The Calgary Flames came into the deadline not exactly knowing what to do with their team. At times this year they looked like a contender, and at other times they looked like they should be selling everything. They were rumored to be after a multitude of different players, but when it all boiled down, they added two defensemen and sent one to San Jose. Here are my X thoughts on the day:
1. The Flames Didn’t Land a Big Fish up Front and That’s Fine
In the weeks leading up to the deadline, the Flames were connected to a number of players who were considered big names. JG Pageau, Kyle Palmieri, Chris Krieder, and others were connected either by insiders or fans as good targets. Calgary ended up not bringing in any forward help, and honestly given some of the ridiculous prices we saw this year, it’s probably for the best. A 1st and a 2nd (possibly a 3rd too) for Pageau + a 6yr/5M extension was something that didn’t make sense for the Flames. They already have a good forward core that has mostly struggled to produce this year, but with 4.40 Goals per Game in February, that may be turning around.
2. Erik Gustafsson Gives the Flames an Offensive Defenceman
With all due respect, Gustafsson’s defensive numbers are pretty bad, but he’s made his name during his brief NHL career as somebody who can put up the points. He had a breakout year last year, going from 16 points in 35 games to 60 points in 79 games. He finished 5th in D-man scoring, ahead of names like Roman Josi and Victor Hedman. He has seen regression this year with just 26 points in 59 games, but that’s still only one less than Mark Giordano and more than any other Flame defenseman. He should be a good option for the PP2 but can also be a solid 5v5 points contributor after having 42 points at even strength last year.
3. Derek Forbort is a Big Man
Bringing in Forbort from Los Angeles seems to make a lot of sense for the Flames, although his overall numbers aren’t great. He’s only dressed in 13 games this year as he worked his way back from a back injury. He has primiarly played with Drew Doughty upon returning so he has faced a good deal of the opponent’s best players. Forbort should fit well on the team both now, and later in the season when his role is reduced with the return of Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic. He’s 6’4’’ and 220 lbs, so he should provide more of a presence.
4. How Will the Defensive Lineup Look?
It sounds like the Flames are planning to play Gustafsson on the right side which will alleviate the logjam of current LHD on the team. Here are my thoughts on how the lineup will look now, and when fully healthy:
- Noah Hanifin - Rasmus Andersson
- T.J. Brodie - Erik Gustafsson
- Derek Forbort - Oliver Kylington
- Mark Giordano - T.J. Brodie
- Noah Hanifin - Rasmus Andersson
- Erik Gustafsson - Travis Hamonic
- Derek Forbort
5. The Flames now have 4 UFA Defencemen this Summer
With T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic already sitting as pending unrestricted free agents, the Flames added to their workload with both Forbort and Gustafsson being UFA’s too. This will give the Flames a lot of flexibility to shape their defense core however they wish, whether that’s incorporating a full role for Juuso Valimaki or bringing back any of these four players. Personally T.J. Brodie is still at the top of my list to re-sign, but I wouldn’t hate bringing back Gustafsson at the right price and term.
6. The Flames will probably have a Full Complement of Picks in 2020
In what seems like the first time in forever, the Flames will most likely be heading into the draft with 7 picks, and one in each round. The conditions on the Gustafsson trade is that the Blackhawks get the higher of the Flames or Oilers selections in the third round. This is of course assuming that James Neal gets two more goals this year to meet the condition of that trade. The Kings trade is involving the 2021 pick which can become a 3rd if Calgary reaches the WCF or Forbort re-signs in Calgary.
7. Now the Real Work Begins
The Flames didn’t give up huge assets to add this year because it is still quite possible that they go on a cold streak and miss the playoffs. Brad Treliving likely still has some trauma left from when he gave up the 1st round pick for Hamonic before the team went on the miss in 2017-18.
The Flames currently sit in the first wild card spot, but with the Coyotes, Predators, and Jets all right there, it’s going to be a dogfight down the stretch. Calgary has gotten better performances from Johnny Gaudreau lately and they’ll need the rest of the big guns to consistently play better than they did early in the year to make a run. This team still has most of the pieces from their 107 point season last year, they just need to make it happen.
8. Trade Deadline Day this year was fun
After a number of years of not a lot going down, we had a high volume of trades come through this year and the bigger ones were quite spread out over the course of the day. There may not have been the big names dealt, but it was certainly a good day of entertainment. Hats of to Carolina for turning their team into a contender even more so than they already were.
9. #Peegate Nearly Destroyed Calgary
Johnny Gaudreau just left the ice at #Flames practice. Not sure why.— Derek Wills (@Fan960Wills) February 24, 2020
More from the not-traded Johnny Gaudreau: “Next time, I will hold it in as long as I can.” https://t.co/u4oum4eqBH— Wes Gilbertson (@WesGilbertson) February 24, 2020
Oof, if you thought Gaudreau changing his bio earlier in the week blew up Flames twitter, that was nothing compared to this. Clearly Johnny Hockey knows exactly what will set off this fan base and I think it’s absolutely hilarious how this worked out. He knew exactly what he was doing and what was going to happen on social media and all the trade deadline programs. Rock on Johnny!