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FlamesNation mailbag: the off-season ahead

Now it’s the off-season, and with that, the NHL calendar flips over and we can look to the future and all of the new things it holds.

I don’t think that’s happening.

If the Kings are going to move a goalie, it’s going to be Jonathan Quick. He’s seen better days, and the Kings aren’t going to be successful at any point during the remainder of his contract. The Kings might as well try to get something for him now before he decays any further and is less deserving of his contract.

Jack Campbell is the opposite of Quick: young, cheap, and currently good. If the Kings plan on being competitive in the next few years, it’s likely Campbell is the one between the pipes. They’ll hold onto him, mostly because he’s all they have. Maybe things go awry and then he becomes available (he is a 2020 UFA, so next trade deadline is a possibility), but for now, he’s off limits.

Yes.

Despite the rumours, I can’t see a trade or a buyout materializing. I think the Flames are exploring the possibility, but are still certainly content to let James Neal get another kick at the can. I feel they don’t want to take on someone else’s problem just to get rid of the whipping boy, which is a fair thing to do.

And with the rumoured return being Milan Lucic or Loui Eriksson, maybe be careful what you wish for.

I don’t think they’re comparable trades.

If you missed it, the Penguins traded Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks for a fifth round pick and Dominik Kahun, a young productive NHLer. That’s a pretty good haul for a cap dump trade, especially for one that involves an oft-injured defenceman who struggled on a pretty bare bones defensive unit.

But Maatta has his advantages over TJ Brodie. He’s younger by five years and has a contract that lasts until 2022. The Blackhawks are betting that he can return to form and become the top pairing defenceman many projected him to be, doing so at a pretty favourable cap hit for a first pairing guy. Maybe that’s optimistic on their part, but that’s their thinking.

Brad Treliving is going to have a hard time selling that vision to an opposing GM. Brodie is currently a first pairing defenceman, but he’s 29 and an expiring UFA. The risk with Brodie is that he’s not a first pairing defenceman away from Mark Giordano, or that age is finally catching up to him and further impacts his already shaky play. Even if he is still a top pairing guy, there’s also the risk that he leaves at the end of the season for one last big paycheck.

So they’re very different trades. One is for a struggling up-and-comer, one is for a waning established veteran. I think the Flames can finagle a few picks, but don’t expect something crazy because of what the Blackhawks gave up for Maatta.

The goalie situation is many things, but let’s go with fragile.

Jon Gillies has always had potential, but his most recent season has created a lot of doubt that he’s ever going to reach it. Tyler Parsons also has potential and is still young, but his injury-ridden pro career also raises questions about his future. For ECHLers Nick Schneider and Mason McDonald (RFA, unlikely to be qualified, but still a member of the team right now), don’t expect much from them. Artyom Zagidulin looks promising, but without a North American season, we don’t really know what he is.

Maybe things go the right way. Perhaps Gillies does rebound and becomes the backup this upcoming season. Maybe Parsons gets the monkey off his back and develops into the future #1 the Flames hoped they were drafting in 2016. Why couldn’t Zagidulin be the next David Rittich? And hey, maybe McDonald and Schneider become capable depth.

All those are possible in the literal sense of the term, but they’re all long bets right now. As it stands right now, the only players I could see getting another contract after their current ones expire are Parsons and Zagidulin (and I’m iffy on Zagidulin). The team is aching for homegrown goalies, so yes, there is an opportunity to draft someone. I don’t know if the Flames swing big with Spencer Knight in the first round, but they’ll certainly draft a goalie somewhere.

I hope they aren’t crazy enough to do that.

No, they should not do that. Partially, it’s because I can’t think of any disgruntled top five NHL players that are going to be traded this off-season, much less for Sean Monahan and whatever grab bag of prospects and picks the Flames throw that way (if they would even consider such a trade). The other side of it is that those moves are simply one in a million longshots, and that a lot of other things need to break right in order for them to work.

Cross-sport comparisons are clumsy at best, but if you like the Raptors comparison, you should click here and read about all the things that went absolutely right for the team to win the title, because it goes beyond far more than just the Kawhi Leonard trade. They were extremely lucky to have Leonard play for their team, given that he just sat out a whole season out of spite for his previous team, and reportedly didn’t have any interest in playing for Toronto when the trade happened. Even that wasn’t enough to guarantee a finals win from the preseason. They also benefited from their finals opponents losing two of their top three players, shutting down the NBA’s most effective killing machine. The Raptors may not even have been in the finals had their playoff kryptonite Lebron James not left the Eastern Conference in the off-season, or had they not received four of the most fortunate bounces in NBA history.

Although fans of champions don’t like admitting it, there’s a lot that a champion has no impact on that determines their champion status. If we go back to hockey and look at the St. Louis Blues, they were extremely fortunate that the favourites to win the Cup all fell in the first round. They also managed to run into a pretty banged up Boston team, whereas they managed to escape the regular season and playoffs almost scratch free. You can’t even begin to tell the story of the 2018-19 Blues without mentioning that their AHL goalie turned into a superstar just at the right time.

Those aren’t easy conditions to replicate, if they’re even possible to replicate. The moral of these stories is this: a lot of success is putting yourself in the right position to be successful repeatedly, but another part of it is just dumb luck. There is no one quick fix for success. If acquiring a top player was enough to guarantee a championship, the Oilers would have a few these past few years.

If the Flames had to sacrifice Monahan for a bonafide top three NHLer, go for it. It’s unlikely to happen, and the path to success is more than likely to come from sticking with what works rather than selling it.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Gio is a huge asset today. Unfortunately, he would have to be used to get back a top 2 LD and All Star goalie. Hanifin, Valimaki and Kylington aren’t there yet. So, you have get to give. Gio’s value now is pretty high, better than Karlsson’s. Trade him for Josi or Ekholm? Absolutely. But that’s a sideways trade now with a longer term gain for the Flames.

      • Em Durp Em Hrudey

        Lol….Karlsson’s new contract makes him a non factor now. That is the worst signing in NHL history right there. 11.5 million for a broken defenseman. Nicely done San Jose….see you in cap hell for the next 8!

      • redwhiteblack

        How can Gio repeat what he did last year? He is not getting younger. I will be interested to see if his level of commitment matches that of last year and after going out so easily in round 1 as he gets older.

    • cjc

      You could certainly get something for either (or both) players… but it will be futures. No team is going to trade a young, inexpensive star for either or both of those guys. You’re placing an awful lot of faith in a group of youngsters that Giordano COLLECTIVELY outscored last year.

      As for Monahan, the return won’t be (a) younger or (b) better. A team might trade their first and a decent prospect, but you’re trading for a lot of uncertainty (particularly since Monahan probably won’t get you into the top 5 of the draft). If there were a particular one-for-one swap to be made, maybe it could be considered, but it’s more likely to work out like the Hall-Larsson trade or the Subban-Weber trade. Lateral move at best.

  • everton fc

    “What do you think about Jack Campbell from LA Kings as a 1b type goalie for the flames?”

    I’d take Cal Petersen as a “1B”. I’ve typed the same here, last trade deadline. Quick is a millstone. “No thanks,” to Quick. And, “No thanks,” to Phanuef. And a final “No thanks,” to trading Monahan.

    • cjc

      I gave you a cheers, but I don’t know about Petersen. His AHL numbers are pretty meh. Gillies had better numbers two seasons ago, and wasn’t too far behind Petersen this past season.

      Petersen had a nice 11 game run with LA last year, but I wouldn’t want to bet too much on that. LA can keep him under team control as he is RFA and he won’t be waiver eligible until 2020-2021. They probably want to keep him in case Quick gets claimed in the expansion draft.

  • buts

    The window to win is never going to be bigger with our core than now. BT as to use the assets he has to trade on D to acquire the grit and physicality we don’t have. I know many don’t like Kadri but he’s no different than Tkachuk he is a player that can help for sure. Goaltending again like last summer needs to be addressed just look at St. Louis….last in Jan now with the cup and if you guys and gals don’t think binnington wasn’t the difference think again.

    • deantheraven

      BIG difference between Kadri and Tkachuk. Chucky came into the league with the goal of getting under opponents’ skin. Cheap shots, sneaky shots, stealing sticks…
      After a season of that, and a couple 1-game suspensions he learned, his lesson. Now he plays to the edge, not over.
      Kadri has no self control, no moral compass and no guts. He is and always will be a selfish player. Despite using the excuse of “Sticking up for his teammates”, he doesn’t do so honourably, IMHO. He’ll be the guy covered in ten-foot pole marks at the end of the bench in Toronto come September.
      I’d rather trade Brodie for picks than add a player who has the emotional maturity of a 6 year old.

      • Flameon13

        Atleast he sticks up for his teammates though even if its dishonorably. Atleast then it makes others think twice about trying anything when they face us, which is exactly what we need. How do you think Boston still does well and still has the name “the big bad bruins” because they have players who plays close to the edge and occasionally going over that edge at times (Example, frequently suspended all-star Marchand)

        • Flameon13

          Now I don’t mean we need players who go out and look to be suspended or anything especially not from our big stars but geez the supporting casts atleast should have an edge

      • Kevin R

        Kadri can deflect the focus on Chucky a bit & allow Chucky to cross the edge a little more. Would like to have seen a little more edgy play from Chucky in the playoffs. These two guys could really get under the skins of important opposition players. Just saying.

    • HOCKEY83

      Winnington was a big difference maker but not the only one Berube was a big deal and all the great acquisitions they made over the summer finally came together as well. After January the team was finally playing like everyone thought they would from the beginning of the season.

  • FLT

    No doubt the Bruins had a lot of injuries, but I suspect the Blues had their share as well. O’Reilly played with a broken rib for 3 series, but didn’t make that injury report – I wouldn’t put much faith in it.

  • Kevin R

    A trade I dont thik would happen until early July when a lot of the prime players have signed somewhere, but the move I would consider trading Neal to Florida for Reimer & would be adamant that Florida eat at least 1.4 mill of that 3.4 mill salary. Florida may consider that if they are able to land Bobrov or Lehner. That would be a bandaid in net again but for 1 more year. If Reimer craps the bed & one of our young guys step up in Stockton, Reimer can be sent down. Or if we arent happy with him, the buyout is pennies compared to a potential bad tasting Neal contract that would go toxic if he has a similar year to last year. Most importantly, a trade like that would net us about 4.0 mill in cap space which would be huge for us to make other moves & easily resign our important RFA’s.

      • FLT

        The Flames are probably wondering about that too. For that reason I’d expect to see a more established goalie sharing time with Rittich this year as opposed to someone unproven.

      • deantheraven

        Despite the injury, he went better than .904 the rest of the way.
        He’ll sign a contract that looks good to us, and will provide solid 1a/1b goaltending at minimum.He proved he was the real deal last season, imho, and the injury affected his numbers more than his intangibles. We must trust Tre to get the max value deal.

    • BendingCorners

      Reimer for Neal would be interesting but I think it would be the Flames retaining salary. Panthers are trying to sign Panarin and Bobrovsky; if they succeed then cheap depth will interest them not expensive depth.

    • Mitchell

      Don’t get me wrong, I love this trade from the flames perspective. However, I don’t understand why Florida would like it? I think florida would have issues dealing reimers term and cap for Neal’s.

      • BendingCorners

        They need to move a goalie if Bob signs. It only really makes sense though if they also sign Panarin. The cap will force them to look at fill-ins for the bottom 6, and Neal with salary retained might have enough upside to interest them. Not sure it would, but it might be possible.

        • Rockmorton65

          I wonder if instead of Neal, it’s Stone? What about

          Stone & 26 for Reimer & 13?

          Flames address a couple of issues. They solidify their goaltending without adding salary and they shed salary without giving up another asset.

          Florida moves down thirteen spots to get rid of the extra two years of Reimer and move the money, this year, to their defence. They would then have $$ freed up to sign Bob. If they needed more, it would be more convenient for them to buy out one year of Stone vs three years of Reimer.

  • Flamesfever

    1a – Rittich
    1b – Sign Talbot
    Trade Neal for the pick – clear some cap. Trade Brodie for the top six forward. Keep Frolik until dead line spring 2020.

  • Flint

    Any GM who trades for Milan Lucic should be immediately dismissed no matter what the upside. He has a FULL NMC meaning that not only is he a boat-anchor contract, a terrible value player, but also would have to be protected in the expansion draft…. meaning, you give must up an asset to instead keep Lucic. That would be a mindbogglingly bad proposition.

    When I heard even the slightest Neal for Lucic (or Eriksson) I basically vomited in my mouth.

    • The GREAT WW

      Players can waive their no-movement clause (I think Fleury did for Vegas).
      So if Lucic is desperate enough to get out of Edmonton they could make waiving his no-movement clause for the expansion draft a condition, no?

      I’m thinking more for a Lucic/Erickson trade….

      WW

      • Flint

        But he’d have to waive to be picked. Is Seattle going to pick Lucic? Even so, how do you enforce that condition? It’d never happen, you’d have to protect him. Fleury wanted to play and be a starter and still had big value, totally different scenario.

        • The GREAT WW

          You’re missing the point.
          When Fleury waived his no-movement clause Pittsburg was able to protect Murray. Regardless if Fleury was picked by Vegas or not.

          So if Lucic waives his no-movement clause for the expansion draft you don’t need to protect him.
          Just like Pittsburg didn’t have to protect Fleury.

          WW

          • HOCKEY83

            Waiving to do the team a favor so they didn’t have to lose murray. He did not do that for the team he did it for himself to move to another team that’s why…You ok or is english not your first language. WW made it sound like Fleury waived not knowing vegas was going to take him. did it just to be a kind soul which i highly doubt. Which I don’t think Lucic would do either.

          • The GREAT WW

            Use your thinker people;

            Vancouver tells Lucic that the only way they trade for him is if he waived his NMC in the expansion draft so they don’t have to protect him in the expansion draft.

            Lucic, being desperate to get out of the armpit of North America, agrees to waive his NMC;
            there is almost zero chance Seattle picks Lucic from Vancouver.

            In fact Lucic would have to waive his NMC for any trade….

            WW

          • Flint

            If you are Lucic and his Agent, you fight hard for a NMC. Sure, he’d have to waive his NMC from EDM to go to Vancouver, but Vancouver has to sign the amendment on his contract to keep the NMC in place for the duration. If VAN refuses, or says that they won’t amend because of the expansion draft, then Lucic completely exposes himself to be moved from Vancouver against his will (something they fought hard for in the first place) AND since Lucic is next to useless him waiving his NMC, and being buy-out proof would put him in high risk of being moved thereafter.

            Fleury, I believe, kept his NMC in Vegas once he was acquired…. Vegas amended it.

  • Garry T

    Please Tre, no more draft day drama. Game plan…. T.J. to Rangers for their 20th and their first two second rounders. Or their 20th, their first in the second round and Buchnevich who will get you 30 goals.

    If that is a no go, the Bennett and T.J. to Toronto for Kadri, Kappanan and Sharp. The double K’s could skate with Johnny all night long. For those of you who do not like Kadri …… well at least he is a real winner and does play hard every night. Not like some of our guys who do not want their hair messed up.

    Tre, start getting our deals done now.

    • Raffydog

      Yes let’s trade Bennett. The only player who showed any heart and willingness to lay it all on the line in the playoffs. Or are you trying to assure the Flames never win another playoff game much less a series?

      • Garry T

        Johnny Kadri Kappanan ( can all skate with Johnny.
        Tkachuk Monahan Lindholm ( this line will light it up )
        Dube Backlund Jankowski. ( Backlund – the teacher – takes boys and shows them how it’s done )
        Mangiapane Ryan Hathaway ( Boys get better line )

    • Franko J

      Well Garry it appears Trouba went to NYR. I still think Brodie will be either in Buffalo, NJ, MTL or DET by next week at this time. I think Peters has a say as well who he would like to see on his roster and I get the strangest feeling that he is not a Kadri fan and being the type of coach he is I think he would have contacted the captain of the team and asked him if a move is such a good idea. While the team didn’t perform up to expectations I got a sense it was a pretty close knit group of guys and having a player like Kadri in the dressing room would change the dynamics of the team in a less than positive way. So for me, no to Kadri, yes to Kappanan, and a maybe to Sparks.

  • BigChefJeff

    Disagree on the Jack Campbell analysis. First of all, don’t think Quick is going anywhere. Despite the ugly season and injuries, he is still a better goalie than Campbell, but also don’t see anyone with a big enough need at G to take on his cap hit with the added injury risk.

    Second, Campbell is not that young. He’ll be 28 in January. By the time the Kings might be good again, he will be into his 30’s. Cal Peterson is almost 3 years younger and I guy it seems like the Kings really like. Can’t have all three forever.

    Third, Kings can’t protect both Quick and Campbell in the Seattle Expansion. Unless they think he is a bona fide starter, hard to see them protecting a soon-to-be UFA Campbell over running with Quick/Peterson combo.

    Lastly, Campbell is the perfect opportunity for a (should be) rebuilding Kings team to recoup some future value. He was a reclamation project for them that has paid off in spades. He cost them nothing in terms of acquisition value other than time and patience. Now they have a chance to turn that around and cash in on his surprisingly good season for a decent return of a pick(s) or a prospect(s). Why wouldn’t they do it?

      • BigChefJeff

        From a pure hockey point of view I like it a lot. Quick changed the way goalies train and play the position. The way goalies use their edges today is in a large part thanks to Quick. If it weren’t for injuries I think he would still be considered an upper-echelon guy.

        From a business and salary cap perspective, don’t think I would want the risk that comes with Quick’s contract. In my opinion, his style of play directly plays into why he is injured so much, and also why it is so hard to play well coming back from an injury. His game is all about athleticism, puck tracking, and timing. He is very aggressive and is still athletic as hell and his puck tracking is still incredible. But with all the injuries it looks like he has lost his timing. The groin catches on a lateral push or the knee locks up on a slide–all of a sudden the technical part of his game stops being automatic. People often say when a goalie is dialed in they look unconscious–because they have their technicals down to a science, they are confident and trust in those tools, and everything just happens automatically. Quick still has all the tools, but will need to stay healthy and work towards getting back to that “automatic” confidence. Unfortunately, with four more seasons at $5.8 mil, I don’t think Flames can afford to take on the risk he can’t get back there. There are only two goalie spots on the team and at some point Gillies/Parsons/Knight/someone else is going to need some time in the net.

        • Flameon13

          Very true even in a backup/split role its still a big risk, but I do doubt that the .888 SV% Quick in the new normal rather than the .921% guy the season before but yea I agree it is a huge risk to take even if it means dumping Neal

  • Raffydog

    Christian says at the end of this article that “the path to success is more than likely to come from sticking with what works rather than selling it.” Not sure if you’re paying attention but it’s not working right now. I’ve watched this “core” through four playoff series now, and if anything they are somehow getting worse. This team needs massive changes in personnel, and a complete culture overhaul. The softest team in the league isn’t going to get better with a few tweaks here and there, and anybody who believes they are must have their heads buried in the sand.

    • MDG1600

      Raffy – you have myopic tunnel vision about what it takes to win. I agree that the Flames weren’t well equipped for physical playoff hockey and need to improve in that regard. BUT – there is still room for skill players like Gaudreau because someone still needs to score, run the PP and make plays. The real problem with the Flames is they were pretty one dimensional (especially the top line) and not able to adapt well to different styles of play. Being a one-dimensional team full of grinders and smashers won’t be any better.

      • Raffydog

        I’d really like to know what you see that I dont. Did you watch the playoffs? Did you see them get demolished by Colorado? Or the last series where they were destroyed by Anaheim? Or the other time they were destroyed by Anaheim? What am I missing? If they were improving over this course of time in the playoffs, I’d admit they are getting close to the ultimate goal. However, there has been zero improvement, and like I said earlier, they are actually getting worse. So please enlighten me.

        • Budgie

          Small forwards against fast large forwards, Colorado had the edge, they did rely on their first line, and Calagry’s first line was outmatched by Colorado’s first line. I wouldn’t be dismantling the team but some size and skill is needed.

        • MDG1600

          Well, they went from missing the playoffs last year to finish first in the division this year so you can’t say zero improvement. If you won a millions dollars on a Sunday you’d probably complain that the banks weren’t open.

        • Rockmorton65

          It’s quite simple. The Avs came at the Flames hard and the inexperienced Flames didn’t know how to respond. They were overwhelmed. It happens. Where my “lack of knowledge” comment comes from, is in your response.

          The idea that the only solution is to blow it up & start the rebuild over is asinine. The Flames need two things (in my humble opinion). One is balance. Right now, they have too many players who play soft. The answer is not to trade both Johnny & Monny, but rather find a skilled player with some grit, some sandpaper to his game. Someone who can bring the physicality to the line while Johnny works his magic. I find it ironic that I think the ideal winger for those two would be Iggy in his prime.

          Two is experience. The team had what, two, three players with significant playoff experience? It showed, didn’t it? They need one or two more players that have been there before and can SHOW the youngins’ how to respond to the adversity and added pressure.

          It may take a year or two of tinkering to get it right, but the answer is certainly not give up & start again.

          • Raffydog

            I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree in that case. If you think one or two new guys are going to turn this around, you’re only kidding yourself. The flames have a top line where none of them can handle playoff hockey. Throwing in some plug with grit isn’t going to change the fact that Guadreau, Monahan, and/or Lindholm have no heart, and hate physical hockey. It wont fix the problem of the second line being centered by one of the worst defensive specialists I’ve ever seen. It wont make Tkachuk tougher, or faster. You say they have no experience, yet this was the third kick at the can for this core, and they got swept by the 8th seeded team. There is a lack of heart and leadership on this team that wont be fixed by a few tweaks. The entire organization needs a complete overhaul and a change in philosophy. 30 years of failure just isn’t cutting it anymore for me, and I’m shocked more people aren’t outraged by this.

    • Rockmorton65

      Raff, I think you’ve been following the Oilers for too long. The answer to everything isn’t “blow it up and start again”. And “outraged”? A true Flames fan understands it’s a process and watches with interest to see what changes are going to be made.

      My seven year old gets “outraged” when he doesn’t get the purple cup at lunch.

    • Franko J

      Well Raffydog I empathize with your frustration. Yes this team has had more dark days than sunnier ones since they last won the Cup. However, didn’t you just witness a team that took another 49 years to get back to the finals and win a cup? Just think about the elation Blues fans are feeling right now. Ask them how they were feeling in January? I bet the majority of the fans there were willing to blow things up as well. However level heads prevailed and the team stayed the course and now they can enjoy the summer and say that there team were the champions of the 2018-2019 season.I don’t know if you were around in 89 when the Flames won, but man oh man that was a feeling that was indescribable because of the heartache and failures of the past. Only one team is left standing each year with the cup raised above there heads, and as a fan I can only have both hope and faith that one day this team will raise the cup again. In the meantime, the truth be told no matter what I say on this site has little bearing or relevance to the Flames GM, players or to the organization and basically it just a rant on how I feel. So you can go ahead and slag the team, the players, and the organization, but what you say just like me will change nothing. All it does is just provide good amusement, thought provoking conversation and lets all of us blow off a little steam now and again. While this team didn’t show up to play this year in the playoffs, I can only have faith the players learned from what just happened to them and taking that bad feeling and turn into something positive going forward next year.

      • cjc

        Exactly. St. Louis has been competitive for some time now – they have spent most of the last decade at or near the top of the conference with several consecutive 100+ pt. seasons. Strangely, if you look at their regular season record you see a bit of a decline the last 3 years (even missing last year). To win the cup you need to have a good team, but you also need things to break the right way.

        Hopefully Calgary’s meltdown will be a learning experience for the younger players – they can’t take things for granted. The team coasted after the all-star break and didn’t have the intensity they needed to match Colorado – the same thing happened to Tampa Bay against Columbus.

        A major blowup is not needed – there are some problematic contracts to deal with, cap issues to solve, and it will be interesting to see how goaltending is addressed. But trading away the core and basically starting over is not the way to go.

      • freethe flames

        However it was in adding O’rielly, Bozak and having Binnington come from nowhere(probably a guy their fan base thought was waste) that they got over the top. They had to find ways to slot guys in the proper spots. Adding the right pieces this off season could do a lot to improve this team.

        • freethe flames

          Over the last two seasons the Blues added upfront: O’Rielly, Scheen, Bozak, Perron, Maroon and Sundquist. That is half of their forward group. So saying the Flames should do nothing is silly. If we could move TJ, Frolik and say Czarnik and add via either FA 2 or 3 forwards that are solid NHL players who bolster the middle six and allow say Backs to be slotted properly this team could make huge strides.

          • HOCKEY83

            No one is saying the Flames should do nothing and they also added new players on this past years roster which helped them be the best in the west. No one knew neal was going to be a complete fail not just in the regular season but to help out the youngsters with his playoff experience as well. Here’s to hoping they add a piece or 2 to get past the first round.