With the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline drawing near, Sportsnet is breaking down what each Canadian club has to work with as they head toward Feb. 24. We’ve sorted each roster into Trade Tiers to hash out who’s safe, who’s available, and who’s likely on the move.
We’ve reached a pivotal point in the timeline of the Calgary Flames‘ current core.
After a few years of seemingly steady progress, culminating in a dominant campaign in 2018-19 and a subsequent disappointing post-season showing, it appears it’s make-or-break time for Johnny Gaudreau and Co.
A tumultuous 2019-20 campaign hasn’t helped them much in that regard, but with the trade deadline a couple weeks away and the team still in a playoff position, the opportunity to hit their stride and go on a run is there for the taking. But the Flames need to hit that stride going into this home stretch, and with six losses over their uneven past 10, it’s not entirely clear if this current group is on the cusp of doing that.
General manager Brad Treliving has cap space at his disposal if he wishes to shake things up or bolster his current roster, having opened up a bit of space by dealing Michael Frolik to Buffalo. And, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, there’s reason to believe the Flames manager will be fairly active before Feb. 24.
So, should Treliving look to make a move to bring someone in, what does he have to work with? Here’s a look at how the current names on the roster appear to shake out:
Not Going Anywhere
He’s the team’s emotional compass, likely the future captain, and tied for the scoring lead at age 22. A new deal inked in the off-season adds to his roots in Calgary, too. He’s quite simply the future of the franchise.
Despite the chatter earlier in the season, he’s still the Flames’ most dynamic offensive weapon, and signed for a couple more years at a pretty reasonable sum. Back in November, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went as far as to say he’d be astonished if Gaudreau was moved. Despite the personal down year, he’s still tied with Tkachuk for the Flames’ scoring lead.
He brought a much-needed infusion of high-end skill when he came aboard last season, wherein he dominated to the tune of a career year. He’s only on the second year of a cheap, six-year extension with Calgary, and his versatility makes him one of the most important forwards of the bunch.
While he might not be the all-world thoroughbred No. 1 centre that the Flames could use, he’s still a consistent bet for 30-plus goals and has rounded out other aspects of his game to become a more complete piece. He’s the top pivot the club has at its disposal.
One of the longest-tenured Flames, an important leader for the club, and he’s the most talented two-way player among the forward corps.
Big Save Dave has emerged as the club’s clear-cut No. 1 in net, is an unequivocal fan favourite, and costs next to nothing this season and next. The net’s all his for the time being.
The captain, the longest-tenured veteran, and a Norris-calibre defenceman. Nothing to see here.
(Likely) Not Going Anywhere
He’s averaging the second-most minutes on the team at 23 years old, contributing offensively, and signed on long term just a year ago. As we saw from how the narrative changed around Dougie Hamilton during his tenure in Calgary and eventual exit, nothing’s absolutely certain for most defenders not named Mark Giordano, but it would be a significant shock to see Hanifin moved.
Long considered a supremely important future piece for Calgary, he’s making good on that projection this season. He’s young, talented, and his future potential in Calgary is particularly important given the fact that the team’s No. 1 defender is 36 years old.
Perhaps the club’s top prospect moving forward, and his importance to the club’s future is similar to Andersson’s. If the Flames want to swing really, really big and pull of a blockbuster, maybe Valimaki’s name gets included, but that seems unlikely.
He’s put together a solid rebound campaign as the No. 2 in Calgary, and has even seemed the better of the two netminders at times. The Flames also don’t have an obvious-choice No. 3 ready to step up if they were to hear from a team desperate to shakeup their backup situation, so a move seems unlikely.
Finding a way to move on from Lucic and give that roster spot to a young, dynamic forward would be swell, but with aging legs and a $5.25-million cap hit for three more seasons after this one, it’ll be tough to find someone offering GM Treliving that out.
Probably Safe, But It’s Possible
We know that Brodie is a trade chip Treliving already tried to use once, with Brodie the piece said to have been offered to Toronto in the deal that would’ve sent Nazem Kadri to Calgary. And the 29-year-old is a pending UFA. But injuries to Giordano and Hamonic have made him infinitely more important to Calgary right now, and losing him probably has a bigger impact than whatever you can bring back in return.
He’s injured at the moment, and not eligible to come off the injured reserve until Saturday, so he’s not the most attractive acquisition for opposing clubs. Also, once he is back, he’s in a similar situation as Brodie — the Flames need him more than what they’d potentially get in a trade for the veteran. He’s a pending UFA, too, but at the moment it looks more likely he’d re-sign in Calgary.
A useful, versatile piece for the Flames’ forward corps, chips in consistently enough on the scoreboard relative to his role, and remains one of Calgary’s top faceoff practitioners. The 33-year-old likely isn’t a target for other teams, but with Monahan, Lindholm and Backlund all capable of manning the middle of the ice, they could afford to lose him if need be.
The 21-year-old has shown flashes of high-end talent — particularly right after Geoff Ward took over the bench, and more recently during a three-point outing against Vancouver — and should be part of the Flames’ picture for a fair while.
See above — the 23-year-old’s put up some decent numbers in his second extended go-round in the big leagues and has at times been a lone bright spot when bigger names on the roster have fallen silent. He’d be an interesting trade chip, but more likely remains part of the long-term plan.
A tough showing in Edmonton last year and limited production in Calgary this season evidence a far fall from his Coyotes days, meaning little interest from the opposition.
Same goes for Rinaldo, who’s endeared himself to the Flames with his rough-and-tumble ways but likely doesn’t offer enough for other GMs to inquire.
At this point in his career, he also likely doesn’t bring enough to the table to entice other clubs, and injuries to other key names on the Flames’ blue line mean they need stopgap options with NHL experience.
Could Be On The Move
While he could be seen to be in a similar situation as Andersson and Valimaki, Friedman reported in November that the young blue-liner might be a potential trade chip for the Flames, given he may be looking for a bigger opportunity on a team with lesser blue-line depth.
After a half decade in Calgary, the highest draft pick in Calgary’s history still hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations placed on him early in his Flames tenure. That he still doesn’t seem to have a clearly defined role or spot in the lineup leaves open the possibility for a move. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported in December that other clubs are interested, but that Treliving’s made it clear they aren’t parting with Bennett without an “impactful” return coming back to the Saddledome.
Find the rest of our NHL Trade Tiers lists here: TOR | EDM | OTT | WPG | VAN | MTL
More Likely To Move
A long-term project for the Flames when they drafted him back in 2012, Jankowski seemed to pan out as hoped over the past couple seasons, putting up 31 goals and 57 points over the past two campaigns. He’s got some hands, plays in the middle, and has some useful size (clocking in at six-foot-four and 212 pounds). According to Friedman, other teams are interested in the 25-year-old, who could benefit from a fresh start.
The Flames have plenty of solid prospects in their pipeline and are already limited in terms of options of where to slot them into the lineup. Their core is young and their time is now. What they need is a bolstered roster and a deep run, meaning their 2020 first-round pick could be in play.