The good and the bad of seven years of GM Brad Treliving

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
Wednesday marked seven years since the Calgary Flames hired Arizona assistant general manager Brad Treliving as the club’s full-time general manager. In those seven years, Treliving has done a lot.
Let’s take a look back and the good and the bad of Treliving as the head hockey ops honcho.

(Almost) seven seasons, at a glance

Overall, the Flames have a 269-214-45 record and a .552 points percentage. This is 20th among the NHL’s 31 teams (as of Tuesday night). They’ve won 50.9% of their games.
Here’s that record compared to past GMs:
  • Cliff Fletcher (1972-91): 719-565-232, .551 points percentage. (Won 47.4% of their games.)
  • Doug Risebrough (1991-95): 141-121-46, .532 points percentage. (Won 45.7% of their games.)
  • Al Coates (1995-2000): 152-187-54-5, .456 points percentage. (Won 38.2% of their games.)
  • Craig Button (2000-03): 88-107-40-11, .461 points percentage. (Won 35.8% of their games.)
  • Darryl Sutter (2003-10): 275-194-7-53, .577 points percentage. (Won 52.0% of their games.)
  • Jay Feaster (2010-13): 93-80-33, .532 points percentage. (Won 43.5% of their games.)
From a pure “hey, did they win games?” standpoint, Treliving is the second-best they’ve ever had. But Fletcher’s numbers are dragged down by the early Atlanta expansion years.

Greatest hits

Drafting, generally
The 2015 draft produced Rasmus Andersson, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington. The 2016 draft produced Matthew Tkachuk and Dillon Dube. (And Adam Fox.) The 2017 draft produced Juuso Valimaki. The Flames scouting team has regularly hit on their early picks, as well as found some promising gems in the late rounds.
Trading, generally
For good chunks of his tenure, Treliving has been good at cashing out of assets at the right time or leveraging assets for players who better fit the team’s scheme.
  • He turned pending UFAs like Curtis Glencross, Kris Russell and Jiri Hudler into picks. (And disgruntled pending RFAs like Sam Bennett and Sven Baertschi into picks.)
  • He made a big swing for Dougie Hamilton, then flipped Hamilton with other assets to land Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. (I’m sympathetic to those aghast at losing Adam Fox, but he wasn’t going to sign with the Flames and at least they didn’t lose him for nothing.)
  • He made effective trades for starting goalies a few times, most notably Brian Elliott and Mike Smith.
  • Heck, even the Milan Lucic trade with Edmonton was pretty decent, all things considered.
Re-signing players, generally
Treliving has a well-deserved reputation as a wizard when it comes to re-signing his own players, including really team-friendly cap hits for guys like Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Mark Giordano, Matthew Tkachuk, Lindholm and Hanifin. (And many others.)
The $6.75 million cap hit he signed Giordano to in 2015 set an unofficial cap ceiling for the club, as it became tough to justify any deals that paid more than the team’s best player, captain and perennial Norris Trophy candidate.

Greatest misses

The 2014 Draft
The Flames have been great at drafting. But they had a rough 2014 draft. Only Bennett, their first rounder, has played any NHL games for any NHL team. The other five picks – Mason McDonald, Hunter Smith, Brandon Hickey, Adam Ollas Mattson and Austin Carroll – have combined for 400 AHL games and zero NHL appearances. Not great.
Signing free agents
Treliving isn’t afraid to make a splash when free agency opens. But you can’t disagree with the notion that some of his gambles haven’t paid off. Among them: Mason Raymond (three years, $3.15 million AAV, bought out), Troy Brouwer (four years, $4.5 million AAV, bought out) and James Neal (five years, $5.75 million AAV, traded to Edmonton). Let’s give him credit for his good signings though: Michael Frolik, Derek Ryan and Chris Tanev.
Some of his trades
Sometimes Treliving seems to get tunnel-vision, focusing in on an asset that he thinks will solve all the team’s problems and going after that asset no matter what the cost. Sometimes those assets are free agents and we get some bad contracts. Sometimes those assets are on another team and we get some wonky trades that involve the Flames significantly over-paying for a player.
Among them:
  • Trading a first round pick and two second round picks for Travis Hamonic
  • Trading a third round pick and a conditional fifth round pick for Michael Stone, then extending him (triggering the conditional fifth), then buying him out, then signing him again
  • Trading a second round pick (and Jyrki Jokipakka) for Curtis Lazar (and minor leaguer Michael Kostka)
Five of his six buyouts
Treliving has bought out six players. One of them made sense: Ryan Murphy, who was a throw-in by a cash-strapped Carolina team and allowed them to acquire Eddie Lack for very little. That was a smart, inexpensive gamble and didn’t really hamstring the team.
But the Flames have bought out Shane O’Brien, Mason Raymond, Lance Bouma, Troy Brouwer and Michael Stone under Treliving. O’Brien was originally thought to be a compliance buyout, and it wasn’t until a CapFriendly discovery months later that it became clear that it was a regular buyout with a cap impact. (It’s still unclear why they didn’t just use a compliance buyout.) Stone, Brouwer, Bouma and Raymond were all contracts that were too hefty for the roles the players had, and their buyouts have hung around the Flames and become an impediment as the club tries to maneuver under the cap – especially Stone and Brouwer’s combined $2.667 million this season under a flat cap.

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