97Jakob Pelletier
Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today Sports

FlamesNation mailbag: coaches, trades, and other fun

It’s been an eventful week. There are a lot of things to talk about. Time to dive into the mailbag!

The big question for me is if not Geoff Ward, who? No team will let the Flames interview someone from their NHL or AHL staffs mid-season, so the potential pool of candidates is really limited. Heck, it’s unlikely that they’d get much of a chance to chat with junior coaches either.

Brad Treliving interviewed Ward a few summers ago when he hired Glen Gulutzan. He interviewed him again when he hired him as an associate coach. He definitely believes in the guy. At a time when the Flames would really like some continuity, keeping Ward works for internal reasons, too.

In short: I would expect him to be here as interim coach through the end of the regular season, at least.

Two facts about Jakob Pelletier:

  1. He’s dominating the QMJHL.
  2. He turns 19 in March.

The second fact is important because he won’t be eligible to play in the American Hockey League until 2021-22 (when he’s 20). So the big question is this: is he good enough to play middle six minutes on the wing in the NHL and help move the needle for the Flames? I’ve bandied about the idea in my head of him playing the wing alongside Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund next fall in pre-season – he’d get probably the best two-way help a 19-year-old could hope for, and it’d give a glimpse of how he can play against good opposition lines.

That said, playing in the NHL is a big leap. I can see the Flames taking the long-term approach and leaving him in Moncton for another season and then bringing him to Calgary in 2021-22.

Honestly, here’s the way to evaluate this from my perspective: the Flames gained $500,000 in cap space with the trade and got a player in Milan Lucic much better suited to bottom six duties than James Neal was. Lucic has been really effective on the third line with Derek Ryan and Dillon Dube.

They needed cap relief and they got it. They needed someone willing to play a secondary role and they got it. If Neal scores seven more goals, they’ll get a third round pick, too. It was a “bad deal for bad deal” swap, but they got the player with a bad deal they feel they can work around more readily than they could before.

If TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic both leave via free agency this summer, we’re guaranteed Top Four Rasmus Andersson (which is super) and then there are some question marks. The only other right shot defender in the entire organization under contract for 2020-21 is Alexander Yelesin.

In other words? Expect them to go shopping in free agency for a couple right shot defenders. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton out there. So they might have to explore their trade options, or live with playing left shot defenders on their weak side.

If I’m Devils GM Ray Shero? Don’t talk to me unless the trade includes:

  • 2020 first round pick
  • conditional 2021 second round pick (that becomes a first if Taylor Hall re-signs)
  • Rasmus Andersson
  • One of Jakob Pelletier, Emilio Pettersen, Dustin Wolf or Dillon Dube

Look at the Evander Kane trade as a pretty reasonable comparison for a high end pending UFA forward: high pick, conditional pick, roster player that can plug in now, and a top prospect that can plug in later.

I don’t think the Flames are willing to part with the assets that would be necessary to get it done, nor do I think the Flames have the cap space going forward to make an extension work.