Buy low candidates for the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
27 days ago
The majority of Calgary Flames fans have the same idea about how Brad Treliving should go about this years trade deadline. Do not give up major assets to acquire rental players. And by major assets, I am talking about Matthew Coronato, Jakob Pelletier, Connor Zary, Dustin Wolf, and first-round draft picks.
The Flames haven’t shown that they are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender so far in the regular season. That can change down the stretch drive. But because of their inconsistent play, they likely haven’t earned the right to give away major assets to acquire help right now. That doesn’t leave the Flames many assets to work with if they do decide to end up buying at the trade deadline.
If they want to add impactful players to their lineup, it’ll likely have to be buy low opportunities on players whose values have dropped for one reason or another.
Let’s see if there are any top six forwards that can fit this mold.
Jonathan Drouin (LW) – Left Shot – 27 Years Old – 5’11″, 198 Pounds
Cap Hit: $5.5 million; Contract Expires in 2023 (UFA)
No one can deny that Jonathan Drouin is an extremely talented hockey player. He has the skill set to be a high end, top six winger in the NHL. Unfortunately, because of injuries and off ice issues, Drouin has struggled over his last few campaigns. He hasn’t played more than 44 games in his last four NHL seasons.
However, he has still shown flashes of brilliance with his play making abilities. You certainly wouldn’t bring in this player to score goals, the Flames have lots of guys who can do that. You would bring Drouin in to set up the Flames finishers, which is an element that the Flames have desperately missed since losing Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk.
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(Drouin’s 82 game point pace in his last five seasons)
Drouin could be had for next to nothing. In a recent segment of Insider Trading on TSN, Pierre LeBrun said “the reality is that there still isn’t a lot of interest, if at all in Jonathan Drouin.” This is a player who the Flames could in theory acquire for next to nothing. It would be a low risk, high reward acquisition.
Drouin and Huberdeau train together in the off-season so there would also be a familiar face in the organization for Drouin which could help acclimatize him to the Flames dressing room. There could also be the potential of signing him to an inexpensive extension this off-season.
Jakub Vrána (LW) – Left Shot – 26 Years Old – 6’0″, 196 Pounds
Cap Hit: $5.25 million; Contract Expires in 2024 (UFA)
Vrána is one of the more interesting players available at this years deadline. He is an immensely talented player who at times has been one of the more lethal goal scorers in the NHL. He has had a tumultuous couple years in Detroit. Similar to Drouin, Vrána has dealt with a multitude of injuries and has also spent time in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program.
But when Vrána is healthy and on his game, he is a fantastic player. He is an amazing skater, has great hands, and an elite shot.
Vrána’s analytics would also indicate that he has the potential to be a star player in the NHL.
From 2018-19 to the 2020-21 season, among players who played at least 1,000 minutes at 5-on-5, Vrána is third in the NHL in goals/60 only behind Auston Matthews and Brendan Gallagher, and is 13th in the NHL in points/60. He did that while being ranked 403rd in the NHL in average time on ice.
Vrána passed through waivers on Jan. 4 and went unclaimed. That is an indication that there is not a ton of interest in the player. You would think that an NHL team could acquire him for pennies on the dollar. The Flames would have to move money out in the off-season to make the trade work long term. But it could be worth it if you can get the Vrána from just a couple years ago.
Brock Boeser (RW) – Right Shot – 26 Years Old – 6’1″, 208 Pounds
Cap Hit: $6.65 million; Contract Expires in 2025 (UFA)
Boeser is a talented player who has worn out his welcome with the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks are looking to open up cap space to make moves this summer, and it looks like they’ve deemed Boeser one of the keys to opening up the space to do so. Boeser’s agent, Ben Hankinson, has reportedly received permission to help the Canucks facilitate a trade to offload his clients contract. The Canucks are also rumoured to be open to the idea of retaining some salary in a trade.
Boeser has been a productive player for the Canucks. He has been on pace to score 60+ points in five of his six seasons in the NHL. There is no denying his skill set and ability to produce offence. The knock on Boeser’s game is his skating and health. Boeser has never played more than 71 games in a single season and has only eclipsed the 70 mark once. Injuries have plagued him his whole career.
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(Boeser’s 82 game point pace in his last four seasons)
The acquisition cost won’t likely be as high as it once was for Boeser. His injury history, lack of goal scoring this season, and the Canucks desire to open up cap space are three reasons why he is a good buy low candidate.
Similar to Vrána, the Flames would have to move out money next summer to make the long term salary cap structure work. But that shouldn’t be an issue with all the Flames players who have contracts expiring in 2024. You’d think they would try to move on from a couple of them instead of having all of them walk in free agency.
The Flames are not in a position right now to be swinging for the fences at this years trade deadline. Giving up substantial assets for players like Timo Meier, Patrick Kane, Jakob Chychrun, or Ivan Barbashev doesn’t make sense for the Flames. What does make sense is using minimal assets to acquire players whose values are at an all time low. Low risk, high reward plays should be the goal for Brad Treliving and his management team.
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