Photo credit:Mike Gould
FlamesNation Mailbag: Talking trade targets, arena chatter, and turkey or ham
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
We’re a week away from the National Hockey League’s holiday break, and we’re still waiting for the Calgary Flames to either claw their way into a playoff spot or completely fall out. We may be waiting for awhile on that front, folks.
But as we wait for Santa to break into our homes to eat our snacks and leave us gifts, let’s check in with the mailbag!
So, remember when the first incarnation of the arena deal was announced way back in 2019, how we saw super-early renderings of the exteriors of the arena from Rosetti? That’s sort of what I think was shown at Flames internal events recently, as a way of teasing what the new space will look like.
Work on the second HOK design – basically a redesign of the original work – is super early, but because they’re not exactly reinventing the wheel, it doesn’t seem surprising that they have internal renders. We should see renders released from the design team – definitely exterior, perhaps some interiors – sometime in the first few months of 2024. (I would guess March, but that’s based on how things took last time.)
The good news is that Oliver Kylington has been spotted skating with the other injured players – Jakob Pelletier and Kevin Rooney – during their informal skates with the club’s skills and development staff. We don’t know how often, because the Flames are being super cautious with Kylington’s progression. It’s a good sign, but it’s a small sign.
We know fans want to know when he could be back, but the simple fact is nobody really knows right now, and the important thing is that the human being gets to where they want to be. The hockey stuff will figure itself out.
If there’s one thing the Flames need, it’s defencemen. They have three defencemen under contract for next season: MacKenzie Weegar, Rasmus Andersson and Jeremie Poirier. Aside from Poirier and Ilya Solovyov, and junior prospect Etienne Morin, their system is super, super thin on the back-end.
Long story short: the Flames need all kinds of defencemen. As they make their moves, they should definitely prioritize getting a bunch of blueliners aged 25 and under.
Honestly, Chris Tanev may be one of the most tantalizing rentals available in this year’s trade market. He’s a right shot defender. He can kill penalties and help hold onto leads in close games. If the Flames retain salary, his cap hit drops to $2.25 million – a figure many contenders can fit under their cap ceiling.
Dmitry Kulikov (with half his cap hit retained) landed the Ducks a third-round pick and Brock McGinn. You would think the conversation for Tanev would start with a second-round pick.
The challenge for me is this: are teams going to give the Flames a first or second-round pick and their best prospect for a rental player? Probably not, nope. So I would look at teams that feel they’re a Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm or Chris Tanev away from a parade, and then look at their second, third or fourth-best prospects. (Stick-taps to Scott Wheeler and Corey Pronman at The Athletic, as their organizational rankings are awesome for this type of brain-storming.)
This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but it’s easy to imagine Craig Conroy speaking with another GM, asking for their best prospect and after being turned down, going “Okay fine, how about…” and then asking about some of these players.
- Defenceman Mason Lohrei (Boston), a 22-year-old who’s bounced between the NHL and AHL this season.
- Forward Riley Duran (Boston), a 21-year-old centre for Providence College.
- Defenceman Topi Niemala (Toronto), a 21-year-old right-shot defender for the Marlies.
- Forward Nick Moldenhauer (Toronto), a 19-year-old University of Michigan freshman right wing who came up through the same Chicago Steel junior system that produced Matt Coronato.
- Forward Adam Sykora (NY Rangers), a 19-year-old AHL left shot winger who came up through Slovakian pro hockey.
- Forward Bryce McConnell-Barker (NY Rangers), a 19-year-old left-shot centre with the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds who plays for the same team that produced Rory Kerins.
- Forward Matyas Sapovaliv (Vegas), a 19-year-old left-shot centre with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit.
- Defenceman Kaedan Korczak (Vegas), a 22-year-old right-shot defender who’s bounced between the NHL and AHL. (He’s a Kelowna Rockets product.)
- Defenceman Jacob Truscott (Vancouver), a 21-year-old left-shot defender with the University of Michigan. (He’s in his senior year.)
- Defenceman Joni Jurmo (Vancouver), a 21-year-old left-shot defender with Ilves in Finland.
- Defenceman Elias Pettersson (Vancouver), a 19-year-old left-shot defender who’s played on a few different teams in Sweden this season.
If I’m the Flames, I want defencemen or centres who could provide some depth, or potentially step onto the NHL roster in a season or two. Again: this isn’t an exhaustive list, but the type of players I would look at if I were them. (Spoiler: I am not them.)
I don’t think the Flames will be prioritizing adding veterans during this season; if they make moves, they’re probably for young assets and draft selections. However, there are inevitably going to be some teams in salary cap trouble over the off-season, even with the cap going up for 2024-25, and there will potentially be opportunities to add veteran players from capped-out teams.
So I wouldn’t rule it out, but I think any such moves wouldn’t happen until the summer.
We’ll dive into Jonathan Huberdeau’s progression and challenges in more detail next month, but one idea that might be worth looking at is what worked with Nazem Kadri: putting some kids with him to energize him. Kadri wasn’t bad away from Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil, but his game found a new level of energy and dynamism when placed with energetic players with complimentary skill-sets – Zary’s skating and hockey sense, and Pospisil’s willingness to create havoc with his size and strength.
I don’t know who would be the right centre to play in-between Huberdeau and, say, Jakob Pelletier, but you can see how that might help make Huberdeau comfortable and allow him to play his game.
I’m a big fan of turkey for big family meals – especially because turkey leftovers are great and versatile. But a few of my relatives absolutely knock ham meals out of the park and there’s really no “bad” choice between the two. (A dark horse for big holiday meals: a big lasagna.)
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