We’re now firmly in mid-February, pals, and that means two things.
One: happy Valentine’s Day. Two: we’re just five weeks away from the trade deadline! As you might imagine, the mailbag was chock full of trade talk. Let’s dive in!
We had a few questions along these lines. Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli is 29 years old (he turns 30 in April) and he has two more years left in his contract that carry a $4.25 million cap hit. He’s an intriguing combination of size and skill, and his reported availability is more a case of new general manager Kent Hughes wanting a shake-up than anything he has or hasn’t done.
The cap hit for next season creates challenges, so the Flames would probably want to include Dillon Dube – he’s making $2.3 million next season – to ease that pressure. Add in the first-round pick in July’s draft and a good prospect, possibly someone like Jakob Pelletier, and you have the basic architecture of a deal. But given that Toffoli is a cost-controlled asset with a history of goal-scoring and general good play, other teams might get involved in the bidding and nudge that price up.
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To reiterate: man, Sean Monahan has been a productive goal-scorer up until the past few seasons. Why did his scoring dry up? Because the man basically had his body destroyed by playing in the areas that he scored goals in so frequently. So while Monahan still has great instincts and a superb shot, his body can’t quite keep up as it did anymore. Barring a miraculous revitalization of his body, he’s probably not going to be a high-end five-on-five scorer again. But he remains a really good power play weapon, so he’s probably a special teams specialist from here on out.
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Man, Dillon Dube was a fun junior player and he’s shown flashes of being a really good NHLer at times. But I pose this question: what’s his role? He’s got great speed and a good shot and pretty good instincts, but he’s bounced around a bit over the past few seasons while the wingers above him in the lineup – Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman – all have clearer roles and responsibilities. In that sense, he’s kind of like Sam Bennett used to be.
And barring something happening that gives him a clear role in Calgary, maybe (like Bennett) that happens somewhere else.
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Of all the names kicked around so far, Vancouver’s J.T. Miller may be the best power play weapon on the market. Shane broke down why Miller’s so good last week, but the gist is this: he’s good everywhere, but especially on the power play. Like Toffoli, the ongoing cap hit ($5.25 million) is a challenge with him, but imagine him on the second unit and boosting the third line.
On one hand, Jacob Markstrom has played 12 consecutive games for the Flames – including three of their last four games. But that three-in-four stretch came after six days off, so it was also sort of a three-in-10 stretch, which doesn’t sound nearly as bad.
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But the Flames have a hectic schedule with their remaining 37 games being played over just 74 days. Even without a ton of travel, they’re running the risk of having an exhausted Markstrom when the post-season begins. I understanding wanting to lean on your awesome $6 million goalie down the stretch – that’s why you’re paying him – but they absolutely have to leave some gas in his tank for the playoffs.
So hopefully we see more Dan Vladar before the end of February.
Here’s a crazy idea: Phil Kessel. He hasn’t been much of a power play weapon lately, and he’s not super fast so he’d need to be sheltered – and I hear you, comments section, wringing your hands about adding another slow body to the bottom six.
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But man, Kessel scores goals. A lot. All the time. And for a team that will need that during the playoffs, adding somebody with goal-scoring prowess and a couple Stanley Cup rings sounds like it could be fun.
But yes, he’s not fast and they’d need to be very specific in how they use him at five-on-five.

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