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Analyzing three tiers of forward trade targets for the Flames

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Steinberg
10 months ago
Less than a week from the trade deadline, many believe the Flames are in need of at least one more forward to be as well-positioned as possible for a long playoff run. Count me amongst those in that camp.
This is Calgary’s best chance in years to make meaningful noise in the playoffs, and they likely won’t be in a better spot again for some time. Even with the spectacular season Elias Lindholm is having, I believe centre ice is currently the softest spot on the roster. As of now, Sean Monahan, Adam Ruzicka, Brad Richardson, and sometimes Dillon Dube are the available options for this team’s third and fourth centre spot. I think there’s room to upgrade.
So what options are out there? And what type of assets would the Flames have to give up? I’ve identified a number of names that would fit nicely in Calgary that also meet a specific set of criteria: they’re available and all have the flexibility to play centre or the wing, to varying extents. From there, I’ve split them into three tiers.

Realistic

PlayerTeamShootsCap hitExpiry
Calle JarnkrokSeattleRight$2,000,000UFA
Andrew CoppWinnipegLeft$3,640,000UFA
Paul StastnyWinnipegLeft$3,750,000UFA
This trio seems to fit what we’re talking about almost perfectly: middle six centre options who can easily be flexed to the wing. Furthermore, all three players have reasonable cap hits the Flames could absorb without too much difficulty, especially if salary is retained. And, as potential rentals, acquiring a player in this grouping won’t impact Calgary’s ability to re-sign key players during the offseason.
Jarnkrok seems to be the name mentioned most by Flames fans, which is understandable. His cap hit is low, he’s having a solid season in Seattle (12G, 26 PTS in 49 GP), and is versatile with the ability to play up and down the lineup. Jarnkrok has a decent track record of driving play in a depth role and could provide solid offence from the middle six, especially if surrounded by names like Andrew Mangiapane and/or Tyler Toffoli.
At one time, Copp’s impact at both ends of the ice was elite for his spot on the depth chart, but that has dropped off over the last couple years. Acquiring him comes with the hope of returning to that form. Stastny, on the other hand, still creates at a solid rate even at the age of 36. I could see him being a good fit with those two aforementioned wingers, especially in an offensively tailored role.
While none of the three gentlemen identified here are going to come “cheap” per se, I don’t think we’re talking about crazy acquisition prices, either. For instance, Calgary has a pair of second round picks in the 2022 Draft; using one of those and a mid-round pick in 2023 or 2024 seems in the ballpark.

Sneaky depth

PlayerTeamShootsCap hitExpiry
Vinnie HinostrozaBuffaloRight$1,050,000UFA
Nick PaulOttawaLeft$1,350,000UFA
Ryan CarpenterChicagoRight$1,000,000UFA
Noel AcciariFloridaRight$1,666,667UFA
Frank VatranoFloridaLeft$2,533,333UFA
I like this group, because the Flames could acquire one of these players and still be in the market for another forward. By and large, all of the cap hits in this tier would be relatively easy to absorb and the acquisition prices are going to be lower than the first group. At the same time, the potential impact would also be lower.
Acciari intrigues me a lot, because he’s settled into somewhat of a defensive specialist role over the last few years. Now 30, Acciari is finally back playing after a long stint on long-term injury reserve; he’s now played seven games primarily as Florida’s fourth line centre. With a palatable cap hit and a decent play-driving resume, he’d be a nice under the radar add. And, as a fun tidbit, both Acciari and Vatrano attended Calgary development camps in the early 2010’s.
I also like Paul, but I worry about the asking price; Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli and others have noted Ottawa’s desire to sign the 26-year-old to a new contract. Hinostroza is a fun thought, too, and he raised a lot of eyebrows with his two-goal performance at the Heritage Classic over the weekend. The only drawback is Hinostroza plays mainly as a winger, despite being listed as a centre.

Pie in the sky

PlayerTeamShootsCap hitExpiry
Tomas HertlSan JoseLeft$5,625,000UFA
Claude GirouxPhiladelphiaRight$8,275,000UFA
JT MillerVancouverLeft$5,250,000UFA 2023
I get it: the thought of adding a player like Hertl, Giroux, or Miller is beyond exciting. And while you can never say never, I wouldn’t bet your bankroll on the Flames landing a name from this group. With Toffoli already in the fold, it feels like Calgary has made their largest pre-deadline acquisition. It sure would be fun to be wrong, though.
First off, we’re talking about significantly higher acquisition prices. In the cases of Giroux and Hertl, both pending UFA’s, I can’t see how Philly and San Jose don’t get a first round pick and more for their biggest trade chips. Furthermore, both players have protection; Giroux has a full no-move, which grants him veto rights, while Hertl submits a list of three teams he’d accept a trade to. Recent reporting also suggests the Sharks aren’t currently interested in moving Hertl.
Then there’s Miller, who doesn’t have trade protection but does have one year left on his deal, which skyrockets his asking price even higher. A point-per-game player since being dealt from Tampa in the summer of 2019, the Canucks will be, and should be, asking for a massive package in return.
And, for those worried about upsetting team chemistry, the Flames would have no choice but to subtract from their current group if they were to acquire a player in this tier. Calgary will likely have to make corresponding financial moves to add anyone discussed in this article, but they’d be most significant when swimming in this pool.

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