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FlamesNation mailbag: a week from the trade deadline

We’re just one week away from the 2021 NHL trade deadline! The Calgary Flames’ playoff hopes seem dimmer by the day!

With that, onto what’s sure to be a cheerful and upbeat mailbag!

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Under Darryl Sutter, the Flames have a 5-8-0 record. At five-on-five, their expected goals for percentage is 50.39 (via Natural Stat Trick), but their actual goals for percentage is 42.31 – which says they’re playing OK but not getting rewarded for it. Their PDO backs this up; under Sutter the Flames are 18th in shooting percentage and 30th in save percentage, for a 28th rank overall in PDO.

In other words: fans could get sick of him quickly, but be patient. The team is horribly unlucky right now and playing decently. It might take an off-season for Sutter’s systems to get fully implemented.

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If the Flames are making trades, it’ll be to send some roster players out of town. They probably aren’t in the market to add any bodies right now.

But Stockton plays tomorrow and then is home through the trade deadline, so selling some pieces and making some NHL, AHL and taxi squad roster shuffles would be nicely timed for the next week or so. Expect some changes, however minor they may be.

Nope.

And that’s not to say that Sean Couturier isn’t great or wouldn’t be a fit in Calgary. He’s awesome! He won the Selke Trophy last season! But the Flames would need to offer up something great for the Flames to land him, and aside from maybe Matthew Tkachuk, I’m not sure what pieces would make the Flyers really consider it strongly.

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Another reader on Twitter was kind enough to tackle this for us!

The challenge for the Flames is they’ve never really done a full tear-down. Like, ever. The 1990s teams lost players to American markets for pennies on the dollar and didn’t get a chance to build up the prospect base. When the team finally got into the playoff mix in the mid-2000s, they kept selling off picks to stay in the mix (and mortgaged the future). When they finally rebuilt in the 2010s, the arrival of pretty good prospects in Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau kept them out of the lottery mix for the most part.

To become an elite team, you need elite talent. You get elite talent almost exclusively through the draft. The Flames have never been bad enough for long enough to accumulate elite talent through the draft.

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Yes! We’ll probably see some after the trade deadline, I’d imagine.

I discussed this a bit on Twitter a little while back. Gaudreau’s no-trade clause – which allows him to name five teams that he’d accept a trade too – kicks in on July 28, when the hockey calendar flips over to 2021-22.

If you’re serious about moving Gaudreau, you do it before that clause kicks in. Either he moves by July 28, or he’s probably a Flame until his current contract ends.

Michael Stone is a veteran right shot defenseman. He’s a replacement level NHLer, but he’s consistent and that’s what coaches tend to like about him. He’s the hockey equivalent of Kraft Dinner: he’s never mind-blowing, but he’s reliable and gives you what you expect from him.

But it’d be weird if he was brought back next season with the likes of Connor Mackey knocking on the door for a full-time NHL gig.

The final game of the 2020-21 Flames regular season is set for May 8 in Vancouver. That may be adjusted, though, given the ongoing outbreak the Canucks are dealing with. We should get an idea of how the Flames’ schedule will be adjusted in the next few days.