Brad Treliving isn't a stranger to the trade deadline. After all, he was the Arizona Coyotes' (née Phoenix) assistant general manager for over a decade. But there's a difference between being an assistant and being the actual general manager, and Treliving is still a rookie.
The trade deadline and its build up is one of the most crucial times for a general manager, no matter what position his team is in. But when your team is on the playoff bubble, much like the Calgary Flames, it becomes even more precarious. You have to determine if your team is for real or not, and act accordingly.
It's almost a no-win situation. Guess wrong, and you either miss out on a potentially miracle playoff run, the kind that builds fanbases; or you end up totally mortgaging the future and setting your team back years. Guess right, and realize those miracle playoff runs are few and far between, and at best you might make the second round.
Treliving got it completely right. Ever since his Brandon Bollig and Deryk Engelland-sized blunders, he's shown he understands exactly where his team is at, and what he needs to do to ensure success for the long term.
The Flames were pretty quiet at the deadline, only making two moves: Curtis Glencross for the Washington Capitals' 2015 second and third round picks, and Sven Baertschi for the Vancouver Canucks' 2015 second rounder. In doing this, he moved out two players who didn't have a future in Calgary, and ensured the Flames would have six picks in the first three rounds of the 2015 NHL draft.
It's pretty much exactly what the Flames needed this season. They took two assets and got something for them, avoiding Brian Burke's Mike Cammalleri disaster from the previous year in which they let a pending unrestricted free agent walk for nothing.
Better yet, what they got should give them a lot of flexibility. Treliving could either use those picks, and take six players within the top 90 of what's expected to be a deep draft... or he could package them together to trade up and increase the Flames' chances of drafting an impact player. After all, you build teams through the draft, and the Flames are very much still building their team.
And that's why Treliving is a winner this trade deadline.
He recognized that his team was not a legitimate playoff threat, even before the loss of Mark Giordano. He stuck to his guns with Giordano gone, refusing to mortgage the future on what would have been nothing more than a half-assed attempt to make the playoffs this season. Even if the Flames do make it, they probably won't make it past the first round.
This is not the Flames' year.
Treliving is working to ensure the Flames' year will come sooner rather than later, though. And to do that, he needed to sell at this deadline, not buy.
Ever since the Flames first missed the playoffs back in 2010, they were desperate to go for it. The organization deeply believed that if they could just make eighth place, "anything could happen", much like their surprise run in 2004 (ignoring the fact that the surprise run was due to the coaching of Darryl Sutter, someone his brother, Brent, was not; not to mention the fact that Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, the huge driving forces on the ice, were much older and still had very little in the way of support). The start of the rebuild in the 2013 lockout season put that mentality to rest.
It's important to stay away from that mentality until the Flames are actually ready. And this season, they aren't. They're one of the worst possession teams in the league with a paltry 44.8% CF at 5 v 5 even strength - aka the situation in which most games are played - better than just the Colorado Avalanche and the incredibly inept Buffalo Sabres (a team designed to do nothing more than fail this season). Stanley Cup contenders have all been positive possession teams, above 50.0% CF at minimum, and usually even better than that.
That doesn't mean the Flames won't ever get there. But right now, they aren't even close.
And Treliving was realistic in his assessment of the team, recognizing that. He's shown patience and a desire to build this team the right way, not go chasing after unlikely playoff dreams the way management before him did. He's learned from the mistakes of his predecessors.
A bid to make the playoffs this season does nothing for the Flames. Acquiring more draft picks so they may have a better future sooner rather than later does. So Treliving, in his first trade deadline with him in charge, made exactly the right moves, and the Flames and their fans should feel very confident with him at the helm.