Treliving, Flames face big questions ahead of NHL Draft

The Halifax Mooseheads have a history of grooming European players into top draft picks for the NHL, and is why one of top ranked draft prospects, Filip Zadina left the Czech Republic for Nova Scotia.

Despite the absence of a first-, second- or third-round pick, Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving has insisted he and his staff continue to approach this weekend’s NHL Draft the same way as always.

That means plenty of meetings with agents and draft-eligible players, endless scouting confabs, and open dialogue with every GM in the loop.

The big question is whether Treliving will also continue his tendency of making a trade splash at the annual pick-your-part gathering.

It was this time last year he beat out half the league in a bid to acquire defenceman Travis Hamonic from the New York Islanders.

He also landed goalie Mike Smith in a deal with Arizona.

It was three years ago he pieced together a swap with Boston for Dougie Hamilton.

All three deals raised the eyebrows of colleagues and observers at the draft, giving the fourth-year GM a reputation as someone unafraid to roll the dice on a high-stakes deal.

Not coincidentally, he was learning at the foot of Brian Burke.

All three acquisitions addressed significant needs identified by Treliving, but all came at a steep price, including the first three draft picks they would otherwise have used this weekend.

And while he still has several significant gaps to fill in his roster, he’ll attempt to do so with fewer assets at his disposal.

That’s why the hockey world is expecting Treliving to make a trade this week involving a significant roster player or two.

"I don’t know – I can’t predict," said Treliving, exhaling deeply when asked if he’d leave Dallas with some new roster players in tow.

"You can’t just do something for the sake of doing it. It needs to fit. If we don’t, then we keep working. We don’t play until October. Once the draft is over it doesn’t mean stuff is going to end.

"The goal is not to come here and create a headline. In the past it was to fill specific holes, which we think we did."

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The next two weeks are certainly crucial for a Flames club that has to be feeling pressure to effect change to a roster that cratered late in the season to miss the playoffs miserably.

It’ll take more than just swapping coaches to keep this young crew moving forward.

However, as Treliving suggested, there’s no need for anyone to panic if the team leaves the draft with little more than hotel bills and the four picks (two fourths, a sixth and a seventh) it currently owns.

"I think everybody panics anyhow," chuckled Trelilving, well aware of the eyeballs on any team in a prominent Canadian hockey market.

"We’ve got some areas and ideas of things we want to do, and if it takes longer it takes longer. We’re not going to panic. We can’t force something that’s not there."

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The local debate revolves around the merits of trading from a position of strength – the Flames blue line – to bolster the team’s obvious depth issues up front.

Given the team’s best young prospects are largely defencemen, the buzz is that swapping out T.J. Brodie or Hamilton for a top-six forward is the way to go.

However, Treliving said the swap-meet was not exactly kicked off by the Max Domi for Alex Galchenyuk deal.

"There can be a domino effect but not with that deal," said Treliving, who will undoubtedly be asked to contemplate swapping Sam Bennett for another underperforming youngster.

"Traditionally, when one deal happens it moves the needle a bit. There are some bigger names people are waiting to see what happens to. Everybody is together this week and everybody is trying to see if they can make themselves better."

Trade is the only way for the Flames to do that, although the club will also undoubtedly be involved in signing a free agent or two the following week.

The Flames have more than $12 million in cap space, albeit while being mindful a year from now Matthew Tkachuk will need a pricey new deal.

"He’s still got a year left on his contract so the urgency isn’t there, but it’s certainly on the to-do list," said Treliving, who refused to discuss whether Tkachuk would be presented with a new deal as early as July 1.

"He’s an important guy and he’s a key member of our core moving forward."

Another core member is needed soon.

How they’ll land him is what Treliving is in the midst of figuring out.

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