The question above is the one many will be asking about Calgary as they head into the 2018 NHL Draft later this month. You can also ask the same question about the second round…and the third round. Yep, as it stands right now, the Flames don’t pick until the fourth round, 105th overall, and would love nothing more to change that. But how can they make that happen?
MAKING A TRADE
If Calgary is going to move back into the first three rounds of the draft, they’ll likely have to part with a roster player. For a move back into the first round specifically, we’re talking about a somewhat significant player, too.
Unfortunately, the trade bait names that come to mind immediately probably wouldn’t be netting the Flames a top 31 pick in return. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t see any one of Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland, TJ Brodie, or Michael Stone commanding anything in the first round, so we’ll have to broaden our spectrum for the sake of this conversation.
It’s likely going to take a more significant name for Calgary to really have a shot at drafting on Friday night. While first rounders are tossed around a little more nonchalant with the season underway, they’re a whole lot more difficult to pry away around draft time. Take a look at what it’s taken in recent years.
|Year||Team||Assets sent||Team||Assets sent|
|2017||Arizona Coyotes||1st round pick (7th overall)
D Anthony DeAngelo
|New York Rangers||C Derek Stepan
G Antti Raanta
|2017||St. Louis Blues||1st round pick (27th overall)
Conditional 2018 1st round pick
C Jori Lehtera
|Philadelphia Flyers||C Brayden Schenn|
|2015||Los Angeles Kings||1st round pick (13th overall)
G Martin Jones
D Colin Miller
|Boston Bruins||LW Milan Lucic|
|2015||Calgary Flames||1st round pick (15th overall)
2nd round pick (45th overall)
2nd round pick (52nd overall)
|Boston Bruins||D Dougie Hamilton|
|2015||Edmonton Oilers||1st round pick (16th overall)
2nd round pick (33rd overall)
|New York Islanders||D Griffin Reinhart|
|2014||Anaheim Ducks||1st round pick (24th overall)
3rd round pick (85th overall)
C Nick Bonino
D Luca Sbisa
|Vancouver Canucks||C Ryan Kesler
2015 3rd round pick
|2013||New Jersey Devils||1st round pick (9th overall)||Vancouver Canucks||G Cory Schneider|
Above is a rundown of all the first round picks swapped to another team at the last five drafts, not including “move up/move down” deals. Aside from the obvious Griffin Reinhart outlier (puke emoji), we’re talking about extremely steep prices to acquire a top 31 pick flush without sending one the other way to swap spots. Even LA’s Lucic acquisition in 2015 wasn’t a huge reach; he was still an impact player and had 55 points in his one season after being acquired by the Kings.
Sure, if the Flames are able to swindle a team like how the Islanders duped the Oilers (let’s not forget that first round pick turned into Mathew Barzal), go right ahead! The chances of that happening are slim to none, though.
Realistically, the players that could net Calgary a Friday night pick (or more) have first names like Dougie, Sean, Johnny, or Matthew. Sure, first round picks are nice, but for the price of a core player? Maybe that makes sense on a resetting team, but it seems like a silly price for the Flames to pay just so they can draft in round number one.
Seeing Calgary get back into the second or third round seems a little more sensible, however. While I don’t think Brodie on his own could fetch a first round pick, it’s not totally crazy to think a second or third round pick is possible. Brodie for a third rounder and a decent forward? Brodie and Bennett for a second round selection and a good forward? These are the things that sound a whole lot more realistic.
WHAT IS THE GOAL?
Let’s assume the Flames are hellbent on getting back into the first round for just a second and are willing to pay the high price to do so. The whole concept seems counterintuitive to me knowing the moves made by general manager Brad Treliving over the last few years.
Treliving depleted his stable of picks in deals for Hamilton, Stone, Mike Smith, and Travis Hamonic. These deals were made in an attempt to help Calgary win now with very little eye to the future, with the exception of the Hamilton trade. It would be strange to see them make a deal in an opposite vain after one disappointing season.
Even though I think it would be a massive mistake, the concept of moving Hamilton is not a new one. I’ll grant you this: he’d probably fetch the Flames significantly more than what they paid to get him. A couple picks, including a first, and a good, young forward in return sounds realistic, especially at the draft.
I wouldn’t do it for many reasons, but chiefly because there isn’t an abundance of elite right-shot defencemen in this world. Hamilton is just that and will be 25 next season; these are the types of players you win with longterm, not trade away after three seasons.
In saying that, at least a trade like the one speculated above would be a little less of a departure from the team’s current course. If Calgary were to make a trade that allows them to address an area of need, like a top six winger, AND nets them a 2018 draft pick in return, I guess you can see where it makes sense.
A trade involving an important roster player that only sees a pick, or picks, coming back the other way would be very strange, though. The Flames have made moves for two seasons in an attempt to win now. Why abandon that plan while the window looks to be just opening?
If Calgary really wants to get back into the first round of this month’s draft they can, if they’re willing to pay the historically steep price. But that’s what this conversation all comes down to. The Flames have to decide whether it makes sense to part ways with a meaningful asset to regain a pick inside the top 31.
For me, the decision would be an easy no, unless Treliving is able to negotiate a price much lower than what we’ve seen in recent years. Otherwise, the risk doesn’t seem to outweigh the reward.
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