105

FlamesNation Mailbag: What’s left after the trade?

Did the Flames make a big move, or something? Well, good news: free agency opens in not even a week, so we can probably expect more to come!

I’d also like to note that while some questions don’t appear in this mailbag, keep an eye out for future posts: they’ll get answered there.

Lots of defence questions, unsurprisingly, so I’ve grouped them together.

It’s highly unlikely the Flames are done making moves, and I’d say it continues to be highly unlikely they’re done on defence, either. Strictly from an on-ice perspective (the only perspective I will be addressing, because we know absolutely nothing about the inner workings of the locker room), the Flames just made their defence worse. It’s really difficult to see them think they’re done after that, especially when they did absolutely nothing to address the logjam (Adam Fox isn’t a part of it anymore, but he was likely the furthest out from being ready for the NHL to begin with).

I do think they’re working on moving Michael Stone, as he’s the most expendable right shot, and Rasmus Andersson is the next guy up. By trading Dougie Hamilton, the Flames just gave a green light to TJ Brodie: trading him, too, would send a defence core that just got shaken up into a tailspin (you do not trade away your two concrete top pairing options like that). They just spent a lot to acquire Travis Hamonic a year ago; they don’t move on from that ship. That just leaves Stone, and we’re fast approaching the point that Andersson has to be in the NHL.

But if they can’t move Stone, then I wonder if Andersson makes the NHL anyway, because, well, someone has to sit in the press box (and I’m not saying it’ll be Andersson sitting).

As for Juuso Valimaki, that’s going to depend on how ready he is. If he isn’t, but there’s already a spot in the NHL lineup reserved for him, then the Flames would have just avoidably hurt themselves.

All in all, this is what I think it could come down to:

  • If the Flames are able to move Stone, Andersson is in, and Valimaki (and maybe even Oliver Kylington) end up fighting with Brett Kulak for a regular spot in the lineup.
  • If the Flames aren’t able to move Stone, then the fight ends up between Andersson and Valimaki (and Kylington?) at camp: best guy stays in the NHL, losers go to their respective development leagues. (Valimaki is eligible to play in the AHL this season, as he’ll be 20 before the calendar year is over.)

I wouldn’t be ready to anoint Elias Lindholm a top line guy at this point in time – he’s been in the NHL for five seasons already and his career high in points is only 45 – but he’s definitely a top six guy, and chances are, he’s going to get better in short order. How much better remains to be seen, though; there’s also the factor that he’s never played with someone of Johnny Gaudreau’s caliber.

However, that doesn’t mean Lindholm has only played with scrubs: his most common linemates this past season were Jeff Skinner and Sebastian Aho. (Other common linemates over the years: Eric and Jordan Staal, Victor Rask.) Lindholm has consistently been one of Carolina’s six highest scoring players, though. He should have no problem fitting in on one of the Flames’ top two lines.

(An earlier, defence-related question also asked if the Flames make a move for another right wing, rather than putting all of their eggs in the Lindholm basket; I certainly wouldn’t rule that out. Last season the Flames needed everything to go right in order to have success. It did not work. Contingency plans are good.)

As for the bottom six, it’s still something of a mess: you’ve got Troy Brouwer, Sam Bennett, and Curtis Lazar presently signed, Mark Jankowski and Nick Shore pretty much certain to come back, and maybe Garnet Hathaway, too. That’s six guys already, without the Flames signing, like, maybe Derek Ryan or somebody else from Bill Peters’ past. I’d be on the lookout for free agent singings at this point, though there’s always the potential for another trade (if, say, they have to take a roster player back for Stone, then it’s probably not gonna be a defenceman…).

There’s also the chance someone projected to be in the bottom six gets an upgrade! I believe, with Lindholm coming in, Bennett’s place will still be on the left side. He had his best year with Mikael Backlund though, so just spitballing, but a possibility could be:

Gaudreau Monahan Tkachuk
Bennett Backlund Lindholm

With Michael Frolik maybe bumped down to play alongside Jankowski.

With the forwards available to the Flames now – and mind, this could change very quickly over the next week – there’s a spot for Bennett in the top six. He’ll have to prove he’s a better option than the other players, though. It’s up to him.

Even if they add Ryan, there’s room for a kid: someone’s going to have to sit. (Even if healthy, I can’t see Hathaway, Lazar, and Shore getting in all 82 games.) Probably just one, though, which I would say is ideal: you don’t want to leave too many holes in your lineup, and this way you’ve set your prospects up for some heavy competition to make the NHL.

Another potential forward lineup combination:

Gaudreau Monahan Lindholm
Tkachuk Backlund Frolik
Bennett Jankowski
Brouwer Ryan Shore
Lazar Hathaway

They can definitely clear away a third line spot if they really want to.

Technically, they did get something for him: Noah Hanifin and Lindholm. It’s just that we don’t know how key a piece he was in getting the deal done. By my eye, Hamilton was the best player in the trade, Hanifin and Lindholm were in the middle, and Micheal Ferland was the worst (sorry, Ferland). Maybe the Hurricanes wouldn’t do the deal without Fox.

I’d still question that, though. Throwing in Brandon Hickey in the Mike Smith trade was one thing, but we saw another questionable move not too long ago, too: not lottery protecting the first round pick given up for Travis Hamonic. I think we’re at the point where it’s fair to heap an incredible amount of scepticism on any future trades Brad Treliving makes.

If anything, it may have lengthened it – if you believe the Flames are in that window to begin with. The Flames not only upgraded their forward position, but did so with a younger guy who will probably be much more consistent, and has more years ahead of him.

But that’s reliant on thinking the Flames are contenders to begin with, and they sure proved us wrong last year.

Future reaction shot of anyone who tunes in to the Flames’ 2018-19 opener after not keeping up with the offseason:

Funny you should ask that, we had the same thought.

Also, shoutout to Glenbow! I hadn’t been there in a really long time. Their Asian art exhibit just closed but there is still a lot of cool stuff there; we ran out of time. Got particularly enthralled by the warriors exhibit.


ARTICLE BROUGHT TO YOU BY SPORTS EXCELLENCE

Founded in 1950, Sports Excellence Corporation represents over 150 family-owned independent hockey retailers across Canada and the United States. Our highly knowledgeable hockey specialists are available to assist all your equipment needs. Find your closest Sports Excellence retailer here: Find a location near you!

  • withachance

    It seems like BP is very open to Tkachuk on the top line and Lindholm at C, giving a forward line of:

    Johnny – Monny – Tkachuk (Top Line)
    Bennett – Lindholm – ???(Second line of grit, two way play and hopefully secondary scoring)
    Mangi – Backlund – Frolik (Shutdown line and the Backlund bump to young Mangi)
    Shore – Janko – Lazar/Foo/Brouwer (4th line is a toss up, but this seems like a good energy line)

    Looks like another top6 RW is needed and the forward group could be set. OR a Derek Ryan signing and bumping someone from the 4th line up to the second, which would definitely not be ideal. All in all, expecting BT to be busy up until July 2st and nabbing a FA (Vanek on a short term deal maybe?) or perhaps a Stone package trade? Excited to see what unfolds in the next week!

      • Mickey O

        “After starting the year on the third line with , Tkachuk was moved up to the second line after an injury to Michael Frolík and spent the rest of the season on that line.”

        TSN.ca staff. Huh?! Who wrote that I wonder out loud. Simply unreal.

          • Mickey O

            Toronto thinks they have a 3M line when those guys get thrown together. Most writers in TSN land could tell you what Marner had for breakfast last Tuesday, anything outside of their orbit in Leaf Land doesn’t really hit the radar.

    • EhPierre

      @ withachance: Peters wants to try the top line of Johnny – Lindholm – Tkachuk during the preseason. As interesting as this line is, I think it’d be better for the team if it was Johnny – Lindholm – Monny. This gives us three solid lines and more importantly, having Tkachuk play with Bennett and Janko makes that line a lot more difficult to play against and hopefully, allow that line to be more consistent.

      • withachance

        I think he’ll try that line, but probably won’t stick to it as BP really likes pairing up forwards. I’m with you though on a second line of Benny – Jank – Tkachuk, I really think that’s a great line and I think Janko can be a stud in 3-5 years if he keeps bulking up. The third line is also great, as Backlund and Frolik can be one of the best 3rd line pairings in the league

          • piscera.infada

            Yeah, I’ve always felt a lot of posters here basically talk about Jankowski like he’s Blake Wheeler. He may be. But man, Wheeler is a crazy outlier–basically the ultimate “late bloomer”.

          • cjc

            @piscera.infada
            Even Wheeler established himself as a top six option straight outta college. His worst season was his sophmore year, still averaged nearly 0.5 pts/gp, he was just pushed down the depth chart in Boston. Has been lights-out since being traded from Boston as a 24 y.o. I am not saying trade Janko or that he will never amount to anything, but it is way too soon to anoint him 2C or anything. I think the faith in Janko stems more from the irrational distrust of Backlund.

      • Mickey O

        Monahan and Johnny are a pairing that Peter’s won’t split up. Lindholm will likely be used on RW. Byng has to start taking a million face-offs. He’s probably up to a quarter million already since Peter’s told him he might try him on the top line.

        Peters seems to me to be a guy that is open to a lot of different possibilities and thinks outside the box. So here’s a thought, Rebar. You keep the 3M together on the road, and at home play the Bennett – Jankowski – Tkachuk line. A similar scenario that they have in Pittsburgh with Kessel on the 3rd line. Good luck to opposing coaches trying to cover everyone.

        • Baalzamon

          stay afloat without Byng? Do you lot even listen to yourselves anymore? Mickis had 47 points the year Tkachuk was drafted. Before anyone had even seen Tkachuk in a Flames jersey, Backlund made Joe freaking Colborne into a 44 point man.

          What exactly has Tkachuk done without Backlund?

          • Off the wall

            It seems to me that most fans are penciling Backlund as a 2B line. If Backlund becomes our 2B or 3 line centre, I really don’t like the idea of him making $5.35M.

            Trash away my friend!

          • cjc

            Replying to OTW – If Backlund were to be a 2B centre, that would imply we have a 2A centre. Now, Lindholm could presumably fill that role, but he was acquired to fill a gap on the wing (though Peters is apparently going to break up Monahan and Gaudreau in the preseason – then where does Monahan fit?). If you’re thinking Jankowski as 2A, he’s not as good as Backlund was when he was 23, and not as good as Backlund was in 2017-2018.

            Backlund at 23: 32 GP, 8G, 8A, 16 Pts. 1.98 P/60, 15:07/G; CF%Rel +4.50

            Jankowski at 23: 72 GP, 17G, 8A, 25 Pts. 1.56 P/60, 13:21/G, CF%Rel -3.67 (four of those goals came in a meaningless game at the end of the season).

            Neither guy had great linemates when they were 23, neither guy got much PP time.

          • canadian1967

            I’m tired of all you Backlund lovers.
            It took Backlund until his draft+9 year to get as many as 40 points.
            WOW, Mikael Backlund is Flipping Incredible!

  • brodiegio4life

    Love the line combo’s you suggested. I really think Bennett should be given a chance in the top 6 to see what he can do. This is pretty much his make or break season with the flames. In the past whenever he gets the chance on the top line he’ll be taken off after like 2 games. Let him settle in and see what happens.

    Also thanks to withachance for posting that article, did not know Peters mentioned putting Chuck on the 1st line. I heard he wanted to put Lindholm there? Would love to see Chuck there but that could potentially be stashing your 3 best forwards on 1 line leaving the rest of your lineup weaker.

    • withachance

      The thing with putting Tkachuk on the top line is it opens up a spot on the second line with Lindholm and Bennett for another proven quality addition on the wing that the team is lacking. Instead of 4 quality forwards (Monny, JG, Byng and Lindholm) the Flames have the room to add another.

      • EhPierre

        I agree. I think if you put Tkachuk on the top line then Tre has to go and find another winger for the Bennett-Lindholm line as Bennet-Lindholm-Janko would not be a good line. Their playing styles would not complement each other. If on the other hand, Peters goes with JG-LIndholm-Monny and Tkachuk with Bennet, I think Tre would not go and find another forward as the spots are pretty much filled with three solid lines.

        • withachance

          Yeah definitely. It’s two different ways of looking at if an addition is a good thing or if it’ll be hard to acquire a good option at RW. I guess it comes down to which top two lines management will think is better:

          JG-Monny-Lindholm , Bennett – Janko – Tkachuk
          OR
          JG-Monny-Tkachuk, Bennett – Lindholm – ???

          Leaving Janko out of the second one as I dont think Janko should play wing after some decent success last year, and Janko on the RW of the second line would not be a good fit at all.

  • Honkydonk

    I just don’t see how we keep Hathaway and Brouwer. Apparently the flames already have a player in free agency who is going to join the second unit power play.

    On the backend I also don’t see how we keep Stone. That’s 3 players to get rid off.

    Mangi, Foo and possibly Dube will see some games next season. We will add Shore and you have to think Lazar plays.

    Then you have the Klimchuk, Poirier and Shinkaruk group who will certainly have to show this is their last year in AHL.

    The 2019/2020 season is interesting for me. No doubt you will have. Valimaki and Kylington in the NHL.

    Does that mean this is the year or Brodie reclamation in order to sell high next off season?

    • MDG1600

      Flames should keep Hathaway. Now that Ferland is gone he is their most physical forward and can add some energy to the 4th line if they keep him hungry by making him compete for a spot in the line up.

        • Trevy

          If not Kassian (long shot), I’m sure BT will get some sort of muscle to keep the peace, especially after Ferland is now gone. Reeves seems to be a popular choice. Despite what people say, we need an imposing presence so the likes of Lucic and company don’t take liberties. As it stands now, I really don’t want Bennett or Hamonic fighting our battles and Hathaway doesn’t exactly instill fear into anyone

          • Mickey O

            I agree with Reaves over Kassian. But Reaves will be an over-pay, the Flames will not be the only team looking at him. Then you are in spot of Brouwer and Reaves on the same team.

            I doubt they buy out Brouwer this year. In that case you need to trade Brouwer, and Kassian gives you a player with a well-defined role on the 4th line. Gulutzan loves him his Brouwer.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Az-QW3ugtY

            For a change of pace, this video makes me laugh. Reaves and Kessel playing one-on-one basketball. PK: “I can ball.”

  • brodiegio4life

    Really interesting insight from Friedman on the Hamilton trade.

    “This is about role. Hamilton did not formally request a trade, but there is confirmation there were discussions about his spot in the lineup. There was agreement a move would be better for both sides.

    The Flames wanted to re-unite TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano, which will happen. They felt Travis Hamonic would benefit from playing with a steadier partner, as opposed to Brodie, more of a jazz-musician freelancer. That would take Hamilton off the top pair, which didn’t thrill him. He also didn’t start last season on the top power play, eventually replacing Brodie midway through. That was another bone of contention.”

    So essentially the flames wanted to reunite Brodie and gio, hoping to return Brodie to his previous form, and Hamilton wasn’t happy about being moved to the 2nd pairing. On one hand Hamilton should go with what the coaches think is best for the team, but on the other hand you ship out one of your best players because Brodie was awful and you HOPE he can return to form with Gio? Hamilton and Gio were great together and weren’t the problem, so why not ship out Brodie instead of Hamilton? Not sure about the decision making. However if Brodie and Giordano do rediscover their chemistry together and Hanifin/Hamonic create a solid second pairing it won’t seem too bad. Seems like they’re really betting on Brodie returning to form… we’ll see I guess.

    • The GREAT WW

      “so why not ship out Brodie instead of Hamilton?”

      Because Brodie has no value right now…..
      He Will be traded next offseason, after the Gio bump….

      WW

        • Kevin R

          Rumours of Hamilton being shopped came up in early May, so this isnt a Daryl Sutter move where he called Burke & that’s it & made a huge trade. Many teams knew about Hamilton being available but they arent stupid. What team in their right mind trades a top RHD who offensively kicks in 40-50 points like clockwork with 3 years left on a bargain contract. I dont buy the Friedman take & I think it is just an attempt to down play these locker room issues. I would have moved Brodie up to play with Hamilton before telling Hamilton he was being bumped to 2nd pairing.
          Personally, once again this just showed how he wasnt a team player. Pouting over lack of PP time??? Yeah we all screamed about GG’s player useage for how long, how did this equate to him wanting a trade when we fired the coach & hired a new one. Doesnt make sense to me.

          • Kevin R

            Heard Vanc offered the #7 for Hanafin & the Canes told them to go pound. I read Ranger blogs about not wanting Hamilton & Leaf blogs of wanting Hanafin rather than Hamilton. I found that strange but Hanafin has a ton of value.

          • Nick24

            How long have there been rumours that the Hurricanes were interested in moving on from Hanifin? The better part of six months? Maybe longer. A few days before the trade there were reports that there were contract issues with Lindholm and that the two sides were not all that close, which made him likely to be dealt. Whatever issues were going on with Hamilton, he still had three years left on his deal at $5.75M. Players of his calibre in his age range making that are few and far between.
            Surely anything that should of knocked Hamilton’s value down a peg or two would have gone double for the players coming back. Combined with giving up both Fox and Ferland in the trade….. This was a colossal failure in asset management.

  • canadian1967

    Pinder on the radio comparing GG’s input on the addition of depth pieces like Bartkowski, Grossman etc, to Peters and the addition of core pieces like Haifin and Lindholm is ridiculous.

  • Mickey O

    BT: “Yeah Bill, it’s Brad. Listen, I think the Hanifin kid playing on the right side with Faulk on the top unit isn’t working. Time for him to sink or swim playing with TVR on the second unit. Don’t want him to get too many points for next season. Oh, and get another burner phone.”
    BP: “Sure thing, boss.”

    Let us not forget that Treliving hired Peters back in the summer of 2016 after the Worlds. Tree-Peet are an item that have been joined at the boots since then. I love a good conspiracy theory me.

    • Off the wall

      Ari loves Hamilton. She needs to vent and what better way to do it then here?

      Until we see this newly formed D in action, anything we say is speculative.

      • piscera.infada

        The thing is the logic holds. Read the crux of most of the comments here:

        1) Hanifin scored as much as Hamilton in his first three years. Presupposes that (even if the comparison is apples to apples), Hanifin develops like Hamilton. That is anything but a surety.

        2) Brodie can bounce back on the right side of Gio. First, he was never as effective as Hamilton was in that spot. Second, he’s more than 2 years removed from that. It’s a pretty big gamble to say he’ll fully bounce back.

        You’re right, it’s speculative. But as a GM, you’re paid to make calculated bets. On its face, both bets seem difficult to justify on their own, let alone when looked at in concert.

    • SoCalFlamesFan

      Remember Ari, like many of the staff here at FN have rose colored glasses regarding Hamilton. Hamilton took many shots, so by mathematical analysis is a corsii leader, thereby making him appear at least a bit better than he really was. Numbers can lie. There is no such thing as a “brute” fact.

      • cjc

        “Numbers can lie”

        No, they can’t. Numbers are not living things with underlying motives and agendas. People will cherry-pick numbers to prove a point, or worse, disregard numbers because it doesn’t fit with their prejudices.

        If numbers can lie, then what about guts and hearts and “instinct”? Surely those things aren’t as reliable as numbers.

        Besides, everybody know that hips are the only thing that don’t lie ;-).

          • cjc

            It’s funny, because those who rely on emotion are most easily misled by dictators. We need only look south of the border. I never said “Analytics are truth” – Analytics are subject to the interpretations of their analysts and their models, none of which are perfect.

            “Spreadsheets are gods” – hyperbole anyone? Also, real analysts don’t use spreadsheets. There is far more efficient software out there.

            As for Orwell, I don’t think he ever argued that we should ignore numbers. Sure, communist Russia did a lot wrong by just relying on numbers, but see what I said above – numbers are subject to human imperfection, not the other way around. I wish Dougie Hamilton were here so I could explain this better.

    • Korcan

      I partly agree with Ari. I do believe Calgary’s top pairing is significantly weaker with Brodie and it could be a disaster if he does not ‘bounce back’. After the top pairing, however, the D should be improved: Hanafin/Hamonic will be superior to Brodie/Hamonic, and Kulak/Andersson should be superior to Kulak/Stone.

      Calgary will no doubt miss Hamilton’s scoring, but if Brodie can get his groove back he should be good for a couple more, there’s no reason to think Hanafin won’t continue his development, Andersson should easily outscore Stone, and don’t forget Hamonic just had a brutal offensive year and could revert back to his average. It will be an offense by committee, rather than relying on Dougie, but thats not necessarily a bad thing.

  • Joeyhere

    Thanks Ari as you said the defence got weaker (shorterm) and tre May have overpaid
    To date his best ever trade was the original for Hamilton – now that’s effectively gone. An over pay on Stone, and overpay on Hamonic (without lottery protection) now Questions if we got enough for Fox

    This is a crucial year for the Flames and Trev. Anything less then the second round is unacceptable and forces us to question Tre’s decisions

  • Jimmyhaggis

    I can’t believe there is no discussion about our poor goaltending situation. I’m sorry but Smith is not the guy and no one in the organization is ready to step up.
    If you remember poor goaltending was the main reason the Flames faltered down the stretch. If BT doesn’t address this this off season he should be fired.

    • Vernon30

      Totally agree! I think they should move Gilles, give Rittich 70% of the A minutes, with Parsons getting eased in as backup. Find a decent backup/1B goalie who can carry the team if Smith goes down, and also play 35 games. Hutton? Mrazek? (Can’t believe I’m saying this) Bernier? Although this still doesn’t answer who’s the starter in 19-20, when Smith is gone.

    • rusty_shakleforde

      Although, the list of UFAs this summer really sucks…JvR looks quite good in comparison. Everyone is around 30 or older, low scoring offensive players, a lot of plugs. Lets just hope we figure something else out

  • calgaryfan

    I have no idea about the Flames internal workings, Hamilton seemed like a happy guy photo bombing and halloween costumes and all. He is great on the offensive side of the game but lacking in the defensive zone. Very frustrating to watch. I also no little about Hanifin and Lindholm but was impressed with Hanifin’s interview and how positive and excited he seemed to be joining Johnny and Matt on the Flames. Wish all the best to Hamilton and Ferland in the future.

  • Flamethrower

    Bottom line this club needs to get rid of Brouwer, Hathaway and Stone. There are a few young guys that need to come up. Youth and speed is where its at. We all recognize this and I’m sure management does also, so let’s just get it done and move ahead.
    Looking forward to this coming week…GFG

  • everton fc

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm/Bennett/??-Backlund-Tkachuk/Bennett/??-Jankowksi-Frolik/Hathaway-Shore-Foo.

    If we rebuild our third line, and use Bennett-Jankowski-Frolik, then we are looking for a 1/1A wing, who can play either side.

    Brodie/Gio-Hamonic/Hanifan-Kulak/Andersson (Wotherspoon)

    I could live w/these pairings…

    Smith/Rittich (or we sign someone like Pickard).

  • oilcanboyd

    Anyone read Michael Traikos’ columnthis morning?

    He picked Calgary as the winner and Carolina as the loser in the big trade. Reason: Flames got younger with the acquisition of 2 top 5 picks and have a higher upside than Hammy and Ferland. Carolina loses because well Hammy scored 17 goals, but what else. And Ferland with 2 goals in the second half when the team needed him the most?

    I agree with this assessment. And it can’t hurt that Peters coached them and knows something about them. As for Carolina, the new owner wants to raise the profile of the Hurricanes locally and in the NHL so they acquired ‘name’.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      First off, who the bloody hell is Michael Traikos?

      Second, how does trading two top 5 picks for a pair of guys drafted after 5 raise the team profile?

      Hamilton scored 17 goals and what else did he do? What else should he have done? Hamilton was the top scoring defenceman in the NHL last season and that was with limited PP time. How many other Flames played to the full potential last season?

      How many Flames actually played well in the last few months of last season? Johnny first half totals screamed 100 points for the season. He didn’t do it.

      How does getting younger help the likes of Gio, Backlund, Frolik, Brouwer and Smitty, all of whom can’t be pleased with the deal that has made challenging for the cup an even further reach?

      I’ll say it again. While the two fellas coming to Cal are good players, Tre badly overpaid. Anybody think Robbie Ramage was crap when the Flames traded Brett Hull for him? No, but the team badly overpaid for him, just as they have done here.