Welcome to an offseason roundtable where we look back at the last week and a half or so for the Calgary Flames and talk about the big moves that were made. Leave your answers to the questions in the comments!
Q1: What are your thoughts on the Mike Smith trade, and what are your expectations for him heading into 2017-18?
FlamesMM: At first I thought it seemed like a lot for an older goalie and it still kind of does. Brandon Hickey looks to have some potential on the back end but the Flames were dealing from a position of strength. I think Smith makes a lot of sense as a goalie that can be a stopgap for a couple years to let Jon Gillies, David Rittich, and Tyler Parsons develop. However if he costs this team a playoff spot or has a bad season, it won’t look good at all. Despite being 35 Smith only has 10 years of NHL experience so hopefully he can squeak out a few more years before he begins to decline, but I’m expecting similar numbers to last year for him.
Rushtheflamesfan: I think the move makes sense in terms of the Flames’ future in the crease. With Jon Gillies and Tyler Parsons continuing to develop, I think that having Smith at the crease for a few years will keep this team competitive as the two continue to develop. Smith is a good goaltender. He maintained a .914 save percentage in 2016-17 while posting a .916 save percentage in 2015-16. While they may not be the numbers Brian Elliott put up in St. Louis, it is important to note that Smith played on an Arizona team with a weaker defence. In Calgary, he will be playing behind a fantastic top 4, and that can pay dividends next season.
I also had a little bit of skepticism when I first heard of the trade, but ultimately, I think Smith can provide stable goaltending. I tend to downplay the age factor, primarily because we’ve seen older goalies like Dwayne Roloson (Tampa Bay in 2010-11) and Pekka Rinne (2016-17) help teams go on deep playoff runs. Judging from Smith’s workload in the past and the fact that he’ll be playing behind a deep defence, there is certainly reason to be optimistic.
Samwell9: Personally, not a fan at all. I think this was a poor decision. Yes, the Flames did not give up a lot, but they targeted the wrong person. Smith is 35 and injury prone, not exactly the ideal target if you are looking to finally have some stability in the crease. He has also posted over a .916 SV% just once in his entire NHL career. So essentially, at the very best, he is an average goalie. But, goalies his age can drop off rapidly. There was this guy named Jonas Hiller....
Elliott, Steve Mason or Jonathan Bernier would have all been safer bets and cost less assets (none). Grubauer or Raanta would have been worth a look at for a chance too, but perhaps the cost was prohibitive.
I hope Smith works out, but he makes me nervous.
MarkParkinson14: Not a fan of this move. As a matter of fact, in our mock draft, we were offered a trade for Smith that would have cost us the 16th pick and a player and we said “thanks, but no thanks.” 35 and injury prone isn’t exactly a promising resume. Smith’s best season was 2011-12 when he won 38 games for the Coyotes, but every other season he’s been a barely .500 goalie or worse. Yes, he’s been with Arizona, so it’s hard to judge whether it’s him or the team or both. The Flames might as well have re-upped Brian Elliott or Johnson seeing at least they knew what they had in those two. The problem the Flames have is none of their young prospects are ready and they need something to fill the net while Gillies/Parsons gets groomed. Is Smith the answer? Who knows, but I’m not a fan of this move.
Q2: What are your thoughts on what Vegas has done over the last week? How far away do you think they are from being a good team?
FlamesMM: I think Vegas had a lot more opportunities to make a better team but they chose not to, which I totally understand. Vegas would’ve likely been a playoff bubble team at best, so going the young route to get top picks makes sense. I see them starting to really compete in the 2019-2020 season but it could be sooner if the right players get hot.
Rushtheflamesfan: Vegas made some questionable moves during the expansion draft, but those were offset by other great moves on the part of George McPhee like getting Shea Theodore and Nikita Gusev. They are clearly building for the future. It will be interesting to watch them this season, as they are, to my knowledge, likely the first expansion team to get a bonafide #1 goaltender in Marc Andre Fleury. Aside from that, they have a decent group of forwards led by James Neal and David Perron. They have a surplus of defencemen and will likely look to trade some of them for prospects and picks.
The Golden Knights can be competitive this season, but I don’t expect them to make the playoffs.
Samwell9: I agree with their overall approach, but some of the selections they made seem a little questionable. There were multiple teams where they left better players on the board, even though those teams did not give them any assets to stay away from their players. I still don’t get the whole signing Engelland a week early instead of taking Kulak or Shinkaruk either. Oh well, they are in the Pacific so it is not like we want them to be a good team.
MarkParkinson14: I don’t think Vegas did anything that will make them great anytime soon, but they are a true expansion team and they’re supposed to struggle early. I’m not a fan of the franchise even being in the NHL, but I do suppose it’s good for the Flames as they are a team Calgary should be able to beat up on. Jerseys are also terrible. There’s your hot sports take.
Q3: The Flames shook the NHL and acquired Travis Hamonic on Saturday. Were you a fan of the trade and what are your expectations for him this season?
Samwell9: I did not really know what to make of the trade when I first heard of it, but after some reflection, I am quite excited about it. Brodie-Hamonic has the makings of an excellent second-pairing behind Giordano-Hamilton who were arguably the best pair in the league last year. Some are concerned about Hamonic’s possession numbers in recent years, but check out Tyler Dellow’s excellent article on The Athletic, where he sheds some light on the situation, making Hamonic look much more favourable than first glance may show.
The Flames have entered “Win Now” mode and Brad Treliving made a big move to make the Flames enter contention with Anaheim and Nashville for best defensive core in the entire NHL. Nashville and Anaheim did quite well this past season. They paid a price for sure, but the Flames should have a good shot at the Pacific division if goaltending holds up. Losing picks in the 20s and 50s does not hurt too bad if that is the case.
It also makes Edmonton look extra bad after the Eberle trade and Russell signing.
Rushtheflamesfan: Brad Treliving paid a steep price to get Hamonic, but I think this will pay large dividends for the Flames. Calgary’s top 4 on defence is now perhaps one of the best in the league on paper, so hopefully that can translate on the ice. He’s a great puck mover and will be a great partner for T.J Brodie. Not to mention that he is 26 and just beginning to enter his prime on a great contract.
Hamonic is also well-known for his community work, and that in itself makes him a natural fit with the Flames. Overall, I like the move and am very excited to see how this defence will stack up against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. The Battle of Alberta is back folks!
MarkParkinson14: I love it. Did they give up a lot? Sure, but sometimes you’ve got to give up something to get something and I’m fine with that here. Calgary now has 4, legit, competent defencemen. Whether the price is high or not, Brad Treliving added a solid player on the blue line to help Gio, Dougie and TJ Brodie. That’s a pretty decent foursome right there. As for giving up Brandon Hickey, that’s fine. Hickey could be good, he could be nothing. I’ll take the known commodity in Hamonic and maybe this defence group can cover up some of the goaltending deficiencies the Flames are potentially looking at.
FlamesMM: Hamonic makes a lot of sense for the team right now because he fits in with the core age group. Both him and Brodie will be 27 for the upcoming season and they should pair off well together. Those picks were a lot to give up but the Flames are taking a shot here and hopefully it works out. The Flames now also don’t have another second round pick until 2021.
Q4: Looking ahead to free agency, what signings (if any) do you see the Flames making in free agency outside of their RFA’s?
FlamesMM: Call me crazy but I think Brad Treliving makes another move that reaches back to his days with the Arizona Coyotes. I could see him signing Radim Vrbata to a cheap, one year deal. Vrbata is coming off a 20 goal season and could fit as a top line stopgap while the Flames look for other solutions after next season. He’s cheap and can still score, which is exactly what the Flames need out of the top line right wing. Kris Versteeg could also make sense to fill the top line role for next year if the Flames stick with someone familiar because he possesses some strong traits and he’ll complement Gaudreau and Monahan well.
Rushtheflamesfan: On the forwards front, I see the Flames making a push to re-sign Kris Versteeg. He played a very key role on the Flames’ power play last year and I would hope that he can re-sign with us at a good price. Treliving will likely look for a proven point-getter for the right wing position, so under that assumption, I would imagine that someone like Justin Williams would be on the Flames radar, as he’s been a steady scorer throughout his career and most importantly, a great playoff performer. Other players of interest would include Jiri Hudler and P.A Parenteau.
This one is probably a stretch, but someone by the name of Jarome Iginla will also probably hit free agency this year! He’s a veteran right-winger, who’s gone on deep playoff runs before. I think he’s still got some steam left in him. Whether or not Brad Treliving signs him to a short deal is uncertain, but how amazing would it be if Iggy finished his last season in Calgary?
On defence, I hope they can get Michael Stone re-signed to round out the bottom pairing.
Samwell9: I don’t think there is a ton out there in free agency right now. If the Flames want to add a bit more to the defense, Cody Franson, Paul Postma, or Michael Del Zotto could be good if they can be had on short-term contracts. Preferably no Michael Stone or “Engelland like” replacements. I’d like space to be left on the bottom pairing for younger players to start coming up in a sheltered role.
A veteran right-winger who is actually good (not a Brouwer) is really their only forward need at this point. Vrbata, Justin Williams, P.A. Parenteau, Kris Versteeg or Patrick Sharp are all interesting options, but I would not want any of them for more than 2 years.
And, Chad Johnson will probably be back, which is all good with me. I like that guy.
MarkParkinson14: I’d like to see Versteeg back. He had a very solid season last year and I liked what I saw from him after a slow start. While Deryk Engelland didn’t set your hair on fire, he did many small things on the ice and gave the Flames a little muscle, which they clearly lacked at times last season. Calgary needs a Deryk Engelland type player on their roster as we’ve seen how they can get pushed around a lot in the West. And I’m with Sam, another goaltender. While he’s not the answer, Chad Johnson would be a solid option as a backup or insurance for Mike Smith.