If you’re a Flames fan worried about regression and PDO, rest assured: Brad Treliving is worried, too. The sting and disappointment of garbage bag day wrapped up with the final presser for Bob Hartley and Brad Treliving, where they answered questions about their view of the team and the plan for the offseason. Treliving did most of the talking, and inspired hope for those who believed the team would regress next season. His view is grounded, and acknowledges the many problems the Flames have that most media people like to write off to hard work and grit. The conference was chock full of information, so let’s just look at some key takeaways:
- Brad Treliving listed Mark Giordano’s new contract as his number one priority for the offseason. There have been preliminary discussions between the two, but nothing can be done until July 1st. Giordano definitely deserves a new contract, but we’ll have to wonder about term and money. He’s in his prime right now, but how long will that last? And will his new contract account for that?
- When asked about Karri Ramo’s status, Treliving tried to dodge the question a little bit. While he did praise Ramo’s work, he wants the scouts and other backroom personnel to come back and analyze the goaltending situation before making a decision on the pending UFA.
- However, Treliving dismissed a later question about the possibility of bringing the trio of Ramo, Hiller and Ortio to training camp in September. He said it "made no sense" to carry all three. He didn’t name names, but based on his earlier comments, Ramo may not necessarily be the one leaving this offseason. Goalie watch 2015 officially starts now.
- BT showed that he has a good grasp on the situation, identifying Mikael Backlund and Lance Bouma as core players moving forward, and he is working on contracts with the two. He has high expectations for Backlund next year, and felt that his absence at training camp was responsible for a shaky start to the year. The importance of a healthy, in-form Backlund is hard to put into words.
- Though it is a tad concerning that he considers Bouma a core player. We all love him, but it’s folly to think that he has the same potential or importance of other top six players. He’s a perfectly fine bottom six forward (I would love a Bouma-Jooris-Ferland line next year), but overvaluing based on a season where he grew only because of Backlund is putting a toe into dangerous waters.
- When it comes to re-signing players and personnel decisions in general, Treliving said that he will "remove emotion" from consideration. He stressed that he liked the team, but that they still needed to improve and changes will be happening, though how many would be a question for later. BT dropped a ton of quote gold here, saying things like "we can't look at it as fool's gold and see it as the answer" and "[we] can't lose sight." Music to our ears.
- Turning the attention to the future, someone asked about players in the system that excited Treliving. He singled out Emile Poirier, Bill Arnold, and Ryan Culkin specifically, and mentioned some of the graduating collegiate and CHL players in passing. Arnold is an RFA this year, so we may be hearing some contract news soon, although he didn’t outright say that an extension was in the works.
- The draft was also in focus, and Treliving discussed the number of picks he has. Having six in the first three rounds is a positive, not only because they have that many, but because they can also use them as capital. He wasn’t really hinting at a potential trade, but showed that he is willing to part ways for a good return. With the depth the Flames have in the AHL, CHL, and collegiate levels, it couldn’t hurt to trade one or two away for some upgrades. Just don’t get another Bollig.
- With the round two defeat to the big, bad Anaheim Ducks still looming in minds, one reporter asked about the Flames’ size, and whether or not they wanted to follow Brian Burke’s view of getting bigger. Treliving said all the right things in his response, proclaiming that the Flames wouldn’t just get "size for the sake of size" and that you shouldn’t "get bigger without getting better." Those are both satisfying answers, but we’ll have to wait and see what he does in the offseason to hold true to those. They do have a ton of useless size they could purge.
- A follow up question asked about the trends around the league, and the phasing out of the enforcer. Treliving agreed with the reporter, and highlighted speed as the new direction of the NHL. Bob Hartley chimed in, saying that players need to know how to skate in the new NHL. Interesting remarks from someone who plays Bollig every night and Engelland on the first pair, but maybe things will change this offseason. Bollig and Engelland always seemed like they were here to be stop gap players for Burke. Now that the team is completely under Treliving’s direction, maybe it’s possible that 25 and 29 aren’t in the lineup to begin 2015-16.
- After having spent many weeks pointlessly sitting in the press box, someone finally asked about the plan for Tyler Wotherspoon. Hartley answered first, responding with the same "confidence in young players" skit the Flames have been performing for the past year. He did say some good things though, claiming that he wanted "Spooner" to mature into a puck moving defenceman rather than just a stay at home defenceman. He didn’t see Wotherspoon at that level yet, so he didn’t want to play him. Treliving followed suit, and said that the young defender should come into camp next year ready to fight for a spot.
- One of the better questions asked in a conference full of them was what the Flames would do to avoid the PDO regression, naming Toronto, Colorado, and Dallas as examples. BT again impressed with his answer, claiming that he would use history to see which areas needed to be addressed to avoid the same mistakes. Just by acknowledging the fact that Calgary would be the next in a long line of PDO driven teams, BT has avoided the tunnel vision that plagued those other teams.
- Treliving’s situational awareness was very, very impressive today. When asked what the team’s biggest weakness was, he wasted no time in pointing to blueline depth. He did not know if the solution would come internally through Tyler Wotherspoon, or externally through FA signings, but he knew it was a problem that Deryk Engelland wouldn’t be able to solve. He also acknowledged the Flames’ possession problems, and wanted the team to be able to spend more time in the offensive zone. Those were the two main problems the Flames faced this year, and were often swept under the carpet because of blocked shots or systems play; easier things for a GM to say.
Treliving’s view of hockey is a winning one, and it’s relieving to know that someone with his viewpoint is the GM of the Flames. His two early gaffes as GM made fans reconsider whether he was the right hire for the team, but this press conference relieved some doubts. It’s now on him to follow through with the plan rather than just saying nice things.