FlamesNation Roundtable: What should the Calgary Flames do at the trade deadline?
Photo credit:Mike Gould
6 months ago
The 2023 trade deadline has nearly arrived. There has already been a ton of trade activity across the NHL. But the Calgary Flames have yet to make any deals as the deadline approaches.
Now is the perfect time to get the FlamesNation team — Boomer and Pinder from Barn Burner, plus writers Jeff Middleton, Mike Gould, Paige Siewert, Ryan Pike, Shane Stevenson, and myself — together for a roundtable to answer the most pressing questions about the Flames and their plans this deadline.
Let’s get started!
Q: What do you think the trade deadline strategy should be for Brad Treliving and company?
Boomer: I just don’t see how Treliving can do much of anything. It’s not so much where they are in terms of the standings in their division or conference, but the team’s performance. The group has been so inconsistent I don’t see what kind of faith you can place in them to suddenly improve their level of play after 60 games to spend assets to add. And if the team decided to be sellers, Trevor Lewis or Brett Ritchie might be of some interest to a contender but I have to believe the return would be minimal. Treliving loves to deal, but I don’t see a lot of options here for him.
Jeff: I think Brad Treliving should focus on selling even a couple of assets for draft capital. By all means, he doesn’t have to sell everyone with one year remaining on their deals, but if you can capitalize on the market for them, you should. Buying would be an interesting strategy, but a lot would have to go right after the trade deadline for them to make the playoffs.
Mike: Sell everything that isn’t bolted down. Explore the market for Trevor Lewis, see if anyone bites on Milan Lucic at 5-% retained, and put out feelers on the guys signed through 2024 – specifically Chris Tanev, Tyler Toffoli, Nikita Zadorov, and the others. Sell!
Paige: If you’re not sure if it’s going to help the team, don’t let it hurt the team. Meaning if you have to give up assets in a hail mary attempt for trade deadline, it is probably not worth the damage.
Pike: Strategic sell. Don’t sell just to sell, but if teams make you an offer on an asset that you think can help the team bounce back in 2023-24, you definitely need to consider it.
Pinder: Don’t buy. Team is not in a spot to add short term help with all the futures assets they’ve surrendered in years past and their challenging path to a playoff spot. There are six major assets that expire as UFAs after next season. Lindholm, Toffoli and Backlund up front and Hanifin, Tanev and Zadorov on the back end… These are the Flames most talked about sales pieces. If somebody blows your doors off for one of the six significant ’24 UFAs, by all means think hard about it, but I do wonder if you wouldn’t want the GM chair solidified before moving major parts. If you trust Brad Treliving to continue to be the GM by all means let him run a sale at the deadline. If the team wants a new vision from the GM’s chair seems silly to let the current GM execute on his vision when all the assets would still hold similar value this summer and more teams have caps space and cap clarity.
Robert: This feels like one of those seasons where nothing is going your way. Realistically, they are probably not going to make the playoffs. Because of that, I think the Flames should look to the future and sell a piece or two off the roster. I would look to move out one or two of Mikael Backlund, Tyler Toffoli, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Trevor Lewis and Milan Lucic.
Shane: The Calgary Flames are on a clear march to finish in ninth place – Flames fans that have followed the team in the last 20 years are very much used to them falling just short of the playoff race. Number one no future assets need to be shipped out for short term help – the roster has not shown you enough to do such a thing. Number two come up with a plan – a real plan, not just figure it out each season – You’ve got lots of pieces people would like, if someone willing to egregiously overpay for one of them (see: Jeannot) then you’d be silly not to say yes.
Based off your answer above, come up with one trade that you’d like to see the Flames make.
Boomer: This is a hard one without knowing exactly who is available around the league, and what would most intrigue me at this point is probably more of a sell off than a purchase. I wonder what kind of return you could get for Tyler Toffoli. He’s been great this season and could flirt with a career high in goals. Yes, you’d need to replace him this year and next, and it would only make sense if you commit to some sort of re-tooling but he’s healthy and scoring and has a decent cap hit, not to mention if you retained some salary. If it landed you a pick and a prospect you were high on I think it would have to at least be enticing.
Jeff: I’d like to see the Flames move Noah Hanifin to a team looking for a young-ish left defenseman. He would have to be moved to a team that isn’t on his 8-team no trade list.
Mike: Trevor Lewis to the Boston Bruins for a 2023 third-round pick.
Paige: I’d like them to target an affordable defenceman like Luke Schenn. In return, they give up their second and fourth-round pick in the 2023 draft. [Editor’s note: This was submitted before Luke Schenn was traded to Toronto.]
Pike: I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but target a hockey trade in terms of sending one of the expiring 2024 players elsewhere in exchange for some draft capital potentially.
Pinder: Nikita Zadorov for a second-round pick, Flames retain $1 million in salary. Don’t care where. If the Flames KNOW that Oliver Kylington was coming back I think this is a no-brainer, but they may not have clarity on that situation.
Robert: Calgary trades Tyler Toffoli to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a 2023 first-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round pick.
Shane: There is no reason to keep any of the potential UFAs this team employs but it would be hard pressed to see someone wanting to pay anything significant for them. Lucic, Lewis, Ritchie, and Stone are the four – Stone is hurt too so we can take him off the board. Any of those three forwards for literally anything someone is willing to pay for them is a win. Calgary is coming off a draft where they had three picks and this upcoming one they only have five. I’m not suggesting a full tear down here – I’m suggesting moving some aging vets for draft picks while simultaneously creating some roster holes to see what the top guys for the Wranglers could do with some extended NHL shifts.
What has been your favourite Calgary Flames related trade deadline deal in team history?
Boomer: Back in 2009, it felt like the Flames had finally gotten their man. Olli Jokinen was linked to the Flames for years leading up to ’09, so when the deal went down it felt like a missing piece had finally been found. The team gave up a 1st round pick, Matthew Lombardi and Brandon Prust for Jokinen and a third. You knew any blockbuster deal was going to include a first-rounder, Jokinen was going to take Lombardi’s spot in the lineup, and as much as I loved Prusty it all seemed like a price worth paying to get that big, scoring centerman the team long coveted. Jokinen joined the team in Philadelphia and scored twice in his first game as a Flame vs the Flyers. Excitement level was off the charts. He put up 15 points in the final 19 games of the regular season, and another 5 points in their 6 game round 1 playoff loss to Chicago. The following year, Brent Sutter took over as coach from Mike Keenan and Jokinen’s numbers dipped, scoring just 11 goals in 56 games before being traded to the New York Rangers. This was not the home run I thought it was going to be.
Jeff: I’m new to this whole Flames beat writer thing, but the Olli Jokinen deal was one I remember hearing about consistently even though he never turned into the truly elite forward with Calgary that he was with the Florida Panthers. He’s was a fun player to watch, and did contribute to the Flames during his time there, even though it wasn’t necessarily at the same clip they may have wanted it to be.
Mike: The deal to bring Toffoli in was pretty awesome. Treliving finally landed the big deadline fish he’d been chasing for years and it directly addressed the teams biggest need. Good stuff.
Paige: Maybe just because it is fresh in my mind, but I am very happy with the trade deadline deal from last year for Tyler Toffoli. This might be an ever changing opinion as time goes on but he has been one of the best pieces of the team this year.
Pike: I’m going to be predictable and say the Toffoli addition. The price tag wasn’t crazy-high, he fit a clear organizational need, and he’s been really productive since arriving.
Pinder: BUY: Toffoli wasn’t at the deadline, but it was made in a contending season and he’s continued to be what he has been in his career if not a better version. He had term and you can still flip him for a similar package I’d expect. SELL: The Kris Russell swap nearly netted a first round pick for the club a few more saves from the Dallas net-minders and they were off to the Western Conference Final (the condition for a first-rounder in return). Dillon Dube was the player they ended up selecting. Jokipakka and Pollock didn’t turn out to be anything and that’s okay. Good deal for a rental.
Robert: Curtis Glencross traded to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second and third-round pick in 2015. It was a brilliant, long term trade by Brad Treliving. The Flames were in the middle of a playoff race, but they still have the foresight to move out Glencross who was an aging player and pending UFA. They used those assets from the Glencross trade and sent them to Boston as part of the package that brought Dougie Hamilton to Calgary. It was a masterclass on asset management by the Flames.
Shane: They have a terrible history with making any sort of splash that matters and tend to do a lot of minor things. My favourite is one nobody talks about because it was selling off Baertschi when it was clear it wasn’t going to work and getting a second-round pick back for him. Great asset management – that pick turned into Rasmus Andersson. Honorable mention – Brian McGrattan for Joe Piskula, Big Ern forever.
What has been your least favourite Calgary Flames trade deadline deal?
Boomer: Even though it was a few days prior to the deadline, it’s tough to match the disappointment seeing Jarome Iginla dealt to Pittsburgh. We all know the team’s hands were more or less tied by Iggy’s no trade clause, but the return was so disappointing there was no way to look at it with any kind of positivity. Sometimes franchise players move on in trade and there’s some glimmer of hope that the return could pan out to be something significant. But with all due respect to Kenny Agostino and Ben Hanowski, you knew the only potential this deal had of being anything other than a disaster was Pittsburgh’s first-round pick. Which as we know, didn’t happen. The building felt awfully empty with Iggy gone.
Jeff: Any time you deal a player like Brett Hull it has to be at the top, right? I wasn’t alive when this happened, but phew, St. Louis got a heck of a haul!
Mike: The Oscar Fantenberg deal. They didn’t need to make it at all – Valimaki was better at the time than Fantenberg ever was – and they really had to go get a forward. After striking out on Mark Stone, they just kind of folded. Bleh.
Paige: I didn’t like seeing the Flames give up their Lady Byng winner Jiri Hudler to the Florida Panthers for a couple of draft picks back in 2016.
Pike: There was one deadline where the Flames re-signed Tim Jackman rather than trade him for assets. That seemed unwise, both at the time and in hindsight.
Pinder: Calle Jarnkrok was brought at a significant price to play a position he really didn’t spend much time playing in his career. His only goal as a Flame in their Game 5 loss to the Oilers… Decent player, but way too much in acquisition cost (second, third, seventh) for a guy that you moved off his best position.
Robert: The Jarome Iginla trade to Pittsburgh. First, it was devastating to see the franchise icon and fan favorite leave the Flames organization. Secondly, the return they got for him was terrible. The Flames received Ben Hanowski, Kenny Agostino, and a first-round pick which turned into Morgan Klimchuk. They played a combined total of 27 games for the Flames. It was one of the worst trades in franchise history.
Shane: How about the many years of Darryl Sutter as the GM trading away picks or important players just to get depth pieces back? Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust to the New York Rangers for Chris Higgins (who left immediately) and everyone’s favourite winger Ales Kotalik. He came with a $3 million dollar cap hit and played 26 games the next year for the team. It turned out an absolute disaster. Calgary should have sold their pieces if they were going to move Jokinen and Phaneuf (done a month before the trade deadline to Toronto). Instead combined they get six depth players back that all but whittled away into nothing valuable for the organization. Except for Stajan – we love Matt Stajan. Imagine the talent they could have infused to the lineup with some extra top end draft picks – but they were clearly a playoff team in the west and so this was the result instead.
Will Matthew Coronato play in at least one NHL game this season?
Boomer: This is just a complete guess, but I am going to say no. I’m sure the Flames would love to get him signed and be happy to get him into game action to start the clock running on his entry level deal but it’s tough to gauge where Coronato’s headspace is. There’s arguments both ways, but I do wonder if the fact he’s at a prestigious school like Harvard factors in? Obviously he expects his career path has him heading to the National Hockey League so it’s maybe naive to think he’s going to reject a contract to get his diploma. However, I am curious if the lukewarm (at best?) reception young players have received from Darryl Sutter in Calgary would give him pause.
Jeff: I doubt it. Coronato is having a very good year at Harvard, but he’s still unsigned and I don’t think he would be put in the role where his skillset is best utilized. So it would probably be in his best interest to wait.
Paige: I don’t think so.
Pike: Yes, especially if the Flames move out a forward prior to the trade deadline.
Pinder: Please. He’s the type of player the organization has been short on for ages. A shooter and pure finisher. SEND CONNY ON THE PJ the moment their Frozen Four is over!
Robert: No. I still don’t think he is going to sign with the Flames this spring. I think it would be a rough situation for Coronato to walk into because the team is struggling and there are rumours that the culture is a little toxic under Sutter. Plus I question if Darryl would actually play him in the lineup if he were to sign. I just don’t see it happening. But I hope I am wrong.
Shane: Will they make a roster hole for him? You aren’t moving Lindholm, Kadri, Backlund out of the top nine. If you aren’t selling then who gets bumped out of the lineup? Mangiapane and Coleman – no way. Toffoli has been their best goal scorer, Huberdeau is making the most money (next year, but still) and Pelletier has been the life of this team since his call-up. Dubé could drop but he’s been having a breakout year too. My theory – do something to make a hole. This team has decisively been on a path to miss the playoffs, if they operate like a franchise who knows their current situation there’ll be room for him to play. If they put their blinders up and continue to try and truck ahead there won’t be room for him unless there’s an injury.
Will the Flames make the playoffs?
Boomer: I see this going two ways: 1) they dig in and find some traction and make a push and grab a wild card spot, or 2) things slip quickly and the last 15-20 games could be tough to watch. This is a veteran laiden team which lends to playing with pride and professionalism. However, it also would have to be pretty tough to take for older players to see a season with so much promise slip through their fingers.
Jeff: Short answer? No. There are some big problems with this team that can’t necessarily be addressed through trades, and inevitably, they’re going to cause the Flames to miss the post-season.
Mike: Not a damn chance.
Paige: I don’t think they’re playing consistent enough to pull themselves over the line as a playoff team.
Pike: Strongly doubtful. Even if they get everything rolling, the clock is very much against them.
Pinder: They’ve got a rather soft finish to the season, but I’ll say NO. The Flames finish with 7/10 at home and with 6 of their last 7 games against non-playoff opponents, but they’ve been so pedestrian against the league’s worst that it really doesn’t seem to inspire much hope. Also, their home ice play hasn’t been up to standard. Buckle up for lots of pissing and moaning all off-season if this group misses in what was supposed to be the beginning of a 3-4 year window with this new core. Yikes.
Robert: Yes. I’ve thought throughout the entire season that they were going to make the playoffs. They play good enough defensive hockey and are good enough at 5-on-5 to make it and potentially do a little damage. All they need is one of their goaltenders to step up and make an extra save or two. And I don’t think that is asking too much from goalies who are as talented as Markstrom and Vladar. I think they’ll get it from Markstrom and they will sneak into a wild card spot.
Shane: For weeks I kept saying the Flames would make the playoffs – since the All-Star break that has changed for me. Now I think they don’t have enough runway left to make it. They did very little to address the goal scoring issues early in the year – the power play didn’t make a proper adjustment until after 50 games of F graded work – and their goaltending hasn’t been even remotely at an acceptable level since September. They aren’t even projected for ninth anymore by the HockeyViz.com model they’re below Nashville projected for 10th in the West. Unless things change yesterday the new answer is no.
THE DAILY FACEOFF TRADE DEADLINE SHOW
Join us on March 3rd for the Daily Faceoff Live: Trade Deadline edition as Frank Seravalli and the panel break down all of the latest rumours, news, and rumblings from around the NHL. The show will be live on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter from 10 AM – 2 PM MT to keep you up to date on all things trade deadline no matter where you’re watching from.
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