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.


  • deantheraven

    You can’t hear it from there, but I’m sure my neighbour will be by shortly to complain about the sounde of me grinding my teeth at the suggestion of adding Kadri. I really wish people around here would take a longer look at the man than his stats line. Great corsi, sure, but the guy is a whiny, dirty, cheap- shotting A-hole who turtles when he gets called out.
    I believe Treliving has made character a priority in his deals. Hopefully he sees the (small) man beyond Kadri’s possession numbers and points and takes a pass.

  • calgaryfan

    I don’t beleive the Flames are rightfully comfortable with Monahan and Backlund as 1-2 down the middle after listening to Conroy. I think every player will be under scrutiny after that playoff dud performance. Conroy specifically referred to this cores past playoff record as not being good.

      • HOCKEY83

        I suggested getlaf over Monny on Johnny’s line right after the series loss…did not go over well. Getzlaf is a hard working hard hitting talented player…every team needs one. Monny is skilled if the puck lands on his stick in front of the net but even that eluded him in that series.

        • HOCKEY83

          No one will take neal…That’s painfully obvious. Flames are stuck with Neal until they buy him out. I said it right up top trade Monny. Is there some reason he is untouchable. He’s provan time and time again he’s not the guy for the top line center job. skill alone does not make you a great top line center. Getzlaf types open ice for their skilled wingers. Doesn’t have to be getzlaf just someone with more than monny has to offer. Maybe Monny will changed…how many seasons does it take to figure out how to use your adult man body in Hockey…he’s going on 7. Sure the Flames might miss his 30 goals but having a hard nosed skilled top line center opens ice for the top line which means more points. Like i said in a previous post Little 5’10 20 pounds lighter Mangi plays with 100% more grit than Monny. You say who do you trade off the roster like i think there are some untouchables…to me there aren’t any untouchables for the right trade.

    • Luter 1

      Thank goodness someone on the Flames sees that’s an issue (downy soft) and yes hate Kadri but he would push Monahan as 1C in my opinion after seeing some hard forechecking from him and Johnny/Lindholm lighting itup.

  • redwhiteblack

    The team is going to be basically the same as the one that lost to the Avs. We will still have Mony, Lindholm, Johnny, Matt T and an aging Gio as the core. Can they mature to be better next post season (assuming they get there)? That is the question. We swap a few parts to hopefully help, but it rests with how our core performs.

    • Scary Gary

      We over-performed a bit in 2019, just remember Monahan is 24, Gaudreau is 25, Lindholm is 24, and Tkachuk is 21 so our window is open for a few more years. Ideally Valimaki and Andersson are ascending as Gio is descending.

    • Oil Spilly

      This team will never win in the playoffs with leadership like Johnny and Mony leading the way. Tkachuk is not a leader in my opinion. He is still learning and he has a lot to learn. Block buster trade is needed.

      • Garry T

        Oil Spilly …. Big trades. How about Bing and Brodie to Toronto for Kappinen, Gardner (roughy tough ) and on his way out, , Travis Dermott ( real up and comer ) and Hyman. Hyman gets equal points to Bing but brings in a hard guy to play against and puts #s on the board. Dermott is highly prized by TO and bringing in Gardner gives you hitting, leadership and points. The TO press do not like him because he puts them in place. We might have to add Czarnik to the deal but no biggie. Now we have even more depth on D, size, grit and speed in both Hyman and Kappinen. We are then in the position to move an Anderson or Hanifin elsewhere for top six forwards if necessary. Next move Johnny to New Jersey for the 1st pick over all this year and another 1st next year plus their 2nd this and next year. We flip our 26 th pick(1st) to Winnipeg for a signed Hayes. Bring back Ferland and essentially build 4 very good lines and we have accrued 4-6 picks for this and next year. Now we do not have to pay Bing 9 mil this fall. You have to give to get.

        • Great Wall of Kipru

          You high bud? Hyman has never put up as many points as chuckers and may I ask why everyone was praying that we sign Him long term in the season but now now that he had a few bad games in the playoffs everybody seems to want him gone ? The kids a freakin stud and part of the future of the team get used to it…

    • Kzak

      I agree 100% and I said the exact same thing when we traded for Lindholm. I think we some move Lindy to centre, bring Phillips up, trade Janko and Gillies to LA for Clifford and Quick, trade Frolik and our first for Zucker, trade Brodie and Neal for a 5th rounder, try to unload Stone:
      Vali-The Phantom/The Kyller

      Call me crazy
      Big Save Dave

  • The GREAT WW

    I’m surprised there haven’t been any Neal for Loui Erickson trade suggestions.
    With all the love for soft lazy Swedish forwards who don’t score much and all…..


  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • KH44

    The Kadri move would be to look at Toronto’s cap crunch, and look at the Flames. If the Flames can move someone like Brodie out, bring assets and cap space back, and fill it with someone like Kadri, the Flames depth improves dramatically. When Monahan falls off a cliff in March, the same way he has for the past two years, better depth down the middle will help significantly.

    • Flameon13

      Fully agree being able to still have a scoring center when Monny’s production takes a dip makes a world of difference down the stretch. The problem the year and last when Monny started to struggle is they didn’t have a center that they were comfortable enough in to put in a first line role and expect to score so a lot of time was spent trying to play through it until they finally tried Ryan up there. Also if his struggles late in the season is due to fatigue from constantly playing those top line minutes having another reliable option at center can reduce his minutes so he isn’t as fatigued late in the season. I think having Johnny with Monny and Chucky with Kadri would give them a 1a 1b option with whichever line is playing better at the time gets the more minutes (Lindy would move to the right side of whoever is more productive at the time).

      • HOCKEY83

        If he can’t play the whole season as a top line center and into the playoffs without getting fatigued than he doesn’t deserve the money or the spot on the team.

  • Heeeeere’s Johnny

    A couple of thoughts on Kadri.

    1. I am also gritting my teeth as I detest what I see. But I also get that other fan bases see that with Chucky as well. If Chucky could teach Kadri how not to cross the line and Kadri could teach Chucky to move closer to the line it might make for the most irritable pair of SOB’s that other teams would ever face … I kinda like that idea.
    2. Leafs need D. Brodie and Kadri make the same money. Perhaps a swap makes sense. Although Leafs are looking for RHS.

    • HOCKEY83

      No to Malkin is like saying no to crosby or ovechkin. Top 3 points per game players over the last 15. I’d take Malkin if not for anything else but to train all of our young forward talent to be better. Show them some stuff they don’t ever see on a regular basis. There’s no one on the team for our forwards like that. The D have Gio the forwards have no one. I guess they tried when adding grizzled 46 year old jagr but that just turned out to be the biggest embarrassing joke in flames history.

      • fretsey

        No to Malkin because of the 9.5 Million AAV and the cost to aquire him. I totally agree about needing a leader for the forward group. I don’t think Malkin checks that box

        • Kevin R

          Malkin has played his best when Sid is injured & he is the top line centre. Malkin would be the perfect window dressing we figure we have for the next 3 years. How amazing would a Gaudreau/Malkin/Lindholm line look. We could call it the International line.

          • HOCKEY83

            It would be amazing and Malkin has always been one of my favorite players. He gets no respect at all in this league. Left off of the top 100 list when in fact is talent level is just a skate blade behind crosby since both entered the league. The Flames would have to get rid of some salary though. Monny 6mil and whoever else.

    • 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.