Handicapping the Flames’ trade deadline assets
Photo credit:Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports
By Ryan Pike1 year ago
The 2021 NHL trade deadline is Monday, April 12 at 1 p.m. MT. The Calgary Flames are in that awkward position where it’s unclear if they’ll miss or make the playoffs, so they could really do anything.
In advance of all the fun, here’s our look at the team’s tradeable – and less so – assets.
Could be moved
2021 first round pick
The 2021 NHL Draft is chaos. Scouts can barely travel, teams are heavily relying on video, and compared to past drafts prospects have played fewer games and teams have less information about them than they’d prefer to have. If it would allow them to upgrade their team and perhaps cajole their trade partner to retain salary to make things work, the Flames could probably be convinced to part with this year’s first.
A pending restricted free agent, Sam Bennett is likely valuable to the Flames in terms of the expansion draft and, to be honest, little else. The team has depth at every position he plays and on a $2.55 million cap hit, he’s an expensive depth piece who hasn’t taken the next step in Calgary. Maybe he’ll take it elsewhere. He’s probably the most attractive player the Flames have to dangle to Seattle, but if they can get an asset back for him before then they might jump at the chance.
He’s also the asset easiest to include in a “hockey deal” due to his cap hit; the Flames can add around $1.6 million in hits, but throw Bennett going the other way and the amount swells to around $4.15 million, enough for a substantial player.
If the Flames slide out of the playoff mix, we could see them sell off Ryan. That’s not to condemn Ryan, who’s an excellent utility player and has been superb for them. But for a veteran who’s a pending unrestricted free agent, it might be nice to give him a chance for a long playoff run elsewhere – and for the Flames to get an asset (like a mid-round pick) back in return.
(That said, we could also easily see the Flames trying to retain him past this season.)
There are prospects that if the Flames are asked about, the conversations won’t be particularly long. But there are a few more that, while beloved by Flames brass, they’d probably be willing to consider. This second tier of prospect assets likely includes some combination of (deep breath) defensemen Johannes Kinnvall, Yan Kuznetsov, C.J. Lerby and Jeremie Poirier, and forwards Ryan Francis, Glenn Gawdin, Emilio Pettersen, Matthew Phillips, Martin Pospisil, Adam Ruzicka and Dmitry Zavgorodniy.
Less likely, but possible
If the Flames are in the playoff hunt, Big Save Dave is staying put. But like Ryan, Rittich is a pending UFA and like Ryan, the Flames might punt on him as an asset if the team slides out of the playoff mix and use some combination of Louis Domingue and Artyom Zagidulin as Markstrom’s backup.
2022 first round pick
Scouts will probably feel more comfortable rolling the dice on 2022 high-end players because the scouting season will more resemble a “regular” year than this one. So teams will (a) want these picks and (b) not want to give them away. We expect teams would ask for 2022 picks more than 2021 picks for inclusion, but we’d also expect the Flames to try to avoid moving them.
Not during the season
Johnny Gaudreau and/or Sean Monahan
If you’re someone going “Man, they need to change up the core,” these are the guys you’re probably thinking of trading. And yeah, it’s becoming more and more apparent that this will be a team revolving around Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm long-term.
But nobody has cap space right now. Teams are able to go 10% over the cap during the off-season and there will be opportunities to deal with other teams as the Seattle expansion draft approaches. This isn’t a “no way!” on looking into moving Gaudreau or Monahan, it’s more of a “not now.”
Don’t see it happening
The Flames have a handful of prospects it would take a lot to pry away from them: Jakob Pelletier, Connor Zary, Dustin Wolf and Connor Mackey. Pelletier & Zary are arguably the prospects most likely to step in and make an impact on the NHL roster. Mackey has already played NHL games and impressed. And Wolf is the most promising goaltending prospect they’ve had in years. Barring an eyebrow-raising offer, we don’t see it happening.
“Everybody else” includes…
- Players with clauses: Jacob Markstrom, Mark Giordano, Chris Tanev, Mikael Backlund & Milan Lucic. These are players that are tough to move because of built-in restrictions that make it harder to get value.
- The quasi-core: Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Dillon Dube, Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson & Juuso Valimaki. These are players that the Flames wouldn’t want to move, so conversations with other GMs won’t be particularly long.
- Everybody else: The rest of the group are the depth players, fringe players and depth prospects. Sure, you could move them, but what exactly would the point of doing so be?
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