Given the inconsistency of the Calgary Flames this season it’s pretty clear GM Brad Treliving is not ready to start pushing all his trade chips in for a big run this spring.
Heck, the team is a 50-50 proposition, at best, to even qualify for the playoffs, making rentals an almost absurd proposition.
Treliving hasn’t been the type to acquire rentals anyway, which is why a team without its first and second round draft picks this spring (and devoid of second and third rounders in 2019) is unlikely to do much of anything at the trade deadline.
The Flames have no attractive UFAs to peddle, nor do they have any gaping holes in their lineup that need to be addressed anyway.
Top-six winger and, potentially, a goalie.
Only Treliving knows how long his MVP, goalie Mike Smith, is expected to be out with his lower-body injury. If Smith is likely to return in the next week or two his netminding situation is fine. If not, as good a backup as David Rittich has been, the team can’t expect the 25-year-old rookie to carry this team to the playoffs with another rookie, Jon Gillies, as his backup.
Surely, spending assets on an average, veteran goalie to bridge the gap can’t be palatable.
The Flames’ third line has been an embarrassment this year and is in dire need of an upgrade.
Pending free agents, age, salaries:
Matt Stajan, 34, $3.125 million
Kris Versteeg, 31, $1.75 million
Marek Hrivik, 26, $650,000
Matt Bartkowski, 29, $612,500
Mark Jankowski, 23, $925,000
Garnet Hathaway, 26, $650,000
Brett Kulak, 24, $650,000
David Rittich, 25, $725,000
Jon Gillies, 24, $725,000
Potential assets to move:
Sam Bennett: Frustration continues to mount for the team and the 2014 fourth overall pick who hasn’t been able to get any traction offensively. Given his potential and fearless style of play, teams around the league still ask about him. But for how much longer?
T.J. Brodie: Perhaps the Flames’ biggest trade chip, as his skating ability and offensive upside is coveted league-wide. Despite being paired with Travis Hamonic, Brodie’s had a down year. Has two more years left on his contract at $4.65 million.
Jon Gillies: Former collegiate national champion has a 6-foot-5 frame and has been performing well in the AHL. Flames seem to be set in net now and down the road with Rittich and Tyler Parsons in the mix, making Gillies expendable in many people’s eyes. That said, he’s the team’s current backup with Smith out.
Adam Fox: Having another standout season at Harvard where the sophomore blueliner has nearly a point a game and continues to be one of the Flames’ most asked about players by other GMs. A blue chip prospect at a position the Flames cherish the most, the crowded depth chart ahead of him in Calgary may prompt Fox to play all four years with the Crimson and then sign elsewhere. That threat may tempt the Flames to cash in on his value early.
2018: 3rd, 4th (own), 4th (FLA), 6th, 7th (own), conditional 7th (DET).
2019: 1st, 4th (own), conditional 4th (NYI), 5th, 7th (own), 7th (CAR).
One bold move the team could make:
Trade Sam Bennett.
Unproductive offensively, yet again, Bennett is stagnating on the Flames’ third line where he was moved to wing with the early-season promotion of Mark Jankowski.
Slated to make just $1.95 million next year, he’s a low-risk third liner who some still believe will be able to find the score sheet more often if given a clean slate elsewhere.
Every GM in the league thinks he can help a talent like Bennett find his game with a change of scenery, but how many are willing to step up with the type of significant offer it would take to pry him from Calgary?
After all, in both seasons he saw playoff action with the Flames Bennett was one of the team’s best players. At what point do the Flames give up on the potential they saw when they took him fourth overall in 2014? Would they dare?
I think the Flames shouldn’t…:
Trade T.J. Brodie.
Coveted and beloved as recently as the home opener when a four-point night prompted the chanting of his name, Brodie has since become the fans’ top whipping boy.
He’s a brilliant skater whose offensive upside comes at a cost, as the adventurous blueliner is prone to endless giveaways like the one that cost Calgary an overtime point Monday against Boston.
Devoid of draft picks to peddle, Brodie is one way the Flames could land themselves the top-six forward they’re looking for at the deadline.
Can’t see it happening, though, as Treliving is all about building from the back end.
If traded, Brodie is the type of talent that could haunt a GM for years as he’s proven he can be productive on the top pairing. Trading Brodie would be a deviation from the long-term plan, which is something Treliving is too smart to do.