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FlamesNation Mailbag: long weekend edition

The third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is underway! The 2020 NHL Draft and free agency is about a month away. A lot of stuff is going to happen shortly.

Let’s check in with the mailbag!

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Sam Bennett’s value peaks, much like the noble groundhog, at one point of the calendar: playoff time. Then, seemingly, he ducks back underground and is forgotten about for the rest of the year.

That is to say: man, if Playoff Sam Bennett was Everyday Sam Bennett, the Flames would be tickled pink because they would have a play-driving physical center on their hands. That’s what they hoped they drafted in 2014. That’s what they thought they had on their hands after the 2015 playoffs. And the 2017 playoffs. And the 2019 playoffs.

There are 30 other NHL clubs (and Seattle) who probably have interest in Bennett. But after seeing him regress back to Regular Season Sam Bennett on several occasions, there’s probably some healthy skepticism in the marketplace.

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His value was probably at its highest after his rookie season.

As a trade in a pure vacuum, I don’t hate this trade. Monahan is 25 and has three years left on his current deal (with a $6.375 million cap hit). Dumba is 26 and has three years left on his current deal (with a $6 million cap hit). With a straight-up swap, the Flames get $375,000 in cap space and a rock-solid defender to play in their top four – Dumba, Mark Giordano, Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson sounds pretty awesome.

But, moving Monahan leaves a big hole. Their center depth behind him right now is Mikael Backlund (31), Bennett (24), Mark Jankowski (25, RFA) and Derek Ryan (33). Backlund has limited offensive upside, Bennett has barely played center in the NHL, Jankowski is a fringe guy and Ryan is 33. The solution could be to move Elias Lindholm to center full-time, but that really decimates the right side depth because suddenly the Flames have basically no right shot wingers.

In a vacuum, Monahan for Dumba works, but it causes a lot of problems elsewhere on the roster.

 

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Both players are favourites of mine – WHL for life! – but Gawdin probably has the inside track. He’s a bit bigger than Phillips and his playing style is more readily suited for bottom six duty than Phillips’ is. You can bury Gawdin on the fourth line and give him defensive zone starts and he can probably battle his way out of his own zone. Phillips doesn’t have the frame for it and his style is more finesse-based.

With 15 pending unrestricted free agents and eight restricted free agents, basically half of the Flames’ expanded roster could be turning over on Oct. 9. Simply because of the types of players that are either going to need re-signing or replacing – their de facto starting goalie Cam Talbot and two top four defenders in TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic – Treliving is going to be busy.

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As far as a splash? I think history has shown that Treliving does his team-building in the off-seasons, so any significant moves that he’ll make will be around Oct. 9 and 10 (free agency and draft weekend) by definition.

Yes and no.

Part of the reason for the Flames taking time to get distance from the emotion of the kick to the groin that was the Game 6 collapse was to take the emotion out of their decisions. They lost to a really good hockey team, and the margin of victory for Dallas over Calgary was razor-thin. If you take the sting out of the groin kick, they still lost, and the closeness of the series probably adds to the agony a bit. (As in: man, if they had gotten a little bit more out of their group and gotten past Dallas they probably could’ve made some noise.)

But the question now is this: the margin was super thin, but why did Dallas win all those close games over Calgary? We might not see major changes, but we’ll definitely see changes.

CMLC and the Flames are doing some surveys about building elements – lounges, bars and the like – and continuing to work on hammering out the design. Ground-breaking is still scheduled for next August and we should see some renderings either late this year or super early in 2021.