is capable of playing on both the PK and the PP. I give him a rookie pass.

      • ThisBigMouthIsRight

        I could see Foo slotting in there No Problem… Byng?/Benny? – Janko – Foo… Has the possibility to be a pretty good 2nd line.
        Time to start promoting from within, might be sink or swim but time to see what the farm Depth has got to give!

      • freethe flames

        That’s up to whoever the new coach is but I agree with you. BT’s job is to add more skill upfront and that may mean trading a defender.Again as I said before if he trades one of the top 3 D the return needs to be a legit top 6 forward.There are a number of forwards that might fit our needs; again this will not happen until a coach is hired.

  • everton fc

    I would not move Kulak. He’s got more potential than we’ve seen, I think, and the price will be right, as we need cap space.

    I think Stone’s worth more to teams than a “late round pick”. Ottawa should look at keeping his brother in the capital city, by swinging a deal for our “Stone”.

    Brodie’s the most obvious potentialtrade bait. But w/GG gone (wonder what Brodie’s exit interview was like?) I wonder, as well, if Brodie could be salvaged… ?

    Someone’s moving, though. Valimaki needs to play in the “A”. And I hope hes not “oft-injured”. Kylington needs to be the #1 man, on the backend, for the farm team – one more year. Wotherspoon would be the ideal #7. A different coaching staff might be able to salvage our defence.

    Stone seems the obvious one to move.

  • BendingCorners

    It’s entirely possible that the Flames change nothing on defense this summer. Bartkowksi is gone so there is room for Stone and Andersson to battle over the RD3 spot and a new coach might experiment with moving Brodie up or down the lineup to find a better pairing for him. For that matter, changing the system to one where the forwards backcheck aggressively might be enough to fix Brodie’s problems.
    That said, I do expect that Brodie and/or Stone will be moved to help fix the RHS problem in the forward group. The only RHS free agents that appeal are Perron and Vanek (but mostly Perron), and when the Flames don’t land either of those a trade becomes their best bet. That opens up targets like Mark Stone, Brendan Gallagher, Sam Reinhart and William Nylander, any of whom would do a good job as RW1.

  • AF

    I would trade Stone to free up a spot for Rasmus Andersson. That alone helps our transition game out, and potentially our second powerplay unit. While I like a Kulak – Andersson pairing, It’s quite possible that Andersson could play in the top four at some point next year. That’s about all I would do for now.

  • freethe flames

    No decisions should be made until the new coach is hired. In saying that if any of the top 3 defenders are traded the return must include a bonafide RHS top 6 scoring forward. If we trade Stone it can be for a draft pick.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    I think Michael Stone should be the only defenseman traded. I thought Brodie would be a candidate but a new coaching staff could get him back on track, he just has too much potential.

  • freethe flames

    As we are talking about trading a defenceman or even men we need to ask why we need to do this and the answer is simple we do not have enough top 6 forwards. I would argue we have 3; Johnny/Monny/Tkachuk. Everyone else is a pretender(ferland),a not yet(Janko) or maybe never(Bennett). I am today going to continue my evaluation of the Flames forwards. I will begin with Bennett; GG told us this was the year Sam would break out and once again GG was wrong.I like Bennett; I like his speed; his skills and his grit but I doubt his hockey IQ. After 3 years of experimenting with him I find myself wondering what he is; many here think he is a top 6 scoring forward but I don’t see it at this time. Ask yourself when was he the most successful; his rookie playing with Backs and Frolik and being asked to be defensively responsible. Two seasons ago he was tried as a center and quite frankly that did not go well. This year he was once again tried at center and once again it was a failure. Then he was moved to the LW with Janko and they had some early success but again were inconsistent. He was given short chances with Johnny and given time on the second unit PP and quite frankly has not been as good as well all would have hoped for a #4 pick. So I would give him a fail for last year. Going forward I would like to see him reunited with Backs and be given more defensive responsibilities and I think he could he could still score @15 goals in that position. This would in my mind help his confidence more than playing in the top 6. He also should be used on the PK more.

  • Sorry but I still can’t wrap my head around this. One of the best offensive defenceman in the league and you want to trade him? The guy took the most shots out of ANYONE on the team this year. Because the guy doesn’t hit like a tank makes him fodder? I don’t get it. Unless you are getting a huge overpay then there is zero reason to trade him. None.

  • T&A4Flames

    Keep Gio. If he starts to drop off in a year or 2 you expose him in the Seattle exp draft if you can’t trade him.
    Hamilton shouldn’t even be considered. Just dumb that that has ever been brought up (Francis ?).
    At some point the succession plan will need to kick in. Love Brodie but if his value is still relatively high (it should be) get something good for him and promote Kulak with Hamonic and let Wotherspoon (if he resigns), Kylington and Valimaki fight for the #6 and 7 spots.
    Hamonic. Keep. He adds something none of our other D really have and that is some physicality.
    Stone is the only real logical D to be moved. Retain salary if needed, add another player (like maybe Frolik) to get something we need.