I get the feeling we aren’t really going to see any dominoes start to fall until the playoffs are over, so if other teams can just get on with that, then maybe we can get a clearer idea of what’s to come.
In the meantime, this team is totally one Michael Stone trade and John Tavares signing away from five straight Stanley Cups. Or… something.
Is a D man trade inevitable? Would the return on Hamilton be worth moving a top scoring blue liner on a good contract?
— Matt Douglass (@MattDoug23) May 7, 2018
Can the flames get a half decent return for Stone? Is he moved as part of a package or does he stay a flame next season?
— Khalid Keshavjee (@KMKeshavjee) May 6, 2018
You have to think they’re going to do something regarding the defence. Not only did it not live up to its billing last season, but they do have prospects pushing for a spot. (One question asked where John Carlson will sign, but I think we can be confident it won’t be here: it’s really difficult to see the Flames acquiring more defencemen.)
On Stone, he’s the one the Flames should be targeting to move the most: he’s the weakest of the group, and his cap hit relative to the amount he plays on the third pairing isn’t worth it. I’m not sure how much demand there is for him, though. When the Flames traded for him he was coming off of a 36-point season. He’s had 25 points total over the past two years. Whatever value he accrued is likely gone, and all the Flames had to pay for him to begin with was third and fifth round picks. I could see the Flames holding on to him and trading someone else (TJ Brodie?) and using him as insurance in case one of the kids isn’t ready to step into a top four role. Not saying it’s the right move – just that it could happen.
As for Dougie Hamilton, it would have to be a hell of a return. The Flames got him for a first round pick and two seconds; since then, he’s been signed to a team-friendly deal and has been one of the NHL’s top-scoring defencemen, all before his 25th birthday. If the Flames trade him they’d better be getting a young, bonafide top line right wing and then some for him. That’s the only way in which it could possibly be worth it – because remember, they don’t have to trade him, and he’s one of the last problems with this team. They’d also have to replace his spot as a top defender, and maybe Brodie can reclaim that role, but he probably won’t be as good as Hamilton is now, and that’s even if he’s able to regain his peak form.
Unless they’re getting an overpay, trading Hamilton probably isn’t worth it.
With the volume of quality d could a guy like Hamilton pull a reverse Burns and move to forward?
— Jon Shaw (@flamesguy89) May 6, 2018
It’s interesting to think about, and honestly, I kind of want to see it happen in a preseason game; just a meaningless outing where we have fun and get a little weird with things.
At the same time, though, it’s probably not worth it. It’s the same deal with trading him: yes, the Flames need help up front, but if you remove Hamilton from the top pairing then you just made your top pairing worse. He’ll play more minutes as a defenceman, and he’s still keeping up offensively. Hamilton likely has more value as a defenceman, both on and off the ice. Especially if the new coach recognizes him for his potential and plays him in the situations he deserves (i.e. first unit powerplay time).
Is it worth looking at moving Gio to get a top line winger? What do you think a return on a guy like him would be? Would the flames consider it?
— Khalid Keshavjee (@KMKeshavjee) May 6, 2018
Also do you think it’s a good idea for the flames to consider trading Giordano to the Islanders as part of getting Tavares back?
— ShemmyMo (@ShemmyMo) May 6, 2018
It makes sense to look at trading Giordano: he’s not getting any younger, but he still has a lot of value. Really, if professional sports were fully professional and didn’t carry any emotional ties, the Flames might even explore that. But that isn’t the case: Giordano is the captain, by all accounts a great person, and he’s still delivering on the ice. Look at how long it took the team to recognize it had to trade Jarome Iginla, except this time, the Flames aren’t entering a rebuilding period.
If Giordano were to be traded – and I don’t think the Flames are even entertaining the notion – then he’d have to bring back the kind of return Hamilton would: a top line forward. Giordano is too good to be traded for a shot at signing Tavares, too. The Flames traded an expiring Jordan Leopold’s rights and a pick for Jay Bouwmeester, and as much as Tavares is better than Bouwmeester, a top pairing defender with four years still on his contract for an asset that may or may not sign isn’t worth it. (I think the ultimate dream here is that the Islanders highly value Stone and take his contract for Tavares’ rights, but… yeah, that’s not going to happen.)
As for that above tweet about Juuso Valimaki and Rasmus Andersson, I think at least one will fight their way onto the starting roster. Remember that, with Matt Bartkowski’s contract expiring, the Flames don’t have a seventh defenceman at the moment. That’s not to say that one of the rookies will be a healthy scratch, but there is leeway for at least one of them to push someone else out of the lineup with no other moves required.
Which teams actually have the cap room for Tavares? Obviously he'd love to go to legit contender, but few of those have any cap room.
— Dallin (@dallinpl) May 6, 2018
Realistically, who also might actually sign with the Flames?
— Summiteer (@PlanetKyle) May 6, 2018
I mean… Tavares could realistically sign here. We don’t yet know what next season’s cap will be, but presently, the Flames have $61.6 million committed to next year, and that’s assuming no buyouts or trades, which seems unlikely. They still have to sign another five forwards, two defencemen, and a backup goalie; assuming the cap stays static (it likely won’t) they’d have roughly $13.4 million with which to do it.
Say one of those forwards is Tavares. The rest are pretty much depth roles: it’s hard to see Mark Jankowski, Nick Shore, and Garnet Hathaway costing too much; same would apply if another forward prospect makes it. David Rittich, Brett Kulak, and a defenceman on an entry-level deal likely won’t take up too much cap, either. The room is realistically there. It’s even there for the future: the only player in line for a big raise that’d be worth it any time soon is Matthew Tkachuk, and the Flames could easily make other moves to free up cap before then. (For instance: Troy Brouwer will have one year left on his deal by the time Tkachuk’s deal is up. If my math is right, I believe buying him out then would free up an instant $3 million.)
And it’s not as though the Flames are totally pathetic. They have very high-scoring forwards Tavares could play with and a still rather good collection of defencemen. They’re a top-heavy team; if Tavares comes here he is going to get good linemates, full stop.
As for other teams? Well, Toronto does have a fair bit of cap coming off their books, and they look on the up and up (though we’re worried about Tkachuk getting a raise – they have to deal with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner and William Nylander). Vegas could probably realistically go after him. San Jose always seems to be on the cusp of doing something, and they have a ton of free agents, including Joe Thornton. The Bruins are presently relying on a fair bit of cheap talent, as well.
Realistically, the Flames can probably get just about anyone they want, provided they offer enough money. That’s generally how free agency works. And they’re just barely in a position to be able to afford to do so, and still have a brighter immediate future than other teams that may have more cap space available to them.
What changes do the flames have to make to become a championship challenging team like Pittsburgh or Tampa?
— Khalid Keshavjee (@KMKeshavjee) May 6, 2018
Another high-scoring forward would do wonders. The Penguins had three 80+ point scorers, the Flames had one. The Lightning had five 60+ point scorers, the Flames had two. Micheal Ferland’s 41 points put him sixth in Flames scoring; he would have been seventh in Pittsburgh, and ninth in Tampa. The Flames probably aren’t going to be able to be as top-heavy as the Penguins – few teams are – but the Lightning’s ambitions should be in reach.
They had some help, though. Yanni Gourde, a 26-year-old rookie, got a chance and scored 64 points. He’s also 5’9. Four of the Lightning’s top six scorers are under 6′, so it’s like the Lightning have embraced this very nonsensical idea that “maybe short people are good at hockey, too?” and are somehow finding success through that. Whodathunk!
The Penguins have also benefited from homegrown talent stepping in and stepping up. Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, and Conor Sheary have all come from their minor league system: none of them were huge names, but the Pens are winning Cups with them, so. It also didn’t matter that the Penguins had Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin when the bottom half of their lineup was trash; they suddenly started injecting players who can actually play and they started winning Cups.
If the Flames have any faith in their scouting department, we’re about at the time they have to start showing it. Three of the most exciting prospects are Andrew Mangiapane, Dillon Dube, and Matthew Phillips and oh no, they’re short, but they also might be really good, so when it’s their time, give them a legitimate chance. And fewer Tanner Glasses, more Nick Shores. This team is capable of putting a complete roster together, but they have to commit to it.
Does Brouwer lose his "A" to Backlund next year?
— Shane Moberg (@shanemoberg) May 6, 2018
I don’t think so, if only because that could create needless drama. The players in the room know who their leaders are, and an extra letter on someone’s chest doesn’t really change that. Does it look silly seeing a guy who is ultimately a fourth liner signed to a big free agent contract skating around as though he’s a team leader? Sure, but ultimately, it’s inconsequential.