After a May Long hiatus, the mailbag is back. This week, we tackle the big potential offseason moves.
Does a trade deal with Toronto make sense? Like Brodie or a prospect in return for a couple of picks.
— callum wheaton (@callumwheaton) May 26, 2018
Yes it does make sense, from the outset. The Flames have a lot of defencemen, no wingers. The Leafs have a lot of wingers, no defencemen. Let’s make a trade.
TJ Brodie sounds like a good starting point. Nikita Zaitsev and Ron Hainsey have underperformed expectations, and with Roman Polak likely out the door (it would be hilarious if they signed him again, but they’re probably not going to) they need some RD depth badly. Brodie is an LD, but seemingly has had success on the right side, so there’s a match.
Trading Dougie Hamilton would be selling the car to buy gas, so let’s immediately forget about that.
I would aim much higher than picks though. It would be nice if the Leafs sent a few this way, but they aren’t going to give up a first and given the relative strength of this draft class, a second or third isn’t that enticing. Selling players purely for picks isn’t going to do it.
I would also aim much higher than Kasperi Kapanen as a winger the Leafs could send this way. Kapenen is interesting and a popular target, but his career history thus far is spotty and the selling point is potential, which is also spotty. Kapanen is the same age as Flames prospect Andrew Mangiapane, but one scored above a point per game in the AHL this year and the other didn’t. It’s absolute speculation, but I imagine Mangiapane could do more than nine points in 38 games had he been given the opportunity. Trading a big piece like Brodie for a maybe piece like Kapenen isn’t going to solve any problems.
Aiming higher would be a player like William Nylander or Mitch Marner, a RW that the Leafs may have to sacrifice due to a potential cap crunch given that they need to extend all of Nylander, Marner, and Auston Matthews to big time contracts while filling out the rest of their roster. It’s a heavy price to pay for a top four defenceman, but they don’t come cheap.
Will they trade one of those players though? Unlikely. The Leafs and Flames are perfect trade partners based on what they need and what they have, but I think both sides won’t pay what the other wants, so no go. I’d be surprised if anything happens on that front.
Chances that Phil Kessel becomes a Flame? PIT is looking for D help
— Jay D (@BLTJay) May 27, 2018
If the rumours are true and Phil Kessel is available, the Flames should be all over that. Kessel puts up much greater production than his reasonable $6.8M cap hit (another point to consider is that it would be hilarious if Toronto is paying for Calgary’s top line RW). He may be 30 with three years left on the deal, but he’s still putting up top 10 numbers that make him a quality candidate.
Pittsburgh could also use Brodie, though who knows if that’s enough to get Kessel out. I think the Penguins are also looking for cost controlled forwards, which may make players like Sam Bennett or Mark Jankowski expendable. They might have to throw in another prospect to get the Penguins to sell, which might be a deal too rich for Calgary.
I think the Flames would also be looking for a longer term piece than Kessel though. Their most recent 30+ RW acquisition didn’t really work out for them, so perhaps they stay away from older guys.
Would there be any appetite to trade Hamilton to Arizona if we could get a return of Strome, their 1st and another piece? I have high hopes that Valimaki can fill that Hamilton hole quite quickly.
— Dan Allery (@AlleryDan) May 27, 2018
Arizona would be trading away a potential star in Dylan Strome and whoever they select fifth overall and the other piece would have to be pretty good. Is Hamilton going to swing the fortune of that club? Probably not. They aren’t that close to competing, so adding Hamilton while giving away some of their young competitive pieces isn’t a smart move. Two steps forward, one step back. Beside, they’ll (likely) get the second best defenceman in the draft in Quinton Hughes. It makes more sense to get the young potential stud defender as a young rebuilding team than to grab the established stud defenceman to fill out your non-competitive roster.
From Calgary’s side, I already said it: trading Hamilton is selling the car to buy gas. He’s the best offensive defenceman the team has and moving on from him now at 24 is foolish. Juuso Valimaki filling in a first pairing defensive spot is also a stretch. The kid is good, but let’s see what he’s made of on the third pairing first before giving him 25 minutes a night.
How much do you reckon Hamonic could be flipped for if traded during the 2018 draft to a team desperate for a "top4" dman
— Patrick (@Patriiick16) May 27, 2018
Not full refund price, but if they would want to move Travis Hamonic, I imagine they could get a pair of second round picks. The Hamonic trade was arguably one of the biggest last year and given how it played out for Calgary I don’t think anyone would be paying the same price again. Trading him not even a year later is also going to drive down the price a bit. Don’t think they would sell him for that though.
Any chance calgary trades 2 dmen but adds a d man from free agency? This would shake up the room a bit no?
— Mauricio Cardoza (@Msea91) May 26, 2018
Trading two defencemen? Yes, that’s likely. Michael Stone is pretty bad and should be moved immediately to make way for Rasmus Andersson. As already discussed, Brodie could be a pretty strong chip that could net you something good in return, so it makes sense to move him.
Signing a UFA? Nope. The Flames have pretty strong defensive depth in the pipeline, so it kind of makes sense to just promote one of Oliver Kylington or Valimaki to replace the empty spot on the left side. The UFA market isn’t convincing, with a lot of over 30s or lateral move players available. The big name is John Carlson, but he’s more than likely a ticking time bomb rather than a long-term solution.
I think they’ll make trades to shake things up, but I don’t think they’ll bring an unfamiliar face in.
The Brodie-Hampnic pair wasn’t great last season. What’s the ideal scenario for breaking them up?
— Jeremy Stanford (@StanfordJer) May 27, 2018
Kulak-Hamonic was a pretty solid pairing down the stretch of the season in a small sample size, which is probably the way to go for next year. Brodie-Stone was not that great of a pairing, this year or last year, so I would try avoiding that. If you move Stone (which they really should!), Brodie-Andersson could be strong. If they move Brodie as well, Kylington-Andersson could be a very dynamic pairing.
Revisiting gillies as a trade chip, perhaps to carolina (they need goalies). Assuming lindholm is the target, what gets added with gillies to make it work? Or, is there an option that you think works better withOUT gillies
— daniel knapp (@danielknappkins) May 26, 2018
I can see Carolina being wary of picking up another goalie surrounded by question marks. Scott Darling was one of the better bets to be a diamond-in-the-rough backup turned full time starter in last year’s market, and that crashed spectacularly for the Canes. Jon Gillies appears to be very close to the NHL, but he is far from a sure thing at this point. They are probably not interested.
Gillies has pretty good AHL numbers, but only 12 NHL games played and only half of them were good. That’s not a goalie teams will pay good assets for. I can’t see Gillies being a trade piece in anything major, so I think the Flames will keep him. If the conventional thinking is that goalies take until they’re 25-27 to break out, Gillies is still a year away. That’s not interesting enough for Carolina, who need goalie help now, and not for any other team.
Specific to Elias Lindholm, I’m not sure what package the Flames could offer for him. The Canes seem to be selling him for cheap to avoid giving him a ~$4.5M contract, but it’s unclear what they would want back. I would suppose they would want a forward around the same age with a similar price point, and the Flames don’t have too many of those worth giving away. They’re loaded with defencemen, so they wouldn’t be interested in Brodie.
I’m sure if it happens, it will be a ball of prospects and picks, but I don’t think the Flames have interesting enough prospects to entice Carolina. Another no go!
Are the folks over @FlamesNation as worried as I am about number one goalie Mike Smith for next year? he's bound to be hurt this year & may not have a "heir apparent" for the following year if Parsons isn't ready, should the Flames get a guy like Grubauer til Parsons is ready?
— Daniel Tiller (@tiller_daniel) May 27, 2018
You are right to be worried about the goaltending situation. Smith was awful after being injured and he’s going to get older next year. The best to hope for is that he doesn’t continue to fall off a cliff.
Jon Gillies and David Rittich weren’t that impressive in their NHL stints, which makes grabbing an established NHL goalie a practical move. Will Philipp Grubauer be cheap? Unlikely. He certainly outperformed Braden Holtby in the regular season, but lost the net again in the postseason. He’s an RFA who could still be had for cheap, so Washington is unlikely to move him as they don’t have much better options. I think it would take draft picks (oops) to get Grubauer out of the American capital, which is not happening.
I think it’s worth it to look for a goalie this offseason, but perhaps hold off the big spending.
Recommendations for Sam Bennett? Trade, keep trying, etc.
— Kevin Chamberlain (@Keverman34) May 26, 2018
Bennett’s still 21 (turns 22 next month) and has at least been an alright third line contributor. He’s inconsistent, sure, but the flashes of greatness he occasionally shows are enough to keep you interested. It’s been said for two offseasons in a row now, but if he can put it all together, Bennett could finally be at least somewhat close to the expectations that have been set on him. I’ve always seen him developing as a Wayne Simmonds type. Simmonds was a middling scorer until his fourth season in the NHL, when he broke out into a regular 50-point player. For $1.95M, is it really that much of a risk to wait one more year and see what happens?
The flip side is that there’s very few positives that suggest he’s about to break out aside from his age. His underlying numbers don’t suggest that he’s on the right path to eventually becoming that 50-point guy (if you follow the curves of their careers, he is way behind Simmonds) and that he may actually stall out as an occasionally useful third line winger. If the Flames stick with it for another year and Bennett doesn’t really improve, that’s four years and nearly 300 games of evidence that Bennett isn’t entirely worth all that much. This could be the last time to trade him for something valuable.
It’s weighing future value versus current value. What the Flames will do with him depends on what sort of offers they get for him. If he’s a key piece in a big trade for a top line RW? See ya, Sam. If someone wants to swap reclamation project for reclamation project? Probably not.
Is there any chance we will get Sheldon Keefe to be an assistant?
— Harshita Chhabra (@harshitaDBB) May 26, 2018
Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Marlies head coach, is an interesting name but I don’t think it happens.
Primarily, he’s connected to Toronto and is probably either getting paid handsomely to groom the Leafs of tomorrow or has a job lined up for him as an assistant to Mike Babcock. I don’t have a good read on the intentions and thoughts of AHL head coaches, but I feel the only way he leaves the Maple Leafs organization is for an actual NHL head coaching job.
Secondly, as I was writing this mailbag, this slipped across the wire. Eric Francis sneaks by a little news about assistant coaches, claiming the Flames have already hired one, a “veteran coach with a proven track record running power plays.” That’s a little vague, but certainly puts Keefe out of the running. Ryan Huska is heavily implied to be the leader for the defensive side of things, so a double down.
Chances of Tavares becoming a Flame pic.twitter.com/e9AIqoeec3
— Cato Fong (@VagrantofRome) May 27, 2018
This is a toughie.
It’s hard to get a grip on what John Tavares is thinking or what he values in a free agent destination, but Calgary is a pretty appealing option. Cap room, young team, lots of exciting pieces, good long-term outlook, etc, etc. If you’re Tavares, this could be something right up your alley. The Flames aren’t trying to sign him as a building block, but a finishing piece. Success should come instantly, not in two or three years.
But then there’s other teams that can claim the same. Even the Islanders can say that they have the players and the cap space to support Tavares in the near future. Vegas has a boatload of cap space and could easily convince Tavares that they’re the real deal. Calgary’s not the only appealing party in this scenario.
If I had to put it in numbers, I would say it’s about 10%. Arbitrary and random, but that’s what I’m feeling.