We're just under two weeks until NHL Trade Deadline (Feb. 29th), which means the rumour mills are hard at work, churning out their best. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of armchair GMs are formulating blockbuster trades that will certainly bring Lord Stanley to their doorstep.
Alongside Free Agent Frenzy, this is perhaps the most fun and equally most ridiculous time of year for hockey. We'll see trade predictions that may have come out of a hat. We'll see people convinced that their team can acquire a bona fide superstar for spare parts and a couple of draft picks (aside: while researching this article, I discovered that hockeyyinsiderr no longer tweets out "inside" information. Hockey's most amusing voice has been lost). It's fun, stupid, silly, wild, but still the best time of year.
It's time to make sense of the madness. What follows will be a few trade rumours and predictions from a variety of sources. We'll judge them on the following criteria:
Fun? Does this trade have a bunch of big names and top end picks, or future considerations and conditions?
Feasible? Could this trade actually happen, or is someone looking to get a lot of Twitter notifications on their phone?
For the greater good? Will this trade actually make the Flames better, or put them further in the hole?
Future or present? Will this pay immediate dividends, or will this address a long term need?
Pull the trigger? Should the Flames do this thing?
And without further ado
theScore: 4 trades we'd like to see
The Trade: Jiri Hudler and Kris Russell to the Stars for Valeri Nichushkin
Fun? An emphatic yes. The Flames send their two biggest trade bait pieces for a promising Dallas star. Could be one of the biggest trades of the day.
Feasible? Probably not going to happen. Hudler, despite being on a hot streak, won't be the final piece to the Stars' puzzle, and is only a few points better than Nichushkin with 12 years on him. Even though he has had some injury problems and a few struggles, Nichushkin's long term potential is worth more than Hudler and Russel's contributions in the short run. Jim Nill is also a very savvy dude who built the Stars through smart trading. This trade is not a smart trade.
For the greater good? The Flames get some good, inexpensive value for two aging and pricey players. Nichushkin's value isn't high enough that he will command a salary like Monahan or Gaudreau, so the Flames can keep him around.
Future or present? Certainly a future trade (most of these will be. The joy of being sellers). Nichushkin will be another young gun on a very young roster. The future will be fun.
Pull the trigger? Why not? The value of rental players isn't as high as it was in years previous, so getting a top prospect from a Western rival for two rentals (one of them a defensive dud) is a pretty good trade.
On the Forecheck: Should the Nashville Predators pursue a goaltender?
The Trade: Unnamed assets for either Karri Ramo or Jonas Hiller
Fun? The goalie market is very thin, and the Flames have two goalies that can go. They could fetch a high price, which is always fun at trade deadline.
Feasible? Ramo is injured and Hiller is bad. I don't think anyone wants these jokers.
For the greater good? Most certainly. The Flames getting any asset for goalies that have been headaches all year is a win.
Future or present? If someone actually wants to trade for Ramo/Hiller, they probably won't be sending away a roster player. A pick or prospect is the likely option. Plus, the Flames won't have a goalie; not good for the immediate future.
Pull the trigger? Once again, assets for Ramo and Hiller is an immediate yes.
On the Forecheck: The Trade Targets
The Trade: A "roster player or a prospect" for Jiri Hudler.
Fun? No. The Flames are likely building for the future, and Nashville has a whole lot of old dudes on their roster, so no dice for NHL players. Their prospect base isn't that intriguing either, so any trade with the Preds will involve no big names coming back to Calgary.
Feasible? If the Flames receive no better offers for Hudler, I could see this happening as one of those late trades that gets processed after the deadline officially passes.
For the greater good? I say no. As Garcia suggests in his article, the Preds probably won't be moving much for Hudler. The Flames stand to gain very little from this deal. Remember, it is important to move the player, but don't move them for the sake of it. There are better deals out there.
Future or present? Future.
Pull the trigger? Nah.
The Hockey Writers: 40 potential deals
Here's a fun article with three potential trades involving the Flames. The author notes that, through two years of predicting trades, he has only made one correct guess out of 58. The less accurate, the more fun!
Trade #1: Jiri Hudler to the Florida Panthers for Brandon Pirri and Dylan Olsen
Fun? Yes, but only because Hudler and Jaromir Jagr would form the ultimate "Czech-mate" in the Eastern conference *vaudeville hook drags me stage left*!
Feasible? Hudler isn't staying in Calgary, and Pirri and Olsen appear to be on the fringes for the Panthers. Could certainly happen.
For the greater good? Here's the tricky part. Pirri is a natural centre that would be going to a Flames team whose forward group is 64% natural centres (seriously). Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund already hold down the top two spots and Matt Stajan anchors the fourth line. Pirri would be forced to be a third line centre, but those can be found literally everywhere (Josh Jooris, for instance, if he wasn't a healthy scratch for no dang reason). The article suggests that he could replace Hudler on the top line, but I'm going to assume that was just a joke. Olsen hasn't shown much promise outside of the AHL, and at age 25, that might be where he stays.
Future or present? Both. Pirri could address a present issue by adding secondary scoring (though what use is secondary scoring this late in the season), while Olsen is still considered a prospect.
Pull the trigger? Mixed emotions. Pirri and Olsen don't excite me, but it's higher value than what other teams could be offering.
Trade #2: Kris Russell to the St Louis Blues for Ty Rattie
Fun? Russell returns to his former team while Rattie returns to his hometown. Homecoming narratives aplenty!
Feasible? The Blues are down Alex Pietrangelo for the immediate future, and with Russell being one of the biggest defenders on the trade block this year (somehow), they might go for the devil they know.
For the greater good? The Flames get rid of Russell (good) and get a right wing prospect (also good). Rattie is still working his way out of the AHL at age 23, but he has some promise and addresses the Flames' greatest prospect depth need.
Future or present? Rattie's going to need a bit of work, so a future move.
Pull the trigger? A player for Kris Russell? Do it.
Trade #3: Jonas Hiller, David Jones, and Drew Shore to the San Jose Sharks for Rourke Chartier and a 2017 5th round draft pick
Fun? Five total assets? A guy named "Rourke"? Count me in!
Feasible? I don't really see why the Sharks would want a second rate goaltender, a second rate right winger, and a second rate AHLer, and why they would give one of their better prospects for this lot.
For the greater good? Again, any asset for Hiller, Jones, or Shore is almost immediately a win.
Future or present? The streak holds strong. Another future move for the Flames.
Pull the trigger? A low value trade, but at least there is value. Go for it.
The Trade: Either one or a combination of Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, or Dougie Hamilton to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Steven Stamkos.
Fun? Well, it would certainly be the biggest trade in a very, very long time, and it would throw a monkey wrench into the Leafs' rebuilding plans, but we've been down this route before and we didn't like it.
Feasible? The Lightning already said they weren't trading Stamkos at the deadline. I'm leaning on a hard no here.
For the greater good? Stamkos is already a super star, but he's going to come at a very high cost. The Flames aren't just one guy away like they were in the Iginla years, and considering the suggested price, they'll lose two good players to acquire one great one. As Liam said way back when, it will only set the team back.
Future or present? Finally, a present benefit! The Flames would get immediately better. Not that it would help much, but it's a nice thought.
Pull the trigger? Imagine trading for Stamkos, not making the playoffs, and then having him sign somewhere else.
Fansided: One move every team should make
The Trade: The Sharks send Alex Stalock, a 2017 second round pick, and a 2016 fourth round pick (from the Rangers) for Jiri Hudler and Karri Ramo
Fun? Well that's a lot of big names being swapped around, but not big enough to be quite that fun.
Feasible? I don't see it. Even if Ramo wasn't injured, the Sharks don't need an upgrade at backup that badly. Stalock isn't very good, but he's not actively hurting the team. The key piece is Hudler, and I doubt the Sharks really want him.
For the greater good? Anytime someone suggests that a struggling goalie could use a change of scenery, they're lying.
Future or present? One of those rare trades that solves neither. Stalock likely won't stick around in a Flames uniform very long, and the draft picks are too low to be of much value.
Pull the trigger? Avoid like the plague.
And that does it for this round of rumour round-up. I'm sure more will come to pass as the days come closer to trade deadline, so stick around. Maybe post some of your trade rumours in the comment section for my judgement.