FlamesNation mailbag: one week ’til the deadline and still no clarity

We’re almost exactly one week away from the 2020 National Hockey League trade deadline. By 1 p.m. MT on Mon., Feb. 24, the Flames will need to make a decision about whether to push their chips to the center of the table and go all-in… or to stand pat.

And the team’s recent play hasn’t really made the correct decision any clearer.

Let’s dive into the mailbag!

Is it the top priority? Probably not. The top priority would probably be a right shot forward who can play somewhere on the top three lines, ideally with some term left on their deal. But the level of priority of acquiring a blueliner probably depends on whether the Flames think they’ll have Mark Giordano, Travis Hamonic or even Juuso Valimaki available anytime soon.

No disrespect to him, as he’s trying very hard, but Michael Stone is a very reliable third pair defender who is playing much more than he usually does. And it’s showing. His time on ice since Giordano’s injury has been as follows: 12:25, 21:15, 20:22, 20:48, 18:42 and 19:22. That’s a lot, and it’s expecting too much to ramp up his ice-time and expect his performance not to suffer.

But he’s playing this much because the Flames don’t have enough depth for him to not have to. Acquiring a depth defender to ease the burden a bit could be in the cards if Giordano and/or Hamonic are out into early March.

New Tampa Bay forward Blake Coleman is a left shot forward with pretty reliable production and a deal with a year left on it with a $1.8 million cap hit. He’s easy to fit under the cap for basically every NHL team, so it’s easy to get a bidding war going (and that’s presumably what happened for New Jersey to land a first round pick and a good prospect).

The Flames pending UFAs all have zero years remaining. None of them have particularly low cap hits. And while New Jersey’s goal right now is to bottom out, maximize their draft picks and then rebuild in a hurry, the Flames seem to be set on battling for a playoff spot to the bitter end and then dealing with the fallout in the off-season.

In short? No, it’s probably not prudent for the Flames to sell off their expiring deals for scraps given what it seems like their goals are right now.

Theo Fleury was one of the best players in Flames franchise history. He’s among the all-time franchise leaders in games (5th), goals (2nd), assists (3rd), points (2nd) and penalty minutes (5th). But all due respect to him, but he was at times really hard to deal with and probably left some people with hurt feelings when all was said and done. (Read his book, Playing with Fire, for Fleury’s own full accounting of how off his gourd he was at times during his playing career.)

He’s done a great job getting his life on track after his playing career ended, but – and this part is entirely my speculation – he’s still got a bit of work to do rebuilding the relationships that need to be in a good place for his number to go up. Remember: if your banner is up there, it’s up there forever and the powers-that-be need to feel comfortable that everyone with a retired number will represent the Flames organization the way they want it represented.

There’s a saying that I love: you are what you repeatedly do. The Flames have been pretty inconsistent since, well, the 2019 All-Star Break. Dating back to then, the Flames are 47-36-8 (a .560 points percentage) and have a goal differential of +2. They’re 15th overall over their past 94 games, the textbook definition of a middling team.

You are what you repeatedly do. Dating back almost 100 games, the Flames are a middle of the road team that’s shown flashes of supreme greatness and also allowed eight goals against Edmonton and Chicago.

Yes I would, @daveharvey74.

A lot of it depends on what happens to the composition of the team. Right now, Geoff Ward works because he’s pretty stylistically similar to Bill Peters – the goal, most likely, was to use a familiar face to calm things down given all the chaos around the group and just let them focus on playing. If nothing else he’s a caretaker coach whose goal is to get to the end of the season and allow management to figure out what, if any, changes they want to make.

If there are minor tweaks, Ward will be a contender for the full gig I would imagine. But if Brad Treliving takes a machete to the roster and has a different playing style in mind, you could easily see a new coach more accustomed to a different style brought in to run things.