The Flames’ Ocean’s Eleven dilemma at the 2022 trade deadline

Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
Ocean’s Eleven is a great movie. A remake of a ’60s Frank Sinatra crime caper, the 2001 remake features George Clooney putting together a team to rob a bunch of Las Vegas casinos. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.
About a quarter of the way through the film, George Clooney’s character discusses the size of the team with Brad Pitt: “Ten ought to do it, don’t you think? You think we need one more? You think we need one more. All right, we’ll get one more.
The Calgary Flames have the cap space to get one more.
The Flames have been assembling their crew since Brad Treliving arrived in 2014. He’s kept four players from when he arrived: Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Mikael Backlund. Around that core, he’s amassed a team that’s worked its way into first place in the Pacific Division.
The folks in the public realm that do forecasting have the Flames as virtually guaranteed to be involved with the playoffs begin in early May. Most project the Flames to finish in first in the Pacific Division. They are, and should be, gearing up for what could be a long playoff run.
But slightly less than two weeks before the 2022 trade deadline, the Flames are in a unique position. They haven’t had a long playoff run in two decades and so they’re experiencing the hockey equivalent of that scene in Ocean’s Eleven. Do they need one more guy? Yeah, they probably need one more guy. And they have the cap space – roughly $935,000 of space on deadline day per PuckPedia – to add just one more guy.
But the challenge is figuring out where they can upgrade. There’s basically two soft spots in the roster: defensive depth beyond the regular six defenders and forward depth on the top two lines. Based on how the coaching staff has kept their blueline group consistent for over 50 games but still shuffles their forwards frequently, it seems like they think the forward group could use the help.
On Monday, prior to the Flames’ game with Edmonton, head coach Darryl Sutter remarked regarding his team’s depth: “I still think we’re working on that, finding who’s where and who’s what.” In the context of that comment, the team’s shuffling of lines makes a great deal of sense – especially leading up to the trade deadline.
On Tuesday, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli suggested on Sportsnet 960 The Fan that the Flames would probably get another defender instead.
The Flames became a pretty deep team by addressing an obvious need with an obvious solution on Valentine’s Day, acquiring Tyler Toffoli. A goal-scoring right shot winger was basically something that the team had coveted, and needed, for years.
The obvious move has been made and the Flames are a better team for it. Their last move before the trade deadline isn’t as obvious, but it could be crucial to their success in the post-season and the key to extending their playoff year well into May (or even June).
In Ocean’s Eleven, their wacky scheme worked because of the last guy they added. The Flames could experience the same fate. That is, if they add the right guy.


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