The All-Star Break is behind us. The trade deadline is just six short weeks away. The Calgary Flames are in a playoff spot.
Let’s dive into the mailbag, pals!
Moving Sean Monahan would probably be easier than moving Mikael Backlund, if both are fully healthy.
Monahan is younger, has produced consistently this season on the power play (even though he’s been offensively blah at even strength) and his contract only has one year remaining on it at $6.375 million. Backlund is older, more of a defensive specialist, doesn’t really move the needle a ton offensively at even strength, and under contact for two more seasons at $5.35 million.
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If you can rely on Monahan to score consistently down the stretch and in the playoffs, moving Backlund is the play. (But I don’t think either guy gets moved this season.)
Claude Giroux is awesome at hockey. But he’s got a full no-move clause on his current deal and he carries with him an $8.275 million cap hit. Adding him requires (a) Giroux saying “yes” to Calgary, (b) the Flyers retaining or taking back salary in the swap, (c) probably the Flames sending out multiple high picks and/or prospects and/or roster players.
He’s really good and would help the Flames’ forward group with versatility and slotting, but man, the price would be sky-high.
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Ottawa 67’s forward Jack Beck, a Flames pick, was expected to be back “late January.” It’s February now, so he’s expected back soon. Hopefully.
Last I heard, the City was working on identifying the “third party” that will help vet arena deal offers from interested groups. They haven’t hired anybody yet, from what I’m told.
The departure of Mayor Gondek’s chief of staff has nothing to do with the arena deal, but rather it’s related more to his overall conduct in City Hall in dealing with other council members. (Our friends at Postmedia have all sorts of useful tidbits on that.)
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I do think Brad Treliving and his management team make a trade; if it’s not for a top six forward, it’ll be for a middle six forward. They need to add to their forward depth and finding ways to make that top six more dangerous and/or versatile is huge.
The challenge is that the only guys who are good enough defensively to be top six forwards right now are Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund. The only wingers good enough offensively to be top six guys right now are Johnny Gaudreau, Blake Coleman, Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk. Given that none of those guys are also centres, it’s hard to mix and match that group too much.
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Adding one more body to that mix makes them more dangerous and difficult to line-match against.
Oh, and this may be this group’s best/last chance to make some playoff noise. Shoot your shot, fellas.
Let’s do this rapid fire!
  1. Yes and yes. Both are probably on the table.
  2. I would prefer to add two mid-level forwards over one big forward, because you can mix and match more (and potentially create some competition at the lower-end of the roster for spots and ice time).
  3. No, I think Tyler Pitlick is here until his contract expires in July.
A disclaimer: Rory Kerins is a teenager playing against other teenagers, so maybe don’t get his name on your Flames jersey quite yet. But as a teenager playing against other teenagers, he’s awesome. He’s been among the leaders in points in the OHL all season and currently has the outright lead. He’s good, and he’s consistent.
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Let’s see how he does in Stockton before we get too stoked about him, but he’s definitely done enough to earn accolades for his post-draft performances.
Against “heavy” opponents, the Flames aren’t able to bust into the area below the offensive face-off circles and generate scoring chances and offense. Think about how they looked in their one game against Vegas, or in their games with San Jose. If they can figure that out, they could be really interesting to watch in the post-season.
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Connor Zary has had bad injury luck. He was injured off a headshot late last season in Kamloops, and missed a chunk of time. He hurt his ankle blocking a shot in a prospect game and missed a chunk of time. He started the season late, missing basically all of the first normal NHL training camp of his career, and then got injured shortly after he returned.
And now that he’s back, the Heat have been absolutely cooking this season and it seems likely that the coaching staff doesn’t want to mess up their mojo too much. He’ll get his chance to play, but hopefully he can stay healthy and get some better luck. (I wouldn’t be concerned about him losing game and practice reps right now, but it’s something to keep an eye on.)
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