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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

  • Honkydonk

    Your comment: Besides the picks, I think the biggest dangles could be Oliver Kylington, Dillon Dube, and Andrew Mangiapane.

    That is exactly what scares me! It would be a mistake to trade away Kylington unless it’s truly worth it.

    As for trading away your first pick even if it’s a late one is it limits your options at the draft. I’m not advocating for this but let’s say Stone is in play, we would need that pick!

    Lastly this whole load up in talent and you win the cup I don’t really believe. Having your players clearly understand their roles with some upside I think is the necessary recipe.

    Look last year at Washington. Look at their bottom 6 and look st their D. And in years before when they made those blockbuster trades they lost even after winning the regular season.

    I think Treliving looked at the team and made that trade last year saying this. I have defenders who will progress well. I have a few middle/bottom forwards who will progress in next few years. My window is just opening so make the trade and in following years stay the course and restock the cub boards.

    I say we need prospects and we need draft picks. If we restock we can keep this rolling a long long time. If we go all in now we will create an issue at some point.

    Take into consideration you have a entry draft in a year or two, you will lose a player there and in addition you have to deal with Hamonic/Brodie in a year from now. That doesn’t even include goalie issue

  • 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

  • Rocket66

    As exciting as it is to go for it maybe the best thing to do is very little this year
    Let the boys play in the playoffs and get a taste of it and some experience
    Evaluate during the playoffs what is really missing
    Next summer try to fill the void when a little more cap room is on the table But how about signing Matt first to see where you stand

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      I would be okay with that.

      But I also think it would be really cool to nab a player at this TDL who not only could help us this spring, but who we could resign for the next year or two as an upgrade. I know cap issues are gunna be a bit tricky, but if we have some players coming off the books next season, maybe there is a way.

      I’m just not a big fan of rentals who are on a team for three months and then leave.

      As an example, a guy like Zuccerelo. Cheap to get, has about the same cap hit as Frolik does right now, but is at the end of his term this season. Maybe we trade Frolik and dump some cap during the offseason and resign Z. for cheap?

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Agree unless the guy you bring in on trade can be re-signed. I suggest we can get and re-sign Burakowsky from Caps if the Flames wanted skilled guy who may do better in new team but would likely give up Bennett (for cap and return reasons) and thus lose more grittiness. So not great. If we could get a guy like Dzingel without losing an everyday player (e.g. give them Crarnik plus a 3rd) and re-sign, that would be nice but again he may need $4M so with Tkachuk, Rittich, a 13th forward and a 7th/8th D to sign for 2019-20, would be hard to not get rid of some salary.

  • BendingCorners

    They need playoff experience and the only way to get that is to actually play games in the post-season. Hang onto the picks and keep the fiddling to a minimum at the TDL.

  • kipper2004

    Just based on the lack of picks in the past few drafts, I thin BT has to restrain himself this trade deadline, he has already made big moves the past 3 years, now it’s time to let the team ripen. Add experience at the deadline that can replace the young guys if they go silent in the playoffs, this year is all about gaining experience and saving draft picks to continue to grab talent that can fit in the lineup when some contracts get too big over time. The core is set, now BT needs to cook up a good AHL roster for the future.

  • 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.

  • freethe flames

    My thoughts on using the first rounder are simply this; not on a rental that we have no chance to resign. My thoughts on using a young defender as part of the package are no thank you especially with our lack of depth on especially when we do not know the extent of Hammy’s injury.

    I would use the first rounder if it got us a guy with term (who might be flipped prior to the draft or allow the team to flip one of next years UFA’s prior to the draft) or as part of a deal that got us two pieces to the puzzle. An example or two:(note I do not know if any of these ideas have merit to the other teams but they seem somewhat fair to me). Calgary trade to Detroit or first and their choice of Czarnik/Mangiapane/Lazar or next years 4th rounder for Nyquist and Jensen. Or Calgary trades to LA the same package for Toffoli and Clifford. With the condition if we win the cup the 4th next year becomes a 3rd or in the case of Detroit if we sign either guy. Too litle/too much I don’t know as the market will decide.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Kevin R

    Sometimes the frenzy that the draft can stir up can even over inflate the perceived value of a late 1st rounder. I would say go for it if the right player can be had. Shelves can be restocked. After this playoff run, Flames will have to make decisions on established vets with 1 year left on their deals to create cap space & opportunity. These established vets will bring back picks & value in return. The key is to know when to sell when the return is maxed. Easier said than done.