There’s heavy pressure on Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving to effect significant change to his team this summer.
Not a complete overhaul, but an attempt to add one or two key offensive pieces to a core that needs help.
Perhaps more importantly, Treliving is tasked with trying to weed out the lads on the team whose give-a-crap meter barely registered late in the season when the team pulled the league’s biggest face plant to fall miserably short of a playoff spot.
Replacing Glen Gulutzan with Bill Peters behind the behind was a move aimed at trying to squeeze more out of the group moving forward – getting guys to sacrifice for the greater good as opposed to simply counting their points.
Peters will have new assistants and there will be a whole new attitude at the Dome, albeit with most of the same players.
With no draft picks in the first three rounds thanks to the deals that brought Travis Hamonic and Mike Smith to town, Treliving’s hands are largely tied in terms of making big moves.
That said, he’s never been shy to take chances via the trade market, which is why it would make sense that a top-four Flames blue-liner will be shopped to land a top three forward.
Opening training camp in China without a few significant additions via trade or free agency is unacceptable.
Salary cap space: $12.488 million
UFAs (2017-18 salary)
Tanner Glass, LW
Chris Stewart, RW
Kris Versteeg, RW,
Marek Hrivek, C,
Matt Stajan, C,
Matt Bartkowski, D,
Tyler Wotherspoon, D
Luke Gazdic, LW
Cody Goloubef, D,
Dalton Prout, D,
RFAs (2017-18 salary)
Mark Jankowski, C,
Brett Kulak, D,
Nick Shore, C,
Jon Gillies, G,
David Rittich, G,
Morgan Klimchuk, LW
Hunter Shinkaruk, LW
Emile Poirier, LW
2018 draft picks: 4th, 4th (from Florida), 6th, 7th.
Biggest off-season need
The Flames need a top six forward who can augment a lineup that features Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund on the top two lines.
The Flames haven’t been able to find a consistent third wheel on the top line with Gaudreau and Monahan since Jiri Hudler left in 2016.
Micheal Ferland did well to land his fist 20-goal campaign but faded badly when needed most, during the Flames final 20-game collapse.
He’s still a useful contributor and has big upside, but the team would love to add a proven veteran who can threaten the 30-goal mark on the top line. No, those don’t grow on trees or come cheap.
Draft picks would also be on the team’s shopping list but Treliving said he isn’t interested in trading a useful roster player just so he can partake in one of the first three rounds of the draft.
Possible off-season targets
James Neal: A former 40-goal scorer who has potted 20 in each of his ten seasons, the 30-year-old left winger is an unrestricted free agent the Flames have to be looking at. Two problems though: He plays on Gaudreau’s side of the ice and he will be looking for something in the neighbourhood of $6 million times six years.
Ryan O’Reilly: No shortage of speculation around O’Reilly who could be a trade target for the Flames to add depth in a position the Flames covet almost as much as defence. But is that a misallocation of wealth on a team that already boasts Monahan, Backlund and young Mark Jankowski up the middle?