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FlamesNation Mailbag: More on the trade deadline

In weeks prior, we’ve discussed what the Flames are looking for and who they could be looking at. Now how do they approach it? And how does it impact the further off future?

Well, the answer to “who?” is quite clear: Oliver Kylington. He’s been pretty solid so far, has begun to pick up some points, – he currently sits two back of fellow rookie Rasmus Andersson, albeit having played 22 fewer games – and is looking like he’s getting better with every game. As for Juuso Valimaki, he hasn’t played since November. Rushing a pro-rookie back from injury might not be a great idea, especially when your lineup isn’t really missing him (if you’re curious, the Flames are 17-5-4 with Kylington in the lineup and 13-8-1 with Valimaki, though to put responsibility for winning on any third pairing defenceman is wrong). You have flexibility with Valimaki, why not use it?

I think a better question might be: when does Valimaki return to the NHL? Kylington’s been great, but he’s still waiver exempt and you can’t keep a talent like Valimaki down for long. I personally think that Kylington sticks around for the stretch, but strong AHL appearances from Valimaki could unsettle that spot. He’s already picked up an assist in his two games there this weekend.

This is certainly worth considering heading into trade deadline. Given their cap space, low number of futures to give away, and comfortable position in the standings, the Flames may be very quiet on deadline day. But if one of their main Pacific competitors throws down the gauntlet, it’s going to get interesting.

Let’s start with the Sharks. Their obvious need is in net, as both of their goalies are somehow below 0.900 (before you ask, Mike Smith will not be not an upgrade). If the Flames are looking at the goalie market, Brad Treliving might need to be quicker on the draw than Doug Wilson. However, the Sharks have some similar trading problems as the Flames. San Jose’s 2019 and 2020 first round picks are gone due to the Erik Karlsson and Evander Kane trades, and their 2021 first rounder could also disappear on conditions. They’ll have about $6M in deadline cap space, which gives them some flexibility, but without intriguing futures, they’re going to have get to get very creative to get a good asset.

The Golden Knights could be the scary team to look out for. They need a high-powered forward, as none of their current forwards have over 40 points, and could also use another defenceman. They have 10 top-93 picks over the next two years, a shade under $17M in deadline space, the potential to LTIR David Clarkson and his $5.25M contract, and a few high-end prospects that they could part with for the right price. They can feasibly be the biggest spenders at deadline, and given how close they were to the Cup last year, they might be motivated to pull the trigger to get through a very tough Pacific Division.

So Vegas could certainly start an arms race if they really felt like it. The issue is that the Flames don’t really have the means to match them. The team only has half of what Vegas has in deadline space, and nowhere close to the number of future assets.

There’s a few good trades out there. In recent memory, the Kings made their push to their first Stanley Cup by acquiring Jeff Carter, and then did it again by acquiring Marian Gaborik two years later. Marian Hossa helped push the Penguins to game six of the Stanley Cup Final. If we go back, Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson were two huge adds for the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cups in the ’90s. Deadline acquisition Butch Goring was considered the final piece for the four-peat Islanders.

So these trades do happen, but given that I found six undisputedly great trades with immediate payoff in nearly 39 years of history, they’re rare. One great player can’t launch the other 17 towards the Stanley Cup by themselves. What’s more important is having a great core of players which can be bolstered by one final piece to complement it, not carry it.

Thankfully, the Flames look like a team that matches that description. If the team feels they’re missing the one final piece, there’s a pretty good chance they go for it. Treliving is a risk taker who will do what he needs to put the team that much closer to sweet, sweet victory.

Probably not. Ideally, they want to keep whoever they trade for locked up, but their RFA situation next offseason is going to make that difficult. If they are going for a big name player, they would have to completely drop the pretense that this player is going to stick around with the rest of the core.

But let’s say that they do grab this mystery player (and that they’re a forward), lock them in until after the expansion draft, and have all intentions of protecting him. Based on who is signed through to 2021, they would have to protect Mystery Player, Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, and Elias Lindholm. That leaves them space to protect two of Mikael Backlund, James Neal, Derek Ryan, Dillon Dube, or Matthew Phillips. Keep in mind that this isn’t including players like Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski, Glenn Gawdin, or Andrew Mangiapane, whose contracts all expire before 2021 but would be eligible for exposure. There’s also the various FA signings that they might make between now and 2021, so maybe add one or two random names into the mix.

If you factor in defence, you have to pick three of Mark Giordano, Noah Hanifin, Kylington, Andersson, and Valimaki to protect and expose the other two. If they re-sign one of (or both, for some reason) Travis Hamonic and TJ Brodie, then the decision is a bit tougher.

Let’s assume they sign everyone. I’ll let people pick which two they want to protect, but regardless of who you pick, there’s going to be a quality NHL name (presuming that they have a good GM – let’s hope they don’t) that’s moving to Seattle. Unless Treliving manages to swing a deal, you have two and a half years to say your goodbyes.

And it won’t be the end of the world. If you’re an optimist, there’s a handful more that are going to be exposed and not selected. Good teams lose good players sometimes. That’s the reality of the salary cap NHL, and especially so with the expansion drafts. Even if they don’t go for Mystery Player at the trade deadline, they’re probably still going to lose a good player regardless. The key thing for the Flames is that they identify who their core players actually are, protect them, and have a backup plan just in case someone they really liked but couldn’t keep gets exposed.

  • Off the wall

    Well at least the ice has broken.
    So Toronto gets Muzzin.

    You can bet the Jets are looking to bolster their center depth.

    Word is that Nashville is going to be aggressive this year.

    From the comments, it appears most want to make minor / small changes?

    Fabulous…

  • Em Durp Em Hrudey

    Just spit balling here, not looking for insults, but what about inquiring about Adam McQuaid from the New York Rangers. Big, tough, and steady. Not going to light it up, but can punch some faces come playoff time if needed….correction…when needed. Cost can’t be to high.

    • Speed Kills

      Not a bad Idea… but one has to wonder how slow he is now? If the Flames were to go after a “Fighter” I’d try for the Islander’s Ross Johnston(LW), the man is a wrecking machine (look him up on Hockey fights~yikes) 6’5 235 and doesn’t seem to be a defensive liability. Could be handy against SJ/VGK/WIN, etc…

      • Em Durp Em Hrudey

        Adam McQuaid is also not a defensive liability. Lowest he has been is -5. That was his rookie year with Beantown. I think the Islanders will be looking to hold onto Johnston as they are gearing up for a push of their own….the Rangers on the other hand, they be sellers. Thats why I look at McQuaid, more availability.

        • Speed Kills

          Your probably right, I just see him (Johnston) not getting much playing/ice time there, so??? and yeah McQuaid looks pretty solid but then who comes out? I guess Andersson? which is why I’d rather go with a 4th line LW as an enforcer than a D-man (more inclined if he where LD). But he(McQuaid) does have playoff EXP and that is a good thing.

          • Eggy

            I think we could have vali up here if needed come playoff time and we will see how Stone it probably won’t be easy coming back from a blood clot though. I wouldn’t mind a little bit of forward depth as long as we don’t ruin our future doing so

      • The GREAT WW

        Good call on Ross Johnston!
        He’s exactly the type of player we need.
        Cheap and tough.
        Play him every third game or so,
        Against teams like the Oilers, Ducks etc.
        Give them a 4th round pick.

        WW

        • everton fc

          Is Johnston a better defencemen than Prout? He’s also signed a 4 year contract w/the Isles, in th summer of 2018….

          McQuaid would be a decent pickup, but this would mean he’d replace Prout, in the press-box. Is that necessary?

          Prout hasn’t hurt us. He’s already built into our cap. We are eight d-men deep, w/Valimaki healthy, and Prout upstairs, in the press-box. What we need more so, is some secondary scoring. And goalie insurance. I still say we swap Gillies for Cal Petersen, in the Kings system playing in “A”. Petersen would be a better option for NHL duty, if one of Rittich or Smith, gets injured.

          Minor tweaks are all we need. Nothing more. If we could get Zucarello cheap, or somehow pry Dzingel out of Ottawa… Those would be good moves.

          • Speed Kills

            @ everton fc, Johnston is a Left Winger, so he could fill the 4th line LW whenever needed or eat popcorn without even a blink to the current roster.
            I’d take Dzingel over Zucarello all day long but at what cost? If M-Stone was part of the deal going the other way to create more cap space here, I’m all in.

  • Garry T

    Tre, call Vegas. Tones of kids coming and loads of picks available.
    I think Vegas would be interested in Neal. Fits for chemistry, they know what makes him tick and they would think they can get him going. We could ask for two good prospects and a 2 or 2 three picks this year.

    Call Edmonton and offer them Foo and Czarnik for Ethan Bear and Kassian.
    That helps Stockton right now and us in the future. ( needing D ) prospects.
    Put a leash on Kassian and yank it hard on stupid penalties. Gives us some snarl and given the opportunity , he can skate and score.

    Get cap room back and ability to sign everybody on our team plus have some dough for the draft floor by sending Neal to Vegas.

  • Spider you muda&@#ker

    Panarin is not negotiating with CBJ till end of the season so that means hes gone wonder what the price would be for his services. Tkachuk Backlund Panarin that would be the best second line in the NHL and worth the first overall pick + in my books.