When the Flames arrive in Dallas later this week for the 2018 NHL Draft, they’ll do so with a reputation to uphold. This will be general manager Brad Treliving’s fifth draft and his resume is chock full of wheeling and dealing on the draft floor. Treliving has made at least one trade in all four of his previous drafts and, as we’re about to profile, has done so with varying success. All indications suggest, as does history, he’ll be busy once again in Texas.
“You’ve got everybody there and there’s lots of conversations and everybody is trying to get as much done as they can there,” Treliving told us on Sportsnet 960 last week. “Draft week, draft weekend…that time during between draft and free agency is, to me, that’s now the real…busiest time in the calendar. You’ve got a better understanding of your financial structure, teams have expiring contracts…that’s where I think you see a lot of the bigger deals take place.”
With that said, here’s what we’ve seen from Treliving and the Flames over the last four years.
Treliving’s first draft with Calgary will always be remembered for the team’s highest ever selection, at least since relocating from Atlanta. The Flames took Sam Bennett fourth overall, adding him to an exciting stable of young forwards that also included Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau.
While Bennett has yet to explode into the player many hoped, the 2014 Draft was still an exciting one for Flames fans with such a high pick. But that wasn’t Treliving’s only move that year: he drafted five other players and also made his first draft weekend trade.
It may bring up bad memories for some, but 2014 was the year Calgary sent a third round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for Brandon Bollig. While third rounders are anything but sure things, it still seemed like a bit of a high price to pay for a player with a career high of 14 points. Bollig’s time with the Flames was ineffective at best, which is why this is a trade many like to forget.
While 2014 wasn’t a banner year at the draft for Calgary, the following year was quite honestly the polar opposite. In fact, the team’s trip to Florida might have been one of the most fruitful weekends they’ve had in a long, long time for a few different reasons.
Most significantly, the Flames acquired Dougie Hamilton from the Boston Bruins in one of the best trades in franchise history. Giving up a first round pick and a pair of seconds, all in 2015, Calgary acquired a core player for a ridiculously modest price. Since arriving with the Flames, Hamilton has made this trade look even better for Treliving and company.
Calgary wasn’t done wheeling and done dealing that year, though. The team selected Rasmus Andersson at 53rd overall with a pick they acquired from Vancouver in the Sven Baertschi trade earlier in the year. Then, seven picks later, the Flames swapped a pair of third rounders for #60 overall and turned it into another Swedish defenceman: Oliver Kylington.
Factoring in their two high value second round picks (plus Andrew Mangiapane in the sixth round) and the acquisition of Hamilton, the 2015 Draft may have given us some of Treliving’s best work since taking the reins as GM.
Calgary entered the 2016 Draft in Buffalo with a very public and primary goal: acquire a number one goaltender. It surfaced during draft week that a deal with Tampa Bay for Ben Bishop had fallen through, so the Flames turned their attention to the St. Louis Blues and Brian Elliott.
Coming off a strong season with the Blues, Calgary gave up a second round pick to acquire Elliott in a deal that had mixed results. On the one hand, Elliott struggled mightily to begin his only season with the Flames and failed to get the job done in the playoffs. And yet, his two month run starting in February was crucial in helping Calgary clinch a playoff spot for the second time in three years.
In hindsight, I don’t think this was a bad trade for the Flames. Yes, Elliott had mixed results and was only with the team for one season, but I still feel like it was a worthwhile shot to take. Elliott’s numbers were strong in St. Louis and he was itching to get a chance as a number one goaltender. The reasoning was sound but, unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned.
Last June was a busy month for Calgary as Treliving made a concerted effort to help his team to the next level. The Flames acquired Mike Smith from the Arizona Coyotes prior to last year’s draft and brought in Eddie Lack from the Carolina Hurricanes a few days after. Right in the middle of that goaltender sandwich was a trip to Chicago.
Many had suggested Calgary was in need of another top four defencemen last summer, and that’s exactly what the team went after. The Flames landed the highly sought after Travis Hamonic from the New York Islanders in exchange for first and second round picks in 2018 and a second round pick in 2019.
My jury is still out on this trade after just one year. Hamonic definitely struggled for a good chunk of the year on a second pairing with TJ Brodie, but I’m curious what we see in year two. Many believe it takes blueliners longer to settle into new surroundings, so we’ll see if that is indeed true in Hamonic’s case.
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