Brad Treliving is the last person in the Calgary Flames organization who will be taking time off during the team’s seven-day break.
He’ll spend it in scouting meetings, where extensive discussions will be had to help narrow down his shopping list.
With his team in the midst of a Pacific Division dog fight, the ever-active GM is searching for a significant addition or two for a roster deep on bottom-six forwards and short on a right-handed, impact forward.
The $4.3 million Treliving cleared in salary by trading Michael Frolik last month gave him increased flexibility to cast a wider net as he looks for a hockey deal that could very well land the Flames a scoring forward with term left on his contract after this season.
Should the price be too steep to land a player he can keep for a few years, the list of rentals available is topped by Tyler Toffoli, who is being showcased on the top line by a Los Angeles Kings club anxious to cash in on the pending UFA, who just happened to have played in Ottawa with Sean Monahan as a junior.
The right-shot winger has seen his stock decline following a 31-goal season four years ago he hasn’t come close to reproducing. Treliving is likely aiming much higher than that.
Although a lefty, UFA Chris Kreider would be a nice add due to his grit and sniping ability, but it’s believed he likely has Calgary and several other Canadian stops on his 11-team no-trade list.
Right-handed centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau will likely be peddled as his shocking offensive explosion this year could prove to make him too expensive for the Ottawa Senators’ blood. He’d give the Flames even more flexibility if they believe he’s capable of continuing a scoring pace that has the diminutive 27-year-old at 19 goals to date.
Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman are also attractive UFA’s, but it’s hard to fathom the Florida Panthers would give up either while in the midst of a mighty battle for a playoff berth as well.
Three things the Flames could look to do by the deadline:
Call up Austin Czarnik/Demote Mark Jankowski
The Flames need scoring.
Jankowski just scored his first goal of the year Saturday as part of a nightmarish season few saw coming. His confidence shattered, and his status in the lineup in question every night, the big centre could benefit from rebuilding his confidence in the AHL.
The risk is that he’d have to go through the waiver process.
If the 25-year-old pending RFA is claimed by another team, the Flames will be off the hook for his $1.675-million salary, and have even more to spend at the deadline. They’ve shopped the penalty-killing specialist since last summer, but have yet to find a match, painting the team into a corner it’ll soon have to make a move on.
If he isn’t claimed, the staff in Stockton will work with him to try finding the game that netted him 17 and 14 goals the last two seasons.
Czarnik went through a similar process after returning to the Flames from injury before Christmas and has used his time in the AHL to regain his scoring touch, nabbing nine goals and 17 points in 15 outings.
Before his injury, the 27-year-old had scored in consecutive outings, with hopes his past AHL scoring prowess would finally translate into big-league success if slotted into a top line.
Giving him another shot at a prominent role makes sense given the team’s inability to score like it did a year earlier.
The Flames could benefit from further shaking up the lines on a team ranked 23rd in scoring.
Trade Sam Bennett
No, this isn’t a fire sale or a suggestion the 23-year-old isn’t working out in Calgary.
It’s a chance to use him as a valuable trade chip.
After all, you have to give up significant assets to land one.
Bennett’s reputation as a physical, proven playoff performer is known league-wide, which trumps his four goals and six points in 34 games this year.
Fact is, the Flames have a raft of emerging bottom-six wingers. Trading one of them as part of a package to land what the Flames truly need makes sense.
The fourth-overall pick from 2014 is still just 23 and has plenty of upside, which makes him a tradable commodity you certainly don’t give away.
Acquire Kasperi Kapanen
The 23-year-old Finn checks all the boxes for the Flames, being a right-handed shooter with a reasonable cap hit of $3.2 million for the next two years that leaves him with RFA status at the end of it.
At six-foot-one, 195 pounds, he also has decent size on a team that could use more of it.
Kapanen has speed and a scoring touch that is buried on a potent Toronto Maple Leafs roster.
While Bennett might be part of that deal, a more obvious trade chip would be T.J. Brodie. The Flames have tried to trade Brodie and his $4.65-million cap hit for a while, which included a nixed deal with the Leafs for Nazem Kadri last summer.
With injuries to Jake Muzzin and Morgan Rielly the Leafs are looking to shore up a blue line that has long been part of their defensive woes.
The real object of their affection would likely be pending UFA Travis Hamonic, whom the Flames do and should covet as a virtual untouchable. Hamonic embodies everything of which the Flames need more in the playoffs.
Brodie, 29, is a top-pair blue liner in Calgary and even though he isn’t appreciated by the fans in town, he is one of the game’s better skaters, and has a significant trade value.
Time to cash in on it, especially since there’s little chance the native of Chatham-Kent, Ont., will be re-upped by Treliving this summer.
Defencemen are coveted at this time of year, which means the Flames would have to replace him with a backender of significance. Such an addition could be Juuso Valimaki, if his surgically repaired knee shows signs be might be able to return before the spring.