FlamesNation Mailbag: Untangling trade conditions, trade values and arena timelines

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
After four games away from home, the Calgary Flames are back at the Saddledome for the next two weeks. They’re in the midst of, to be blunt, a brutal 15-game chunk of their schedule that will probably determine whether they sink, swim, or paddle around in the middle of the pool.
As the Flames get set to play the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, let’s dive into the mailbag!
We’re still waiting on the release of the finalized contracts – they could come out literally any day now – but here are some things we can reasonably surmise based on how builds tend to go (and how the process here went in the last run-through).
We’ll likely get building renderings and floor plans released in some form in the first quarter of 2024 in advance of the development permitting process taking place sometime in the second quarter. Our best estimate for actual construction starting is just after Stampede 2024. There was some initial chatter that perhaps the building could open in time for the start of the 2026-27 NHL season. That chatter was, to be blunt, extremely optimistic, and based on the timelines they provided last time, expect the build to take the equivalent of two full construction seasons – and perhaps a chunk of a third – which would put the handover date somewhere between May and August of 2027, depending on various complications that could pop up.
Based on recent history, defencemen of their ilk usually get a third-round pick plus perhaps a sweetener around the trade deadline. If there’s a bidding war or if a contending team decides one of those players are The Answer for their Stanley Cup hopes and dreams, maybe they could fetch a second-rounder plus a sweetener.
So here’s the deal with Jacob Markstrom: he’s been quite good this season for the Flames, especially when you factor in how much of an adventure the Flames were in their own end early on. After this season, he has two more seasons left on his deal with a full no-move clause and a $6 million cap hit.
Markstrom holds all the cards here. If he wants to maybe head elsewhere, then it becomes a possibility. But his age (33), cap hit ($6 million) and the term he has left will hurt the return they get. And if the plan is to bring Dustin Wolf up at some point and gradually transition the net duties towards the youngster, Markstrom could be a really, really good (and valuable) mentor for him.
If Markstrom really wants out, and the Flames are willing to retain salary, it could become possible. But I don’t know if there’s a desire right now, on either side, to see him playing elsewhere anytime soon.
So when the Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan trades occurred over the summer of 2022, I probably spent as much time talking to the folks who run Cap Friendly about trade conditions as I did to most of my family members combined.
Here’s as simple a breakdown as we can suss out: There are three first-round picks that need to change hands as a result of previous trades, and the conditions are all messy and inter-related.
  • The Panthers owe the Flyers a first-round pick from the Claude Giroux trade (in 2024 or 2025)
  • The Panthers owe the Flames a first-round pick from the Matthew Tkachuk trade (in 2024, 2025 or 2026), with the Flames sending a fourth-round pick to Florida in whatever year the first-rounder swaps in.
  • The Flames owe the Canadiens a first-round pick from the Sean Monahan trade (in 2024, 2025 or 2026), plus potentially a third-round pick in 2025 depending on a few factors.
But there are some conditions:
  • If Florida’s first-rounder in 2024 is in the top 10, Philadelphia gets their 2025 first-rounder automatically. Otherwise, Philadelphia gets their 2024 first-rounder.
    • The Flames get Florida’s first-rounder in 2025, unless they already gave it to Philadelphia (as a result of their 2024 first-rounder being in the top 10) OR if Florida’s 2025 first-rounder is in the top 10, in which case Calgary gets their first-rounder in 2026.
  • If Calgary’s first-rounder in 2024 is between 20th and 32nd overall, Montreal has the option of taking that pick rather than waiting for a later pick.
    • If Montreal opts to wait, there are more conditions on the 2025 picks:
      • If Calgary only has their own first-rounder, it goes to Montreal unless it’s first-overall. (If that happens, Montreal gets Calgary’s 2026 first-rounder and their 2025 third-round as compensation for having to wait another year.)
      • If Calgary has their pick and Florida’s pick, Montreal gets whichever pick is earlier (unless the Flames’ pick is in the top 10, in which case they get Florida’s pick instead).
The most likely scenario as of right now (based on current standings/probabilities) is that Florida’s first-rounder in 2024 will go to Philadelphia (e.g., it won’t be top 10), their 2025 first-rounder will go to the Flames (e.g., it also won’t be top 10), and Montreal will get one of the two 2025 first-rounders that the Flames will control.
Remember: under league rules, teams cannot trade picks that they might need to meet existing trade conditions, so the Flames can’t trade away their 2024, 2025 or 2026 first-round picks (or their 2024, 2025 or 2026 fourth-rounders or 2025 third-rounder) until each pick becomes free of the complicated trade conditions. But if the idea behind a retool/rebuild/whatever is accumulating assets, you probably wouldn’t see the Flames looking to move first-round picks very early in the process.
Elias Lindholm’s performance thus far this season have definitely impacted his value. To be completely blunt, the longer the period of time where he appears to be a good (but not Selke Trophy good) NHL centre, it sort of takes the shine off his tremendous 2021-22 season and likely drives his cap hit on his next deal down a bit.
In terms of trade value, it depends on whether a contract extension would be involved. But whether an acquiring team thinks he’s a game-breaking centre or merely a pretty good one, he’s the type of potential rental players that playoff-bound contenders tend to covet. He can win face-offs, play in all game situations, and he has scored key goals at key times in the recent past.
Teams may not think they’re acquiring the next Patrice Bergeron if they trade for Lindholm, but they’ll still think they’re getting a pretty good player that can help them win. And in the trade market, teams tend to pay handsomely for such players.

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