FlamesNation Mailbag: Welcome to the post-Brad Treliving era

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
A week ago, the Calgary Flames announced that Brad Treliving won’t be general manager of the hockey club following the expiry of his contract at the end of June, functionally vacating that position. The Flames are looking for a GM and, until one is named, are in a state of flux.
With uncertainty on the menu, let’s dive into the mailbag!
We had a few versions of this question.
If you’re going internal candidates, I’m a big fan of both Craig Conroy and Brad Pascall. Both have oodles of relevant experience, know the league and the organizational inside and out, and both have the capabilities to work well within that role.
If you’re going external candidates, my big crazy idea is Eric Tulsky in Carolina. That said, while Tulsky’s title in Carolina is assistant GM, he reportedly handles a lot of the day-to-day for the ‘Canes while president/GM Don Waddell runs the big picture stuff. You would need to throw some crazy money (for a first-time GM) to pry Tulsky out of Carolina. Plan B might be somebody like Jason Botterill from Seattle, who’s been a GM before and understands the role (and might be easier to pry away from the Kraken).
If we’re handicapping it, you’re going to really have to convince me that somebody is better suited for the job than Conroy.
The short answer to “what’s the best prospect?” is “that depends.” There’s a lot of good prospects in the first round of this draft, touted by many to be the best in 20 or 25 years. The question of whether to trade back or not is another “that depends,” as it is entirely contingent on how many good players they see available on a particular ledge.
The Flames traded back, twice, in 2020 and managed to add a couple third rounders and got Connor Zary, a player that the club felt was one of several strong prospects on that specific ledge. All things being equal, more picks are better than fewer picks, especially if you’re good at drafting.
We’ve delved into their cap situation in some detail but we’ll restate it here: in order to have any in-season flexibility for the 2023-24 season, the Flames need to trade out about $3.5 or $4 million in existing cap hits. So regardless of players entering the final year of their deals or not, they need to make moves.
That said, the first thing to do is hire a GM. The second thing to do is decide if Darryl Sutter is the coach for the upcoming season. Once those two things are decided, then you have more or less settled on a direction and that determines the types of trades they try to make and the types of players they attempt to sign to fill out the NHL roster.
So here’s the good news: Nazem Kadri, who’s very good, is signed for another six seasons. That’s good. But here’s the rub: Kadri is an offensive player and not nearly as well-rounded as Elias Lindholm or Mikael Backlund. In an ideal world, you need a one-two punch of centres, with one you can use as a shutdown guy and one you can use to score goals at key times. You need both, long-term, to sustain a team.
Jakob Pelletier barely even played centre in major junior and has never played up the middle as a pro. Dillon Dube has been decent but unspectacular as an NHL centre. It would be unreasonable to expect either of them to replace Lindholm or Backlund in the short-term. In short: the Flames need to figure out a plan, ideally one that includes keeeping one (or both) of their Swedish centres.
If you sell off Tyler Toffoli, even if you’re selling high on him, you’re essentially waving the white flag and declaring a rebuild. He’s the team’s most difference-making forward, especially offensively. You move him, you’re basically throwing in the towel. And that’s fine if that’s your plan. But you need to be sure that’s your plan, and you need to fully commit to that plan.
Half measures are, to be blunt, how the Flames got themselves into the situation they’re in now.

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