With the Calgary Flames rocketing up the standings thanks to a seven game winning streak, it’s time to look at who the Flames could consider buying around the upcoming trade deadline. Here we go.
What do the Flames Need?
I’m writing most of these piece under the assumption that Kris Versteeg doesn’t return this season because he’s still a wild card at this point. If he returns, I don’t think the Flames will need to make a move.
When I look at the current Flames lineup (assuming Michael Frolik returns soon), I see a solid top six forward group, three strong defensive pairings, and two very good goaltenders.
The third line has looked good ever since they united Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski. Garnet Hathaway has also been a nice addition to that line, but if the Flames really want to become scary, they may be better off looking to add a true scoring right winger on that line. In the process they could move Hathaway down to the fourth line to keep the energy and intensity he brings to the team.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve really liked Hathaway this season, and if the right deal doesn’t come about then I have no problem with him staying in that spot. I just think the Flames could go from a pretty good team to a very good team with the right acquisition.
As for the fourth line, Troy Brouwer has played better in the last 15 games or so in my opinion. Matt Stajan and Curtis Lazar have both had their moments as well. Andrew Mangiapane has looked alright too, but I think he may be better served finishing off this season in Stockton in a top line roll rather than eight minutes a night in Calgary.
So in my opinion, if you have to find a spot to improve on the team, it’s improving the third line right wing.
Who Could Be Available?
Well first off, the Flames don’t need to make a big splash this year, and don’t really have the assets to do so anyways. If they do decide to make a trade, it can just be a small prudent acquisition for a mid-to-late round pick or average prospect. With that in mind, I did some looking for players who could fit in well on this team.
I tried to avoid the bigger names like Evander Kane or Mike Hoffman because they’re both going to cost a lot to whichever team buys them.
Patrick Maroon - Edmonton Oilers
A) I know the odds of the Flames and Oilers making any kind of trade to help each other are very slim B) I don’t know if I would want to give the Oilers any good prospects either
The idea of Maroon on the Flames is something that has always intrigued me, going back to his days with Anaheim. There is just something about his game that I really like. He brings a heavy physical presence to the ice which will be needed in playoffs. He also has a nice offensive touch, scoring 27 goals last season (granted playing alongside the 2nd best player in the world). Maroon has 11 goals and 13 assists this year through 44 games.
Of course he could be outside the Flames ideal price window for a rental, and I don’t see the Oilers giving Calgary any deals.
Thomas Vanek - Vancouver Canucks
Staying within the Pacific Division and on another Canadian rival, we have Thomas Vanek of the Canucks.
Vanek has had a strong season with Canucks, putting up 32 points in 45 games, second only to rookie phenom Brock Boeser. He is an offensive RIGHT HANDED SHOOTING forward who could slot very nicely onto that third line for the Flames.
More importantly, he’s also put up really good powerplay numbers this season, generating a total of 13 powerplay points. That number of powerplay points would put him second on the Flames behind only Johnny Gaudreau.
Even though the Flames PP has gotten better over the last few games, what have the Flames lacked since Versteeg got hurt? A right handed shooting forward that can consistently generate offense. That’s exactly what Vanek is.
Last year Vanek had similar numbers with Detroit and was traded for only a third round pick and an AHL defender so I don’t think he’d cost a ton this year. Treliving and Jim Benning have also made a few trades in the past together.
Patrick Sharp - Chicago Blackhawks
I don’t know if Sharp would be much of an improvement over Hathaway but with the Flames having somewhat pursued him last summer, and the Blackhawks possibly selling this year, he’s a name to look at.
Sharp has struggled the last few years, both in staying healthy and putting up the points. Last year with Dallas he only put up 18 points in 48 games. This year he only has 13 points through 42 games. The upside is that he would likely come very cheap but the downside is that he probably won’t make the Flames that much better.
Sharp does have a stellar playoff resume, having won the Stanley Cup three times with Chicago and dressing in 142 playoff games. It is worth noting that he also has a full no-trade clause this season. If he wants to waive it, I could see him going to his hometown Winnipeg Jets ahead of the Flames if they want him.
What Assets do the Flames have to Give?
Outside of the three mentioned players, I don’t see a lot of other names out there that would make sense for the Flames to acquire right now. Of course as the season progresses and teams start to become buyers and sellers, the market and available players will become clearer.
First we must look at what kind of assets the Flames have that they could trade.
With very limited picks in the next couple drafts, so prospects are the most likely route for the Flames. Calgary has grown a pretty deep prospect system so it may make sense to send a few off in return for some NHL help today.
Names I’m looking at could be somebody like Morgan Klimchuk or Tyler Wotherspoon. The possibility of trading Rasmus Andersson also has to be considered unless the Flames are planning to make room for him on the NHL roster this offseason. At the same time, it would be really tough to trade Andersson to a rival team.
The Flames also do have a couple fourth round picks, perhaps they could package one with a mid-level prospect. It’s also possible the Flames may want to trade Curtis Lazar to open up his roster spot and move on from what was a bad deal.
The question now becomes what would the Flames have to give up to land one of these three.
Let’s get Sharp out of the way and say very little, maybe a late round pick. A comparable deal is when Drew Stafford was traded from the Jets to the Bruins last year for a sixth round pick. He only had 13 points in 40 games at the time of the trade.
Maroon strikes me as the player that will have the biggest cost out of the three, and I don’t want to give the Oilers a top prospect, so that kind of sours me on a potential deal there.
Vanek could make a lot of sense for the Flames, and could come rather cheap. Perhaps a package of Lazar and Klimchuk could work? Or maybe Lazar, Wotherspoon, and a 4th? I don’t know, I’m just spitballing but Vanek seems to make the most sense.
A potential lineup with Vanek could look like this:
That could be really good.
Ultimately I’m content with the current roster if the Flames choose to do nothing, and if Kris Versteeg returns, I think I’d prefer for the Flames to do nothing. Nevertheless it’s always good to look at possible options that can make the Flames better.