FlamesNation Mailbag: The first rounder

The Flames are in a unique situation where they’re actually big-name buyers for the first time in forever. They’re soundly in a playoff spot, but a little extra boost could be the difference between the second round and Stanley Cup Final.

But they’re also in a pretty sticky situation where they’re a little broke to acquire said extra boost. They’re almost certainly not going to trade anyone from the top six, and their options from the bottom six probably aren’t worth that much on the open market, much less for the teams trading away their stars. Their prospect pool isn’t very enticing, with maybe one or two names that could really interest a seller (and even then, only in addition to one or two more assets).

The one thing that is worth its weight is their first round pick. According to Nick Kypreos on HNIC, it’s definitely in play, but you don’t need his words to know that. It’s pretty much a given that any team that is looking to acquire a big name at trade deadline is going to have to part with their non-lottery pick. If the Flames are serious about being one of those teams, it might be another quiet day in Calgary come June.

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So: is it worth it to part with the first rounder? What could they get?

Limiting our list to players who are likely to move at the trade deadline (there could be a few surprises!), I would say that the definites are Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Jeff Skinner. Those guys will probably require a first, no exceptions. Players like Gustav Nyquist, Mats Zuccarello, Wayne Simmonds, Ryan Dzingel, and Kevin Hayes will come with a first round asking price, but I feel that the prices will fall a bit closer to the deadline. Otherwise, don’t bother.

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I have two contradicting thoughts on it.

First, it doesn’t feel like a cash-in year. The team’s nucleus is still young and could even get better in the next two or three years. Shed some deadweight in the offseason, see a prospect or two graduate, find a goalie, and they’re right back at it. The window is opening, not closing. Why not hold onto the first rounder and perhaps even add to your elite talent collection? With Treliving’s draft history, giving him a high-percentage shot at drafting is never a bad choice.

On the other hand, what is a 25-31 range pick going to really do for you in the same time frame? Sure, a first round pick is a free asset that you can get a pretty good (and cheap) player out of, but when you pick further back in the first round, you’re likely running into players who are going to take a while to reach the NHL level. Even then, they’re only bottom to middle six players.

Looking back at the 20-31 range for the last five drafts, there’s a lot of players who still haven’t made an impact at the NHL level. There’s Brock Boeser and David Pastrnak, but there’s also a glut of players still finding their ways through the minors.  The Flames are more than likely going to pick one of the guys who, in two to three years, might be making a bit of noise in the AHL. Would it really be worth it to punt on current glory for a 30% shot at future glory?

Really, I’m okay with their decision on the first round pick either way, provided the Flames use the first round pick responsibly. The value of the pick isn’t significant enough to cause too much concern if it’s included in a trade.

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Building off that last thought, remember that the number of picks sent the other way is also a factor. The Flames might be hesitant about trading their first, but who knows if they’ll be willy-nilly with their seconds, thirds, fourths, etc.

I’m not trying to galaxy-brain this and say that drafting more in the later rounds is much better than drafting less in the earlier rounds, but there is a notion that drafting is either first round or bust, which isn’t true. The Flames are about to enter their third draft in a row without a second round pick. If they don’t go for the high end players, they might have to pay a third for a rental player. If they do, that will also be their third draft in a row without a third. Needless to say, that is going to create a sinkhole in their prospect pool.

It certainly isn’t a time to sound the alarm. It’s extraordinarily difficult to have a great team and a great prospect pool at the same time. In fact, the draft is designed to prevent teams from loading up like that. But the team does have to be aware that you can’t mortgage the future forever. Sending away a few picks in your window is to be expected. To give them up frequently is going to cause problems. Ask the Sharks, for example.

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Besides the picks, I think the biggest dangles could be Oliver Kylington, Dillon Dube, and Andrew Mangiapane. All three are players who are at least NHLers on most teams and have exciting futures ahead of them. Any GM worth their money is probably going to be asking for one of them, and if the Flames have to part with them to get their guy, they might not think twice about it. Other players that might generate interest are Glenn Gawdin and Matthew Phillips. Adam Ruzicka could also probably be of interest.

The only untouchable prospect is Juuso Valimaki. The team is really high on him and will balk at an offer that includes him in the deal. Everyone else is fair game.

I would say that he’s done well for himself so far in Stockton. He has three points in four games, which is pretty good production for a kid who has been missing for a few months.

The Flames are going to be a bit more patient with him though, and calling up Rinat Valiev for Travis Hamonic is indicative of that. Stockton is starved of right-handed defenceman (Michael Paliotta is their only righty, isn’t on an NHL contract, and hasn’t played in the NHL since 2015-16, when he played one game), so they had to call up a lefty. Valimaki could’ve feasibly been the guy, but he certainly needs a few more games to get back up to speed.

Given that he and Dube are the only recalls worth calling up for non-emergency purposes, I don’t think getting him back on the roster before the trade deadline is going to be the goal. The team can afford to be patient with him, so they will be.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Should Flames pick up R-hand D Prosser for FREE on waivers from Minny? Only $650K so cheap and has experience. I say yes to cover off for Hamonic and Stone.

  • oilcanboyd

    Anyone have any idea of how deep the draft will be in June? Is it 10 good ones and the rest take your pick. How about the 2020 draft. Flames still have all 7 picks. If it is a really good draft, trade 1st rounder this year for a 1st rounder in 2020 and a prospect… Just thinking outta the box.

    • freethe flames

      What I have read and heard is that the draft is reasonably good at the top but not as good after that. But who really knows how these young men will develop.

  • freethe flames

    So the “talking heads” on the radio were making it sound like the Hammer injury was not as bad as some had thought and then also went on to say that they think Valimaki will be given more time with Heat to get up to speed. then they went on to say the BT should not make any trades to add an extra D. It’s not what I would do but that’s what the afternoon guru’s were saying about 1:50.

    • SeanCharles

      2 months til April aka playoffs..

      I think that should be enough time to get healthy on d.


      They can all play and Valiev probably could too. I just don’t think its a big need.

  • freethe flames

    So we have seen 2 probable playoff teams make trades so far: Leafs with Muzzin(1st rounder and 2 propspects) and Pittsburg for Bjugstad and McCann gave up Brassard and Sheahan and a 2nd and 2 4th rounders; what does that suggest the cost will be at the TDL? Hard to gauge as neither are rentals. But what it suggests is that teams that see themselves as contenders are already starting to add and while this has all happened out east I believe the big boys out west will be adding as well.

  • everton fc

    I was just looking at James Ryan’s goals/assists/points. He may not break 10 goals. Pitiful.

    Bobby Ryan has 12 goals/19 assists/31 points. Don’t want Ryan’s contract, but it shows just how bad a season Ryan’s having.

    • freethe flames

      Derek Ryan. Yes he may not get to ten goals. He was brought in to help change our fortunes on the face off dot and he has done that. He kills penalties, plays on the 2nd PP(has not really impressed me there) and is a sound 200 foot player. It would be great if he scored more.

    • SeanCharles

      I trashed the DEREK Ryan signing so much in the early stages of the season when he was struggling mightily but he has really come along lately and found his niche on the team.

      I was even talking to my buddy yesterday saying he had an outstanding game. My buddy looked at me shocked saying he never thought he’d hear me say that but I told him he sucked at the start and I’ve warmed up to him.

      I actually like what he brings to the team and have no issues with him playing out the remainder of his contract here, something I wouldn’t have said in Oct or Nov.

  • MDG1600

    Hear me out on this before hitting the Trash button. Perhaps the Flames need to start playing Prout a regular shift for the next two weeks to see if he can start to keep up to the speed of the game. Sometimes big guys take longer to adjust. If Prout can handle playing 12 minutes a night as 6D he might be just the guy we need to handle the physical game in the playoffs and go toe to toe with any heavyweight. Last year Brooks Orpik was Washingtons worst D in the regular season but ended up logging big minutes in the playoffs as the game got heavier. Why waste a prospect or a pick if we have the answer already here. To be clear – I am not saying he is the answer, I am saying he might be and the only way to find out for sure is to give him more ice time.

    • SouthernFlame

      Funny, I’ve said this a couple times after a couple games where people were saying he does not deserve to be in the NHL. People trashed it. But yes I agree with you. Practicing with your teammates is different than playing a game. He just needs more games played, but also understandable why he sits, Vali and Kys looked better than expected

  • SeanCharles

    I have zero interest in trading away Kylington.

    I also have zero interest in trading away Andersson or Valimaki.

    I would prefer to keep Dube but would consider it if it was required to get Stone (only if he could be re-signed).

    If there was a way to trade our 1st rd pick, Mangiapane + an additional pick or prospect (anyone not named Valimaki, Andersson, Kylington, Dube or Parsons) for Stone at the TDL I would be all for it.

    In the offseaon look at offloading Frolik, Czarnik and Brodie to make room to re-sign everybody. Bring in a cheap backup.

    19/20 roster:

    Gaudreau- Monahan-Lindholm



    Can it be done? I don’t know but it would really give us a great chance to win the cup for a handful of years and wouldn’t hurt our future too much because we would acquire a 1st + for Brodie.

  • Sterls

    The type of player we need for our middle six is a playmaker. Tkchuck can make a play, but his best stuff is from around the net. Backlund is passable. Janko, Frolik, Bennett, and Neal can put pucks in the net but aren’t great at setting guys up. So, getting another shooter makes little sense to me. Only guys that fit that bill that are also realistic to acquire are Nyquist and Zuccarello. Either of those guys could be the key to depth scoring because they give our shooters a guy who can pass the puck. I prefer Zuccarello as a guy who could play with Janko and Neal to complete a third line that should be able to shred other teams 3rd or 4th lines.

    • freethe flames

      I have not been in favour of adding Zuc but in watching a few Ranger games he is growing on me; but only if the price is right and only if we can’t get something higher up the food chain. If we are using our first I want more than just Zuc.

  • super6646

    Yeah, let’s not trade our first. Our prospect pool is bare at this point, we need young talent coming in at some point. Keep the first and go with the group you currently have.

    • freethe flames

      I disagree with you. Our prospect pool on D is bare but I’m okay with the forward ranks. Next year the Flames will be probably graduating 3/4 CHL forwards who will be playing in the AHL as well as a Euro forward. Popisal is said to NCAA ineligable (unless something has changed) and is likely going to go pro. With Phillips, Gawdin, and Dube the forward depth will be fine.

      I seldom agree with Todd Button but last night he explained why the Jets need to have their first in play at the TDL; at some point you have a legit chance to win and you had better take it. He discussed the trade Dallas made for Niewy which helped them win the cup; they gave up Iggy. The Flames are in the same situation but our developed depth is our young D core and and our young forward stars.

      Don’t trade the first haphazardly but it needs to be in play. My thoughts on how to use the first are well documented earlier on the thread.

  • 13flames

    Go big. Or…

    Who knows what next year brings> A Johnny knee rip? Big Save Dave rips his ACL? (sure.. it could still happen this year)

    We are the #2 team in the league!!!! #2. We have to go for it.

    Lanny raised the cup a hundred years ago… BT and BP are kicking a$$… go ball$ in!