A regular segment on the Tape to Tape Podcast with hosts Ryan Dixon and Rory Boylen, Fake Trades explores hypothetical transactions between NHL teams. On the Nov. 2 episode, the guys came up with three different deals involving Devan Dubnyk to the Flyers, Jake Muzzin to the Jets and Sergei Bobrovsky to the Flames. Here, we highlight the Calgary angle.
To Calgary: Sergei Bobrovsky
To Columbus: Mike Smith, 2019 first-round pick, Jon Gillies or Tyler Parsons
You’re the Calgary Flames and you have Stanley Cup aspirations. You made a blockbuster trade over the summer to shake up the dressing room and give the roster a new look. You have strong forwards and a deep defence. Mike Smith is in the last season of his contract at 36 years old and, after allowing four or more goals in six of his 10 games this season, you might not be filled with confidence that he’ll take you deep in the playoffs.
The Blue Jackets also have Stanley Cup hopes, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to re-sign Sergei Bobrovsky, who himself is a pending UFA. Granted the 30-year-old netminder isn’t off to a great start himself with an .899 save percentage, but he’s a two-time Vezina Trophy winner and was in consideration for the award last season. His playoff history may not be great, but it’s a decent bet to make that a goalie of his calibre will eventually turn that corner — especially in a contract year. And it’s not as if Smith is a yearly playoff beast: he hasn’t played a post-season game since 2012 and has been involved in two playoffs his entire career.
Columbus is able to push ahead this season with a still-capable veteran netminder in its quest for a long playoff run, and also get a couple future assets for a top goalie.
The Flames swing for the fences with a younger goalie who has been among the NHL’s best the past two years, and still hold on to a promising goalie prospect.
THE CAP IMPLICATIONS
The Flames currently have $1.886 million in cap space and trading off Smith ($4.25 million) for Bobrovsky ($7.425 million) would push them over the salary cap. The Blue Jackets have $5.6 million in cap space and would gain room in this deal, so they would also have to retain some salary to make it work. In picking up a top goalie prospect and a first-round pick for a player they won’t be able to re-sign, this seems attainable.
If Columbus were to retain $3 million in salary, both teams would come out with roughly the same amount of cap space they have available right now.
Ryan: “I do think it’s important you included Smith going the other way because we’ve talked about how from the Columbus side of things they might just be a team that has to live with the consequence of losing guys. Some teams can justify a little half-step back, but for Columbus given the playoff history, given how good the rest of the team can be, it would be tough to sort of seem as though you’re taking a complete knee on the season.”
Rory: “And for Calgary, Mike Smith isn’t the goalie that’s going to be in your net two or three years down the line. Maybe you’re expecting it to be Gillies or Parsons, neither of them are off to great starts this season, but both are highly regarded prospects. I would just feel better going completely all-in with Bobrovsky.”