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FlamesNation Roundtable: Reevaluating at the halfway-ish point

It’s been an eventful 50-odd games for the Flames so far leading up to the All-Star Break. After the lethargic end to the 2017-18 season, Brad Treliving spent what little capital he could to make changes for this year’s campaign. So far, they appear to have paid off: the Flames are second across the entire NHL, win even when they play poorly, and when they’re playing well they look near unstoppable.

As we wait for Flames hockey to return (and anticipate the actual excitement that will be the NHL trade deadline in a month!), let’s take a look back on the season so far. Have our expectations lined up with reality? Who’s the team MVP? And just what should the Flames be doing at the trade deadline, anyway?

Feel free to chime in with your own answers as well in the comments!

What were your expectations for the Flames at the start of the season? What are your expectations now?

Ari: I thought they’d finish about second or third in the Pacific Division. Now I think they’ll finish first – and that they’ve got a very good shot at finishing first in the Western Conference (and, dare I say, might just challenge for first in the NHL).

Ryan: I had the Flames pegged as a team that could finish in one of the two wildcard spots fairly easily, and maybe push for a divisional spot if things broke their way. They’re definitely punching above what I thought their weight was.

My expectations now are for them to be in the race for the division title for the rest of the season. They’ll probably finish first or second in the Pacific.

Christian Tiberi: I figured they might be second in the division behind the Sharks. I don’t want to set super high expectations, but I think finishing first in the division is the minimum and winning the conference is the cherry on top. Coming within two points of Tampa would also be nice.

Mike: A playoff team, most likely the second or third seed in the Pacific. It’s not irrational to have accepted that San Jose was projected to be the top team in the Pacific. Besides a few early season hiccups (the 9-1 thrashing by the Penguins), the Flames rebounded and capitalized on some inconsistent play from the Sharks (predominately goalie driven) to become what they are now.

Nothing has changed, frankly. The excitement of what they’re achieving when compared to 1988-89, with the additional parallels of the 2003-04 season haven’t changed my objective opinions. I hope they can make a push this spring and make a run for it. If they don’t, it’ll hurt from the fan-based perspective; if they do, I will hang this over every Oilers fan I know here in Edmonton. I love this team, I love what they’re doing, but I refuse to get lost in the clouds just yet.

Christian Roatis: My expectations coming into the season were similar to those coming into last year – finishing in a Pacific playoff spot and challenging for first – but with much less confidence. Last year was a real shock in many ways, because I genuinely thought the Flames had what it took to make the playoffs and that they inexplicably imploded after an extended PDO swoon really seemed to erode their confidence. I liked most of the changes they made in the offseason but again, was unsure how it would all come together after seeing how easily things fell apart in 2017-18.

Now, after seeing things truly come together, my expectation is they challenge Tampa for the President’s Trophy and win the West. This team can win any type of game, and those teams are the type that challenge for, and win, banners.

Bill: At the start I thought the Flames would play important games right into the postseason with the last games in of the season determining whether they’d finish third in the Pacific or in a wild card spot. My expectation now is that they should look to lock up the Western Conference. They’ve pulled away from everyone except for the Jets, but even so, Winnipeg is chasing.

Karim: My only expectation for the Flames entering the season was to earn a playoff spot. Setting expectations too high can lead to crushing disappointment, something I learned last year, and with all the turnover of key pieces in the offseason, I just wanted to see this team make the postseason. Now, I don’t think there’s any reason not to expect them to win the West. They have separated themselves from not only the Sharks and Golden Knights in the Pacific, but also the Jets and Predators in the Central. They’re showing no signs of slowing down and I fully expect them to finish atop the West.

Ramina: After last season with how they gave up everything because it was “supposed to be their year”, I was extremely cautious. I had very low expectations, mainly because I didn’t want to get my hopes up like I did last season. I was hoping to maybe sneak in a playoff spot, but I honestly didn’t even know if I expected them to make playoffs. Now, I’m still vigilant because it’s the Flames and they can go on a 10-game losing streak any day now, but this season seems different. And not like a “everything that can go wrong will” type of season. So at this point, while I’m not fully set on finishing first in the West, I’m expecting at least first or second in the Pacific.

Who’s been the biggest surprise of the season?

Ari: Elias Lindholm. I think everyone knew the Flames were getting an upgrade on forward with him, but seeing him pass his career highs in just half a season was definitely surprising. Secondary shoutout to all of Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, and Juuso Valimaki – having three prospective defencemen ready to take the big step into the NHL pretty much right away was huge.

Ryan: I’m fairly blown away by how consistent and composed David Rittich has been. Elias Lindholm was a pretty good player in Carolina who exploded offensively, but Rittich started 2017-18 as an AHL goalie and seemed like he’d top out as a solid NHL backup. He’s definitely grown his game and it’s helped the Flames immensely.

Christian Tiberi: I’ll say a different answer than everyone and say that Oliver Kylington would be my surprise. I’m a big fan, but I thought he would likely be in the AHL all year. Him being a solid third pairing guy with three nice goals is far above my expectations for him.

Mike: It’s Big Save Dave. I think a lot of folks knew to an extent that Lindholmn would see a boost in an elevated role, with extremely skilled, offensive-minded players. That said, for me personally, it’s been David Rittich. There were reasonable, well thought out questions about what he would be this season. Is he just a backup? Can he be a 1B? Can he challenge Mike Smith? For the most part, those questions have been answered, but we need to continue to see his sample size grow.

He is doing things that we haven’t seen since 2004 and the parallels from a storytelling perspective have been an amazing journey to follow. He’s a great story not just because of his play, but because of the person he is.

Honorable mention goes to Bill Peters’ continued trust and development of the kids on the blue line: Rasmus Andersson, Juuso Valimaki, and Oliver Kylington.

Christian Roatis: David Rittich, hands down. I wouldn’t have complained much if the team elected not to re-sign him last summer after watching him crumble when handed the starting reins. This is why I am not general manager of the Calgary Flames and Brad Treliving is. Rittich has played at an incredible level since his first start in Colorado where he allowed two early – and questionable – goals and has shown no signs of slowing down. Given the cliff jump Mike Smoth (no typo [ed. – inside joke]) has taken this year, Rittich has no doubt salvaged the Flames’ season and is as integral to the team’s success as the five-headed monster has been.

Bill: David Rittich. I felt there was a bit of uncertainty with what type of goaltender he’d be for Calgary, and I think a majority of people felt like Mike Smith wouldn’t be the answer for this season. So seeing Rittich rebound from his end-of-season struggles when Smith was injured last year and put together the type of season he has had so far, that’s a welcomed surprise.

Karim: Elias Lindholm is a close second, but it has to be David Rittich. When I predicted what the Flames’ opening night roster would look like, I only had Rittich as the backup because he was waiver eligible. In my mind, Jon Gillies was ahead of him on the depth chart and he would only increase the separation between him and Rittich this year. Not only was I completely and utterly wrong, but Rittich has risen to the number one goalie in the organization. Nobody can say they predicted that happening.

Ramina: Definitely Elias Lindholm. When the Flames traded for him and with how much he was signed for, he seemed like a second-third line guy. Maybe he could have been a slight upgrade from Michael Frolik on the 3M line, but at the least, contribute to some secondary scoring. I definitely didn’t expect him to be part of one the best lines, if not the best line, this season. And I definitely didn’t expect him to already surpass his career high by 13 points just 51 games into the season. With Carolina too, it’s not like he was necessarily bad. Things just didn’t go his way, and I was worried the same would carry on in Calgary. But it’s gone so much better than I could have hoped.

Who’s been the biggest disappointment?

Ari: James Neal, though that’s not even entirely his fault. For one, I thought he’d be playing with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, not Mark Jankowski and Sam Bennett. For another, he’s still getting chances – he just truly has had abhorrent luck. I still believe the signing pays off in the end, but you can’t deny it’s been a brutal start.

Ryan: I’m not sure if it’s possible to say anybody but James Neal. He’s been much better in recent weeks, but hasn’t been anywhere close to a consistently dangerous offensive presence.

Christian Tiberi: Disappointment is Neal. Of course, Lindholm being great kind of displaced Neal and put him in the bottom six, but he simply hasn’t been doing a lot with the opportunities he’s had.

Mike: James Neal. I don’t want to talk about him right now. I recognize some of this is shooting luck (don’t discount it, folks), but my frustrations with him as a player this season go beyond his inability to produce.

Christian Roatis: James Neal is the easy answer, but I didn’t expect him to set the world on fire after back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances (didn’t expect him to suck eggs either, to be fair), so I’ll go with Mike Smith.

Despite being at least a league average goaltender for the entirety of his career, Smith looks like he’s forgotten how to be a goalie on most nights. He just flops around hoping the puck hits him, is never square to the puck and actively creates scoring chances for the other team with his puck handling. I knew the risk of a cliff jump was present with a 36-year-old, but after seeing his work during the first half of last season, I never imagined the fall would be this stark and sudden. Age curves, man. They’ll get ya.

Bill: James Neal. It’s no secret that he’s struggled this season, but I think there’s still plenty of upside to having him on the team. He’s an NHL veteran and the type of player he is is well-known. He can definitely score, he’s just been so severely snakebitten. To offer a bit of extra context, his last two seasons with Nashville and Vegas were both 100+ game seasons, both teams making it to the Stanley Cup Final. That has to take its toll on any player, and I think we’ve seen a bit of shift in Neal’s on-ice performance as of late. His looks hungry and poised for hot streak. Wishing him all the best in shaking off the snakes.

Karim: James Neal is the obvious choice here. He was supposed to score 20 goals. There’s almost no chance of that happening at this point. Hopefully he’ll be a useful playoff player but he’s definitely the biggest disappointment of the regular season so far.

Ramina: I’m in between James Neal and Mike Smith. Neal for obvious reasons that everyone has already said. But I trust Ari with everything in my being and it feels wrong to go against Neal when she’s still very pro-Neal. She also keeps saying “wait until playoffs for him” and because of that, I’m getting excited to see playoff Neal. [ed. – My big refrain has been “It’s gonna pay off in June! Just you see!”]

Smith, again, for obvious reasons. After last season and how he basically fell off after getting injured, I was hoping that after a full summer of rehabilitation, he could get back to the Smith we saw in the first half of last season, but he hasn’t and he’s been mediocre, at best, and only on some nights.

Who would you say is the season MVP thus far?

Ari: Gaudreau. The Flames have a bunch of great players, but he’s managed to pull himself far and away above the rest; he’s just such a unique talent offensively, and his defensive game has upped itself over this season, as well. Runner up to Mark Giordano: that he’s the best defenceman in the NHL as a 35-year-old is a testament to how incredible a player he really is.

Ryan: It’s almost a tie between Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau for me. I’m leaning Giordano because he touches every part of the game – playing even strength and both sides of special teams – and he’s been excellent in every situation.

Christian Tiberi: David Rittich. I think goaltending was the biggest worry of the offseason and he put all those to bed. Having a clear starting goalie means you don’t have to pay through the nose to get another one should everything go wrong. He’s been a saviour, on and off the ice.

Mike: It’s probably a two-way tie right now between Rittich and Johnny Gaudreau. Both have just been incredible throughout this season and if either gets injured, the dynamic of the roster changes dramatically. Rittich’s ascension to starter and Johnny’s ascension to the forefront of the Hart Trophy discussion are worth of ample dissection for why they’ve been successful this year, but let’s keep it short and sweet here:

Both of them have been absolute treats to watch as they grow and take the next levels in their professional careers. I love this damn team.

Christian Roatis: David Rittich. I’m going off the board a little just to make a point on a pet peeve of mine. MVP stands for Most Valuable Player and is described as being awarded to the player who is deemed to be most valuable to his team. Without David Rittich, the Flames would roll out a tandem of Mike Smith and Jon Gillies. They’d be nowhere near the spot they’re in with that. I doubt they’d even be in a playoff spot quite frankly.

Johnny Gaudreau has undoubtedly been the team’s MOP (most outstanding player) and the Hart Trophy is often treated as an MOP award, not the MVP award it’s claimed to be, but I think there’s enough depth and other pieces to stay afloat without Johnny Gaudreau. They wouldn’t be as good, maybe in similar circumstances as they’d be without Rittich, but David Rittich has been their most valuable player this season by my estimation.

Bill: I initially had Johnny Gaudreau, who should 100% be considered for the Hart Trophy. Not to discredit his stellar season, I think he’s been phenomenal and his game and on-ice impact is at an all-time high. However, I think Rittich deserves another look for being the MVP. This goes back to my earlier point, where I think that had Rittich crumbled in net when Smith was shaky in October, November, December, and January, the Flames’ season would have gone in a very different direction. Instead, Rittich has looked as calm as ever in the crease, and has provided the team with many chances to win games on a nightly basis. I don’t recall any game where we’ve seen him have a truly bad outing.

Karim: Johnny Gaudreau. His ability to create offense each and every shift is a treat to watch, and his 100+ point pace is what is driving the well-oiled Flames offensive machine this year. Rittich is another strong choice, but it’s hard to overlook Gaudreau’s career year.

Ramina: I’m also going back and forth on this one between Gaudreau and Rittich. When I was getting ready to answer, I was dead set on Rittich over Gaudreau. My thought process on that was, “Well, with how great Gaudreau has been, if the Flames didn’t have Rittich, they would absolutely not be in their position right now.” But then I thought about, well if Gaudreau gets injured, the Flames are completely screwed as well. This one’s a tough one for me, but I might still give it to Rittich. Only because I think the Flames could still have some options, say if Gaudreau does get injured (*knock on wood*). They could move Matthew Tkachuk to that top line, or even try Neal or Bennett. But the Flames are truly screwed if Rittich gets injured.

What should the Flames do at the deadline?

Ari: Get a backup goalie, for sure. I’d also look into adding another forward; the Flames have room for one, considering how none of their AHL players have really grabbed hold of that final forward spot. There, it depends on who’s available and how much they’d cost: if you can swing a trade for a big forward, go for it, and honestly, the way this team is going, worry about next season’s cap later. If not, at least get someone who can solidify and even add to the bottom six. I don’t think adding any defencemen should be a priority.

Ryan: I’m thinking they should stand pat. Their best players are primarily young, improving and signed for a long time. It makes sense for them to hold onto their futures and give themselves a chance to prolong their window of playoff contention by having the ability to fill in their roster with inexpensive depth via the draft and their farm team.

Christian Tiberi: I’m cautious. They’re already second in the league, and they don’t have much in the prospect pipeline, so giving up valuable assets to make the team just a little bit closer to the top doesn’t make that much sense. They are also going to have an expensive offseason, so they can’t really re-sign whoever they trade for. But if there’s a great deal for a top notch player, it’s going to be hard to say no.

Mike: Keep their first round pick; try to package out Mike Smith, preferably with a later pick, or an asset to acquire a better backup option. It’s difficult given the salary Smith makes, but it should be explored. He ain’t coming back next season so get him out of here. Other options include adding a cheap, cost-effective 7/8 to help provide insulation on the blue line. Maybe a guy like Justin Falk or another aging (but still capable) defenseman is needed.

The goal should be adding an asset that doesn’t hurt their chances this year or financially next season.

Christian Roatis: Tinker, unless a Matt Duchene or Mark Stone can somehow be acquired without sacrificing one of the young NHL D or Dillon Dube, which I suspect is impossible. The Flames have a great thing going, and can solidify it with some depth moves. Big moves at the deadline rarely pay dividends at playoffs’ end, and require a heavy futures price that the Flames can’t really afford at this time. They’ve expended significant future assets to get to the team they ice nightly already, and I’m not convinced they desperately need to add an impact player to contend.

Bill: Again going back to my earlier point, Smith’s time as an NHL goaltender is rapidly dwindling, and I think the Flames breathe a lot more easily if they are able to find someone else to back up Rittich. I think that should be the number one priority for the deadline. The Flames should be buyers this year, and their first action should be solidifying their goaltending.

Karim: I would like to see them add a middle six forward, preferably at center or on the left side. As Christian Tiberi pointed out in one of the FN mailbags, acquiring a backup goaltender is a common choice here, but it doesn’t really help much in the playoffs unless there’s a big injury, in which case the Flames are probably hooped anyway. With added forward depth, they have more options within the middle six and can ride the hot players through hopefully four rounds.

Ramina: It’s hard to say. They could always rent a top six forward like a few have mentioned, but if they are going to make a move, which I don’t think they will, they need a goaltender. While I love Rittich and I’m the biggest Rittich fan, we saw how he did last season when Smith got injured. I’m not sure if it was nerves or knowing there wasn’t an experienced NHL goalie to back him up, but he wasn’t the same. And while he’s been excellent this season, it’s hard to say if those same type of nerves won’t creep up again in the playoffs.

  • Korcan

    When you think about it, were it not for Smith’s disastrous start to the season, Calgary might be in first place overall right now.

    Completely off topic: Does anyone know if there are restrictions on which of their official jerseys teams can wear once playoffs begin? Those retro 3rd jerseys look awesome. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the Flames could channel 1989 and wear them for all of their home playoff games? That would be crazy!

  • Alsal

    Feel free to trash away… but after 30 plus years of following these guys, I want to win now! – I’d trade Dube, Valimaki, a first & Neal (and maybe even our Stone to keep the dollars close) for Mark Stone (but he has to sign). Our top three lines would be the envy of the league and would solidfy our 3-4 year window.

    Remember, ( and please correct me if I’m wrong) in our only cup win we traded Brett Hull and got back Ramage and Wamsley who were key for that 89 team. Brett was a HOFer but we have that one cup!

  • Skylardog

    Nice job FN.
    I love stirring the pot and creating a ton of discussion. So far 96 posts on a day when the Flames are sitting on their couches, not the fans.

    A little brainstorming never hurt. We got that in spades.

    Here’s to hockey in June!

  • Skylardog

    I was asked for some of this earlier. Doesn’t matter, you know I would do it anyways…

    List of assets and how they should be categorized as we approach the trade deadline.

    Untouchables for a playoff run this season
    Gaudreau, Monahan, Lindholm, Tkachuk, Backlund, Frolik, Bennett, Jankowski
    Gio, Hanifin, Hamonic, Andersson, Valimaki, Prout (cheap depth)
    Rittich, Parsons
    Calgary’s 1st pick in 2019
    Calgary’s 1st pick in 2020

    However, if Michael Stone is done for the season, then the 1st rounders become expendible to acquire Jake Muzzin. Mark Stone is off the table as he cannot be resigned by the team due to cap restraints

    Untradeable Assets (liabilities?)
    Ryan, Neal, Gillies, Smith (unless in a goalie for goalie trade where we take on an older UFA goalie)

    Expendible Assets
    Mangiapane, Czarnik, Foo, Rychel, Lomberg, Peluso,
    2019 3rd
    2020 2nd and 3rd
    2021 1st, 2nd and 3rd
    All 4th round or later picks are considered bargaining chips to add to a deal.

    Available for the right deal
    Hathaway, Dube, Lazar, Gawdin, Phillips, Robinson, Quine, Graovac
    Brodie (if we can get Muzzin), but would like him here until the summer
    Schneider (backup of the back up, of the back up) Can’t have too much insurance.


    If Stone is out indefinitely
    1. Defenseman with size
    2. Top 6 forward (RW or C)
    3. Back up goalie, exchanged with Smith going the other way only.

    If Stone can play
    1. Top 6 forward (RW or C)
    2. Back up goalie, exchanged with Smith going the other way only.

    My moves (I believe Stone is out)

    Phillips, Mangiapane, our 2019 1st, and 2020 1st for Muzzin and LA’s 2019 2nd. There is really only 1 first rounder being moved by us as our 1st (picking 27 to 31st I would think) is only 1 to 8 picks earlier than LA’s 2nd.

    Kylington straight up for Kapanen. They can’t afford Brodie next season. Ky gets us a top winger that is undervalued because of where he is on the Leafs depth chart.

    Czar, Smith, and a conditional 3rd round (becomes a 2nd) in 2020 for Jimmy Howard
    To make cap next season, in the summer, Brodie, Frolik, and Bennett are moved for picks and rights to quality UFA(s) or RFA(s). If the conditions are right, Benny may be able to stay. Howard walks, replaced by a back up like Anders Nilsson. Move Lazar or Gawdin if needed to sweeten a deal.

    Capfriendly.com has the cap and signing info for both seasons under Skylardog. It gets very hard to determine specifics after the trade deadline so I used concepts of what moves could look like in 2019-2020.

    PS – Up way to early again OTWW. Perhaps even more alcohol would help.

    • Baalzamon

      I have a small issue with you listing Kylington as expendable. I might agree with it if not for Giordano’s age, Hanifin’s inconsistency, and Valimaki’s injuries.

      If Valimaki didn’t spend half of every year on the injured reserve, maybe. But make no mistake: the Flames need Kylington.

        • cberg

          The only deal I liked was Kylington for Kapanen. I love Kylington, but I believe Kapanen can be a great player too and fill a need in the top6. The Muzzin deal seems awfully rich, if you can get him cheaper than fine, otherwise no. I’m hanging with Smith and believe he will rise to the occasion in the playoffs.

      • Skylardog

        I have said this many a time.

        Ky is always going to be behind Hanifin and Valimaki (next year anyways). He is 4th on the depth chart while Gio is here. Muzzin also would be ahead if we bought him in.

        Love they guy, but in the Flames organization he is depth only.

        • Baalzamon

          Valimaki’s seeming proneness to injury makes me question that. Also Giordano is 35. We all want him to last forever, but he won’t.

          What happens if Giordano suddenly declines, Valimaki is hurt long-term (again), and the Flames can’t re-sign Muzzin (or don’t trade for him in the first place)?

          You’re going to wish you hadn’t traded Kylington.

          Also, Kylington and Hanifin can both play both sides, and Brodie and Hamonic’s contracts are up soon, so there really isn’t a conflict here at all.

          Even if the only thing of the above that happens is the injury to Valimaki, the Flames still need someone to play in that spot. And if it isn’t Kylington, it’s going to be someone older, worse, and more expensive.

          (Also, I’m not at all convinced that Valimaki will be ahead of Kylington next year, though that’s really not the issue here anyway).

          I think the Flames need another effective, cheap defenseman (not even necessarily a left-shot) before Kylington is at all expendable. If Kulak or Fox were still here then sure. But they aren’t.

    • wot96

      Kind of makes sense but there are too many moving parts and it could easily screw up team chemistry.
      My other concern is that with each move the next one could be harder as other GM’s become more motivated to do “something”, including putting a stick in Calgary’s spokes.

      I would also decline to peddle Lazar, I think he is the perfect black ace for reasons you gave elsewhere. Big, fast, right handed, able to finish a check and make it count, and defensively responsible – perfect for playoff hockey.

        • wot96

          If someone is trashing this, I would like to know why. Lazar is not going to score a lot of goals but he is someone you could use on the 3m line in the event, God forbid, of an injury and he will shut down most other players (and get you almost no goals, but that is a different issue). Most of Calgary’s smaller players could easily get pounded in the playoffs and maybe they do well in a round but the grind is going to kill them unless they finish off teams fast and get a chance to heal.

        • Albertabeef

          For me he really ins’t shining as much as he maybe should be in the AHL. The vertically challenged rookie MP is only 6 points behind him. He hasn’t separated himself from the others on the stat sheets. That doesn’t instill a whole lot of confidence in him with me. He could be useful depth but probably not as good as you might think he would be.

    • Jobu

      Jobu just say no to Muzzin. Good player, but what you’re sending the other way is WAY too much.

      And Jobu believes (as does the club apparently) that we don’t need another top pairing, or even second pairing defenseman. We just need another 5/6 D to slot into the bottom pair in case of injury. Andersson can slot up into the top 2 pairs if we get hit that high up the depth chart.

      • Speed Kills

        I get that, my concern is if Gio or any Vet top 3~D get injured the flames have zero playoff experienced depth on the blue line. I really don’t like the idea of sending Mangiapane… But, Where dose he fit in on the Flames? He is another small skilled forward like Czarnik, there just isn’t room for them on this roster so why not move them to fill a need? and Yeah putting Val/Kylington back to the farm when they have proven NHL ready kind of sucks but timing is everything and it wouldn’t destroy them to wait a year in the minors before becoming even better d-men when our vets will most likely be moved along. I think SF was pretty high on Cal Petersen So that’s why I was asking for him to come back our way. Cheers~!

    • Speed Kills

      I too believe Muzzin Should be the main target for the Flames.
      Why? Amongst our current D Playoff exp is very limited, Giordano(8), Brodie(15), Hamonic(17), Stone(6), Hanifin, Andersson, Kylington and Välimäki are All at ZERO playoff experience.
      Muzzin is a gritty heavy Experienced D with 50 playoff games under his belt and could possibly help teach Andersson how to bring forth his hitting/edge game.
      What I would love to see is a deal with LA. (As LA is looking for top prospects/picks), From the flames ~ Mangiapane, Czarnik, Gillies and CGY’s First (2019) *IF CGY wins the SC This Year, if not it falls to a 2nd in 2020*, as Muzzin still has one year left on his current contract.
      In exchange Flames would get Muzzin and Cal Petersen (a really good goalie prospect) and LA’s 4th this year.
      To clear up cap space… Send Stone to OTT as a carrot for them to dangle to resign Brother Mark. Or t be creative Throw in Foo and ask for Dzingel back (probably not enough for him though).
      Honestly, Loosing Stone as “depth” wouldn’t hurt that much as I see Kylington being better than Stone even on his off wing (Unless we’re going to go back to GG’s RHS/LHS Syndrome again).
      No need to get rid of Kylington what so ever.
      One can Dream…

    • Off the wall

      Very BOLD Skylar.

      If Treliving could pull off what you’re suggesting ( provided we could re- sign the players) I would go for it! I’m sure you’ve already done the math.

      This is the year we have to take advantage of. We have been winning without firing on all cylinders. We have great results against the Metropolitan and Atlantic. But we have to get out of our Conference first.

      What you’re suggesting looks great for present and future.

      Great job thinking this through.

      No trading the lil’ smurf Phillips, that’s my only condition…

      Thanks for the novel..?

    • BendingCorners

      I did ask didn’t I? I like the goalie deal and think it makes sense for both teams. Kylington for Kapanen might be a good summertime move but I don’t think Kapanen moves the needle enough to make a big difference on a playoff run. Which makes the Muzzin deal difficult. I like that move too and since I expect both Brodie and Hamonic to be moved over the next three years I’m not fussed by the summertime impact of acquiring Muzzin now.
      The real issue I have (and I cheered you by the way – I don’t get the cheer/trash thing, well-argued opinions matter more than a simple agree/not vote) is that KKKK in poker will win 98% of the time or more, but the equivalent roster in hockey is at best 50% to win the Cup and most years (viz Tampa) only 25%. On balance I’d rather stick with the current roster (except maybe for the goalie deal or a cheap depth D deal) and make changes in the summer.
      Try milk instead of Margaritas, at least after 7:00 PM. You’ll sleep better. Or no liquid within three hours of bedtime, that can help too. Enjoy the sunshine !

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      You had me until you sold the farm on Muzzin. I would not give that package for Karlsson. I have always wondered why teams would give multiple assets for an athlete that is an injury away from being out of commission for our “All in Year”.

      I tend to agree with some of the other posters on Kjillington not being expendable. I was not a fan when he was in the AHL but he is electrifying and I would like to see what kind of player he could become. Having said that, Kjillington for Kappanen is a no brainer but I think other teams would have a better package to offer. I could see Calgary being a destination for Kappanen since the trade would be out of conference.

    • Albertabeef

      Kings won’t be trading with us. I’m still in the don’t muck with the chemistry until we see how we look two weeks after the break. If we implode then I would consider it, but not until then.

  • Derzie

    – THEN: Bubble team
    – NOW: Top 10 in the league

    Biggest Surprise
    – Bill Peters, by a mile

    Biggest Disappointment?
    – Dube. I felt he had potential to be a notch down from Tchucky. It looks now like he just a decent prospect. James Neal was not a disappointment for me. He’s playing exactly as I expected. Never would have signed him. Too old, too specialized a role.

    MVP so far?
    – Too many essential players to choose just one. If I had to nominate based on popular vote, it would be Johnny.

    What should the Flames do at the deadline?
    – Strengthen support in case of injuries. Don’t disrupt the team. Don’t bring in any egos. Don’t bleed draft picks. Pedestrian moves or none at all.

    • BendingCorners

      Most of that I agree with, but Dube is found money. I expected him to spend the entire year in the A but he started with the Flames. He looks like he will be a very good shutdown forward in Calgary, perhaps as soon as next year.

  • oilcanboyd

    The Flames are 2nd overall in the NHL and you guys want to upset the team chemistry by giving up team assets to try and win the Cup this year? Trade Smitty for a backup? From what I see and read that Smitty and BSD are like two peas in a pod. A career backup will be of what use to BSD if he falters? I would prefer Smitty here to help him out!

  • knappsacked

    Id love a one stop shop with detroit.

    Nyquist and howard to bolster our offense amd howard is playing elite this year.

    Smith + 2020 2nd round pick + czarnik


    • Speed Kills

      No one wants Smith and I believe Detroit is Asking for a First for Howard (Not sure the asking price on Nyquist) besides Howard does not seem to want to be moved… that could just be a cancer in the room if he pouts his way onto a new team. You Have to have guys come in that Want to be here. IMO..

    • Skylardog

      Considered that and would be a great move.

      On capfriendly I had Nyquist, but couldn’t get him resigned under the cap. Actually had it initially posted, then rethought it out. It didn’t work even when he didn’t get a raise.

      No TDL loaners. Resignables only. (Except for Howard)

  • Orrwasbest

    We need an article on which three left defenseman should be on the roster once Valimaki is back in the NHL. Personally I think both Kyl and Val have more potential then Hanifin and he could be traded for a top six right shooting forward.

  • cjc

    Maybe unlike a lot of fans, I kind of think Calgary’s success so far is a bit misleading. Just like they weren’t as bad as their record showed last year, I don’t think they are quite as good as their record indicates this year. Still a top 6 team in this league, but I wouldn’t say second best at this point. Look no further than the spate of lukewarm performances and defensive brain farts against non-playoff teams recently. Yes they still won most of those games, but often they had to come from behind or get phenomenal goaltending to do it. Their top 4 scoring forwards are all shooting north of 17%, and while shooting is up overall in the league, I don’t know how sustainable their pace is.

    If San Jose had halfway decent goaltending, I think they’d be sitting in pole position in the Pacific right now. They are a deeper team at forward and on the back end. Nashville have had a lot of injuries to contend with, so I don’t think we’ve seen the best of them yet. Winnipeg has the talent and goaltending to go goal for goal against Calgary.

    The schedule from here on out is a lot more difficult, too. 14 of 31 games against teams in playoff position, including 4 against division leaders. Of the 17 games against non-playoff teams, at least 8 are against teams still in the hunt for a spot. I think the Western Conference crown (and maybe even the Pacific division) will be close by the end of season.

    • Quinteco

      I’m with you on this, and after 35+ years of cheering for this team, I’m always ready for an epic collapse. That said, even if they went 10-21 the rest of the season, that would still get them 91pts and likely into the playoffs. A 15-15-1 record? 102pts, and at least 2nd in the division if not 1st. Maybe they have been lucky so far, but they’re in a really good spot. My caution is slowly giving way to optimism. It’s a weird feeling.

      • cjc

        Don’t get me wrong, this has been the most enjoyable season since 88-89. I don’t think a massive collapse is in the cards, and they will still make the postseason easily. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they need to deal with some adversity down the stretch.

    • Jourflamesfan

      It takes great goaltending, skill and luck to win in this league.
      Flames are getting all three, in spades.
      How long that lasts is what were going to see over the next few months.
      I believe their for real ?

    • Skylardog

      Bad games seem to come against weaker teams. But when they play the best, this team shows up almost every night. It is the one difference I see this year, and it is the reason I have such optimism.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Good article. It is crazy how 3 players that are at a point a game rarely get mentioned in the conversation for MVP. Players like Lindholm, Tkachuk, amd Monny are having great seasons and would likely be in discussions for MVP on other teams….that is just scarey.

    • Albertabeef

      Someone is earning their moniker this year by out shining them all. Did anyone expect Johnny to be leading the goals category too? I always thought he could if he shot more which he is.

      • Getpucksdeep

        If you look at the careers of the best players in the league who score from the get go, like a Gaudreau, they always seem to have a kind of second “break out” season where it all comes together. Always expected he’d have a few big point seasons just happy its this year rather than later when he’s 27-28.

      • Manginasal

        3 more goals and he reaches a new career high in goals.
        4 more points and Sean reaches a career high.
        5 more goals and SM will also have a career high in goals.
        I’m curious to see what their final totals will be?

        I expect and hope they have great second half offence wise.
        This will be the key to continued success.

  • Sterls

    Don’t waste assets on a backup, if Rittich goes down, give Parsons a look. Stockton’s goalies are a mess, but so it the defense. Put Parsons behind the big team’s D and he likely does as well as any backup available.

    Only add is a top 9 RW. What our top 9 needs is another playmaker. Zuccarello fits nicely as a rental who likely wouldn’t cost to much. He’s small true, but he isn’t soft and has lots of playoff experience with the Rangers.

  • Getpucksdeep

    Zuccarello as a pure rental, with his speed, even at his age, might be useful to round out the forward group. Problem is I have no idea what the cost would be. Our hopefully 27-31 pick? A prospect and next years 2nd? It’s like E Bay…no one knows what something is worth until it actually sells.

  • Albertabeef

    Okay it’s a far stretch but if TB goes 2-6 or worse after the break, and we win our next five games we will be in first place in the league. Here is hoping we come back hot and they come back cold. They play Pittsburgh twice, both NY teams in NY, Vegas, St Louis, and a game in Florida before we get there. We have Washington, Carolina, SJ, and Vancouver before we play TB again. It’s possible but not probable. Would love to see the team leave TB with first overall and keeping it for the rest of the season. 🙂

  • SeanCharles

    Keys to a successful TDL:

    – don’t trade any of Valimaki, Andersson, Kylington or Dube
    – add 1 forward that can play in our top 9
    – look into depth pieces that won’t necessarily disrupt healthy regular lineup
    – only trade 1st rounder for a significant forward that could push us over the top (Stone)

  • Mitchell

    If we’re going to test the rental market why dont we acquire a player who is cheap, and have a moderate impact such as thomas vanek? I think a 3rd or even just a 4th would be enough to get him.

  • moore_tweets

    Does anyone think we could possibly pry Sam Gagner out of Vancouver. I mean he’s done there, and could slot in on our 3rd line pretty good. He’d be cheap. The only reason he’s in the A, is because van was able to move him up and down freely.

  • 谢谢兄弟,我爱你

    What were your expectations for the Flames at the start of the season? What are your expectations now?
    I think it was on FN, but before the season started there was a post about expectations for the season and ranking the Pacific. I had the Flames at #1 in the Pacific, but I certainly didn’t expect them to be #1 in the West and #2 in the NHL, but that is where I expect them to finish now.

    Who’s been the biggest surprise of the season?
    Gotta give Rittich the edge over Lindholm on this one. I didn’t even know if he’d be the regular backup this season, let alone become Big Save Dave, NHL Starting Goalie.

    Who’s been the biggest disappointment?
    I think Neal gets the nod here, over Smith. Tough call though.

    Who would you say is the season MVP thus far?
    I like that there are 3 clear choices for this. Johnny, Gio, and Big Save Dave. Take any one of those guys out of the line up long term, and whose absence causes the most harm? I think it’s probably Big Save Dave.

    What should the Flames do at the deadline?
    I can’t believe how much I disagree with Ari on this one. Usually my opinions align pretty well with Ari.
    If Rittich goes down for the count, the Flames need a new #1 goalie or they are done in the playoffs. Getting another backup at the deadline won’t fix that problem. Don’t waste assets on a player that won’t fix the problem.
    I’d stand pat at the deadline. For forwards, they can have waiting in the wings: Dube, Mangi, Hath (play Czar instead), Lazar. For D they have Kyller, Juusy, and hopefully Stone to fill one spot and have 2 ready to go. If Stone isn’t able, then maybe go find someone more capable than Peluso to be a spare D.

    • Manginasal

      What a terrible signing-result from Czarnik.
      I dont blame Brad. He tried but the guy just leaves little inspiration he will ever be anything on this team.

        • freethe flames

          Comparing Hamonic to Czarnik is laughable at best. while Hamonic had a bad season last year he had an NHL career to say he would likely rebound. Czarnik is a swing and a miss and if we could package him with something else to improve before the playoffs. He does seem to be part of glue and really has no role. He has little value as a bottom 6 forward and despite being played in the top 6 a number of times and getting PP time he has not produced and seldom looked dangerous.

  • freethe flames

    What to do at the TDL? Add a depth defender; it does need to be a guy who can be a top 4 guy as we have I believe some young guys who move up. I’m assuming Stone is on LTIR so a 7th/8th defender like Folin out of Philly might be enough. Kronwell out of Detroit would do as well but everything I have read says he wants to retire a Wing. Start going through the teams that are selling(maybe 10) and see who is am inexpensive D who is an upgrade on Prout.

    If you can find an upgrade on Smith that would be great but I actually the players have found a way to get past his bad goal a game and win despite his performances. How else can you explain his winning record. The better add would be to find an upgrade over Gilles in case of emergencies and I think that might be easier than upgrading over Smith.

    There is no need to add a bottom 6 forward; the depth on the farm can do this. If you are going to add a forward it needs to be someone who can play throughout the line up and not make waves. Looking at the top UFA’s forwards I see three groups of guys: high end that are going to cost the first and likely a roster player and maybe even a significant prospect: these being Hayes/Stone/Duchene/Ferland/Nyquist. I’m not sure we could afford to resign any of them.There is a secondary group of guys that will be a little less expensive and either have a year left on their contracts or might be guys we could resign: Toffoli,Coyle, Silverberg, Vanek, Zucc, Pageau, Tierney, Panik, Simmonds. They are not as good as the first group but might be the type of value this team needs and might be able to afford. The third group of rentals are guys with some experience and might not be as costly and these include Hagelin, Kruger, Johansson, Chaisson, Maroon, Fast, Weal and Williams. The question is are they better than the depth guys? Is there experience more important than the speed of the kids. I’m sure I missed some guys but the question is what is the best “add” for the Flames. I really think BP wants to add pieces to this team and not lose pieces and hurt the chemistry that exists.

    • freethe flames

      The Heat seldom release their roster prior to the game. As it is a road game we won’t likely know until the game is started. I doubt the Flames sent him there to watch. The question is what role is he given in his first game back.

    • oilcanboyd

      Juuso Valimaki (ankle) has been sent to the AHL.
      The hope is that Valimaki will be able to return to the Flames’ lineup after the All-Star break, so this will give him a chance to shake off some of the rust first. He last played on Nov. 23. Jan 23 – 8:50 AM
      Source: Calgary Sun

      Agreed that if Juuso is on the road with the team he will likely play tonight. The all-star and mid-term break sounds like a lot but how many Heat games does he get in that span?

  • Albertabeef

    3.24gaa .886svp no these numbers do not belong to Smith, they are BSD’s numbers playing at the Dome this season. Not really MVP numbers so Johnny is still team MVP. Dave has been lights out on the road though 1.79 .944. Funny thing Mike and Dave both have the same GAA in wins at 2.12.

    • Albertabeef

      Trash all you like it still does not change the truth of the numbers. We are out scoring our competition more than the odd goalie clinic games.
      Dave’s goals against by month
      Oct 2.08
      Nov 2.30
      Dec 2.64
      Jan 2.70
      Should we be scared? I still think these two can get ‘er done in the playoffs.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        The Flames play far more loose defensively at home. Rittich has given up far too many last minute goals but that is only after he refused to give up the next goal before the Flames scored an insurance goal…I will take hat from a keeper every day.