We're continuing our four-part summary of Brad Treliving's first season. Yesterday was the draft, and today will be trades. There weren't a lot this season, but each one had a pretty big impact for the team. Let's take a look:
|2014 3rd-round pick (#83)||Chicago Blackhawks||Brandon Bollig|
|Corban Knight||Florida Panthers||Drew Shore|
|Curtis Glencross||Washington Capitals||2015 2nd and 3rd-round picks|
|Sven Baertschi||Vancouver Canucks||2015 2nd-round pick|
Why did we do this
In yesterday's article, I wrote about the magically missing third-round pick. I lied about that: it was sent to the Chicago Blackhawks for Brandon Bollig, so I really didn’t lie. Like some draft picks, this seemed to be purely the work of Brian Burke. The entire hockey world agreed that there was little upside to this trade, especially for the trade price.
Bollig had been a fourth-liner on what seems to be a modern dynasty, so his dismal 14 point tally was incredibly inflated (14 points in 82 games on a dominant team isn't that good anyways). At 27 years old, he was unlikely to improve. Flames fans collectively reached for the Tylenol.
The only argument you could make for acquiring Bollig was that he was intended to serve as a stopgap, a player who would be off the team by the time the rebuild was complete. He would be a warm body collecting a paycheque for a team that needed to reach the cap floor.
With every Flames win, Bollig became more and more of a dud, and we hoped that he would have a permanent seat in the press box for 2015-16. There’s no way the Flames won this trade in the slightest, but at least he scored two playoff goals which was more than most Wild players.
The Knight-Shore trade can be interpreted as the first work of Treliving alone. It was sudden and perplexing. There was really no reason for the trade; both players were around the same age, height, and weight. Both Corban Knight and Shore had been AHL centres for two rebuilding teams, but Shore was an AHL All-Star and Knight was not. Shore had more potential than Knight, and it was strange to see the Panthers give that away.
The contingency in this trade was that Shore was two NHL games away from requiring waivers to be sent down to the AHL. I’m taking a wild guess, but I think that the Panthers thought that being in the NHL would stunt his growth, as he would be surrounded by a not-very-good Panthers team.
At that point in the season (January 9th), the Flames could take that risk. They could use Shore as a bottom-six player, occasionally healthy-scratching him and allowing him to develop around a better team. Looking forward, Treliving saw value, and seized it. Not a franchise defining trade, but a good one from a rookie GM.
The hype around trade deadline in the NHL is almost too much to handle for fans, players, and executives alike. GMs have made and destroyed their careers based on their moves in early March.
For the Flames it was a confusing and potentially deadly time. We all knew that the Flames were still rebuilding, and that the future still mattered. Mortgaging the future for a playoff push could kill the rebuild in its infancy, and the hope provided by the Flames’ early success could be extinguished in one fell swoop.
Luckily, Brad Treliving knew that, too. He knew that it was important to get rid of the expiring UFAs, namely Curtis Glencross. The Flames couldn’t trade Mike Cammalleri at the previous deadline because of his injuries and poor performances. Glencross had faced the same problems this past season, and was generally seen as a poor man's Cammalleri.
Treliving worked his magic and shipped Glencross off to the Capitals for a second and third-round pick, more than expected. This confirmed that Treliving really knew the state of the Flames; it was not worth it to hold onto a UFA for a playoff push on a team that was still rebuilding. Accepting the situation and netting a good return is something that experienced GMs still struggle with.
But then there was a downside to March 2nd. Beloved and tortured Sven Baertschi was sent to the hated Vancouver Canucks for a second-round pick in the final minutes. I don’t speak for all Flames fans, but I certainly had a meltdown when it happened. It didn’t seem fair to ship off the highly-touted winger, who had shown the willingness to put up with the bullshit of Bob Hartley and Brian Burke. He took AHL demotion after AHL demotion, five minutes with Brandon Bollig every night, and third period benchings, only to return and work harder to try and impress his superiors. Despite this, he was still slagged for things that didn’t seem to apply to other members of the Flames.
But there came a point where he couldn’t take anymore. With the carrot constantly dangling out of sight, Baertschi asked for a trade, and Treliving got a decent return with his hands tied. If you look through rose-tinted glasses, a second rounder for Baertschi is a pretty good deal for a player that, through conventional means, hasn’t produced a lot despite being a first-round pick.
Maybe it was the early expectations that had gotten to him, or (more likely) the mismanagement that had killed his Flames career, but it was definitely time for him to go. Only time will tell if it was the team or the player that was wrong, but for what it was, dealing Baertschi was a good move.
In the next article, we'll be reviewing the signings, re-signings, releases, and extensions under Treliving's watch. Make sure you read it!