FlamesNation mailbag: Trade hypotheticals

Local team improves overnight with one weird trick: a big huge trade. We look at different ways that could unfold in the latest mailbag.

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If he still counts as a prospect, Dillon Dube is probably the easiest pick. Otherwise, I would go with Matthew Phillips. He picked up only 38 points in 65 games as a rookie, but he has some great underlying numbers. He had 31 primary points, 27 5v5 points, and 24 5v5 primary points, all of which lead the Flames’ prospects on the Stockton Heat. His success this year was very low-key and, if he has a good offseason, could win a job on the struggling right wing.

If you want a super fun, pie-in-the-sky pick, I would go with Martin Pospisil just because he’s fun in his own unique way.

I’d probably say the first rounder is gone. The Flames were expecting to trade it away at the deadline, and given the way the season ended, they’re definitely looking to improve. Drafting 26th instead of 30th isn’t enough incentive to keep the pick. I don’t know if the Jason Zucker deal is still on the table or if they’re looking for bigger fish, but you can safely skip the first day of the draft.

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If they move the first rounder, I don’t think it will be for the purpose of moving salary. Sure, there’s the rumour of Michael Frolik being moved at the draft with the first, but it’s for Zucker, who is more expensive than Frolik. They’re going to move it if they can make an upgrade, not just so they can dump someone.

Frolik on his own could probably fetch a decent return, as would trading TJ Brodie, so I can’t see why they would need to send the pick with those players. I think the team wouldn’t say no to a James Neal trade, but I don’t think they’re actively shopping him. Moving him with the pick would be an extremely expensive way to get rid of a mistake that it’s really just not worth it.

Well, yes. He’s Evgeni Malkin, one of the best power forwards in the game who had a down year by his standards and still scored 20 goals and 50 assists.

I don’t believe he’s actually available. Malkin trade rumours pop up every summer the Penguins don’t win the cup and then nothing happens, presumably because the Penguins know better than to trade one of the best players in the NHL. It’s one of those rumours that pops up every summer with little foundation to it, much like any other rumour about a team wanting to move on from a superstar.

But this is called “trade hypotheticals” so let’s explore. What would a hypothetical move for Malkin look like?

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The first issue is that the Flames can’t bring on Malkin’s contract – $9.5M over the next three years – even if they move some money out. They would still have to sign Matthew Tkachuk, David Rittich, another goalie, and a few other bodies, so adding to the cap is not workable in this situation. The Flames would have to subtract multiple big money pieces to get this to work. It’s certainly not impossible, but definitely extremely implausible.

The problem is that the big cap hit players that should be moved out first (as named above) are probably not going to be the ones that get the deal done: teams don’t trade their good players for your garbage. If Pittsburgh is interested, they would probably ask for Sean Monahan in return, as he could fill the Malkin-sized hole in their lineup. From a production standpoint, Monahan is on par with Malkin, and he’s much younger and much cheaper. If they want to move their superstar, they’re going to want one back in return.

And that’s where it stops making sense. If Monahan has the same production as Malkin, but younger and cheaper, why not stay with Monahan? I don’t think Monahan is going to be as good as Malkin is, but he’s one of the centres in this league that is pretty darn close. They’d be essentially swapping point per game centres, but one is entering his prime and the other is about to exit it.

If Malkin is available, the trade doesn’t require moving a piece of the core, and the salary cap magically disappears, I say they should go for it.

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If there’s a more realistic centre upgrade, Nazem Kadri is probably the target. He’s on a friendly contract ($4.5M with three seasons remaining) and was extremely effective despite a reduced 3C role with the Maple Leafs.

Like Malkin, I don’t know if the rumours being thrown out about him are legitimate, but given the Leafs’ cap crunch, their need to sign Mitch Marner, and his playoff suspension, it’s believable that the Leafs might want to move on from him. Let’s run through this one.

As it is with anything relating to this offseason, the issue is cap space. The Flames still need to move money out if they want to take on Kadri, but the Leafs aren’t in the position to accept anymore money. Mark Jankowski’s reasonable cap hit is probably enough for Toronto to bring him onboard, although the Flames would need to make another move to dump money somewhere else.

From Toronto’s side, I think they might want a bit more from a Kadri trade other than someone else’s 3C. Kadri has demonstrated that he can be a fully functional 1C or 2C, and the only reason he’s a 3C right now is because they have Auston Matthews and John Tavares on their team. Jankowski hasn’t really made any strides towards being anything other than a 3C and his minors history doesn’t suggest that he’ll become much more than that. Other teams are definitely going to pay premium prices for a 2C on a very friendly contract.

And those are prices the Flames aren’t going to pay. They are rightfully comfortable with Monahan and Mikael Backlund as their 1-2 punch down the middle, and Derek Ryan also emerged as a solid if unspectacular depth option. Jankowski has also been fine in his role, so the Flames really don’t have the burning need to make an upgrade. Kadri does offer some very high quality depth, but how much are they willing to pay for a guy who just might end up being the third option? How good do you need your 3C to be?

I’d like to see Kadri as a Flame (it would be funny to see him on the same team as Mark Giordano), but I’m betting that it doesn’t happen.

Joonas Donskoi is a really good option for the bottom six. He’s a RW who has been a strong possession player in San Jose, with a very solid defensive game (50.73 CA/60. For comparsion, Ryan is the Flames’ best shot suppression forward at 48.51 CA/60). If there is someone riding under the radar this upcoming free agency, it is Donskoi.

The good news is that the Flames likely won’t have to pay much to get him. Evolving-Wild’s contract projector has him at $2.8M over three years as a UFA, which is what you want from a bottom sixer: a guy who can produce on a pretty cheap contract. That cap hit is low enough that it won’t cause any headaches and can probably be buried if the worst case happens.

Sorry for repeating this ad nauseum, but the issue is that the Flames have their backs up against the wall for cap space. Tkachuk, Rittich, new goalie, etc. If they want Donskoi, they have to resolve their other cap issues before the calendar flips over to July, as I don’t think Donskoi will remain a free agent for very long.


  • Hockey4life

    I get James Neal had a brutal brutal year. We all witnessed it. But now that he knows he has a coach that’s willing to sit his ass in the bleachers, I for one am very interested to see him in camp next year. If he flounders again then it’s time to get rid of him but I have a sneaking suspicion he just may turn things around.

    • freethe flames

      He gets 3 exhibition games to show he has come to redeem himself(at least that is all the time I would give him) and if he flounders at all he gets to know Stockton very well.

    • CowboyBob

      Crappy skaters have shorter careers. Once they hit 30 the flaws are more pronounced. Neal has one way to go, down. If Tkachuk doesn’t improve his skating enormously he will be in the same boat. Monahan is not far behind.

    • The Feenis

      Don’t get your hopes up. The front office saw what we saw, and after the Brouwer fiasco, doubt they give him a second chance ….hopefully he’s done here. Thank god the free agent class is thin this yr after panarin, duschene, and skinner. Bubble teams that miss out on these guys might pull the trigger on Neal

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Unless Tre finds a sucker–I mean a taker–for Neal it is virtually impossible that he’ll be bought out this summer or sentenced to Stockton. The Flames org just doesn’t work that way. For Neal to succeed in Cal, he must play on a top 2 line regardless of what kind of shape he shows up at camp. That’s called entitlement. Bench him for the entire season, and he won’t care with all that dough coming in. I’d love to see your scenario play out, but we are talking about the Flames.

    • HOCKEY83

      That’s my favorite trade scenario so far…good one. I think Tampa will need to make trades where they don’t take much salary back if they want to resign Point. He’ll be wanting something between Stammer and Kuch money. Guys like JT Miller might be available for less than one might think.

  • freethe flames

    The question for BT and BP is do they believe they have players to fill the holes on the team Can any of these guys play on the RHS and the top 6: Janko, Mangi, Dube, and Phillips. If the answer is no then BT needs to find players to fill these roles. Donsko, Arimira, Connelly and others fit the role; not perfect fits but would move the needle. Are there guys who are home runs ; the answer is yes but the cost will be high. The assets we have are limited.

  • Vinnsanity0412

    Sign Duchene:
    A 1C allows everyone to slot so much better. Backs is a superb 3C, and underwhelming 2C, fill in the wingers as you see fit. Trade Brodie, Frolik and Stone to make cap room. Do it BT!!!

  • Budgie

    Will Calgary look at a deal for a Goaltender? Smith was excellent in the playoffs but his age is a factor-Rittich is good, maybe they will go with Rittich and ? Smith for one more year? I would like to see a bigger forward with speed, Defense is deep-Brodie seems to be the most likely for a trade. Brodie and Neal to Ottawa for Brady Tkachuk=not likely but I would like it.

        • HOCKEY83

          This seems like the most likely scenario type deal put forth here Stockton.

          last 5 years have been garbage for Quick – 133 wins 131 losses. 33 years old…5.8 mil cap hit until he’s 37. The Flames might as well keep smith for one more year. Hard no to Quick. He’s average at best in this league now. Gillies for considerably less money can lose as many games as Quick can.

          • Kzak

            I know we’ve had this discussion before, but besides this year, he has been solid, and last year in the playoffs, he at a 1.55 GAA and a .947 Sv%. Spin it however you want, but if he did that with the Flames, he might find his name on the Cup once more.

          • Stockton's Finest

            Have you seen Jarry’s numbers both in NHL and AHL? In 141 AHL games played, he is 77-48-15-9 with a 2.55 GAA and a .915 SV %. In 29 NHL games he is 14-8-3 with a 2.84GAA and .906 SV%. Looks more proven than what Gillies has done

  • buts

    Sometimes the best trades are the ones not made. We have extra D to move and we need grit, toughness and more speed. Just watch the playoffs ….on the grit scale we are far far away.

  • SgtRoadBlock

    We will see core players move before and around the year Seattle joins the NHL… players don’t stick around that much with just only one team anymore like the old day’s.

    Keeping the same stuff over and over and just blaming 3rd and 4th line for why we failed over the years is getting old..

    Put the TEAM first not the player.
    Draft day can be a big day like some of us said on FN after the All Star Break..

  • Speed Kills

    Reading lots of hockey rumors it seems WPG might just be a perfect trade partner for the Flames. Sounds like Trouba wants to go south and Myers fancies himself pretty high as in $$$. As well as rumblings about ” Being some issues and divisions within the Jets’ dressing room. Those could provide additional incentive for Cheveldayoff to ship out a salaried player or two”. So…. Lets Make A Deal (Hockey Deal) WPG gets Hamonic & Monahan, Flames receive Scheifele (#1 C), Sami, Niku(RD) and WPG’s 2nd round pick in 2020.
    Then Trade Brodie and Czarnik to LGK in exchange for Tuch(RW) and Miller(RD).
    That would be a Great Start to Re-Tool for the Playoffs Next Year…

    • Speed Kills

      I’d also Really like to see the Flames make a serious move to bring in Zibanejad.
      Yeah, I’d even go as far as Hanifin, Bennett, Neal and Our 2020 2nd for Zibanejad, Brett Howden and NYR 2020 4TH(or Brendan Lemieux)?

    • HOCKEY83

      Wouldn’t it be great to have Scheifele but I doubt Winnipeg would get rid of one of the best Value contracts in the league. Scheifele and wheeler for less money than Mcdavid alone seems like a couple of keepers to me.

  • deantheraven

    Now that Artemi Panerin (top 6 RHS) is done for the season…Maybe ONE more Free Agent signing this season?
    Could Tre get him to sign to play with Johnny Hockey for under $7 mil?

  • SeanCharles

    Whatever the trades may be my expectation and hope are:

    Keep: Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk, Lindholm, Bennett, Mangiapane, Dube, Backlund, Ryan, Gio, Hamonic, Hanifin, Andersson, Kylington, Valimaki, Rittich and, depending on contract ask, Hathaway.

    Everyone else I could see us moving on from due to various reasons.