Unlike the New York Rangers, the Calgary Flames are set to be buyers at the NHL’s Feb. 26 trade deadline. Just don’t expect general manager Brad Treliving to make an official announcement about it on social media.
“We’re probably going to stay away from the press releases,” he said on Hockey Central at Noon Friday, alluding to the Rangers’ note to their fans that the team will be in sell mode.
The Flames, winners of three of their past four games, are rumoured to be interested in a scoring winger to add to their lineup, which is 13th in even-strength goals and 24th on the power play. And there is no shortage of those kinds of players on the market, whether they are rental players on expiring contracts, or if it’s a player with term, such as Max Pacioretty from Montreal or possibly Mike Hoffman from Ottawa.
Treliving stressed taking a wait-and-see approach. With still a little more than two weeks left until the trade deadline, there isn’t a definitive line of buyers and sellers. In the East, three teams currently on the outside of the playoff picture are within three points of getting in, while in the West, three non-playoff teams are within two points of getting in.
The Flames GM said that as the games play out over the next two weeks and those lines become more obvious, he’ll get a better handle on which teams really are in the seller’s market.
Even still, he stressed that adding a big-name player at the deadline guarantees nothing.
“You have to be careful with keeping up with the Joneses,” he said. “If you go back in time and really dig into it and look at all the deals that get done on deadline day for the now…how many significant changes or teams that made significant changes, how did they fare? It’s a very mixed bag. There’s very few times you make big, massive changes you go out and be successful in the playoffs.”
That said, adding a name player does have a positive impact in the dressing room.
“The other part of it is an intrinsic push in your room,” Treliving noted. “When you can add and you walk in your room the team is like ‘Yep, they’re trying to help us here.'”
Another factor to consider is chemistry and where an acquired player would push others around him in the depth chart. For instance, if a scoring winger is added with the intention of putting him on the second line with Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk, what does it mean for Michael Frolik? If he’s simply moved to the third line, what becomes of Garnet Hathaway?
One place onlookers see as a potential fit into this lineup for a scoring winger is on the top line alongside Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, at the expense of Micheal Ferland. But the 25-year-old, who hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career last week, is a great fit with the two young stars and Treliving poured cold water all over the idea he would make a trade to upgrade the right wing spot on the top forward unit.
“Looking to try to add something to replace Ferland isn’t correct. Micheal Ferland’s not going anywhere, he’s gotten great chemistry with those guys and has played well,” Treliving said. “As good as Monahan and Gaudreau are, Ferly stands on his own two feet there, he’s not a third wheel. He’s been a big part of that line.
“Now, would you like to try to add some goals? Yeah, I think we all would. But guys aren’t just begging for you to take away players from their team that fit that description. Trying to find a fit, trying to find something that makes sense cost-wise and, quite frankly, in the past I haven’t been a big rental fan to start throwing assets out the door for that. But if you can find goals or try to find a way to tweak things and help your lineup, we’ll keep pounding the bushes to see what’s out there.”
Treliving also talked at length about the maturation and growth of Monahan as a No. 1 centre and that, although the points he’s putting up have him on track for a career year, he’s more notably improved as a two-way forward and done it against stiffer competition as other teams line-match and gameplan to Calgary’s strengths.
You can listen to the full interview here: