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FlamesNation Mailbag: Trade deadline week is upon us

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
Folks, it’s Monday. The trade deadline for the 2023-24 season is this coming Friday at 1 p.m. MT. A lot of things could happen over the next five days.
Let’s dive into the mailbag to kick off the week!
When the Flames acquired Yegor Sharangovich from New Jersey, they were betting on his potential as a scoring winger. The thought process was likely something like this: he probably isn’t a strong enough checking player to be on the checking line with checking linemates, but when you put him in offensive situations with offensive-minded players, he’s dynamite.
The big question for me now is this: do they see him as a winger long-term or a centre? He’s been perfectly fine as a stop-gap centre, but he produces more as a winger. If he’s a winger, and they can find him a consistent centre, he could be a really useful player for them considering he can be effective at five-on-five, the power play and the penalty kill. I don’t know if he’s somebody that consistently score 40 goals, but he based on the quality and quantity of chances he’s able to generate, he’s probably a safe bet to score 20-25 consistently (and perhaps 30 from time to time).
He’s got a year left on his current deal, so the Flames would be eligible to sign him to an extension as of July 1. I imagine they’ll have talks this summer and see where they end up. Right now, a two or three-year extension somewhere in the vicinity of $4.5 million would probably provide the Flames with some value and Sharangovich with some security. The longer the two sides wait to hammer out a deal, the clearer it’ll be exactly what Sharangovich can be within the Flames’ system… but if he keeps producing, the price tag probably creeps up quite a bit.
Disclaimer: I don’t think we’ll really know the full extent of what happened, both in terms of the near-miss trade with New Jersey or how much Jacob Markstrom was sold on that potential deal by Flames management.
That said: Markstrom is both a really valued member of the Flames and a potentially valuable trade chip. Flames history – we’re looking at you, Dion Phaneuf and Doug Gilmour trades – suggests that you don’t try to make trades in a hurry. You tend to get better value and a more robust trade market if you wait for the summer when teams are allowed to exceed the salary cap by 10% and are usually in the mood to make bigger trades than they are in-season.
The challenge, for me, with a potential Markstrom trade is he’s basically a unicorn. Very rarely do teams trade number-one goalies that are having Vezina calibre seasons and have large cap hits and multiple seasons remaining on their deals. Most of the time when older goalies get traded, the trades are pure cap dumps like Matt Murray or Petr Mrazek. If you’re a team acquiring Markstrom, you’re betting on him maintaining value relative to his $6 million cap hit – and given his age and the various injuries he’s dealt with this year, that might be risky.
If I’m the Flames, I value Markstrom’s experience, professionalism and how damn good he is in net. But if I’m offered a first-round pick, a good prospect and a young roster player, my ears perk up and I seriously think about what the plan is for goaltending over the next few seasons. But, again, there are so few goaltenders like Markstrom that have been traded in recent years, it’s pretty tough to ballpark what a “fair” trade would be.
If I’m trading Noah Hanifin – and I fully expect the Flames to trade him before the trade deadline – I would be targeting a combination of high draft choices, good prospects and young roster players. The Flames have an abundance of good wingers in their system. They need more centres and blueliners. Anton Lundell would be a player that I would target in Florida’s system, as he’s in a good age group (he’s 22) and he’s a controllable asset that seems like he could flourish in an organization that could give him a larger role.
I don’t know if Florida would be willing to give him up, but he’s somebody I would definitely ask about.
Two reasons why Andrei Kuzmenko played on the fourth line for much of Saturday’s game:
  1. He’s getting his mojo back after having a pretty nasty illness and so he likely needs a smaller role to work back up to game speed.
  2. With Kuznetsov out, Dryden Hunt played with Yegor Sharangovich and Jonathan Huberdeau and had some good results. So until Kuznetsov is back up to speed, Hunt seems like a perfectly fine substitute given the options the Flames have available to them.
I will say this as somebody who spent a ton of time researching the drafting history of the Flames franchise: yes, the Flames have whiffed on some picks and missed out on some really good players. Every team has done this. Drafting in the NHL is taking a limited amount of information about the on-ice performance of teenage boys and attempting to project how they’ll develop as players and human beings. It’s part art and part science, and how teams use the information they have is framed by what they value in prospects.
I will also say that the Flames have really shown improvement in their drafting and development over the past decade or so. And don’t take my word for it, back in November The Athletic’s Harman Dayal and Dom Luszczyszyn did a deep dive on team performance at the NHL Draft between 2007-18, relative to the expected value of their draft positions. The Flames were the second-best team, trailing only the Dallas Stars. (And even if you throw out Adam Fox, who was traded away because he wasn’t going to sign, the Flames were 12th in the NHL.)
Again: the draft history of literally every NHL team is filled with whiffs and misses. The Flames have been better than most recently at finding value relative to their draft positioning, and that bodes well as they head into their re-tool period.
This is a great question. The short, unsatisfying answer, is “ask me again after the trade deadline.”
As of right now, the Flames’ top four blueline group involves MacKenzie Weegar, Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington… and somebody. I don’t think that somebody is in their system right now, so they probably need to fill that gap via trade or free agency.
Similarly, they have two damn good top nine centres in Mikael Backlund and Nazem Kadri. I don’t think their ideal third centre is in the system right now, so they have to go out and find one somewhere.
The good news is that they’ll have oodles of draft picks and salary cap room to solve these two problems.
In order of most likely to least likely:
  • Markstrom is still a Flame on Saturday
  • A player with term is moved by the deadline
  • Calgary drafts an Iginla
  • The Flames make the post-season
I’m bearish on the Flames making the post-season simply because of how many other teams are in the mix and how many things would need to go right for them to make it. But it does really feel like that will go down to the wire and be decided in their last handful of regular season games.

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