Did the Calgary Flames get better at the trade deadline?
Photo credit:© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
6 months ago
The trade deadline has come and gone and finally we can move on from all the discussions around the direction of the team, adding players and subtracting players.
Brad Treliving and the Calgary Flames have decided to wait until the off-season to make major changes to the team and organization as a whole. They didn’t sell any of their core players like many fans had hoped. They didn’t spend any future assets to make the team better in the short term. Instead, they made very minor changes to the fringes of their roster.
Treliving acquired Dryden Hunt from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Radim Zahorna. And traded Brett Ritchie and Connor Mackey to the Arizona Coyotes for Nick Ritchie and Troy Stetcher.
Here are some thoughts on the players they acquired.
Stecher is a blue collar, hard working third pairing defenceman who is going to add some depth to the Flames blueline. Stecher has played for the Red Wings, Kings, Coyotes and most notably the Vancouver Canucks where he was a fan favourite.
Stecher is a good skater and has the ability to show flashes of offence. But he is most known for his dedication to the defensive side of the game and his work ethic. One thing Flames fans will come to appreciate about Stecher is how hard he works, his willingness to do what it takes to win, and the fact that he plays like he is 6’3″, 210 pounds when in reality he is only 5’10″, 184 pounds.
He is a legitimate NHL defenceman and is an upgrade on Dennis Gilbert and Michael Stone. Expect to see Stecher playing in the majority of games down the stretch on the Flames third pairing with Nikita Zadorov.
Ritchie is one of those frustrating players who has the talent and ability to be a very good player, but he lacks the consistency and intensity to live up to his potential. He was the tenth overall pick in 2014 NHL draft. He has great size at 6’3″, 236 pounds. Very rarely do you come across someone with the size and talent of Ritchie.
But for some reason he has not been able to put it all together in his NHL career. He is wildly inconsistent. One game you think he looks like someone who could score 25-30 goals in the NHL. The next night he’ll have little to no impact on the game.
Nick has a higher ceiling than his brother Brett. The talent and hands are there for him to be a solid bottom six forward in the NHL. But I would argue Brett has the better work ethic and understands his role on a hockey team more than Nick.
It is going to be interesting to see where he is going to fit in the lineup. I would suggest that he plays left wing on the fourth line replacing Milan Lucic. Lucic is tied for last on the Flames in plus/minus (-12) and has been outscored 35-23 when on the ice at 5-on-5. It’s clear he is the teams worst player and Ritchie would be an upgrade.
It’s also going to be fascinating to see how Ritchie responds to Darryl Sutter’s demanding coaching tactics. Is Ritchie the type of person who will thrive with someone like Sutter, or will he crumble under the intense pressure of the Flames bench boss? Only time will tell.
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Hunt will likely be playing with the Calgary Wranglers in the AHL for the rest of the season. Hunt is a fast, physical, fourth line forward at the NHL level. He is not the biggest player, but that doesn’t get in the way of being one of the more physical people on the ice in the games that he plays in.
It looks like the Wranglers wanted to create a full time role at centre for one of their top prospects in Connor Zary. Moving out Zahorna gives Zary the chance to become a full time centreman in the AHL.
Hunt is from Cranbrook, BC and calls Calgary his home in the off-season. It will be nice for him to play in his home city in front of friends and family for the rest of the season.
My colleague Paige Siewert wrote a great piece about what Hunt is going to bring to the Wranglers if you want a deeper dive into this player.
Overall, the Flames got better. How much better? That remains to be seen. They upgraded at their sixth defenceman spot. And they upgraded at fourth line left wing. It’s clear that if the Flames are going to make the playoffs, they’re going to need their top players to step up. But it is nice to improve the fringes of the roster heading down the stretch drive.
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