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FlamesNation Mailbag: Seven weeks ’til the trade deadline

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
10 days ago
Friends, there are a couple weeks left in January and roughly seven weeks left until the National Hockey League’s trade deadline. As you might imagine, folks are getting antsy and excited to see what comes next.
Right now, what’s next is the mailbag. Let’s dive in!
Yes and no.
In terms of results (goals), yeah, the wins are a bit more white-knuckle than probably everybody involved would like to see happen. Sure, one-sided wins are less dramatic, but they’re also a sign of the results following through on the process.
But if you look at the underlying process numbers, the Flames are a really good hockey club. During that 8-2-3 span we’re seeing the Flames experience, they’re second in Corsi For percentage (58.4%), second in Shots For percentage (57.5%), third in Expected Goals For percentage (57.4%), third in Scoring Chances For percentage (56.6%) and seventh in High Danger Chances For percentage (54.9%). (All stats 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick.) Simply put, the puck is going in the right direction for the Flames, frequently and consistently.
In the opening chunk of the season, the zebras tend to call most things. As the season wears on, the tendency is to call less of the little stuff and more of the egregious stuff – generally, stuff that prevents scoring chances or is otherwise un-ignorable. It’s not a universal thing, but your observation of less casual to moderate interference being called does fit in with the general observations of how calls tend to evolve over the season.
Right now, Mikael Backlund has longevity and his status as a sentimental favourite on his side in his case for a jersey retirement. What he needs is sustained excellence, which was likely what got folks like Mike Vernon, Lanny McDonald and Jarome Iginla retired. Backlund’s been a fairly consistent name bandied about as a Selke Trophy contender dating back to 2012-13, but he probably needs a win (or a near-win) to really get into the jersey retirement conversation.
The Flames have played 21 home and 23 away games so far. They had some long homestands and road trips early in the season, which really skewed their numbers in both directions, but things have largely evened out since the.
So here’s the deal with the Flames’ goalies:
  • Jacob Markstrom is 32 and under contract for three more seasons with a bonus-laden $6 million AAV. He has a full no-move clause in his deal, and was the Vezina Trophy runner-up last season.
  • Dan Vladar is 25 and his two year extension kicks in next season, which carries a $2.2 million AAV. He’s played 43 NHL games.
  • Dustin Wolf is 21 and on his entry-level deal, which has one more season left after this one. He’s waiver exempt for this season and the two seasons following that.
Barring anybody making an offer on Vladar or Wolf that the club cannot refuse, the play is probably to run with Markstrom and Vladar as the NHL tandem until Wolf’s waiver exemption expires after the 2024-25 season. At that point, the Flames have some decisions to make. Until then, I imagine they’re holding onto all of their goalies unless somebody makes them an amazing offer on one of them.
So here’s the deal: the Flames called up Matthew Phillips and Jakob Pelletier. Phillips was on the NHL roster for 15 days and played twice. Pelletier has been on the NHL roster for nine days – Monday is Day 10 – and he hasn’t played yet.
On Barn Burner this past week, the notion that there’s a disconnect between coach and general manager was brought up.

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The discussion touched on Sutter not really using Phillips or Pelletier and Rhett Warrener brought up the tight playoff race (and the possibility of missing the playoffs) when framing why Darryl Sutter might seem hesitant to use the kids.
“If you’re in a spot where every point is crucial, which it might be down the stretch, how do you insert guys that have never played and you don’t know what you’re going to get?”
Why would Brad Treliving make trade deadline moves? To make the team better, so it’s more likely that they’ll (a) make the playoffs and (b) have success once they get to the playoffs. And based on the players that Sutter has seemed hesitant to use so far, the notion might be to go get guy that have NHL experience so Sutter feels more comfortable using them as options than he has been with some of the kids.
Why would Treliving spend assets at the deadline? Because he wants to win.

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