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.

  • Retire#14

    The flames should dangle their 1st and dube. Dube doesnt fit. He is not taking monny, backlund or jankos spot. Or Ryan’s for at least 3 years. He is not going to be a top 6 player on a championship caliber team.

      • Fat Tony

        Screw it. Get Sean Couturier and drop Backlund to 3C. He is arguably a better two way player than Backs anyway and then the top nine will really start to look elite. Championship elite. (Dreaming) Although, hypothetically, what would it take to pry him from Philly? Apparently the only untouchable is Giroux.

      • Uncle Iroh

        Backlund is 52nd in points among centremen in the last 5 seasons. Considering there are 31 teams in the league, 52nd in points puts him solidly as a #2 C offensively.

        Backlund is not a proper 3C. He would be a 3C on steroids (similar to Kadri in TOR).

      • Retire#14

        Janko would slot in great as the 4C with Ryan. Janko taking draws on the left side of the ice, Ryan on the right side. Would also slot both better for PK duty.

        Staal or Duchene or Schenn

        • freethe flames

          2 of the 3 centers you list are on teams that see themselves in the playoff hunt and would likely not be willing to make the trade. I do agree that a line with Janko and Ryan would be a possibility as a solid 4th line. Janko/Ryan/Hathaway could be pretty solid. The problem is that the assumption as to why the third does not produce is Janko and I personally think the problem is elsewhere.

          • Luter 1

            Agree, Janko’s not the problem, it’s the usual suspect – Neal – even with gift goals handed to him he can’t score and the rest of the time he’s going for a leisurely skate. Benny has kind of been off too but playing with Neal would kill anybody’s drive.

          • Retire#14

            Yes 2 out of 3 are on possible playoff teams. Staal is on an expiring contract and doesnt sound like he is being offered one. Schenn, his name has been mentioned in the trade waters for quite awhile. Duchene..well probably unattainable as the flames do not have the assets but would be my personal favorite. All 3 are on the block despite their teams possible playoff aspirations. The other option, is to keep the centers as are, but try to bring a skilled winger to play with backlund and Tkachuk.

          • FlamesFanOtherCity

            Janko had developed as a defensive C, and you can see that in his 7 shortie points. He’s got size and reach, so he may be able to transform his game into more of an offensive threat. I don’t see that in Bennett any longer. His puck IQ seems to be non-existent at times. He’s a great teammate, willing to drop his gloves any time, but he’s selfish with the puck. I’ve lowered expectations for him, but I’m at the point where his only redeeming quality is grit. If you could use him to land Schenn, we might be better off. Lose a few years of a player, but at least you are getting what you expect.

          • Brian McGrattan's Salute

            I mean, yeah. I know we can’t play this game, but how many more points would Janko (and Benny) have if Neal could finish those gift goals he’s gotten so many of? Like, we’re talking Janko and Benny likely being a lot closer to 30 points than 20 at this point in the season, or at least above 26 points. That threshold having been crossed at this point would likely give those two youngsters a lot more confidence, along with being able to set up and finish plays as a line. All three are struggling, and all of their struggles are feeding off each other, but Neal ought to bare (bear?) some responsibility as the veteran and skill guy on that line.

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          I think we can agree that Janko would have another 8-10 points with wingers that have not been snake bit. I was really hoping that the Bennett, Janko, and Tkachuk line would have worked better but Neal was bringing little value to the second line.

        • RealMcHockeyReturns

          If you mean Bennett, sadly yes. Not sure patience with him is there with many fans, maybe it is with coaches/GM of Flames. He should score 35-50 pints at least each year.

  • 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.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    The only way I’d trade a first rounder would be for an established goaltender. Honestly, I think the present cast of characters we have now can go deep. We have 2 months to gell some more as a team, I know some games a few players look like they’re sleep walking out there but then, they’re playing well again, that’s sports.

    • Skylardog

      Market rate for a good established goalie (not elite) is less than a first rounder. Teams may ask for a 1st, but they are not getting that back. That includes Howard. He is at best worth a second.

    • oilcanboyd

      “Established goaltender”. Flames have one in Mike Smith.
      Goalies below Smith in GAA: Ward 3.83, Anderson, Grubauer, Bernier, Talbot, Crawford, Luongo, Kinkaid, SMITH 3.08, Reimer 3.06, Holtby, Allen, Lundquist, Bobrosky 3.01

      It seems most of the established goaltenders are struggling. Do you mean to replace Rittich if he gets injured or to send Smith packing? Well, I would rather have SMith who gets along swell with Rittich than a hired gun who may or may not have the teams confidence after a trade with it’s pitfalls of changing teams, cities, coaches, teammates….. Let us see how far we can go with what brought us to this point!

      • HOCKEY83

        After looking at the list…Domingue is the only back up goalie in the league with more wins than Smith at 3 more wins. How do you get better than that. I understand Mike Smith gets his wins not because most games he plays a great game but because the team in front of him outscores their opponent. If the league has truly turned around and is back to scoring like it was back in the 80’s and early 90’s ( has not shown signs of slowing down yet this year with 2 months left) then that’s the reason for all the good goalies of recent years to have bad stats right now and there are a lot of them. Mike Vernon was not a great goalie…check his stats…he averaged about 3.5 goals a game and his save percentage was under .9 almost every season but he played for teams that could out score other teams to win. Fuhr has even worse stats. and this was at a time when the Flames and The Oilers were the 2 best teams in the league. 3 to 4 goals per game was the average back then for goalies and i think if this scoring keep up that’s the new norm everyone is going to have to get used to with these goalies as it was from the 80’s to the mid 90’s. Go back and look at all the goalies stats from that time…rarely were they less than 3 goals per game in a season and rarely were they above .9 save %.

  • steeeezy

    It’s a tough decision to make but if the right deal comes along I’d use the 1st at the deadline. Come draft time I’d be looking to get rid of brodie and hammer as both will bring you some pretty good returns. I dont think brodie would be nearly as good without the gio bump so you might as well sell him at his highest point. Hammer gets injured far too much but I think u would get a decent return for him too.

    • cjc

      Somewhat agree on this, but how do you replace them? I think Andersson will be ready for more responsibility next year, but that still leaves a two RD to pick up. They could use the cap space to make a big signing, but after Karlsson the list of UFA RD drops off pretty quickly. Stralman is older and a lateral move from either Brodie or Hamonic. Maybe you trade them for an RFA RD? I suppose Winnipeg might part with Trouba’s rights, but it would probably take more than Hamonic or Brodie. Given the lack of right side depth in the org, I think the best move is to stay put.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        Getting rid of both Brodie and Hamonic would be a mistake given the age of Gio…you can only fight Father Time for so long. I keep Hamonic over Brodie because of his skill set.

  • Skylardog

    For those who think Kylington should not be traded, keep in mind that last night, Prout got more icetime than Ky, 15:01 vs 11:19. Ky also got low minutes in the Washington game even though there were only 5 D playing for a large part of the game.

    I think that tells us how Peters value Kylington.

    Trade bait, and as a young mobile D with a contract under $1.0 mill, he is valuable in the marketplace.

  • Joeyhere

    Use our 1st this TDL and strengthen our playoff run then try to recoup draft choices through trade at the draft

    Remember we have 7 NHL defencemen (8 if you include Stone )
    Two of which are UFA’s next year so you can’t keep them all (you don’t want 2 NHL d men sitting most of the time). So lets use that currency in the future to recoup draft picks that way we can Trade our 1st to improve this years playoffs and still refill the cupboards next spring

    • Cfan in Van

      I agree on principal, buy you’re basically saying “Trade Kylington at the draft”. At this point, you don’t get ANYTHING for Stone without keeping a huge chunk of his salary. And you certainly don’t trade Andersson.

      • Joeyhere

        No that’s not what I am saying

        But i ask we face the reality that next year we have 8 nhl d men under contact
        We don’t know what Kylington is yet – and that is concerning if we trade him

        But We need to face the reality that it is a waste of resources to try to keep 8 d men when we may have gaps elsewhere or need prospects

        All I am saying is that trading away our #1 pick now at ohs tdl isn’t the end of the earth

        We will be forced to make a trade of a d man in the next 12 months – therefore we have always to re stock any picks we trade away this tdl

        • oilcanboyd

          A team cannot have enough D-men! Eight is barely enough. Especially when we have rookies Andersson, Valimaki, Kylington with limited NHL games. Even Hanifin is also only 22 (as of Jan 25th).

      • RealMcHockeyReturns

        Maybe you do this:
        1. Trade with Ottawa nets you Dzingel in exchange for Czarnik plus a 3rd in 2019 and a 3rd in 2020…or maybe a 2nd round pick in future if needed. But also…
        2. Include Mike Stone with $1M retained to get a 4th rounder from Ottawa so he joins brother Mark when he re-signs there. Result is…
        3. Flames save $2.5M (from Mike Stone) for other players to re-sign (Dzingel mainly).

  • Chucky

    I any trade discussion the Flames should mention Smith and Neal if the other party does not run it might be worth pursuing. Czarnik should be the first to go and they might get something for him.

  • 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!

  • 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.