109

Should the Flames try to make a trade with the Hurricanes?

The Carolina Hurricanes, who have not made the playoffs for nine straight seasons, have made it clear that they’re open to making some changes this offseason: apparently, just about anybody not named Sebastian Aho could potentially be for sale.

That brings up a curious question where the Flames are involved. After Bill Peters opted out of his contract in Carolina, it was just a matter of days before he took over the coaching vacancy in Calgary. Who’s going to know the Canes players that may be up for trade better than him?

We’re specifically talking trade, so someone like, say, a right-shot centre who scored 38 points this past season by the name of Derek Ryan won’t really be discussed here. If the Flames want him, especially at their new head coach’s behest, they can pick him up easily.

No, we’re only going to talk those still under contract and restricted free agents here. And we’re going to stick primarily to forwards, too: while the Canes have a number of intriguing defencemen who came of age under Peters, the Flames are particularly full up on both defencemen and near-NHL-ready defensive prospects.

One of the easiest ways to measure whether or not a coach particularly likes a player is by looking at their average ice time throughout the season. Here’s a glance at the Canes’ regularly used forwards.

All situations numbers via NaturalStatTrick.

Player Position Shot TOI/GP P/60
Jordan Staal C L 19:15 1.81
Sebastian Aho RW L 17:55 2.79
Elias Lindholm C R 17:53 1.82
Teuvo Teravainen LW L 16:53 2.77
Jeff Skinner LW L 16:42 2.15
Justin Williams RW R 16:35 2.25
Derek Ryan C R 15:36 1.83
Victor Rask C L 15:22 1.70
Brock McGinn LW L 14:29 1.55

(Of these nine forwards, Ryan is the only one who is an upcoming unrestricted free agent; I know I said we weren’t going to talk about him, but I figured we should at least include his numbers for context.)

Ice time analysis is one thing, though; having actually regularly watched the Hurricanes and following them over the course of an entire season is something else entirely. So I turned to someone who has done exactly that, Corey Sznajder, and asked him who he thought it might make sense for the Flames to trade for, under a Peters context.

Big names

Jeff Skinner is the big name that most expect to be traded, but don’t hold your breath for a deal to bring him to Calgary. According to Sznajder, Peters wasn’t big on Skinner, and we can see that in the ice time stats: despite being fourth in points on the team, he was fifth in average ice time per game.

Worse yet, you thought it was maddening not seeing Matthew Tkachuk as a staple on the first powerplay unit? Skinner was sixth in powerplay ice time on the Hurricanes, behind Teuvo Teravainen, Elias Lindholm, Sebastian Aho, Jordan Staal, and Justin Williams. Again, that’s with him being a higher-scoring player than the two centres; he also had the second most shots on the man advantage, behind only Teravainen.

At 5v5, Skinner was the most sheltered out of all regular Hurricanes forwards as well: His 63.99% OZS was a little above that of Victor Rask and his most common linemate, Ryan. Which, speaking of, with no disrespect to Ryan, but what was he doing regularly centring Skinner instead of one of their top six centres?

Skinner is a top six forward who didn’t appear to be treated as such under Peters. Considering how his acquisition cost is likely to be pretty high – he’s one of the Canes’ best trade chips – it doesn’t make sense for the Flames to go after him if his coach apparently didn’t trust him.

Lindholm, on the other hand, is a different story. He hasn’t posted point totals as sexy as Skinner has yet, but with a career high of 45 points and a low of 39 over the past four years, he looks like a steady bet to contribute offensively. Keep in mind that he’s only 23 years old as well – the best could be yet to come – and that he’s a right-shot centre, and he only gets more and more intriguing. (And on a superficial note, he was a 2013 first round pick – the guy taken right before Sean Monahan – and the Flames already have five of those, so why not go for six?)

Lindholm has consistently been a +50% 5v5 CF player, and this past season is the only time to date he’s been a negative relative CF player: -1.76%, compared to +1.33%, +2.96%, and +1.33% in years before. Granted, he’s always received offensive zone starts above 50%, but we’re talking about a centre Mark Jankowski’s age who already has a lot more experience and scoring to show for it: worst case scenario, he’d be able to add quality depth to the lineup.

How much did Peters like Lindholm? According to Sznajder, quite a bit: “Played the most among forwards on nights even when he was struggling and he tried to do everything to get him going.” That could be a red flag regarding Lindholm’s abilities – that he has a lower P/60 and was only sixth in team scoring despite his heavy ice time is concerning – but if Peters really liked him, then it’s worth looking at potentially acquiring him.

And would the Canes trade him? Again, entirely possible: he’s a restricted free agent in all likelihood due for a raise over his previous $2.7 million cap hit, the Canes are less inclined to spend money the way the Flames are, and, according to Sznajder: “I could see him being one of the guys moved if only for the fact that he hasn’t been a huge difference maker in the NHL and Dundon likes a lot of the prospects and players from Charlotte.”

How much it would cost to get Lindholm in a trade would be another story, but he’d almost certainly be cheaper than Skinner. And again, a right-shot centre who can score is something the Flames could really use.

Depth players

On the other hand, while the Flames really don’t have much in the way of assets to trade, not everyone on the Hurricanes roster is going to come at a high price.

McGinn was a depth player liked by Peters, and all things considered, he did pretty well: his 30 points on the season would have had him ninth in Flames scoring (he was tied for 11th on the Hurricanes). This past season was just his first as a full time NHLer, but he’s only 24 years old; there could be more hope for him yet. He was just barely a negative relative player for the Hurricanes (-0.33% 5v5 CF) and didn’t get particularly favourable zone starts compared to the rest of his team.

Joakim Nordstrom is another possibility Sznajder listed to me as someone Peters liked; however, neither his counting stats nor his underlying numbers leave much to be inspired by: averaging just 10:34 a game throughout the season, he scored only seven points, and posted a -3.50% 5v5 CF. He’s played roughly three full NHL seasons now, and at 26 years of age, this is probably who he is.

Both are left-shot left wingers.

Defence?

Trading for a defenceman from any team seems particularly unlikely, but there could be an avenue there if it’s for a player Peters really, really liked and thinks would be an addition to Calgary’s corps. Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce stand out one way in particular: they’re signed long-term, and though both came up under Peters, it would likely take a lot to get them out of Carolina.

According to Sznajder, Noah Hanifin would be interesting, but Peters also sheltered him for some time, and it took Hanifin a while to break into the top four.

If the Flames pick up any defenceman from Carolina, then Justin Faulk could be the most likely candidate. He had, by his standards, a down season (31 points over 76 games: a drop from his career high of 49 in 82 set in 2014-15). Faulk was, however, heavily turned to this past season, averaging 22:16 a game (second on the Canes) and playing 222:56 on the powerplay (first out of all Canes players). Sznajder also said Peters would frequently turn to Faulk in high key defensive situations, so there’s a great deal of trust there – and if he’s someone the Hurricanes are content to clear out, then perhaps Peters could persuade the Flames to pick him up.

Faulk is a right shot, but who knows: acquiring a defenceman wouldn’t mean that none wouldn’t also be on their way out. Though I wouldn’t anticipate it, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility.

  • Searsy

    Justin Williams is the guy to trade for. Right shot right winger. One year left at 4.5 mil and should come cheap. He’s coming off a 51 point year and if I recall, the Flames had interest in him last year as a UFA.

  • Jessemadnote

    I think Lindholm would be the perfect target. I could see the Canes taking Bennett+ for him as it seems they want to go after players with a higher grit factor. Might have to be a big plus however…

    • cberg

      You comment seems confusing. If they want a higher grit factor than Bennett is probably the more valuable asset. Both high picks that have not impressed, so pretty even on that threshold. Explain why Lindholm is so much more valuable, or is it just the case of “grass is greener” syndrome?

        • cberg

          Bennett was a top-level playoff producer and plays a way more physical game. Points in the regular season are not the only thing, not even the most important thing.

          • Redleader

            Bennets only 21 , he still has a lot of skill ,speed and this team is soft enough as it is , I want to see what Bennett does this year with peters . Watch for a break out year .

      • Jessemadnote

        They actually do compare quite evenly, Lindholm has the edge in point production, penalty differential, Quality of competition, faceoff percentage and shot suppression where Bennett seems to excel more in terms of goal-scoring, hits, individual shot and chance generation. Neither player has ever hit a PDO of 100 in their career which tells me they both have the possibility of a breakout season if the percentages go their way. Maybe the trade would be a lot more even than I initially thought.

    • deantheraven

      I’d go after a higher grit factor player. It’s hard to see this Flames team competing against the grit factor players in these playoffs. They need to have grit factor players in both the top and bottom six to compete next year.

      • Jessemadnote

        I think the Flames have grit for sure. What I think they’re missing is consistent secondary scoring. I don’t know if Bennett will ever provide that.

  • buts

    Canes don’t need D and that’s all we can offer that has value. The flames should target ROR or a leafs winger. Flames should go big…trade Hamilton for Nylander, Bozak and MacIlhenney. Then trade Brodie and Backlund for ROR and a draft pick.

  • withachance

    What do people think about potentially Tkachuk moving to the first line, and have him and Jonny assume fluid position on the ice? He’s definitely got the smarts to play on his off hand, and would bring the toughness to the line. This would mean that management don’t necessarily have to chase a de facto top line winger, making trades much more realistic with the trade pieces the team have. Hopefully this would mean a 3rd line of Ferland Backlund Frolik and offensive line of Bennett Janko and RW

    • everton fc

      I like Tkachuk on the 1st line/RW. But Peters likes “pairs”. I see Monahan/Gaudreau as one pair. Maybe Tkachuk/Backlund as the other. Not saying I agree w/this…

      As for Lindholm… Peters mentioned wanting another centre. Could Monahan play wing? Or would Lindholm be able to move to RW??

      Another darkhorse to consider. Right-handed LW Valentin Zykov.

  • Atomic Clown

    Elias Lindholm is definitely an intriguing prospect. I was pretty high on him before the 2013 draft. He never had to jump into the deep end right after being drafted like Monahan had to, simply because of a glut of veteran centers in Carolina. He’s definitely a top 6 player, right hand shot, young, cheap. If they want a goalie prospect, since they don’t have many of those, both Gillies and Rittich should be be available

  • BendingCorners

    If for some reason Carolina wanted Frolik and Bennett in return for Lindholm I’d be happy with that, but I can’t see that being enough. The kid is a young top-six center with upside and cost-controlled to boot. I doubt the Flames could assemble a package that would be acceptable to both parties.

  • freethe flames

    So why would Carolina trade Lindholm; the only reason I can see is cap issues and the owner wants to live on budget. Lindholm’s numbers would suggest he is in for a cap hit @$4m; the comparable for me is Bjugstad. A Bennett for Lindholm trade would save Carolina @$2m this year. So lets try and stretch this deal and take Zykov for Lazar or our Swedish center playing in Sweden one more year.(I can’t remember his name)

  • herringchoker

    I’ll sure be glad when Tre announces his moves so we can stop talking about moving Bennett. I’m so sick of fickle fans…….i want you to be a star the day you step on the ice. Bennett is 21. He plays on the third line with a rookie center and a grinder. He was kept on center too long by a coach who refused to see it wasnt working. Bennett will pull it together next season. You mark my words. Give the kid some time. The flames need a top RW and will ONLY be using Brodie (main piece) to get it. Depth will come by moving Ferland to the Janko/bennett line. The biggest move the Flames needed to make was a new direction in coaching. If the Flames fix their powerplay (player usage) and a committment to D…..this team makes the playoffs. I honestly didnt hate our goaltending. I just wish Gully played Smith 10 games less so Richie got more games. That to me was a huge mistake by our coach.

    • herringchoker

      I hate to blame the coaching but seriously so much of this season was coaching and late season injuries. Anyone ever been a crappy job with a manager who you think is an idiot. You start thing about the weekends rather than your job. That was the Flames. Theres tons of examples of teams having a bad season making minor changes and then back in the playoffs……think LA and Colorado this year

    • withachance

      Agree. Depth will be solved by moving Ferland down the lineup, and more offensive settings for both Bennett and Tkachuk (linemates and OZ starts).

      Gaudreau – Monahan – RW
      Bennett – Janko – Tkachuk (do everything we can to get this line rolling offensively)
      Ferland – Backlund – Frolik (shutdown Mike line with each hoping to get roughly 30-40 points)
      Shore – Derek Ryan – Foo/Lazar/Brouwer (depth at C and decent speed)

      • oilcanboyd

        Peters stated at his presser he likes pairs…so Mony/Johnny. Backs/Frolik. Tkachuk/Janko worth a try in camp. Wingers can .ove up and down the lines. 4th line is still a dog’s breakfast. Maybe Shore/Brouwer as the gruesome twosome on the 4th line.

    • Mitchell

      I like the idea of moving ferland down the lineup, but I would caution others that expectations of him replicating his point totals are unrealistic. If he is demoted to the third line I hope he can bring back some of the physicality we saw from him in the playoffs vs Vancouver a few years back. I thought he was far more effective in that sort of role. Though I don’t mind the scoring!

      • everton fc

        Ferland will get 20 goals next season, regardless of linemates. He’ll get 25, if he stays w/Gaudreau and Monahan.

        Gaudreau and Monahan need someone physical, with skill, to protect them and give them ample space. The only two players on our roster who can provide this, at the same level of play as Gaudreau and Monahan, are Ferland and Tkachuk. At least as I type…

    • freethe flames

      3 full seasons in and we still don’t know what Bennett is. Maybe he shines under BP but one thing I am sure of is if h keeps taking bad penalties his butt will get stapled to the bench. I still think Bennett has potential but to get what you need via trade you have to offer something of value and that something might need to be Bennett.

      • Korcan

        The Flames need to give Bennett one more year. He’s too young to give up on. A new coach = clean slate and a world of possibilities. Play him top-six until he proves himself one way or another.

      • everton fc

        Bennett may be a 50 point player, ceiling. Who knows? But I think you keep him around, one more season. From Bennett’s class, Virtanen hasn’t panned out, nor has Dal Colle, the latter in a huge “way”. Reinhart is still trying to find himself, though I think Reinhart “has”, but “on paper”, Bennett looks to be a potential bust, kind of like Max Domi. One more season, hopefully attached to at least Jankowski, with a new coach, should help Bennett. If Bennett continues to produce “tuppence”, then his value certainly diminishes… And he [Bennett] becomes part of some package deal, for 2019-20.

  • herringchoker

    Every year its the same thing on this board. Make a big ass trade for some superstar. Last year it was Neidereider. I will admit I personally think Tre made a bad decision by trading for Hamonic. Those picks should have went for a top six RW. Then Brodie moved to his off side. Our defence would have been fine.

    • BendingCorners

      I wouldn’t. I’d rather spread the LHS talent across four lines and have a mix of shots all the way through the lineup. I don’t care which position is a RHS on each line, but there should be at least one. I’d also like to take advantage of the younger players – start them on the fourth line and move them up as they mature. There are some gaps in the pipeline, as well as in the top of the lineup.

      • withachance

        I wouldnt be too married to handedness, feels like nitpicking at that point. The top 6 RW should be RHS for sure, but other than that, I wouldnt base line combinations or team structure on who shoots which way.

  • herringchoker

    Another option based on this thread. Brodie/Fox for Lindholm. Then your top 9 could be:
    Gaudreau Monahan Lindholm
    Tkuchuk Backlund Frolik
    Bennett Janko Ferland

    Nothing wrong with that top 9

      • MontanaMan

        Agree with you WW. Tkachuk’s time with Backlund and Frolik has been productive as he has eased into the league with two defensively responsible forwards. Having said that, the Flames need more from Tkachuk and his role needs to be first line.

        • freethe flames

          Depending on who they add up front and what the cost is I would like to Mangiapane given a chance with Backs and Frolik, I think that line might be good together.

      • withachance

        For the record, I agree with you., Tkachuk should definitely be on a line that allows him more offensive freedom. But why do you feel the need to resort to calling them plugs? Yes they dont score as much as you would like them to, yes they might be overpaid, but these are two of the best defensive forwards on this team and does a lot of the dirty work against opponent’s best players. We know how you feel about them, but when you say petty things like that it just makes you sound so unreasonably biased.

          • withachance

            Tavares and Lee were a combined -37… So you wouldn’t want those two on your team either? You’re really scrapping the bottom of the barrel when you have to resort to +/- for your argument. And also conveniently ignored the rest of the comment.

      • everton fc

        Let’s keep Adam Fox I perspective. He was a 3rd round pick. He’s on the small side. He doesn’t score goals.

        He is what he is. I can’t see his value being “huge”, or “massive”. But there would be interest. He’s a quality prospect, no doubt, but he’d be part of a package, without question.

        • cberg

          I guess you haven’t been paying attention the last couple of years? In a couple of tournaments he’s been one of, if not the best D out there. Dynamic, feeding, scoring, controlling play, drawing super-elite comparisons…. Forget his draft place… Think of it this way, Gaudreau was a fourth rounder, so to your way of thinking his value can’t be “huge” or “massive” either? Any team that is paying attention will know that he’s not “just another third-rounder”.

      • everton fc

        You want to know who the Isles might jettison, for a guy like Fox and something else?

        Ho-Sang. A RW. Not a fan, but they’d probably cut him loose, at a bargain price. And then there’s Ladd’s insane contract. Man, so many teams (Flames included, with Brouwer) signed some insane contracts for terms, in the past few years. What will the Isles do w/Ladd? Buying him out doesn’t help them at all; moving him, retaining salary (Vegas/Phoenix?) and throwing in a quality prospect, may rid the of that millstone.

        As an aside, and related, if we buyout Brouwer, according to CapFriendly, we save $3mill/for 2018-19, ans 2019-20. The cap hit is only $1.5mill.

        • BendingCorners

          Ho-Sang for cash maybe. Talented kid but doesn’t backcheck (unless that improved in Bridgeport?) and suffers from a serious case of me-ism. He might be a good addition in Stockon and then work his way up if he matures. Could be worth the risk.
          And three cheers for a Brouwer buyout.

          • everton fc

            What I meant to say was Ho-Sang and another better Isle, a need here, for Fox + 1. Ultimately, I don’t think we are trading Fox, nor will we be trading w/the Islanders.

  • McRib

    “Worse yet, you thought it was maddening not seeing Matthew Tkachuk as a staple on the first powerplay unit? Skinner was sixth in powerplay ice time on the Hurricanes….. Again, that’s with him being a higher-scoring player….”

    The more I hear about Bill Peters the more I think he is a GG clone. He’s a “great talker” and the media loves him, but the guy plays his favourites everywhere. IMO the difference between great junior coaches and great NHL coaches is putting your ego at the door. You can’t coach in the NHL if you play favourites, because most of the best players also have egos, which is what makes them great (see Kessell, P. Kane, Doughty, etc).

    • Baalzamon

      The more I hear about Bill Peters the more I think he is a GG clone. He’s a “great talker” and the media loves him, but the guy plays his favourites everywhere. IMO the difference between great junior coaches and great NHL coaches is putting your ego at the door. You can’t coach in the NHL if you play favourites

      Except that literally every single coach in the league does that. Every single one.

  • Fat Tony

    Lots of interesting ideas here but I don’t know why we would trade assets for a player we hope to break out. Aren’t we already waiting on someone named Sam Bennett to do just that? Why not trade for a player who has established himself in this league and make an immediate impact. Bring in Zuc from NYR or Hoffman from the sens, a legit top 6 winger to play with our guys, however you construct the lineup.

  • oddclod

    How bout go back in time, skip Brouwer & keep Byron? I’m not an expert but every time I’ve seen Skinner play he was absolutely dynamic. I’d kill to see Peters bury him in our lineup somewhere. But for what price?

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Canes need scorers, so why would they deal Skinner, especially if his problems were with Peters? Canes are absolutely stacked on defence, so I hardly see our expendable defencemen being attractive to them.

      On the topic of defencemen, how about Fox for Jake Bean one for one? Fox stays east while Bean can pen the latest chapter in the book called “Local Boy Makes Good.”

  • freethe flames

    I have to say I liked the discussion on this topic. Thinking about possible trades or signings outside of the RoR or Tavarese discussions sound more realistic to me.

  • Parallex

    People have been saying stupid things out of Carolina… I’m fully in favor of taking advantage of foolish behaviour so yes the Flames should try to make a deal.

  • Bawcos

    You had me ’till that last sentence. Every year it’s predicted that Bennett will have a break out. Heck, in 2015 he was a dark horse pick for the Calder over McDavid – not just here but league-wide. But this guy hasn’t moved the needle even a little bit. I know he’s only 21, but maybe we should prepare ourselves for the possibility that this guy is a 4th C and that’s it.