Assessing the Calgary Flames’ trade chips ahead of the 2022 trade deadline
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By Ryan Pike1 year ago
The 2022 National Hockey League deadline is rapidly approaching on Mar. 21. The Calgary Flames are firmly in the playoff mix and likely looking to add to solidify their roster for the stretch drive.
The Flames have trade deadline wants, but what do they have that other teams would want to swap for those desired players? Here’s a rundown of what teams are probably calling the Flames about.
The 2022 Draft class is considered to be pretty good – not top-heavy, but pretty balanced at the top end once you get past Shane Wright at first overall. The Flames have five picks in the 2022 Draft: a first-rounder, two second-rounders, a fifth-rounder and a seventh-rounder.
The 2023 Draft class is considered a bit better at the top end – Canadian Connor Bedard, Russian Matvei Mishkov and American Adam Fantilli headline – but it’s also looking to have some good balance. The Flames have picks in all seven of those rounds.
Want a high-end rental player? That probably costs a first-round pick. Want a medium-end one? That’s a second-rounder. Want a depth NHLer? Probably costs you between a third and a fifth-rounder, depending on position and circumstances.
If you’re a team who’s selling one of your pending unrestricted free agents, you’re probably punting for futures. So picks and/or prospects are the currency of the day. We’ve already looked at picks, how about prospects?
The Flames have two tiers of prospects that teams would probably want.
Tier A includes the three most recent first-round picks: Jakob Pelletier, Connor Zary and Matt Coronato. They’re all good and still have that proverbial “new car smell.” Also in that group is Dustin Wolf, who’s arguably the best goaltender right now who’s not playing in the NHL (yet).
Tier B includes the under-the-radar kids: goalie Arsenii Sergeev, defensemen Jeremie Poirier and Yan Kuznetsov, and forwards Rory Kerins, Matthew Phillips, Adam Ruzicka, Ryan Francis, William Stromgren and Emil Heineman. (Glenn Gawdin would’ve been in this tier, if not for his status as a likely Group 6 free agent this summer – it wouldn’t make sense for a team to trade for somebody they won’t have the rights to for very long.)
Tier C is basically everybody else on the Flames’ reserve list. A team may have fallen in love with one or two of them, but it’s improbable that they would move the needle significantly in a trade negotiation.
Cost-controlled young players
Finally, the Flames have three young players under team control for another season or two that, like what happened with Sam Bennett last trade deadline, a team could convince themselves that the Flames didn’t use properly.
Dillon Dube is a versatile forward who can play all three positions, including centre, and he’s signed for two more seasons with a reasonable $2.3 million cap hit. (He’ll have one more year of team control after that.) The Flames have some players with lower cap hits pushing for NHL work – looking at you, Pelletier – and with new contracts needed for players like Johnny Gaudreau, Andrew Mangiapane, Matthew Tkachuk and Oliver Kylington, they might be looking for places to save cap space.
Connor Mackey is a reliable two-way defenseman who plays the left side. He’s signed for one more season at $912,500, after which he’ll become a Group 6 free agent. Mackey could slot in on Calgary’s third pairing, but give the excellence of Noah Hanifin and Kylington on the left side (and their youth) it seems improbable that he’ll get higher up the rotation. Perhaps another team will want to give him a chance to be an NHL regular.
Juuso Valimaki is an offensive-minded defenseman who plays the left side (but can also play the right). He’s signed for one more season at $1.55 million and then has three more seasons until he’s a free agent. Valimaki’s time with the Flames has been a tad uneven, but he’s still young and has a ton of upside. If he doesn’t feel like a fit in Calgary (or if Flames brass doesn’t think he can slot in on the third pairing reasonably soon), there are plenty of teams that might desire his services. And the same cap savings aspects that apply to Dube apply here: the Flames can probably find third pairing defenders who make less than he does, and he costs $425,000 against the cap while buried in the AHL – there could be some cost savings to be found.
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