The Flames are going to be buyers on trade deadline, but who they’re targeting is a bit of a mystery. Defensive help? A top six forward? A bottom six forward? Goaltending insurance?
One name keeps coming up, at least among the fans: Mark Stone. The Senators RW has been a hot trade target for a number of teams, and may be the best available option this trade deadline. With almost no supporting cast (his two most common linemates have fewer points combined than he does), he’s putting up another excellent season and could be dynamite on a team that can actually surround him with talent.
He’s a hot topic among Flames fans. What will it take to see him in the right shade of red? Will it be too much? Will it be worth it?
What's the price for Mark Stone and is it worth it? What's the likelihood that if the flames trade for him, he re-signs in Calgary at the end of the season? How much would that cost us?
— Khalid Keshavjee (@KMKeshavjee) February 10, 2019
The price is definitely a first and a top notch prospect, or at least two very good ones. The Sens certainly know that they need to rebuild so it’s going to be about the futures for them. Given their frugal reputation, it’s unlikely that they want to take back big money on long-term contracts.
The Flames are certainly sniffing around Stone, but the likelihood they actually pull the trigger on a deal is low. Maybe it’s just the cynic in me, but it seems that the team is going to be lowballing what the Sens want in the hopes that they have the best deal before the actual deadline hits. The team doesn’t seem to be in the position to give up many assets, but they also certainly want Stone (or players like him). It’s going to be a tough decision: go for it now, or hedge your bets?
Extending him is almost entirely out of the question. Stone was looking for $9M as an RFA last offseason, and with a substantial uptick in value this season, it’s not impossible for him to be looking at eight digits on a long-term deal as a UFA. The team is going to have their hands full with Matthew Tkachuk and David Rittich this offseason. There’s no way they manage to sneak all three under the salary cap while managing to ice a whole quality roster. Even if they manage to shed some of their more expensive contracts, it’s going to be tough sledding to keep Stone around as well as the rest of the band.
Let’s just say flames do get stone? Where does he slot in? How would the lines look in your opinion ?
— mike hall (@hallmike1234) February 10, 2019
Stone is definitely a top six guy, no questions about it. The question is which of the top two lines does he belong on.
You could easily make the argument that he belongs on the top line. He’s one of hockey’s best RWs, so why not put him on the best line? He’s a high scoring player who could easily boost the already outrageous production of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
You could also easily counter with the fact that the Gaudreau-Monahan-Elias Lindholm line has also been great and that there’s no reason to break that up while it’s still clicking. The Flames have been desperately trying to find a permanent RW for Monahan and Gaudreau since, well, ever since they’ve broken into the league. Lindholm has been that guy so far. They have chemistry together and it’s one of the main reasons this team is second best in the league. Unless they stop clicking, there’s no reason to break that up.
Thankfully, Stone looks like a better fit on the second line. He’s currently carrying the Sens, leading the team in 5v5 CF% among players who have played more than 250 minutes, but is still sub-50% in offensive zone starts. That’s what the 3M line has been doing since they’ve been formed. They’ve lacked a clinical finisher for a long time, so adding a guy like Stone who is on the verge of scoring 30 goals while also being defensively responsible seems like a perfect match.
Naturally, that bumps Michael Frolik out of his spot (working under the basis of what we said above). I think he can easily slide into the 4R spot currently occupied by Garnet Hathaway. Ergo, our lines:
Doesn’t look too bad.
What’s the maximum you would pay for a rental like Silfverberg, Stone or Dzingel?
— Sebastian (@Despo_Hockey) February 10, 2019
It depends on the rental, but I think my maximum price is giving up a first and a B prospect. The first, assuming it’s in the 25-31 range, isn’t going to net you anything fabulous, so I don’t mind giving that away. There’s a handful of players in the minors that I would also be at peace with trading.
I wouldn’t want to throw in an Oliver Kylington, Andrew Mangiapane, Juuso Valimaki, or Dillon Dube into the mix in addition to a first round pick. That’s giving up a bit too much, in my opinion. Those are four players who could all feasibly be NHL regulars by next year, which is incredibly valuable for a team that’s going to be experiencing a cap crunch soon. A late first round pick isn’t going to help your team in the immediate future, but these guys certainly will. Some might feel that the price is justifiable for a rental player who can push the team towards glory, but I remain a bit skeptical. I think the team might have to hedge their bets, just in case not everything goes as hunky-dory in the near future as it has in the past few months.
That being said, if it brings the team a Stanley Cup, I’ll immediately forget who was traded.
Why does the long break always seem to cause troubles for the team?
— James the Camera Guy (@WhovianJames) February 10, 2019
Honestly, I don’t think the break has had any impact on the Flames. I would say that a lot of the things that have gone wrong recently are issues that have popped up at various points in the season, but have been ignored due to the Flames being able to just score at will. Sloppy defensive zone play and slow starts have been recurring issues all year, and the opposition has been making them pay for it since.
Goaltending has been an underrated problem. Since Christmas, David Rittich is only a 0.905 goaltender, as opposed to the 0.923 guy he was before the holidays. He was struggling before the break, but his flaws have been on full display since, and he simply hasn’t been as solid. With early season Rittich, the team could count on him to keep them in close games, but now it seems that the tables have turned. The Flames have recently been forced to keep Rittich in it, rather than the other way around. During that 12-game stretch, Rittich has allowed three or more goals on seven occasions. If he wasn’t pulled against San Jose, it’s likely that it would be eight games. Compare that to him only allowing three or more seven times in his first 20 games of the year. Needless to say, Mike Smith hasn’t been able to pick up the slack.
The only real change since the break has been the lack of powerplay scoring. They’re 1/14 since the break, despite picking up eight powerplay goals in the four games before the break. I think that will turn around soon enough, and they better hope so just in case the goaltending doesn’t start trending back towards what it was earlier in the year.
Should Flames be in the market for a goalie? Is there even a market of goalies available to trade for?
— Ian (@ianberg) February 10, 2019
This question has been bandied about all season. Rittich being great kind of kept that talk at bay, but I would still be sniffing around if I was the Flames.
Rittich has shown that he’s not invincible, and it was likely that he was going to hit a slump at one point or another. I think he bounces back, but the question becomes whether or not you can trust that heading into the playoffs. What if he hits another slump in mid-April? I don’t think there’s any faith in Smith being the guy to step up. If the Flames are smart, they’re still digging around the goalie market.
The potential trade options have been tirelessly discussed all over this website, both in articles and in the comments section, but I’m having a hard team seeing the Flames managing to pull off a solid goalie trade. Maybe Anders Nilsson is the Senators player they’re looking for, but given that he’s been the first solid goalie Ottawa has had in a while, there’s probably a major reluctance to trade him. Jimmy Howard remains an option, but one that’s going to be expensive and will likely take the Flames out of the running for other trade pieces.