Local team improves overnight with one weird trick: a big huge trade. We look at different ways that could unfold in the latest mailbag.
— Louis (@louisv981) May 5, 2019
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.
What are the percentages that we move our 1st rounder? greater than 50%? I hate trading our 1st but if we can combine it with moving salary (Brodie / Frolik / Neal) I could accept it.
— kingcambie (@kingcambie) May 5, 2019
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.
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.
Should we go after Evgeni Malkin?
— Nikki Watt (@sgtclumsy) May 4, 2019
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?
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.
Would It be worth going after Nazem Kadri, and what would it cost?(I assume Jankowski is part of the deal)
— K Harrison (@KHarrison44) May 4, 2019
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.
I think an under the radar player the @NHLFlames should target in free agency is Donskoi. They would have to move a few forwards in order to make room. Thoughts?
— Louis (@louisv981) May 5, 2019
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.