General manager Brad Treliving has been busy this week. Since Monday, Calgary has made three trades, signed a pair of NHL forwards, and added numerous depth pieces on two-way deals. In the process, the Flames have upgraded their forward depth but questions remain elsewhere on the roster. Whether it’s a significant move at forward, supplementing the blueline, or just taking care of pending business, Calgary still has plenty to do before training camp.
“We’re excited about the new players we’ve added,” Treliving said on Sportsnet 960 Friday morning. “Having said that…I know the weeks now that we’ve got left before training camp, we need to continue to try to make our group better. That’s what we’ll do. We’re excited about the players that we’ve added, but there’s still some work to be done.”
Here’s some of what is, or might be, on the docket for the GM.
This is the one everyone is most focused on. Even with Mark Giordano’s departure to Seattle, there’s a large desire on the outside to see the Flames make a big time move at forward. Truthfully, I think the team is on the same page. For me, it comes down to two names: Sean Monahan and Jack Eichel.
At this point, all signs point to Johnny Gaudreau signing an extension, so moving him out seems off the table. Then there’s Matthew Tkachuk coming off the worst season of his NHL career. Even if Calgary was interested in moving Tkachuk out, doing so now feels counterintuitive knowing he’s primed for a big bounce back season. Which leaves us with the pair of big names above.
Eichel, of course, is the biggest story in the NHL right now. Like many others, I believe the Flames are interested in the player, but as Elliotte Friedman reported as recently as Friday, the cost is “prohibitive”. The player’s camp advanced the story even more late Friday by releasing a statement outlining their frustration with the Sabres and their handling of Eichel’s neck injury. I honestly have no idea if that will help or hinder expediting a move.
If Calgary’s medical staff feels comfortable Eichel will return to action 100% after a neck procedure, and if the cost is within reason, pulling the trigger on a deal makes sense. The Flames clearly aren’t rebuilding, so I’m with many others who believe they might as well “push chips to the middle” and go all-in at winning right now.
As for Monahan, there’s a good chance he would end up part of an Eichel trade with Buffalo. There’s a decent chance an Eichel move doesn’t happen, though, but that shouldn’t close the door on a Monahan deal. Boston and Ottawa are both interesting potential landing spots, and the belief around the league is Monahan has been on the block since last off-season.
As it stands now, Calgary’s blueline depth looks thin, which leads many to believe more is still to come. It can’t be understated: Giordano’s departure leaves a sizeable hole on defence. Gio led the Flames in overall ice time last season by more than a minute, as he saw significant team at even strength and on both special teams units. Even at 37, he was one of Calgary’s two best defencemen and that’s not easily replaced.
|Noah Hanifin||Chris Tanev|
|Nikita Zadorov||Rasmus Andersson|
Zadorov is an intriguing addition and has a recent track record of strong defensive play. He likely won’t move the needle offensively or as a puck mover, however, at least based on his career to date. Adding another bona fide NHL defender would make that depth chart look a whole lot better, and it doesn’t HAVE to be on the right side. Valimaki is comfortable playing either side, which means a free agent like Ryan Murray (who the Flames have been reportedly linked to) could easily fit the bill.
In Zadorov, Valimaki, and Dillon Dube, Calgary has a trio of intriguing contract negotiations to take care of prior to training camp. Zadorov is the hardest one to truly ballpark, having played zero games with the Flames and recently qualified at $3.2 million by Chicago. The fine folks at Evolving Hockey predict a three-year term at just under $2.9 million, which would be a pay cut from his last two seasons.
|Evolving Hockey contract projections|
|Nikita Zadorov||Three years, $2.892 million AAV|
|Dillon Dube||Two years, $2.032 million AAV|
|Juuso Valimaki||Two years, $1.565 million AAV|
EH typically establishes a really accurate ballpark and allows easily extrapolation for added and/or subtracted years. A relevant comparable for Dube is New York’s Filip Chytil, who recently signed for two years at $2.3 million per. So, at least on a two-year term, we’re probably looking at anywhere between $2 and $2.5 million for Dube. If Evolving were to be bang on, the Flames would be using up just under $6.5 million of their $12.1 million of available cap space.