It’s time for Round-Table # 3 here at M&G. We’ve got a few topics to talk about and we’d like you to comment as well with your thoughts below. So enough with the intro, here’s WRT Part 3:
1) Sam Bennett has been consistent (6 points in each month so far), but should the Flames be getting more out of him. He’s due for a new contract once the season is over and it begs the question: What should the Flames do with Sam Bennett this off-season?
MarkParkinson14: We’re about halfway through the season and Bennett is exactly halfway (18) to his point total from last year (36). Calgary has to be thinking that they should be getting more from the young centre, but “young” should be the key word to focus on. Bennett needs to stop taking dumb penalties (3rd on the team) and contribute more on the offensive end. He’s a talented young player, but the Flames should be cautious. A Gaudreau or Monahan deal shouldn’t be in the works right now. A bridge deal that gives the Flames an extra 2 years to evaluate him at a reasonable cost would make sense for the team. Bennett’s a RFA so he’s not going anywhere.
MattyFranchise: Not every player is gonna be a Monahan or a Gaudreau when their ELCs expire and it’s clear that Bennett is neither of those players. At this point in his career it looks like Bennett is falling into the 3rd line center area. He has hands and skill but his game needs more discipline. I’d be fine with a bridge deal in the summer for 2 or 3 seasons, so long as the contract ends in the RFA portion of his career (he’ll be UFA eligible in his 26 year old season), term isn’t an issue for me.
FlamesMM: Barring a dramatic increase in points and level of play in the second half of the season, Bennett seems like the definition of a bridge contract player. He has a lower points-per-game number than last season, and seems to have settled in on a third line role behind Monahan and Backlund. It could just be a sophomore slump which happens to quite a few NHLers, but time will tell. For now 3 years or so on a medium contract should be in order.
Samwell9: I still have high hopes for Bennett in the long run. We see flashes of brilliance but there is no consistency to this point in his career. That is okay, being a centre is a lot of responsibility, not everyone comes in like Matt Tkachuk and immediately controls games. A good example of this would be Mikael Backlund, who took years to turn into the player he is today and now is extremely valuable to the team. We also have to remember that he is only 20 and essentially missed the entire first season after he was drafted because of shoulder surgery. I think he is a little confused about how to be an effective NHL player, in terms of both offense and how much of an edge to play with. However, he has not gotten a ton of powerplay time and is actually one of the top players on the team in terms of 5-on-5 points. So all that said, I think the Flames have an opportunity to get Bennett on a bridge deal that could turn out to be great bargain for the Flames if he meets his potential and if not, they will not have broken the bank.
BizzleJ: Although Sam Bennett has been consistent, in my opinion he has been consistently not scoring enough. We are talking about a 4th overall draft pick after all. I will be honest and say I don’t get to watch many games, but the games I do watch, I barely hear his name at all. The good news from all of this may be that he is being paid under a million bucks so it’s not like the Flames are throwing money out the window. I think when it comes time, the Flames may move him, maybe even at the trade deadline in exchange for dare I say...Iginla? Whatever happens, I definitely don’t see him returning next season unless a miracle happens and he finishes top 4 or 5 in team scoring.
Renu Sahota: 9-9-18. 45PIM. 2 PP points and a SHP. Before the sharks game he’s gone 11 games with no points and -6. He did get a goal versus the San Jose Sharks last, so hopefully the game versus them will be a spark plug for #93. I was hoping the Flames would have got more out of Bennett, I say shop him and if there’s nothing out there give him a 2-3 year extension around the same as his entry contract. I’d like to see Jankowski come up and play center sooner rather than later.
2) The Flames are in position to get to the playoffs. IF the Flames were to make a deal to bolster their roster who should the Flames entertain dealing?
MarkParkinson14: Wideman. Wideman. Wideman. But that’s not likely to happen. Who wants a bad defenceman with a terrible shot and a terrible contract? Although he is a bit more palatable seeing he’s in the last year of his contract. If someone calls asking about Wides the Flames should take whatever they can get. I’d also entertain any and all offers regarding Jyrki Jokipakka and Lance Bouma. None of those are crazy valuable assets, but if any of them can get you SOMETHING the deal should be made.
MattyFranchise: It would be nice to get rid of Wideman but the fact that he has a full NMC means that he can veto any trade that comes up. The teams that can afford him are all bad and the teams that he would likely accept a trade to are good enough that they won’t want him. Other than that, I don’t really see anyone on the Flames that they absolutely have to get rid of. I’m expecting a quiet trade deadline day for the Flames this year.
FlamesMM: Again any deal to get rid of Wideman would be great but that probably won’t happen. Other than that, the Flames can’t really make any big deals because they seem to be set on the 7 forwards and 3 defense that they’ll be protecting in the expansion draft meaning any new face with a contract past this year will be exposed. The Flames would be smart to look at trying to upgrade their RW spot alongisde Johnny and Monny and would have to trade a forward to do so. Personally I think the Flames should put Lance Bouma, Alex Chiasson, and Freddie Hamilton into play along with some of their mid-to-late round picks. I also think they should target a few familiar faces to return like Jiri Hudler or Jarome Iginla, or even Radim Vrbata.
Samwell9: There is not really anybody the Flames need to be trading. Wideman is the most obvious target but he has actually played a bit better this year and his contract is over after the season anyway. They also need to retain enough players to meet the exposure requirements for the expansion draft, so I would not expect much to be heading out the door. I could see the Flames willing to pick up a player or two for added depth if they are still contending for a playoff spot, but I would not expect them to expend much more than a mid-round pick or a B-level prospect. A right-winger or a depth defender that drives possession would be most useful. Also, if anyone offers anything for Troy Brouwer, trade him immediately.
BizzleJ: It definitely wouldn’t hurt my feelings to see Wideman go, but who else is going to want him and really, what would we get in return? We could use some more pucks and more of those cool new mitts Johnny’s been wearing! Realistically I could see us moving a Bennett and possibly even Brian Elliott. Elliott is a great goalie, just not in Calgary and I feel we have good depth at the goaltender position now so we could easily bring up a pretty good back up for Chad Johnson. I would love to see Jarome Iginla come back to finish out his career.
Renu Sahota: This is a tough one, a Bennett – Giordano would be huge, just not sure what Flames would get back, and with what team. Dougie Hamilton is only going to get better, and although it would suck to lose Gio, if the return is good it might be a viable option either this year or next. Would love to see Iggy back as well!
3) Chad Johnson was strong for much of November and December, but has hit a bump recently and Brian Elliott has 5 straight wins of his own. Who you got? Elliott? Johnson? Or do they have to be exclusive?
MarkParkinson14: This is an interesting question. With the way Elliott has played lately and the way Johnson has hit a small skid, I think you ride the hot hand right now: Elliott. I don’t think either has to be mutually exclusive either. You can have both and both be good. Johnson is already halfway to his most games played in a season (45) and Elliott hasn’t played in 50+ games since he was with Ottawa back in 2010-11. Alternating them is fine. With the Flames in playoff position I think having them both getting reps and rested is a good thing. If one gets hot, stick with them, but I’m fine with a 1A and 1B. It’s like Ramo and Hiller, but good.
MattyFranchise: While it would be nice for the Flames to have a bonafide starter by the time the playoffs started, assuming Calgary makes it, the fact that they have two quality goaltenders that they can alternate between is a welcome change from the dark side of the Kirprusoff years where when he didn’t play the team lost because there was literally zero goaltending depth. It’s unclear who is going to end up with more games played but come spring time if the Flames are still rolling with them as a tandem then I’m fine with that too.
FlamesMM: Both goalies have their ups and downs this season, but if I had to choose one to anoint starter for the rest of the season, it would be Chad Johnson. He has shown a more consistent level of play despite some tough games, while Elliott’s recent good play has come against some of the worst teams in the NHL. I’m fine alternating them to keep them rested and I think both will continue to be assets as the season moves forward. And if any other NHL team has a goalie injury and offers a lucrative trade, take it, because after all this team is still building and has two quality goalies in the AHL.
Samwell9: At this point, you keep going with whoever gives you the best chance to win. If we are picking a goalie to win any particular game, I would pick Chad Johnson every time. Brian Elliott did win some games lately, but we have to acknowledge the fact that they were against the Avalanche, Coyotes and Canucks and even then, his play was not particularly inspiring for the most part. It is hard to know exactly why Elliott is struggling so greatly, but the fact of the matter is that he has not played well. Not Hiller bad, but much worse than Ramo played last year. No reason not to keep him around for the remainder of the season because maybe he gets it together, but I would be leaning on Chad Johnson for sure.
BizzleJ: Had this question been asked a month ago I would have said ride Johnson all the way. But after Elliott seemed to settle in and rattle off 5 straight wins I thought, maybe we have a 1A and 1B situation here. Then I looked back at who Elliott won 5 straight games against. Colorado twice, Arizona twice and Vancouver. All teams below the Flames in the standings. Four games against the two worst teams in the conference. So was Elliott really that good? If I was GM right now, I would be dealing Elliott at the deadline and Johnson is my #1.
Renu Sahota: Johnson has the steady-focused stance. I love how he goes out an hour before games and does his ‘visualization’ activity – mind you it didn’t help in that one game the cameras were on him, but it just shows his dedication to be mentally prepared for the game as well as physically. By preparing himself mentally, he’s better able to shrug off that one bad goal, and make the saves that count. He’s accumulating the wins. I don’t think you can compare him with Elliott. They both stand on their own, but I do think Johnson gave Elliott a nice cushion of wins to ease the pressure off his teammate. I like both goalies sharing pipe time - my vote of confidence favours Johnson.