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Pros outweigh the cons for aggressive trade deadline approach

What should Calgary do at the trade deadline? That’s the most thought-provoking discussion surrounding the Flames right now, and it’s one we’re not really used to having. Barring a massive collapse down the stretch, Calgary will enter the 2019 postseason as contenders for the first time in years. While there are myriad opinions on how they should approach the Feb. 25 deadline, it’s my belief there are more benefits to an aggressive approach than not.

When I talk about being aggressive, I’m referring to Calgary using things like prospects and/or draft picks to acquire impact NHLers, rental or otherwise, for the stretch drive and playoffs.

Ari started fleshing this out on WWYDW and your responses were all over the place, which illustrates how varying the opinions are on this one. As much as I think making a significant addition (or additions) is the approach to take, I’m also not ready to say the Flames should do that at any cost. I’m also not going to dismiss the “stand pat” side of the discussion, because the reasoning is extremely sound.

THERE’S NO RUSH

One of the main arguments against making a big deadline push is the notion Calgary’s window is just opening, which is hard to argue. So much of the team’s success this year is based on solid structure, well-played hockey, and good personnel. As such, this doesn’t seem like an unsustainable flash in the pan, which leads many to suggest now isn’t the time to be aggressive.

On top of that, the Flames aren’t flush with attractive assets to move. Because so many recent draft picks are playing in the NHL, the team’s prospect depth is fairly thin. If they want to make a trade that doesn’t disrupt their current roster, we’re talking about a small group of players to choose from.

That list probably includes Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane, Juuso Valimaki, and Oliver Kylington, and even then, all four players have spent significant time with the big team this season. I guess you could probably add Jon Gillies and Tyler Parsons to that mix, but knowing how both have struggled this season, I’m really not sure how attractive they’d be.

YEAR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH 5TH 6TH 7TH
2019 X X NYI X CAR
2020 X X X X X X X
2021 X X X X X X X

So then we move to picks, which is always a contentious topic. Over the last two drafts, the Flames have only made one selection in the first three three rounds (Valimaki, 2017 1st round); every other selection has been round four and beyond.

Calgary would like to start replenishing their prospect pool and that becomes hard to do without picks, especially first rounders. Now, knowing the Flames are extremely likely to be a top 10 team come the end of the season, their 2019 pick will end up landing between 21 and 31. Even still, trading a first round pick this year puts Calgary in a spot where they’re not making their first selection until late in the third round.

Finally, there’s always a conversation to be had about the immediate risk of bringing in an impact player. Will that mess up the chemistry and/or dynamic both in the room and on the ice? And will a new player be the right fit? After all, for every Paul Stastny there’s a Martin Hanzal, right?

GO FOR IT

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Flames are having an unprecedented season; in the salary cap era, they’ve never had better results this deep in a season. To expand that even further, the list is very small for better point totals through 51 games in franchise history, because there’s only one. The Stanley Cup team of 1988-89 had 73 points at this stage, which is only one win ahead of this year’s 71-point total.

To make a long story short, Calgary hasn’t been in a better position to make a deep playoff run in ages. There are no guarantees in this league, so to assume they’ll be in this spot again at any point over, say, the next five years is dangerous. I’m not saying they won’t be, but the Tampa Bay Lightning also missed the playoffs after going to two straight Eastern Conference Finals.

Let’s also not forget the Flames will be in a much different cap situation at this time next year. It’s a good bet Matthew Tkachuk will be counting at least $8 million against the cap, while the team also needs to re-sign Sam Bennett and figure out how they’re going to allocate dollars in net. I know they’ve been squeezed against the cap at times this season, but it’s going to get even tighter next year. Calgary may not be in a better spot to wade into the rental market than they are right now.

Finally, let me appeal to your heartstrings for a second. Mark Giordano is 35 years old and is a leading Norris Trophy candidate, which is incredible. I’m not saying Gio is showing ANY signs of slowing down, but one day he will… I think. Thinking critically, though, what are the odds Giordano has this good a season again? I think there’s something to be said about maximizing an incredible year from the captain.

CONCLUSION

I don’t believe the Flames should be making a big splash at any cost, nor do I think they should be hellbent in winning a bidding war for a big name. However, for the first time in years, I feel like actively exploring one of the bigger names available at the deadline makes a lot of sense for them. Yes, a big move in February comes with risk, especially in the case of a rental, but I believe that’s all mitigated by the potential benefits.

  • The Fall

    Quine and Kirby are likely the best call up / fourth liners in the system. Mangi and Czar are likely busts for the team and could nab you a decent return.

    Id take any player that can help get Neal going.

    • Stu Gotz

      Agree. I would also explore the return on Frolik. I acknowledge he is playing well & adds value but he could get a decent return and clear some much needed cap space going forward. His age is also a factor.

    • Baalzamon

      curious why you think Mangiapane is a bust, but Quine and (especially) Rychel aren’t? Mangiapane is out-scoring Rychel and is two years younger (he was also far better in the NHL this year).

      • The Fall

        Mangi is on offensive player who needs to score to be relevant. He hasn’t, despite many opportunities with the Flames. Teams will look at his AHL numbers and value him in a ‘change of scenario’ narrative. He’s young and fast and ticks a lot of boxes for a rebuilding GM who needs to ‘get younger and faster’ — he has value. Czar is pretty much the same.

        Quine and Kirby are what they are — they can slot in the the bottom 6 and clean up a few garbage goals and fill in for injuries as needed.

        • freethe flames

          Mangiapane has played how many games? How many shifts has he had with offensive players? The difference between Mangiapane and Czarnic begine a 4 year age gap and also where they play; Mangiapane has made more hits in games this year than Czarnik will likely have in his career. The truth of the matter is that maybe you can trade him and if he is part of a package that helps the Flames win the cup. His development has been very similar to Byron’s and I’m pretty sure most Flames fans would be happy with Byron.(Note only time will tell if Mangiapane reaches these hights but to give up on him is wrong)

          • SeanCharles

            I’m just saying if we need to give up one of our top prospects Kylington, Andersson, Valimaki and Dube are not guys I’d be willing to move.

            Mangiapane is the guy that would be easiest to see go and makes the most sense as he might be better served in another organization. The Flames have Gaudreau, Tkachuk, Bennett and Dube as guys with long term LHed winger spots and with Lindholm in the mix there aren’t a lot of open spots.

  • Sven

    My initial thought was to stand pat – thinking the team would continue to improve as the matured and played together longer

    but when you look at player performance matched with age I wonder if its time to get after the cup this year

    If forwards are most effective at ages 24-26
    Calgary has Lindholm, Monahan, Jankowski and Gaudreau at peak
    with Tkachuk and Bennett having future up side
    and with Backlund , Ryan , Neal and Frolik passing prime

    If defenders are most effective at ages 23-24
    Calgary has no one at peak age
    Andersson, , Hanifin, Kylington and Valimaki all have future upside
    and Giordano, Brodie and Hamonic are now passing prime

    so of the Flames major assets
    Four are now playing at their prime age
    Two forwards and four D-Men have future upside
    and
    Seven major pieces are on the statistical decline

    all Flames fans remember trading Brett Hull for Ramage and Wamsley-

    that trade was subsequently a statistical loss for the Flames –
    but it led , in part , to our only cup

    so maybe it is time to look at something big

    https://hockey-graphs.com/2017/03/23/a-new-look-at-aging-curves-for-nhl-skaters-part-1/

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Good points but OV is playing better in his 30s than he did in most of his 20s. Personally, I feel the Flames need to get there like Winnipeg did last year before winning it all.

    • Albertabeef

      The Flames traded Hull away the season before they won the cup. They picked up Gilmour in that offseason and made basically no moves except internal ones after the season started. Theo came up from the farm January first.

      We made our big spash this past offseason. Neal, Ryan, Lindholm, Andersson, and Kylington were not regulars on the Flames roster last year not to mention the other players like Dube, Valimaki, Quine, Rychel and all. That is an insane amount of personnel to change. They have all bonded and committed to each other. They all believe. Johnny’s little 80s teen flick fist pump walking to the dressing room after his interview after that last Edmonton game. I can’t get it out of my head and just feel like this season could have a Hollywood ending.

  • cjc

    There isn’t an easy answer, but saying “well, see what comes along” is a bit of a cop out if you are an emotionally invested fan like most of us here.

    I’d go one further than Steinberg and say it’s unlikely their first is going to be any higher than 24th overall. Conference finalists pick 28-31. Division winners (if not in the conference finals) pick 24-27. With one month to go to the TDL, Calgary leads San Jose by six points and Vegas by nine, with a game in hand on both, not to mention the second best record in the league. If the season ended now and Calgary didn’t make the conference finals, they would pick 26th (if other division winners except Tampa made the conference finals) or 27th (all other scenarios).

    The challenge is that as the names involved become bigger, the trades get more complex and there is more chance a deal will fall apart as each side tries to minimize their risk/maximize their return. That’s probably the main reason a deal for someone like Stone, Duchene or Hayes doesn’t happen.

    But there are ways to be creative. Say you want to start restocking the prospect pool this year? Then trade the 2020 first (lottery protect it if you’re worried they’ll crash and burn next year). Or make getting a 2019 second rounder back a condition. “First rounder” has a lot of cachet tied to it, but picks that late in the first round are only slightly less risky than a mid-second rounder.

    You can’t go on trading high picks forever – Sutter showed us that. But this team is different and one more dip into the pick pool isn’t going to kill them long term.

  • freethe flames

    So are any of the analytics experts going to do an article on who the Flames should add?

    I am of the opinion that the Flames should add a depth defender who should not cost a great deal.
    If they are going to add a forward it needs to be someone who can play throughout the line up but could play top 6 if needed. I would also like this player to be able to help on face offs. If Neal continues to play the way he has and gets his shooting percentage around 10% for the last 30 games he might make trading for a forward irrelevant; basically the next 5 games when we get back will tell us if this is needed.

    Might BT look to shuffle the deck and make some hockey trades for the good of the organization; maybe.

    • Manginasal

      No need to make trades that are unnecessary.
      Skylarpuppy mentioned in another thread a list of our depth guys on the farm.
      Lazar has wheels and can hit. Perfect for the 4th line.
      Followed maybe by Rychel and Dube.

    • The Beej

      I dont know. A lot of the names I like might be expensive for the actual impact they have.

      I do like the idea of a D low cost acquisition.

      But I do like the idea of going bigger as well. One name I like is Kronvall. Partnering him to mentor Andersson could be sweet. But…. he is getting older and name value drives the price up. Also Kylington is kind of deserving of that spot – even though it wouldnt be surprising if the playoffs cut the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Running with Kylington for the playoffs is a risk but so is a bigger acquisition.

      Thats why I could see us avoiding a big name and go more under the radar.

  • Manginasal

    Flames window is just opening this year.

    I would rather get toughness in the bottom 6 and shore up the backup goalie than worry about depth D. 

    I wouldn’t be trading anything higher than a 3rd round pick for any of those pieces but the only other thing I would consider would be a package including frolik and a pick for Mike stone if he can be re-signed and we still have room for thachuk, Bennett, Rittich under the cap for next year.

    • freethe flames

      It’s an interesting window as it looks like it is 3/4 years but I worry that at the end of next year when Hamonic and Brodies contracts are up that the window changes especially b/c we currently have no D prospects in the system they are all NHLers.

      • Kevin R

        Reason we have no D prospects in the AHL is because we have so many real young D with the big team. In my eyes Kyllington has earned a spot on the team & Valamaki should be here as well. Anderson is a given. 4 young up & coming D when you include the 22 year old Hanifin. Now I wouldnt jettison both Brodie & Hamonic this summer but one has to be in play at the draft in June. Either one pf those guys will recapture any higher end draft picks we spend at this TDL.

        • freethe flames

          That’s what I said as well. The problem is that there is no next level guys in the pipeline. At the end of next year 3 veteran defencemen will be UFA’s Hamonic, TJ, Stone; thats two top 4 guys with no one in the hopper. There are few kids who can do what Valimaki has done this year. Andersson is in his 3rd year adn Kylington in his 4th year.

  • freethe flames

    On my way home from work today I heard Eric D say he felt the TDL would be a buyers market. IHO he said there are 8 teams that are already looking to sell: Chicago, LA, Detroit, Philly, NJ, NYR, Ottawa and Florida(they still might be holding out hope). The only problem I have with his view is that a number of bubble teams remain buyers and may push the price up. I also think that teams like Pittsburg, SJ, and Vegas will also be pushing the price up as the first two probably see there window narrowing and may be all in. The Flames need to be careful not to get into a bidding war. So folks when you are making trade suggestions remember cap restraints and limited assets may make it difficult to hit it big.

      • freethe flames

        I actually think some of them will; the owner’s like the play off cash. Each team will have there own level of risk reward. But the two weeks following the allstar break may clarify things for some teams.

  • Skylardog

    I’ve played a lot of poker over the years, even won a seat to the WSOP Main Event (took the cash instead). The realities are that when you have a big hand, you don’t fold, and you don’t stand pat. You raise, re-raise, and if needed, push all in. Yet you can still lose. I once had quad kings go down to a straight flush. But I lost because someone else got lucky, not because I played my hand wrong. Pushing all in here, at this point, is the right move.

    We have seen the flop, we have a monster. We’ve bet for value.

    The trade deadline is the turn. We need to bet again, solidify our hand. If other teams fold their hand, even better. Less competition to worry about.

    But we could still lose on the river. That’s poker, and in this case, its the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even with an improved hand at the deadline, a lucky hand could still beat us in the playoffs.

    San Jose is planning to go all in at the deadline. What if we pushed all in before the trade deadline? Would they fold their hand? Would they choose to protect their assets for the next hand (next season)?

    We could win a playoff series before we even take to the ice in April, by pushing all in before the deadline. SJ and Vegas fold, we walk into the Conference Final, where we have Winnipeg and Nashville’s number.

    SJ is smart enough to fold a losing hand to the Flames this season.
    We get heads up against Tampa – or someone weaker.

  • Albertabeef

    from NHL.com Super 16

    2. Calgary Flames (33-13-5)
    Total points: 187

    Last week: No. 3

    Hit: The Flames are 8-0-1 in their past nine games and 11-1-2 in 14 games since Dec. 27.

    Miss: Nothing.

    That says it all right there. Missing nothing!

  • Skylardog

    One of the reasons to add to the roster some key valuable pieces is to add insurance and to make sure that you give yourself the optimal chance to win.

    If you thin you could win a cup with the roster we have, then is it not worth it to put in place a couple of pieces that increase your chances of winning? Double down. Take luck out of the equation. Another top 6 scorer makes us a clear favourite. We are Tampa’s equal now (4-3 in a SO, round what, 8?), with more scoring we are better.

    If Stone can play, we have the defensive depth we need. If he can’t we need that big defenseman to lock in our chances.

    A Smith upgrade is an insurance policy.

    2 or 3 quick and simple pieces is a huge upgrade in this case. None of them should cost us our first rounder next season.

    • BendingCorners

      I’ll bite. Can you list some sample trades that you think might work? Howard for Smith and a 3rd? Who for which top six scorer? And who for which big D?

      • Skylardog

        Going to put up stuff when the next article comes out on Friday at 8 AM. Woke up way too early again, so played a bit before the sun came up. I clearly need to drink way more. Also checking out my ideas in relation to the cap using capfriendly.com.

  • smatic10

    Treliving is smart and can tell that doing anything major will potentially mess up the chemistry of this team. A lot of high picks have been given up in recent years for guys like Hamonic, Smith, Hamilton etc. I think this is the year he’ll hold on to those kind of assets even if he sees this season as one where we can go deep in the playoffs.

    With all that being said, Treliving always keeps things interesting in the trade market. He can go anywhere from doing nothing at all to potentially acquiring Silfverberg 2 hours after he’s already been dealt to the east.

    I’m excited.

  • Demetric

    Question: what are the stats on teams with 71 points or more at 51 games in regards how far they go in the playoffs? Also, when they are not the team leading the league?

  • Korcan

    Personally, i would prefer the Flames to just tinker with the lineup for this year (i.e. add a depth lhs dman, and/or possibly a 4th line leftwinger). I still feel they are a year away from being a true contender (though i hope i am proven wrong).

    The one exception i would make is if they could somehow work it out to get Mark Stone with the intention of resigning him. He, along with Tkachuk and Backlund would be amazing and could give Calgary two #1 lines for the foreseeable future. But would he be worth the cost (e.g. Bennett, Kylington, and 2019 first rounder) and could Tre manage to sign him (likely) and fit him under the cap along with Tkachuk (less likely)?

    • Skylardog

      Looking at the roster, contracts, positions, and cap ceilings, I believe the Cup window is only this year and next year. It is key defensive guys that lead me to this conclusion, and Matty’s pending contract.

      Hamonic is a key here, as is Brodie. To lock down those roster spots with guys of similar quality, 2 years from now, will cost in the $6.0 mill per season range. If one of our current rookies fit the bill, they will cost that much by then. It is simply the cost of having top 4 defenseman in a rising cap world.

      We will have less quality in 2 years in these spots, if we are to remain within the cap. They are key spots in any Cup run.

      • Kevin R

        Worrying about nothing on the backend imo. I think Anderson makes the loss of Brodie to a trade this summer painless. Here’s how I see it. Brodie gets us a 1st, 3rd & a decent prospect at the draft. Anderson moves up with Gio. We let Hanifin & Hamonic run 2nd pair again next year & that will pave the way for Kyllington & Valamaki in the 3rd pairing next year.

        2nd & 3rd lines have lots of potential as is but right now Peters has to be very proactive blending these lines game to game, but heck, that’s his job. I am with you that Frolik is untouchable for this playoff run but should e moveable at the draft. Again, more draft picks to be recaptured, may not get a 1st for him but maybe a few 2nds or a 2nd 3rd & 4th. If Stone can be moved he’ll be gone, his medical condition may prevent that & we may have to wait until the season starts to get his cap space onto the IR. That is simply a wait & see situation.
        Chucky will be the 2nd core piece to get a 7 year deal, Tre usually only likes 6 year deals but I see Chucky for 7 years & the number will probably be around 7.5mill per. We have lots of cap space.

        The move I would really contemplate is this: Oilers think they can still get in & the situation is now toxic with Talbot. Why they reupped Koski now is beyond me. We need a face puncher who can play that 4th line. I would trade Smith & Czarnick for Kassian & Talbot, maybe a few minor tweaks if necessary. Smith & his puck handling could probably help that backend of the Oilers & give him way more playing time than what he will get here as backup. Czarnick would probably fit in the Oiler top 6 even though he cant crack it here. Kassian will upgrade that physicality on that bottom 6 than anything we have in our system. Is Talbot an upgrade to Smith. I dont know but so many on this site think Smith is done so I would think there is a perceived upgrade on the backup for BSD. We keep our first rounder & with any luck, Tre can acquire at least one more & maybe 2 additional 1sts at this draft so we can stock the shelves in the pipeline.

          • Kevin R

            Hanifin is just fine. I like D that will try to create in the offensive zone. He’ll learn & new team this year. Is mind blowing how well Lindholm has done coming in. Yes it’s nice to get to play with Gaudreau & Monahan but Pittsburg has had lots of trouble finding a linemate to mesh this well with Crosby.

      • whysoserious

        then how did Washington do it? They had far better teams in the decade OV and Kus played and were favoured to win it all in previous years when they killed it in the regular season. You claim to be a seasoned poker player, how many of our current roster has either played in the playoffs or has more than 10 games in the playoffs, check it out, you will be surprised. We have no idea how any of the current roster will adapt to the playoff atmosphere or for how long they can maintain peak performance. 1 or 2 players isn’t going to change that, in fact, it might be more of a detriment than putting us over the top. Let’s find out what we have in playoff performers before “going all in”. BT makes the best deals over the summer to fill gaps and address team deficiencies not at the TDL when everything is at a premium!! Patience, stay the course, build through the draft and smart trades to complement our core!

  • Manginasal

    If we are to remain competitive for several years we must not trade our picks.
    Drafting as much as we can will be key to our success especially if we draft like Tampa.
    Who knows that they could draft their next Star player this draft?
    If & when JH leaves then we could have someone to step in his place.

  • everton fc

    Someone (SkyDog?) asked where Ferland could fit;

    There’d be no issues w/team chemistry. Ferland’s return would improve an already positive room.

    One can dream here…

    • freethe flames

      It’s interesting you say this. On my morning drive I was listening to Burke (whom I am not a big fan of as a gm but that’s another story) and he was talking about the trade of Ferland and it sounds like Ferland had checked out for about a third of the season; according BB nobody on staff could get him out of his funk.

  • everton fc

    Regarding Neal; one thing Treliving mentioned in an interview in November, was Neal needs to play w/players who have pace.

    Lazar has pace.

    I wonder how those two would do, on the same line? (Phillips w/Neal would also be interesting, next training camp).

  • Sterls

    Targeting Zuccarello in my opinion makes the most sense as a possible upgrade that won’t hurt the future too much. Mangiapane or Czar and a 3rd, or our 1st, might get the job done.

    I would then slot him on the RW with Tkchuck and Janko to form a line that mimic’s the first lines dynamic.
    Tkchuck is the Lindholm of the line, defensively sound, can make a play, will go into the corners to get the puck.
    Janko is the Monahan of the line, can make a pass, can snipe if set up (not as well, but better defensively).
    Zuccarello is a poor man’s Gaudreau, playmaker of the line. No he is not Johnny, but since this would effectively be the 3rd line they will likely be matching up against other teams 3/4th lines and 2 or 3rd pairings.
    Lineup would look like this:
    JG-SM-EL
    MF-MB-JN
    MT-MJ-MZ
    SB-DR-GH

    Top line stays the same
    2nd line plays against other top line, Neal is fitting there so far, hopefully that holds
    3rd line plays should outplay other 3rd lines and be defensively sound
    4th is a strong energy line and hard to play against, should also be better then most teams 3rd/4th.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Bull! To blame the return of Nylander on the Leafs’ woes tells me you are getting your dope from the Toronto media, the same jokers that promised you a Leaf’s Stanley Cup in 2018-19. The Leafs’ struggles have everything to do with their not being a complete team. They have some amazing offensive talent, but their defence s probably the worst of all the clubs currently holding playoff seeds. Fredrick the Great has had to be nothing short of brilliant this season to compensate for all the forwards who can’t check and all the defencemen who defend in name only. Most overhyped club in at least the last decade. But what do you expect from the eastern media in this country.

  • Gus Fring

    I say we make a move! Not one that hurts the future but adds to the group we have now. I say go after a player like Ryan Dzingel who is 26 or Zuccarello they can score and set up plays, they can play either wing. I would put either on a line of Bennet at centre Neil on the right and Dzingel/Zucchini on the left and bump Janko back to the 4th line. I think Neal needs a bit of a playmaker to succeed. Janko and Bennet are both players that drive to the net but aren’t strong playmakers. That gives the 3rd line some serious scoring punch. Think about it Neal played lights out in Pitts cause he was with Malkin a great passer then with Vegas he was with Perron another great passer. Never had a chance to play with Monny and Jonny as Lindy is too good to move off of that line. I would give up to Ottawa Stone who might help them be able to sign his bro, Mangiapane and a cond 3rd in 2020 if we can resign Dzingel then it goes to a 2nd. His contract is less than 2mill right now. If we go for Zucc then I think we would have to do Mangiapane, Czarnik and the same conditional pick in 2020. They are rebuilding and would be looking for younger players as Zucc is 31 but is a heart and soul player perfect for the playoffs even though he is small. We wouldn’t need to trade a first as he has had a down year due to his injury. But I wouldn’t be looking at all the big fish that everyone is talking about. Stay under the radar and get solid guys that can add to our team. No need for Stone, Stall, Nyquist, etc let everyone else over pay for those guys!