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FlamesNation Mailbag: Into the All-Star Break

With one game between now and February, we’re talking about Sam Bennett’s next contract, the goaltending plan, and potential playoff matchups. Won’t you stick around?

The Flames will have to be honest with themselves regarding Bennett this offseason. He’s looked better and has seemed to settle in to what he’s doing, but he’s still not as reliable or as consistent as you hope he would be. His game against the Red Wings was Bennett at his absolute best, the issue being that he rarely comes close to games like that, and when he does, he rarely strings games like that together. When he’s at his best, he could be a $4-5M man. When he isn’t, he might be at or under his current contract value. I think Bennett, depending on how he finishes the season, might ask for a reasonable raise between $2-3.5M.

The Flames might see Bennett as someone worth keeping if the price is right, but they’re not going to lose focus on Matthew Tkachuk and David Rittich’s contracts, both of which are going to be more expensive and crucial to the long-term health of the club. If they can’t fit Bennett in after those two are finished, I don’t think they’ll hesitate to trade him. Perhaps it’s unfair that Bennett will be traded for over $3M while other players will collect barnacles for the same price tag (or more!), but he’s easy to move and those guys aren’t.

I might put the over/under a bit lower, maybe even around 20 depending on how February goes. The Flames don’t need much to clinch a spot, so they don’t need to use Rittich as a ride or die option. Mike Smith hasn’t been great, but he has been passable enough that the team in front of him can outscore their opponents. A two-thirds Rittich, one-third Smith/Jon Gillies/trade deadline backup split seems most likely to me.

I think the team will try to balance rest and rust to make sure Rittich stays fresh for the playoffs. Management is probably still traumatized by the Brian Elliott experience, where he carried the team to the playoffs but imploded shortly after, so they’re probably planning to give Rittich some games to keep his joints loose without overloading him.

I’m starting to think that the most realistic option is the Flames dancing with the one who brought them there. Smith has accepted his backup role and started to put up some okay-ish numbers (he’s finished over 0.900 seven times in the last 12 games). No, he’s not a starter. No, he’s not that good anymore. But he’s playing such a minor role where the damage he causes is limited. You can live with him.

If we work with those splits in the last question and you give Smith 10-12 games, you might win six to eight of them, depending on whether or not the offence shows up (they usually do). That’s still over 0.500. Without back-to-backs in the playoffs, the team can probably get away with only letting Smith start one or two games (if that) in the postseason. Why do they need a replacement that desperately when his role has been almost completely minimized?

So Smith loses you four to six of these last 32 games. Is that really worth paying an asset to fix? Can you even be sure that the upgrade really is an upgrade? The team has been burnt so often on goaltenders that they might be hesitant to pay up for another one, especially for not a whole lot of gain. The team also has to consider the headache of what to do with Smith after trading for another goalie, so it may be that they simply avoid the hassle and just let Smith take the backup position.

Nah. It’s improving the margins, which is a good idea in theory, but they’re winning games regardless of their 4LW playing five minutes or 15. Like Smith above, is it really worth the cost to replace someone who might be a factor every six games or so? Bill Peters isn’t rolling four lines like Glen Gulutzan, and it’s arguably one of the reasons this team is much more successful than last year’s (or at the very least, more capable of closing out close games). The 4LW isn’t benched because the personnel isn’t great, it’s just game situation and game management. I think that even if they made an upgrade, Peters will shorten the bench regardless.

Let’s cast a wide net of wild card hopefuls and break them down bullet point style:

  • Ducks: they’re devastated by injuries and imploding, but with John Gibson involved, it’s hard to ever count them out. That they’re still in the conversation is a minor miracle. I also don’t want to tempt fate and watch them fluke their way into a playoff win against the Flames, so let’s count them out.
  • Stars: they have a lot of high-end talent up top, but nearly nothing beyond that, and even the high-end talent is not playing up to snuff.
  • Wild: a very mediocre team top to bottom. They also have Bruce Boudreau, who has a history of abnormal playoff struggles. Matt Dumba is also out for the year, so they’ll be down a number one defenceman in the playoffs.
  • Avalanche: a lot like the Stars, but their high-end talent is just that much better. Absolutely dangerous if you can’t shut down their top line.
  • Canucks: Nothing without Elias Pettersson, but EP has proven that he can singlehandedly change games for Vancouver. A supporting cast of Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat could make them a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
  • Oilers: can you really ever doubt a team with Connor McDavid on it? Well, yes, actually.

I would say that running into the Stars is likely the easiest outcome. It’s hard to say that about a team with Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov, Jamie Benn, and John Klingburg on it, but all of those guys have been struggling and their supporting cast isn’t that great either (the Stars signed Blake Comeau to a contract this offseason, to pick on one guy). They do have decent goaltending, but their depth is so bad that they’re not going to survive in the playoffs for long.

    • Rockmorton65

      Neither of those should be available at the deadline. Flames need top prospects more than they need a deep playoff run – this year. And you certainly don’t break up the 3M line before the playoffs. Trade Frolik in the offseason, if desired.

      • Dr. Gonzo

        That first is going to be almost worthless. Look at thebFlames history of drafting in the projected slotting of where their first will be this year. The last time was from the Iginla and Bouwmeester trades. Klimchuck and Poirer. I believe that is enough said right there. This draft does not sound overly deep in what I have read. That pick should have a for sale sign on it! Frolik should also have a for sale sign on him, unless as freethe flames said he is glue in the dressing room. I dont see that being the case. He is very easily replaced for his on ice. Frolik has been riding the coat tails of Backlund and Tkchuck for long enough. Most of his points this year came after a public shaming by being a healthy scratch or his agent doing what he does. There is no consistency. By moving Frolik now, it opens space for the future, and allows a rental to come in and move Backlund to his third line spot. This allows Janko to play wing with Backlund and have Janko learn the trade. Also, Dube could take the spot of Frolik.

        • Brian McGrattan's Salute

          Really this would be horrible for many reasons. Janko on the wing? No dice. If you want him to learn the trade he needs to play centre. Frolik is the only guy who has played good second line minutes for us and produced as a second line winger, other than Backlund and Chucky. There is no guarantee that Dube can just pick up the torch from Frolik, who has 10+ goals, and almost 20 points. No one is saying that we couldn’t have a better second line centre, but Backlund is still doing his thing, and Chuck is scoring at an elite level. Frolik is playing great. The 3m line still has consistency, and chemistry, and plays solid, possession driven minutes.

          And we need to restock the cupboard with picks. It’s not good reasoning to point to two examples where a thing didn’t work. That’s the draft for you, most times things don’t work out. We don’t have our second round pick this year, and if we traded our first then we wouldn’t pick till the third round. Not good asset management at all.

          Plus, we’re second in the league for cripes sake!

        • Heeeeere’s Johnny

          We’ll agree to disagree. While the year you cite is a true statement, I would point to a team that does do well with later picks. Three second round picks to point to are Dube, Phat Ras and Kylington. A 4th rounder in Johnny. A mid first in Valimaki. So we can find talent. The only way I would sell that pick is for a young controllable asset.

          • Dr. Gonzo

            Oh I agree on the second rounders and fourth rounders. I just am a firm believer that Gio has peaked. Brodie has peaked. The two will start declining after this season and will probably decline quicker than Ras, Kyl, Han, and Vali will incline.

  • freethe flames

    This is a strange idea when it comes to Tkachuk’s new deal. He signs a one year deal at the internal cap max; $6.75m that tells him he is as valued as Gio and Johnny. The following year when Stone, TJ, Frolik, Czarnik, Hamonic all come of the cap @$14m he signs his big long term extension? $9mx8.

      • MWflames

        Absolutely not happening. His agent won’t allow that. It’s about risk management. Does he have the leverage to sign a massive deal? Yes. What happens when he signs his 1 year deal, and has a career ending injury next year? Whoops there goes 50 to 60 Mil. Or how about a more likely scenario, tkatchuk has a slightly down year compared to this one next year… Probably looses 10M over the course of his long term deal.

        Wishful thinking, I can’t see it happening.

    • Cfan in Van

      Didn’t Skylar sum up an outside-the-box Tkachuk scenario like that previously, or was that you? It’s an interesting approach, and I wonder if both sides could agree to something like that.

  • KootenayFlamesFan

    My money is on Lazar being in the lineup come playoff time. I’d rather have him than mangi/czarnik/dube anyways. He’s defensively reliable, fast, physical, can take face offs, can play up the lineup if needed, and maybe, just maybe he gets his mojo back scoring a bunch in the AHL.

    • cjc

      A list of recent (last 10 years) AHL 23 year olds who have scored at a similar rate to Lazar (0.79 ppg) in the AHL… you’ll get the picture:

      Viktor Stalberg (0.85 ppg)
      Trevor Moore
      Colton Sceviour
      Mark Letestu
      Casey Wellman
      Andre Petersson
      Luke Adam
      Jonny Brodzinski
      Travis Boyd
      Michael Mersch
      Spencer Machacek
      Ryan Dzingel
      Trevor Smith
      Danny O’Regan
      Christian Hanson
      Ben Smith
      Dryden Hunt
      Dominik Simon
      Magnus Paajarvi
      Mats Zuccarello
      Steve Zalewski
      Curtis Lazar (0.79 ppg)
      Justin Azevedo
      Mitch Callahan
      David Ullstrom
      Drew Shore
      Nicklas Jensen
      Petr Cehlarik
      Andy Miele
      Cole Schneider
      Matt Frattin
      Luke Pither
      Zac Dalpe
      Cory Conacher
      Brendan Ranford
      Jon Matsumoto
      CJ Smith
      Martin Frk
      Benn Ferreiro
      Rocco Grimaldi
      Brett MacLean
      Anders Lee
      Yanni Gourde
      Joakim Andersson
      Oscar Lindberg
      Justin DiBenedetto
      Aaron Gagnon
      Jozef Balej
      Adam Helewka (0.75 ppg)

      A few good players in there to be sure, but for the most part these guys never made their mark in the NHL (and most did not play 245 NHL games before being sent to the AHL).

    • Albertabeef

      That’s the thing, Lazar isn’t scoring a bunch in the AHL. Czar and Mange were considered two of the top AHL players last year. Phillips has probably passed hin on the depth chart. The rookie had no points in his first 13 games or something like that and now he is 6 points behind the great Lazar. Last time we added a little spark plug like him when we had a similar place in the standings we won a cup. Just saying.

  • buts

    If Stone and Frolik get moved (in the summer) along with an expiring Smith contract there will be more than enough to sign Tkachuk, Rittich and Bennett. After that great performance Saturday night and with Valimaki close and Stone close the only need to add some depth goaltending in the AHL. Move Gillies and a prospect in Stockton for a ahl goalie that can possibly play in case of an injury.

    • Greg

      Agreed. The thing they really need is a 3rd option in net should Rittich and Smith both get injured/implode. I’d have zero confidence going to Gilles in the playoffs and it’d be a waste of another very promising year to risk that.

      Wondering who fits that bill though… someone already in the AHL (so you don’t have to carry 3 goalies or risk losing them on waivers), but enough talent or pedigree to give you confidence if you had to use them in the playoffs? Maybe… Hammond?

      • withachance

        …. Are you serious??

        Which team in their right mind has 3 dependable goalies that they would be comfortable with in the playoffs? Any team with their top 2 goalies out would be screwed for the playoffs

        • Albertabeef

          Smith is 9-2 in his last 11. How can anyone believe Gillies could not win with this team? Our farm team has the worst D of any of our recent previous years. BSD would probably have a losing record with that team too if he were still there. When your top AHL defenceman is still playing without a NHL ELC you may have depth issues. Heat will likely miss the playoffs so we would have Parsons ready for playoff time too.

      • oilcanboyd

        Wow! I guess now the Flames need to get 2 goalies: one to replace the Number 1 in case he implodes and a backup in case Smith gets injured. You are overthinking the goalie situation!

        • Greg

          Over thinking? I’d bet the first scenario BT worries about (after D depth) is Rittich getting an injury sometime after the trade deadline. If a team has a solid #2 option, you don’t worry about that. But the flames don’t. With how unreliable smith has been this year, you think BT isn’t wondering if he can get a better option than to throw Gilles out there?

          Given his history with Smith, I’ll bet BT’s not willing to make a change in the top 2. And given how bad Gilles and parsons have been, I’ll bet he’s thinking at least a little bit about adding a veteran option just in case.

    • somewhereoutthere

      I agree with everything except for trading Gillies, this team is put a lot of time into him he is still 24 I think give him another year, look at how many goalies are starting to become NHLers at age 26 or 27, its a weird and hard position to master.

      • Cfan in Van

        Gilles would be very difficult to trade anyway, given his one-way contract next year. He doesn’t have to be played in the NHL, but he’ll make that cash wherever he plays. Tough sell.

  • The GREAT WW

    I’m very concerned about our friends up north; one more loss before the all star break will put the Oilers under .500…..and possibly lead to the firing of “the equalizer ” CHIARELLI….!!!!

    This can not happen; we need CHIARELLI to continue his outstanding work!

    WW

    • somewhereoutthere

      Hahaha, Im in the minority of flames fan who want to see the oilers succeed, well just enough to get us a playoff matchup. Ive never seen one and would love it, I was on the edge of my seat all game Saturday and after the win it felt like I just experienced a vigorous round of coitus hahahah. I would just like to see that for a week in April, and I know a lot of Oilers fan, they are exactly like farmers, they keep coming back every year and expecting better things. Its not Oil country its next year country.

      • HOCKEY83

        I’m from that era when there was a true Battle of Alberta. when the flames and Oilers were 2 of the best teams in the league. That was incredibly fun to watch and it meant something. Used to be the Flames VS the Oilers. Now it’s the Flames VS McDavid and maybe if the Oil are lucky he can carry the team on his back and squeek out a win…it sucks now and not worth the media hype.

    • Flint

      If they haven’t seen enough yet it won’t happen until the offseason. The Oilers are 5-5 in January with 1 game to go. This was the easiest month of the season, both theirs and ours. The Oil faced 2 playoff teams in 11 games and they’re at .500 with the 11th against Detroit. It only ratchets up from here…. Feburary they see 4 strong teams of 14 games, only 3 weak/meaningless games. March even tougher and their April is 4 brutal games.

  • Honkydonk

    Bennett is not getting traded not now not next year most definitely not within the next 3-5 years. Hell maybe not ever. Did you listen to Brian Burke raving about Bennett? That he can skate, he can be physical and he can score?

    Had it taken him some time to get his game he can build on yes. If not Burke what about Trelivinf again same comments.

    You have Czarnik you have Ryan you have Hathaway, you have a bunch of guys that can be traded or not renewed but Bennett isn’t one of them.

    • Skylardog

      What do you do, if you run the math, based on how he is playing, and there is no way to get him signed after looking after Byng and Ritter? We are clearly in that territory.

      Byng’s contract gets bigger every game. On my contract counter, I have him at about $8.5 x 8 now. He is producing 25% more than Gaudreau in his signing year, and doing it without Monahan as his centre. Percentage of salary compared to JG is approximately $7.7 million. That is now the starting point. His production says more than that.

      • freethe flames

        Yet somehow BT manages to get players to sign on to a team first deal. I don’t think Tkachuk signs and 8 year deal; I just don’t. I would like him to but for some reason I just don’t see it happening. I see something like a 6 year deal at $7.5 being the new Flames ceiling. I’m probably wrong but like everyone I’m guessing as I don’t know what is going on in Tkachuk’s head.

        • Skylardog

          $8.5 is with a team discount. I agree it will be somewhat Flames friendly, but no one can ever afford to leave $23 million on the table. That is what $7.5X6 does for Byng.

          • Skylardog

            But Byng is better in his signing year than Gaudreau in his signing year. JG was under 1.0 points per game that year, Byng is at 1.14 ppg right now, and doing that on a second line.

          • calgaryfan

            Tkachuk can be a UFA if he signs a 4 year extension. Johnny is a UFA in 3 years.
            Monahan UFA in 4 years. A lot of thought and planning involved on the management and players side of things. Would you sign 8 years if you know Johnny wants to go home?

          • HOCKEY83

            I agree with Skylardog on this one. If the team is addament on signing him for less..then smartest move he can make is to just sign 4 years for less so he can go UFA. Long term though there’s no way it gets done for less than 8 mil.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        Tkachuk is a beast but he seems to be getting a lot of his points on the PP …..not so much 5v5. How does that compare to Johnny in his contract year.

          • Cheeky

            I hear you Dog on the contract years comparable, however I can’t see BT giving him more than those 2 (or much more). I’m also thinking Chucky wants to be a UFA at around 26 for the “big” contract which would be less yrs so less $… I’m sure his Dad will play into it …either way hoping it’s reasonable and glad we aren’t the Leafs ?

  • oilcanboyd

    A song to cheer the oilers up or NOT!

    Oh, what a beautiful mornin’
    Oh, what a beautiful day
    I’ve got a beautiful feeling
    Everything’s going my way!

    • Heeeeere’s Johnny

      This weekend kinda ended the hope for the team up North. They’ve been in free fall for a while now but last week they got some hope that things were turning until the weekend. We can now identify this as fitting with the phenomenon statisticians call “the dead cat bounce”. It is called that because even a dead cat will bounce if you drop it from high enough.

    • Off the wall

      Oilcan, be careful. Kassian is on the loose!
      Watch the highlights of the Carolina game. He’s now stuffing opposing players into his own bench and throwing out the (un) welcome mat.

      Lucic had to stop him?! Yeah tough guy Lucic.

      He might be looking for another dance partner…

  • TKO

    so, innyears past, i would log onto NHL .com and check the standings going straight to the wild card break down to see if we had a chance.
    Now, i go and check the standings, but instead of going to the wild card view,i go straight to the league wide view…. what an amazing difference! what an amazing year!

  • TKO

    one of the differences I see this year is that each player seems to know his role,and play it. you just have to look up north to see what it looks like when players on a team are not sure of their role

  • Off the wall

    Call me sentimental, however I’d love to see the Oilers or Canucks be our opponent in the 1st round.

    Remember Vancouver series a few years ago. That was fun!

    When was the last time we saw a Oiler’s- Flames series? The 90’s, I can’t even remember.

    That would be epic!

    • Cfan in Van

      At this point, it’s on the Canucks to start picking up the pace with EP40 back. Deadmonton is exactly that, floating face-down. I’m a bit worried about Petterson in Vancouver, once they start piling up the depth in the coming years. I definitely didn’t forget about how he worked us over in the season opener, and I’m hoping for a much better result on Feb.9th (tickets in Row 11, lower bowl).

      • Off the wall

        I agree Cfan. I always want what I can’t have.

        Mrs Otw and I and Mrs Finest and SF are together in section 110, row 15.
        I was lucky picking up tickets right beside them.

        Looking forward to meeting you both!

        • Cfan in Van

          I believe we’re section 113, so not too far away at all. Looking forward to it too, I haven’t been to a Flames game a really long time. I believe it was 2010 in Vancouver, they lost badly, and I got super angry drunk afterward… A better experience this time for sure.

  • SeanCharles

    We don’t need an upgrade on 4th line LW but I still think we should add a forward.

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm
    Tkachuk-Backlund-__________
    Bennett-Jankowski-Neal
    Frolik-Ryan-Hathaway

    We’ve only really had 13 forwards on the roster all season and only 11 that dress regularly.

    I don’t think Mangiapane or Czarnik add anything to the lineup that would be missed and IMO Frolik is too inconsistent to merit 2nd line duties.

    Adding one more guy to the group won’t impact team chemistry (outside of Frolik complaining about icetime) because we’ve been missing a piece there all season.

    • Chucky

      Give this team a few weeks of practice and playing together and the Bennett, Jankowski and Tkachuk line will become a favourite with fans.The Frolik, Backlund and Neal line will be regarded as a great third line focused on shutdown and giving secondary scoring. Stockton has plenty of fourth line guys who can play any type of game.
      The guy that does not fit is Czarnik and now that Peters has schooled him on what it takes to play in the league, he would be a big help toward getting a reliable backup for the backup.

  • canadian1967

    Oilers signed Koskinen for 3 x 4.5M.
    Why does Edmonton even exist. The NHL should treat Peter Chiarelli the same as they would an incompetent player agent and decertify him immediately!
    1/2 a good season and Chiapet gives out that kind of money? It’s official; The Oilers Franchise needs to be rescinded right Forkin now!
    Brad Treliving meet David Rittich, may the best man win.
    Fu Chiarelli! Idiot.

    • Albertabeef

      I believe you posted this on the wrong site. I think you were looking for Oilers Nation. I’m in the same mind as BT, I don’t give a rats a$$ what they do up north there.

      • Chucky

        The problem is that all of the agents around the league get the player’s expectations raised because of what the nit wit up north does in salary negotiations. The league would be better of without a GM who does not know how to negotiate within a salary cap.

  • somewhereoutthere

    The flames likely add a defenseman at the deadline, which is crazy considering they gave up Kulak for a bag of broken pucks, but I think both parties had soured on each other after everything in the summer. I dont see anyone like Nyquist or top 9 forward coming in either, why mess around with the chemistry in the room, plus Bennett, Neal, Frolik are all playing very well since Christmas. Giving up a 1st rounder for someone who can fill this role internally is poor asset management, and if the aforementioned guys cant get it done you give the ball to Czarnik, Dube, Mangiapane, Quine. After all that if those 7 guys cant fill out our team then its more poor luck then anything. Lastly were not landing anyone like Duchene or Stone if deals dont get done, we dont have the money or the prospects to be giving up.

    • Hockeysense9393

      Never count BT out of anything really. He has his ear on the league and keeps an eye on everything. We shouldn’t be surprised if a big deal comes out unexpectedly. The key is how to affect the room. This team is running exceptionally confident. You don’t want to upset that cohesion. A couple more physical players that can move the puck? Simmons is kind of interesting…Ferland? Either would be perfect on our 3rd line.

    • freethe flames

      I agree I would not use the first round pick on a rental. But none of us knows what the market will bare. With as any teams that are close to the wild card spot we will have to wait for a few weeks to see who the sellers are.

    • Hockeysense9393

      I’m not sure if it’s totally true, but I read somewhere that the Flames actually traded him as somewhat a favour. Flames had kids coming in that they were higher on. They traded him to give him a better chance to play.

    • oilcanboyd

      Valimaki is nearing a return as he is skating with the club. Likely returns after the break. 7th D man is Stone (injured), Prout. That gives us 9 D-men if all are healthy. Eight if Stone is shutdown for the season. You need more?

    • Jessemadnote

      I could see a Nyquist or a Hayes being added without messing up the chemistry. He’s a phenomenal player and would bolster the group, send Czarnik back the other way in the trade and then you don’t even have anyone really sitting out. The one I think back to is Stastny with the Jets. The Jets were looking amazing as far as I remember but Stastny gave them what they needed to go to the conference final.

  • freethe flames

    Bennett is currently making $1.95m. What is reasonable for a 30-35 point guy? This is the kind of guy that can make or break a teams cap management. Probably no more than $2.5m x 3 years.

    Rittich starts between now and the end of the season will depend on a number of factors. The first factor is back to backs; 3 I think. The second is games against non playoff teams. Finally where we are in the race. 32 games left Smith gets 8-10 if he plays the way he has the last couple. Let’s remember; the team has found ways to rally around him of late and he is winning more than he is losing. The question about acquiring a third goalie a better back up has been discussed a lot lately. I just don’t see BT using a lot of assets on this. If he somehow can move Gilles as part of package to upgrade the Flames organization then it might happen.
    Upgrading the 4th line LW; this probably can be done internally and not lose an asset. We have a number of AHL guys with more NHL experience than Mangiapane; who is still a player in development. For me acquiring a guy who can play up the line up is more vital.
    Playoff opponent; any of the bubble teams except the Ducks. Also don’t finish second and have to play SJ or the Knights.

  • Jobu

    Beat response Jobu has seen to the backup question to date.

    Not sure why the nation is so desparate for a new backup when all it means is likely 3-4 more reg season wins.

    And if Big Save Dave falters or gets hurt then no backup on the market is going to make that big of a difference coming in cold to a playoff series.

    • Jessemadnote

      One thing I don’t see mentioned enough is that the chemistry in the room, the play of David Rittich… people don’t think Smith is a part of that? He’s a very vocal player and very popular by all accounts, Who is the best backup in the league this year? Halak? Fewer wins than Smith. Greiss? Same amount of wins as Smith. Only Domingue has more wins than Smith and he has a .905 save percentage is anyone worried about Tampa Bay? Smith has 2 losses in the past 8 weeks. He’ll be fine.

    • Greg

      In fairness, a Jimmy Howard would. But man that’d be a steep price to pay for insurance. Plus he’s more of a starter. Bringing in someone of that caliber could very well just rock the boat instead of helping.

      It’s risky business going into the playoffs with only 1 good option, and even having questions on that (Rittich has zero playoff experience). Question marks all the way down to your 4th goalie is a big Achilles heal.

      I don’t think anyone cares about 3 or 4 more regulation wins, it’s the risk of throwing away an amazing season if one injury/meltdown happens in net.

      That said, I don’t know if there’s a reasonably priced solution out there. Heck Smith is the kind of goalie that, as bad as he’s been this year, you might actually trade for in the hopes he’s got the experience and compete level to provide that insurance.

    • Heeeeere’s Johnny

      Agreed Jobu. Also I am not sure where the nation believes the assets to fill these fringe needs are coming from. If the goal is to go far in the playoffs then we can’t trade from he current roster (with the exception of Stone who has little to no trade value at this point) so we have to trade prospects or picks. Our depth beyond the NHL is highly suspect, and I’m not willing to give anything significant up to acquire a fringe player.

      My guess is that we trade a third or fifth round pick for a 6/7 LD and that’s it. Don’t mess with the room!

  • Skylardog

    As for Dallas being the best opponent, really? We have had no success against them. Colorado would clearly be our best opponent. Vancouver has goalies playing hot, as does Anaheim. Never want to run into a hot goalie in the playoffs. Ducks despite being brutal, still scare the heck out of me, and they have the best goalie.

    • Sol Goode

      I agree with you, Dallas and Anaheim would be a tough opponent for us. I hate how we dominate Anaheim with shots and they come down and score on their few opportunities.

      I would love to matchup with Minnesota, Vancouver, or Colorado in the first round.

  • Herringchoker1971

    Hey Guys, I wish the Bennett conversation would end. We can’t and won’t trade Bennett any time soon. He’s the only functional toughness we have besides Tkuchuk. We need him for the stretch drive and the playoffs. Yes the league is faster but, the playoffs are a different game. Plus Bennett is still improving. He’s also still young. People are on here looking to trade anything. To me those people come across as not really understanding what hockey success really means. We have our big dogs on our first line. Those guys drive the bus during the season. Its the Bennetts and Tkuchuk that take over the driving in the playoffs. The NHL is a tale of two seasons. Same goes with Neal. Yes Neal is having a tough time but, he’s coming around. You can look all over the history of the NHL too find guys who had down years after being traded to tough sport markets only to have big playoffs. We need Neal to find himself over the next several months. Guys like Neal will always find themselves sooner or later. I personally think if Stone comes back…..we stand pat. I think we bring up Lazar and see where he is at. If he’s found his touch then were golden.

    • Kevin R

      Well said! Insanity to trade Bennett because we dont want to give him a 6 year deal at 3.5 per. I would trade Frolik before I trade Bennett, end of story. Vegas is the team I really dont want to meet in the first round. I think even San Jose would be a hell of a series that we could survive. What I learnt from 2004 after we went through the best teams in the conference, dont worry about who you play, just be ready to play them. I still think any tweak we do will be acquiring a skilled brute that can play 10 minutes on that 4th line. I know everyone will say look at what we did on Saturday. Well the psychos didnt react the way I thought after how we went at McDavid, but I can assure you of one thing, if this was a best of 7, & that was game 1, game 2 would be one ugly affair & they would be targeting Gaudreau Monahan & Tkachuk. I would like to bring in a functional heavy weight & that’s it. Smith will be fine as back up, Valamaki & Stone are as good fo depth D as you could find on the trade market & we dont need any top 9 forwards.

  • cjc

    I am not sure about Dallas – haven’t we lost both meetings this year? I’d rather go against the Wild, who we seem to have good results against. I’d also love a BoA matchup, though McDavid alone could swing a game, especially if Koskinen comes to play. The rest of their roster will just try to injure Flames stars.

  • Pizzaman

    Tiberi is correct. Not just Flames management, WE were all “traumatized by the Billy Elliott Experience, (but also by the Gulutzan experience, the Brouwer experience and the Neal experience) so Smith IS getting ‘er done as a backup.

  • cjc

    Re. Bennett

    He has won me over a little bit this year, but despite everyone assuring me he’d turn into Brayden Schenn, he hasn’t. It would be interesting to see what the Flames might recoup for him before the draft. The closest contract comparable I can think of would be Ryan Strome, who signed for 3.1 x 2 on his third contract after posting similar numbers to Bennett. Given that Calgary will need to sign Rittch, Tkachuk, a backup and add 4 other depth pieces, there could be a pretty big incentive to trade Bennett.

    Something that intrigues me is that the team has been carrying 22 roster players for some time now. Treliving is saving up space for the deadline (right now CapFriendly estimates they’ll have over 5 million in space), whether it gets used is less clear. Then again, he could just be making sure there is enough room to cover performance bonuses. I know Treliving has said the prices are too high at the deadline, but I wouldn’t put anything past him.

    • KootenayFlamesFan

      Wouldn’t take two stromes for a bennett. Completely different animals. Bennett can impact game even when he’s not scoring. He is made for the playoffs and we’ll need him. Now that I think about it, I cant even remember the last bad penalty he took. Looks like Peter’s coached that out of his game. Love it!!!

      • canadian1967

        It’s funny how people only look at Bennetts “counting stats” and yell out that he’s a bust, but then routinely tell us not to look at Backlunds Counting stats and that it’s all about his underlyings.

        Bennett is right outside that core, banging on the door to be let in. His play is dramatically improved this year, I blame Gulutzan for stunting Sam’s growth, but Peters’ seems to have him on the rise!

      • canadian1967

        Oh, and Kootenay; Bennett has 72 PIM’s so far this year. 13 more than last year and 3 short of his career high in 16/17.
        But you’re right, it hasn’t felt like he has taken a bunch of bad penalties, has it. Because he has been aggressive in a good way, that’s why.

        • Albertabeef

          Benny has only taken 16 minor penalties so far this season 2 behind Gio. Benny only has 7 minor penalties since Dec 1st, 3 behind Gio and one less than Brodie. Most those 40 of 72 minutes basically came from fighting, and maybe some roughing calls instead of fighting majors as some refs do.

  • aye

    No mention of the Blues and Coyotes as potential matchup for the Flames in the first round, I’m not sure you can write-off either team just yet. I bet both finish ahead of the oilers and ducks. When the Coyotes are healthy they are a hard out. I personally would rather face STL because of Jake Allen.