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FlamesNation mailbag: talkin’ Sutter and the youths

The Calgary Flames have two more games remaining, both afternoon affairs, before they transition into the yawning abyss of the post-season. There’s an expansion draft, entry draft and free agency on the horizon.

Let’s dig into the mailbag!

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If I had to put a number on it, I would say 15 to 20%.

The good news is Jack Eichel doesn’t have a no-move or no-trade on his deal, so he wouldn’t be able to block any deal that the Flames made with the Sabres if that was the best deal on the table.

But the bad news is there are likely to be tons of suitors for Eichel because he’s really good at hockey. And the additional challenge is that Eichel has a $10 million cap hit and to make the math work in a flat-cap world, the Flames basically would need to ship out Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk or Sean Monahan in the trade. Such a move would make the Flames a better team at centre – yay! – but would really hurt depth elsewhere. The Flames likely don’t have the high-end depth to make the trade work.

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But hey, maybe Brad Treliving decides to make a big swing and does it anyway to shake up the team?

Honestly, it might have been a step forward. Consider this: Valimaki had played 44 professional games prior to this season. This season, he’s played 67 so far (between the NHL and Finland). That’s a ton of hockey and should hopefully help him catch up a bit after missing a season and a half of his first two pro seasons due to injury.

Valimaki’s been a scratch six times under Sutter, but part of that is Sutter wanting to see different defensive schemes and part of that is Sutter trying to reinforce some habits and tactics with Valimaki. Valimaki’s played a lot of hockey this season and hopefully he’s trending in the right direction now.

 

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It’s likely two different things.

For Phillips, he’s a complete unknown at the NHL level and they likely want to give games to guys that have been around all season and been good soldiers on the taxi squad. (That’s probably why Dominik Simon got a game in.) But even with the “let’s get everybody in” mindset, Phillips probably gets into a game because he’s been so good in the AHL this season. (And the two seasons before that.)

For Kylington, he’s a somewhat known quantity at the NHL level. While Phillips has played zero NHL games, Kylington has played 95 of them. The team seems more interested in playing Connor Mackey or Valimaki because those guys likely have more runway, and they seem to have slotted Kylington as a sixth or seventh guy based on what they’ve seen out of him. (Sutter’s been complimentary of his play, though, so perhaps there’s a brighter future ahead than we think.)

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During his time in Los Angeles, Sutter used quite a few rookies and players under the age of 24. Among those youngsters he used were Tyler Toffoli, Jake Muzzin, Kyle Clifford, Jordan Nolan, Dwight King, Drew Doughty, Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey, Nick Shore, Andy Andreoff, Derek Forbort and Jordan Weal. Granted, the Kings had a pretty good farm system back then and had these guys ready to slot in, but Sutter didn’t hesitate from using them once he got settled in as head coach.

It’s late in the season and Sutter didn’t have a training camp to work with and get to know most of the younger players in the system. Let’s see what kind of roster he puts together in October before we judge his usage of rookies and youngsters too harshly.