We’ve spent a lot of time – practically all of last week’s mailbag – on potential trade deadline add Mark Stone. So let’s move on and look at some of the other options the Flames could look at in the upcoming week.
Is Stone close? What happens to the D-pairings if/when he comes back, especially with rookies playing so well?
Ironically, we’re beginning with a Stone, but not that one.
To talk about Michael Stone for a change, his status is up in the air. There were a few reports that he was skating with the team, but nothing that says he’s cleared to play. The team doesn’t need him to play, so I don’t think anyone is going to rush him back to action.
Even if he was healthy enough, I don’t think he is anything other than the 7D at this point. The player who has taken his spot, Rasmus Andersson, has been getting better and better with each passing game, and the team is trusting him in situations they would never trust Stone with. I can’t think of the last time Stone was included on the PP or in extra attacker situations. Rasmus is there in year one of his NHL career.
To swap the two out would not only be a step backwards for the team in terms of talent, but also for Andersson from a personal development standpoint. His ice time and usage this year has helped push him closer towards his full potential. With Stone, there’s really nowhere to go. He is what he is, and that’s what he’ll be for the rest of his career. Perhaps Stone has experience on Andersson, but that’s about it, and Andersson is slowly proving that notion irrelevant.
Unless they go righty-righty on the third pairing, which is also bad for Oliver Kylington’s personal development, I can’t see him touching the roster again this year, provided he’s healthy.
If the Sens want to keep Stone and trade Duchene, are the flames still in on him? If so where does he slot in and what's the asking price?
— Khalid Keshavjee (@KMKeshavjee) February 17, 2019
Ottawa is open for business, so if Mark Stone is a no-go, there’s still the option of adding another high-level player in Matt Duchene. I wouldn’t be opposed. The asking price is probably the same as Stone: first, prospect, roster player. If you couldn’t get Stone, Duchene isn’t a bad consolation prize.
The question of where he slots in is tricky. The first line is not being broken up. You have Mikael Backlund on the second line, and Duchene is an upgrade on him, but Duchene isn’t really suited for the defensive role Backlund plays. Duchene has been sheltered heavily and has always struggled defensively (his lowest CA/60, 55.11, would be Backlund’s second highest), so you’re limiting your shutdown options a bit. Tkachuk-Duchene-Neal might score a handful of goals, and perhaps Bennett-Backlund-Frolik can pick up some of the slack, but you’ve also downgraded your best shutdown option to bottom six minutes. Not to say that this is a deal breaker, but adding Duchene will come at the cost of having almost no two-way defensive options in your top six.
I think the point is moot anyways, as the Flames probably want to upgrade their wing depth before looking at their centre depth. With Stone, you have a clear cut spot for him at 2RW. With Duchene, you might have to break up lines, change roles, and basically rethink your middle six. Stone would be a less disruptive add with similar production, so I think the Flames would go with him, given the choice.
Would you consider Simmonds? What would you give up for him?
— Omran Desouki (@OmranDesouki) February 17, 2019
I think Wayne Simmonds is this year’s “stay away” candidate. He’s 30, has been on a slow decline from his prime years, and isn’t really posting great underlying numbers this year. You could point to the situation he’s in as a cause for this (he plays with Nolan Patrick and Scott Laughton on the third line), but I think it could also be very telling that the Flyers, not a playoff team, already have two better RWs than Simmonds. He’s being sold as a player who could be what he was two years ago, which is always a red flag.
He could still be a serviceable player who can help the team, but he’s being touted as one of the better rentals, and the prices will be steeper than what his actual value is. If they get him for a third and a B-prospect, I’m fine with it. They shouldn’t be paying much more than that. There’s a much more real chance that his production stagnates than other rental players. Imagine paying a first and a good prospect for a player who might pick up nine or 10 points (Simmonds’ current PPG rate) down the stretch.
If I’m looking at it from management’s perspective, I don’t think they want him at all. They probably aren’t going to re-sign him, he doesn’t make much of a top-six impact, and he’s going to be worth assets they would rather spend on the premium names. I think they’re approaching this trade deadline with the idea of making their team better for more than just this postseason. Simmonds can’t do that for them. He’s simply too old and not good enough.
If Neal is out longer term, does that impact the flames plans for the deadline?
— Khalid Keshavjee (@KMKeshavjee) February 17, 2019
This is the exception for what I wrote above. Neal’s status is still up in the air, so it’s hard to prognosticate based on the lack of info, but here’s how I think it breaks down.
Out until a little after trade deadline: nothing happens. Maybe they use a recall, but I think they’ll treat Neal as their trade deadline acquisition in this case.
Out until the playoffs: they’ll probably look for a lower-tier rental player, like Patrick Maroon, Alex Chiasson, or Andre Burakovsky who won’t be expensive but can fill the void for the time being. Maybe a player they can imagine playing a depth role for the 2019-20 team.
Out for the rest of the year: they’ll probably go for a Simmonds-type rental: someone worth bringing in but not worth re-signing. I think Simmonds and Mats Zuccarello are both helpful enough now that they can fill Neal’s spot but are also old enough that they don’t feel regret when they cut them loose at the end of the year.
Will Foo ever get a call up
— Ethan (@wfniw) February 17, 2019
No, he’s pretty much done as a prospect. Spencer Foo’s college career was promising enough that he could feasibly step up and become a middle six RW with some AHL seasoning, but the window for him was very small to actually accomplish that.
That window has closed now. I think there was a lot of very good reasons to believe in Foo – he took over the team after Andrew Mangiapane went out and got better and better as he acclimated to the AHL – but he’s been running in place so far this season. I think the Flames added similar-aged tweeners (Alan Quine, Tyler Graovac, Kerby Rychel, Curtis Lazar) to give Foo some competition, but instead of being able to establish himself as the best recall choice, he’s been buried with younger players (Dillon Dube, Matthew Phillips, Glenn Gawdin) proving that they’re just as good or even better options right now.
He might be a black ace who gets a shot during the final few games of the season while everyone else is being held out, but for a meaningful call-up, he’s likely out of the running.
— jamc (@itsmejc2011) February 17, 2019
HHOF voting is very subjective, and there really aren’t any boxes you have to check to guarantee your induction, but there are generally two indisputable criteria:
- Be one of the best during your time in the league.
- For a very long time.
Mark Giordano, should he continue to be a 50-70 point guy for the rest of his career, probably qualifies. Stretching back to 2013-14 when he really stepped into his own, that would be around 10 seasons of pure dominance at an age when players usually stop being dominant. If you factor in his backstory, he’s almost certainly guaranteed a spot in the HHOF. He just has to defy time for a bit longer and he’s probably a lock. Also, winning some awards should help his case.
Seriously, what are we doing about the goalies? This year and beyond?
— MordcaiAliV.AlanOSha (@JimmyThaFinger) February 17, 2019
I don’t really have a clue, which is odd because what’s going to happen to the current goaltenders is pretty obvious.
David Rittich is certainly being re-signed. He’s been slumping for a while, which puts the “future long-term starter” designation into jeopardy, but he’s going to be cheaper than what some thought a month or two ago which is good news. At the very least, he’s a good enough goalie for at least 30-40 games a season. That’s more stable goaltending than the Flames have had in a long time and it would be stupid to not at least try to build on what Rittich has done so far. For all the worrying, it’s still only his first NHL season as a starter in some capacity, and his third North American season in total.
Mike Smith is certainly not being re-signed. He’s very old, expensive, and is quite clearly over the hill. You save a load of money in an expensive offseason by letting him walk, so they’ll let him walk. You can really do better than Smith.
For prospects, no one is close. Jon Gillies has imploded. Tyler Parsons has been battling injuries and is also struggling. Nick Schneider has been more intriguing than his junior career suggested about him, but that’s based on an 11-game AHL sample. Mason McDonald has taken three years to be ECHL good. Don’t count on any of them to be NHLers next season.
So those are the definites. You have one good enough goalie and need one more, but there’s still some questions to be answered. Is Rittich a starter or a 1A/1B type goalie? What if he’s just a backup? What if this season is an outlier year? What do you pay him after this season? And for how long?
When you figure those out, you can proceed to step two: finding the other goalie. Do they need a backup? Do they need a starter? How old/young should they be? Should they be an established NHL goalie or should they take a risk on a promising yet inexperienced goalie? How much money can be allocated to them? Can they find an internal solution? Depending on how the rest of the season goes, the offseason search for a goalie could be maybe the most thorough in years.
The goalie mess is likely going to be unsolved for a little while. Let’s see how the rest of the season plays out and hope that these questions get answered so there’s less uncertainty in the offseason. At least they have one piece of the puzzle, which is one more than the Flames have usually had in previous years.