We’ve talked about a lot hypothetical trades in recent mailbags. I suspect it’s because we’re all bored.
But now there’s some smoke to the trade rumours. With the NHL season over in four to seven games, the offseason scheming is beginning to gain traction. A potential preview of Brad Treliving’s annual draft day blockbuster trade has been released. What else could come?
What kind of goalie could we get for TJ Brodie?
— Ryan Good (@RyanScGood) May 26, 2019
I think the best goalie you could get for TJ Brodie is a 1B type. I don’t foresee many teams trading their starters away, and I think it would be wise to aim higher than a backup, so let’s look for a 1B. Any trade partner is probably looking to balance the money, so we also need to stay in the neighbourhood of Brodie’s $4.65 M salary. Let’s also assume there’s other parts involved to balance salary and expand the scope a wee bit.
The list of goalies within Brodie’s salary range reveals that a trade is likely not going to happen. There’s 31 goalies, and most of them are starters, which rules them out immediately, unless the Flames are willing to pay up (don’t think they are). The remainder are overpaid goalies not worth trading for. The two most likely candidates from that list are Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer, two goalies who are still serviceable, but probably not what the Flames are looking for, and probably not who they should target with an asset like Brodie.
If the Flames want to dangle Brodie for a goaltender, they’re probably out of luck.
How does a Brodie-Huberdeau swap sound? Extra parts obvs in the equation…
— steve siddall (@ssidd0220) May 25, 2019
It sounds good, except that I don’t think the Panthers are trading Jonathan Huberdeau anytime soon. He’s on a very friendly deal for the club, and they don’t really need TJ Brodie. I think the Panthers have bigger problems than their second highest scorer, and I don’t think those problems can be solved by sacrificing him for Brodie and other spare parts from the Flames.
also….. Who is Jason Zucker?
— steve siddall (@ssidd0220) May 25, 2019
This is probably one of the most relevant questions for the Flames’ off-season. A Jason Zucker trade seems inevitable, as it’s been discussed endlessly since the failed attempt at the trade deadline. Why are the Flames so keyed in on this guy? Why are they prepared to offer both Michael Frolik and Sam Bennett for him?
Zucker is the regular 20 goal scorer that Frolik never was and that Bennett still hasn’t developed into. Zucker has hit 20 goals in four of his last five seasons, and even hit 30 goals the season before. Even this past season where his SH% dropped about three points below his career average, and five points from the season before, he still managed to score 20 goals. He shoots a lot (his 214 shots this season would be second on the Flames, and his 96 individual high danger chances would be fifth) and is lethal when he does.
What the Flames are betting is that he can add that goal-scoring element to the top six, putting a 20 goal scorer in each spot on the top two lines. They’re also betting that taking Zucker out of the offensive black hole that exists in Minnesota (bottom five in GF at both 5v5 and all situations) will reveal a whole new side to his game, a la Nino Niederrieter when he was traded to the Hurricanes.
So that’s what it boils down to: Zucker is a young, 20 goal scorer on a reasonable contract that the Flames want to boost their top six. You can debate whether or not that’s worth what the Flames are offering, but he is a very good player whose offensive potential has been smothered on a middling Minnesota team.
Any RWers that the Flames should target?
Would you promote Mangiapane to the top 6?
— JarkMankowski (@JarkMankoswki) May 25, 2019
With the Flames’ cap constraints, there’s only two RWs worth pursuing: Brett Connolly and Joonas Donskoi.
I like those two because they can easily fit into Calgary’s cap structure. EvolvingWild’s contract projection tool predicts that Connolly will make $3.5M AAV over three years, and Donskoi $2.8M on the same term.
Connolly can offer some offensive upside. He’s a sharpshooter who has shot over 15% the past three seasons, and it’s almost exclusively at 5v5. He hasn’t even been benefiting from the presence of future HHOFer Alex Ovechkin, as he’s spent the majority of his time with Lars Eller and Andrei Burakovsky, who are not in the same category. The risk involved with Connolly is his bubble bursting, as he’s been riding a pretty high PDO the past three seasons. Regression to the mean is the difference between an effective bottom six option and a healthy scratch.
Donskoi is a bit less exciting, but a more solid two-way option. He’s honed his defensive skills in San Jose’s bottom six, and has recently been able to contribute a bit more offensively. Part of the risk involved with Donskoi is that he won’t have Tomas Hertl or Evander Kane with him in Calgary, which could damage his offensive numbers. His defensive game should remain stout, at the very least.
To answer the second question, I would absolutely try Andrew Mangiapane in the top six. As Pat pointed out a while back, Mangiapane turned it on during the final stretch of the season, arguably the best winger the club had in the final 20 games (as sad as that is). He shone during a time when no one else was and solidified his status as a Flames regular moving forward.
It’s far too early to tell whether late season Mangiapane is the real Mangiapane or a guy who just got hot at the right time. What isn’t up for question is how deserving he is. Of all the Flames bottom sixers, Mangiapane presented the best case to get top six time. His career history backs that up, as he’s been an offensive dynamo at every stop besides the NHL. If his development continues, he could be that at the NHL shortly.
Should the flames have to worry about Tkachuk getting an offer sheet?
— jamc (@itsmejc2011) May 25, 2019
No, it’s a rarely used tactic, so it’s barely worth thinking about. The last team to attempt one was the Calgary Flames, who tried to sign Ryan O’Reilly. Remember those fun times?
But if you like to get scared, let’s explore it.
Tkachuk is probably going to settle in the $7-8M range, which requires a first, second, and third round pick. But the Flames are going to match any team that attempts that contract, as that’s what they’re already expecting to pay him. The point of an offer sheet is to price out the team who owns the RFA’s rights, so any suitor would have to up the ante to the $8-10M range, which requires an additional first round pick. I don’t think that will happen either, as that’s paying way above market price for Tkachuk. The teams that can make that offer probably don’t want to fork over valuable draft picks for a player that they know they are overpaying for. Even if a team offers a lucrative contract, I think the Flames might match it anyways, regardless of how difficult it makes their cap situation.
If anyone gets offer sheeted this off-season, it’s one of Mitch Marner or Brayden Point, as their situations are what offer sheets are designed for. Teams can pay market value for those players, price out the current owners, and fork over draft picks that they would’ve anyways on the trade market. Given that Tkachuk isn’t on the same level as Marner or Point, I can’t see any team offering him something in the $8-10M range.
(Remember that Tkachuk also has to agree to an offer sheet, and I don’t really see that happening either. I think he likes it here.)
Who do we think is the best platoon option in net for next year with Rittich?
UFA? (Varlamov, Talbot, Mrazek, Smith)
Trade? (Allen, Greiss)
— nhlmemecentral (@nhlmemecentral) May 25, 2019
Jon Gillies is an instant no. I don’t think he’s as bad as his 2018-19 was, but I still wouldn’t trust him in the NHL net.
For the UFAs listed, I would only give Mrazek serious consideration. He’s had a good career history and is younger than the rest listed, so if anyone is a safe bet to remain steady next season, it is Mrazek. The only problem is that he’s likely one of the more attractive goalie UFAs behind Sergei Bobrovsky, so it’s going to be a hotly contested bidding war for his services. If the number sneaks past $4M, the Flames are probably out.
There’s one UFA overlooked here, and it’s Anders Nilsson. He’s probably not sticking around in Ottawa (why would anyone), and his career appeared to be on the upswing before landing in Vancouver. If the Flames are looking for a low cost goalie who could operate in tandem with Rittich, Nilsson is probably the most affordable option.
Phil Kessel. What type of hotdogs do you give him to come to Calgary?
— Mitch (@RokoGamin) May 25, 2019
Obviously, pocket dawgs. It’s the one edge Calgary has over any other suitor.
If Phil is available in a trade, it might make sense to cut out the middlemen in Minnesota and Zucker and go straight to Pittsburgh with the Frolik and Bennett package. In Kessel, the Flames are adding a first line RW who could gel with either of the top two lines. He doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, and even if he does, he has three years remaining at $6.8M AAV.
I don’t think the Penguins will trade Kessel for that package (they’re also looking to offload Jack Johnson, who Calgary can’t take on) but I think it’s an idea worth considering.