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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.



    • Korcan

      I can see one of our two young lhs dmen being moved, if not at the trade deadline then in the summer. The Flames have a logjam on the left side and both Kylington and Valimaki have proven to be NHL ready. I personally can’t see Valimaki being moved as his ceiling is so high — the only way i see Tre considering it is if they think he may be too injury prone, but that’s a big gamble.

      That leaves Kylington the odd man out, which is a shame as he has potential to be a dynamic offensive dman. But the way he is playing he could help fetch someone pretty decent in return — he is exactly what many rebuilding/reloading teams are looking to add to their roster.

    • Stu Gotz

      I would not move Kylington! His NHL speed and skill is exactly what is needed in today’s new HNL. You can never have enough depth on defence & at the moment we are lacking on D and at the high end prospect list!

      • everton fc

        If Ferland wanted to be in Calgary, he can’t expect more than Lindholm. That’s the start of the conversation. 3.5mill. 3.75mill. Maybe. Hometown discount, or no go. Simple as that.

        • Greg

          Who cares how much he wants next year, his contract works for this year, and you’d only be bringing him in as a rental. If you think he can add a couple more goals per playoff round, and that increases your odds of winning a round by, say, 25%… well, that’s not that different than your odds of getting a marginal NHL player with a late 1st round pick.

          Would you rather have a 25% better chance of advancing each round? Or a 25% chance of a getting, say, a Kenny Agostino, for a few years?

          People really over value the true worth of picks and prospects because of the chance it might be something awesome.

    • Bawcos

      I don’t know why you’re trashed. If Valimaki/ Dube are off limits (which I think they should be) as well as they’re 1st rd pick. Where does that leave them? I’d be ok with a 2020 3rd rounder that becomes a 2nd if they make the conference finals, but again who does that get them? What do they really need? Depth at D-men, depth at F, a back up G? Do they not have allof these things already? How much would you pay to have someone better than Kylington/ Mangiapane/ Dube/ Quine/ Rychel/ Smith? Ok Smith is Smith, but is someone out there available for a 2020 3rd rd pick? I’d say spend a 4th or 5th on a Kulak type Dman and roll the dice. This team is in 2nd place in the League! And built for the playoffs. Enjoy!

      • withachance

        Being trashed because people love to get a shiny new toy as opposed to being patient. I guess that’s why fans are fans and BT gets paid the big bucks!

        • Greg

          I just don’t get what you would want to be patient for? Like, if being a top 3 team isn’t the right time to be willing to go for it, when would be?

          There flames are early in their window, yes, but that window depends heavily on Gio and a lot of really good contracts that won’t be around in 5 years. Even a conference winner has less than a 20% chance of winning a cup, so you’ve got to do everything you can each year the window is open to improve your odds and try to capitalize.

          Now isn’t the time to hoard and wait for a better time. This year, and likely the next 4ish, are the time to push for it.

          • Greg

            Now that argument (not upsetting the current team makeup) I do get. It seems to me when teams make deadline deals to bring in a good player just because he’s a good player, it doesn’t work out well. But if they bring in a specific player who fills a specific hole, a role that no one else had claimed, then no one is upset that they got bumped out for “new guy” and everyone’s excited to have that gap addressed.

            That’s where Ferkland would be a great add in my opinion. The team has 1 forward spot that none of Dube, Mangiapane, or Czarnik have cemented. They lack some functional toughness and secondary scoring. He brings all those things, is well known in the locker room, and can literally play either wing on any of the 4 lines. He’s a piece that fits in the puzzle.

            So ya, don’t upset the apple cart. But if the right addition is there at an acceptable price, don’t be patient and hold on to your picks for a better time. There won’t be a better time than right now.

          • Albertabeef

            Well think of it this way, we started the season with 8 new players on our roster. That is almost half of the roster who went to China and built chemistry. I do not want that chemistry ruined by changing pieces when the team is having success. It just doesn’t make sense. This team is confident right now, why mess with it? Iggy didn’t help Pittsburgh at all and screwed up their chemistry. If they come back from the break discombobulated then make a minor move or two. If they come back looking primed and good then stand pat.

          • benfr

            We don’t have the pieces to get anything high quality so we aren’t likely to get a Stone or Duchesne. That’s just how it is. I would hold off giving good future assets like Dube for a 2nd tier depth forward.
            My approach would be to use Vallimaki/ Kylington as your 7 dman. Still lots of time for Stone to heal up as # 8 and how much better than Prout will a depth dman be (who will again cost assets.
            With Neal starting to show improvement and playoffs looming I’m willing to be he will offer more as a top 6 than a depth forward (who will agin cost assets).
            Quine/Lazar/Rychel provide you with depth for a long run.
            Playoff hockey this year will show how our group performs during playoff hockey which is quite different than regular season. Based on their performance we can assess how we load up in future years.
            I like the go with your group approach with Neal’s improvement acting like your TDL acquisition.

        • Greg

          I remember analysts saying that was a bad trade at the time. Make good trades, not big names for the sake of big names.

          Also, that pick ended being Gormley I think. When you are drafting near the end of the round, those 1st round picks aren’t that valuable. That one was even mid-first, where as this one is looking to be around 30th. If someone was willing to give you, say, Duchene for that plus change? Yessir please.

        • Soupy19

          Well, as long as we’re cherry picking trades to suit narratives, remember when Pittsburgh traded for Marian Hossa and went to the Final? Angelo Esposito was their prized prospect who went the other way. Always be cautious about over-valuing prospects. Dube hasn’t done anything yet (see: Lazar, Curtis).

  • slapshot444

    Pat, you write “I think there’s something to be said about maximizing an incredible year from the captain.” Do I understand that means trade him? for what? a forward? Gio is part of the glue in the room so if your going for a cup I’m not sure you can get better than you would give on a Gio trade. Gio is the trade you make if your not going to make playoffs. IMHO all focus should be on goaltending, unless your willing to risk BSD as the guy to go all the way.

      • slapshot444

        Ok,, just re read,, sorry for the misunderstanding, I see he means lets add a piece to maximize the team that Geo’s has made so good. I thought for a moment Pat had lost his marbles. I completely agree, all in for sure, but I think we have the pieces except for goaltending depth, and for a wish list add Ferly as a rental cause he’s a brute.

  • 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.

  • redricardo

    Something else in the “go for it” category… is how shallow the depth is in the western conference right now. The path to the finals for the team that finishes on top in our conference looks as easy as it’s been in years.

    • Albertabeef

      Warning that is what Detroit said about the SJ Sharks before they lost to them way back when lol. I do believe that was just after winning back to back cups in the 90’s. Never underestimate your opponent in the playoffs.

  • Off the wall

    For the first time in 20 years we have the opportunity to make some noise. 20 frickin years!

    2004 was an anomaly. But it was electric! Our City went crazy, it was so satisfying.

    I’m all for an aggressive approach, even if it means a rental. I trust Treliving has been on the phone and exploring options.

    We must! This is what hockey is all about. Going for it. The Stanley Cup isn’t awarded to those that don’t take chances.

    You wanna wait? I don’t.
    2004 was too long, let alone 1998!

    • calgaryfan

      myself not into rentals, trading draft picks, or any of the young defensemen. No one knows how this team will be in the playoffs with the added pressure. They could be great or they could bust. I am hoping the Flames are building a team that will be competitive and challenge for years. Need to see what this team can do in playoff hockey before selling the future for 1 playoff year.

      • The Red Knight

        Yes I agree, unless it’s a really good deal then why trade your future away for one chance, I’d say add a depth winger maybe, I’m confident in the Rookies on defence, I also think we got options on the Farm , Lazar ,Quine, etc . … maybe another depth defenceman? Valimaki is he cleared to play in Stockton ? He’s healthy? How about Stone? Is he gonna be playable anytime this season? Is he tradeable ?

        • The Red Knight

          What s the depth on this upcoming draft?
          Here’s an idea ,
          Trade Neal for picks/prospects
          Trade Frolik for picks/prospects
          Trade Brodie for picks/prospect
          Cznik trade him for pucks !
          Trade Hamonic for 2 first rounders !
          Flames would probably still do awesome in playoffs and Could potentially be set up with picks and prospects for a long time if Trevling could maximize it.

  • RU63

    “It’s a good bet Matthew Tkachuk will be counting at least $8 million against the cap”

    I’m betting against that! You can’t tell me he is MORE valuable (I say he is AS valuable) than our Captain, and Johnny Hockey. Best way to mess up our future and dressing room chemistry is to pay too much for players (just look up north). That being said, I hope we don’t make a huge splash for a rental if it costs us more that a second round pick in 2020 and some AHL players who won’t ever make the Flames.

    • Skylardog

      Scale compared to the cap when signed. Producing 20% more points in his signing year than JG? If 9.25% = $7.76, and he is 20% better, tell me what he signs for? The kid is nearing $9.0 territory, but will take a discount to win here.

      • Albertabeef

        IMO there are really three player who could win the Conn Smythe for the Flames this year, Johnny, Gio, and BSD. Chucky is great and all but your top guys statistically usually end up with the Conn Smythe. Johnny is still top dog on the team. Unless Chucky can pass Johnny in this regard it ain’t happening.

  • 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/

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sanintarious

    I’m with the side that is willing to go big(ish) at the deadline. Its very difficult to make it deep the in the playoffs. You never know what will happen during the season (a big injury to a key player/s can derail your entire season). Sure if you are a deep team you can some times manage, but nothing is for granted.

    I wouldn’t give up multiple 1st round picks, or multiple prospects, but I think there are certainly some moves Brad can make to improve the bottom 6 and depth on D to make this team an absolute force come the playoffs.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      There are 2 players that I would give up a first for their services….Stone and Panarin. Both players can be game breakers and pu us over the top.

  • Baalzamon

    The Flames could be easily out-bid for literally any rental on the market, probably by several teams. The only things they could offer (Kylington for example) are things they should hang on to (they’re going to need cheap, effective depth going forward; plus the blueline situation isn’t the best with Giordano’s age, Hanifin’s inconsistency, and Valimaki’s injuries).

    • everton fc

      I’d not move Kylington, either. He’s now proven he can play in this league, and maybe even add some offence. And he can skate – the critical “key” to any team’s success in this league, these days, is speed, finesse, and a little toughness with some speed.

    • Greg

      Options I see are 2 line RW (he and Tkachuk on the same line would give people fits), either wing on the 3rd line (more secondary scoring), or either wing on the 4th line (can bring a lot of energy and still chip in some offense).

      What I like most about him is he could play either wing on any line. Say Backlund gets hurt… he goes first line RW and you move Lindholm to 2nd line C. Say Gaudreau goes down… Tkachuk moves up and he takes 2nd LW.

      There’s a lot of injury scenarios to our forward ranks that could kill a cup run. Obviously you can’t replace a Johnny hockey, but I feel a lot better about the drop off with him as an option than I do without him.

    • withachance

      3rd line or 2nd line? Where do you see any potential rental players slotting in? If Ferland doesnt have a fit in this lineup then no new rental or addition would realistically fit in the lineup unless their name is Stone (which isnt happening)

      • Skylardog

        He needs to be with top notch guys to be as effective as he has been. Aho, Terravainen, JG, Mony. If not with them, then with who?

        His time here has passed, we have moved on. Bets of luck Ferly.

        • It’s like everyone has forgotten who he is. We already know. Look, I really like the guy for what he can do. I just think his expectations are through the roof because he has been hot a few times in his career. He can’t play well on his own and is very streaky. Nothing wrong with a guy like this on the 3rd line but how much do you want to pay for a guy like that? He probably will cost a 2nd or the like.

    • Flint

      I like the idea of Silfverberg a lot, but I think it’ll cost a ton to get him, and if Anaheim stays close it’ll be tough for them to justify. Plus would they trace to a division rival? But he is a UFA, and could be a pure playoff rental if needed.

      • Sol Goode

        I’m thinking maybe they package Czarnik and Mangiapane with maybe a 3rd rounder one year.

        I just think he would fit in perfectly on our team. He can skate well, is a good two way player, has a pretty good right handed shot as well. I would put him with Backlund and Tkachuk and slot him on PP2.

  • Reid39

    First Time Post. Long time fan of this site and forum.
    What about a guy like Brayden Schenn? Has 1 more year under contract, can play center or wing. Big Body usually tough to play against.

  • Graham

    If we are still in this position at the deadline, we have to go for it. No objection to trading the first pick, any pick, or next years picks for the right piece. IF we do go deep into the playoffs that is only going to inflate the salary demands of the current roster, so like any successful team we might find ourselves moving valuable roster players to free up cap space. We can use these moves to recover draft picks or prospects.

  • Jourflamesfan

    I know it’s off topic but I dont know where else to put it.
    Frank Servelli from TSN is voting Connor McDavid as the Hart winner. His brief explanation is that he’s doing it all by himself on a crappy team.
    This is where I have an issue. All those years that Jarome Iginla led the flames to the playoffs he did it mostly without a true #1 Centreman.
    Iginla carried them to much of there minimal success.
    Yet he NEVER received a Hart trophy.

    This is why I personally despise the Oilers & especially the media.
    I saw one video where they were saying the nhl NEEDS Edmonton in the playoffs and winning cups.
    Its hogwash!

    Why? Because Gretzkey played there?

    Unreal!

  • Just.Visiting

    I’d be hesitant to give up significant assets for a near term push. The moving his feet Neal we’ve seen lately is like getting an add. Janko is moving his feet much more too since he started playing with Chucky. I like adding Quine for the fourth line too.

    Vali, a healthy Stone and Prout would work for me for defensive depth. Any update on Stone?

    The other wild card in the playoffs is the difficulty in correlating regular season performance to the playoffs due to the thuggery that is allowed in the playoffs relative to the regular season.

  • 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.

  • 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

        Just heard that same interview. Interesting, indeed. I guess Ferland won’t be coming back – BB said it was, “an easy decision to make”. Strange.