The Calgary Flames are 15-15-3. The new coach move hasn’t really changed much. If anything it’s confirmed what we’ve kind of always known and that it’s a problem with the core of this team and the players. With the Flames probably needing at least 16 wins to finish the season in 23 games, it really doesn’t feel like they have a shot anymore especially considering they’ve won only 15 of their first 33 games.
This team is more or less screwed. They just brought in a coach who left retirement to try and win a Cup, and it really doesn’t look like that’s anywhere else close to being on the horizon. It’s time to finally step up and begin tearing this core apart. Perhaps it would be enough to give the guys a jolt to end the season and have them come back stronger next year, but there’s no reason to believe this team will have any more success if they run it back again.
The Flames should sell. There’s really no way around it. Get assets for the future, promote some young guys to end this year and next, and start to shake things up. Here are five players that the Flames should look to sell, should they choose to have the guts to do so, along with some potential trade partners in my opinion.
1. David Rittich ($2.75M, Pending UFA)
This one is an absolute no-brainer. With Jacob Markstrom being the future of this franchise in net (for better or worse) we can already pretty much guarantee that Rittich will be gone after this season as he becomes a UFA. Selling teams move UFA’s, that’s just the nature of the business. We’ll always have the fun Big Save Dave memories of 2018-19. Rittich would be one of the top names on the goaltending rental market heading into the deadline and Calgary would be wise to acquire assets for him before he leaves for nothing.
Potential Trade Partners: Chicago, St. Louis, Washington, Colorado
2. Mark Giordano ($6.75M, Expires 21-22, M-NTC 19 Teams)
This hurts my heart as a fan, but when coming at it with the objective of trying to improve this team for the future, it’s time to do this. Mark Giordano’s play and as a result trade value have both taken sharp declines this year, but for this team to really start moving forward, this move needs to be made. Chances are the Flames will need to retain salary or take a contract back (or both) to make this deal happen, but if the Flames can get any value for him, now is the time to do it. It’ll give him a chance to chase a Stanley Cup as well. I know we will always all appreciate Gio and I would guess that he may even have a shot at getting his number retired or Forever a Flame’d, but you have to keep your heart out of this right now. It is worth noting that Gio can shoot down trades to 12 teams, we obviously don’t know which ones.
Potential Trade Partners: Toronto, Winnipeg, Boston
3. Derek Ryan ($3.125M, Pending UFA)
Listen, I will always be a huge advocate for Derek Ryan. I think he’s pretty much the perfect bottom six NHLer as he is strong at both ends of the ice, elevates players around him, and can fit in well on both special teams units. With that in mind though, he is a pending free agent and he is 34 years old. I bet there are 20-24 other teams with playoff aspirations that could use a bottom sixer that can fill in pretty much anywhere and make their team better. Maybe the Flames could try to re-sign him in the summer, but moving him makes sense, especially if he may want to return to his home state anyways ala Deryk Engelland when Seattle joins the league next year.
Potential Trade Partners: Pretty much anyone?
4. Sam Bennett ($2.550M, Pending RFA)
I don’t know, I just lost it last night when he was on a 2-on-1 with Johnny and proceeded to skate towards the circle rather than the net and take a weak wrist shot. At this point the Flames just have to trade him. He’s a pending restricted free agent, meaning the Flames will have to offer him at least the same $2.55M contract to retain his rights. Considering it doesn’t feel like he’s close to worth that right now, he would likely not get qualified and walk as a UFA like we saw with Mark Jankowski. There’s also the expansion draft to consider as well. Sure he’s a “playoff performer” which the Flames should be able to milk some value for, but there is zero sense keeping him given the above reasons and the fact that the Flames probably won’t make the playoffs.
Potential Trade Partners: Toronto, Minnesota, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Boston, New Jersey
5. Johnny Gaudreau ($6.75M, Expires 21-22)
Let me make this clear, I would prefer they trade Monahan, but I think they have to realize that if they’re trading Gaudreau anyways, there’s far more value lost by holding him until the draft or whenever as compared to Monahan.
This is the big one, and I feel bad putting him in here because I really don’t want to trade Gaudreau or think that he deserves to be traded. The reason I’m putting him in here is simply that if the Flames haven’t received any communication that he wants to stay in Calgary, now is the time to make the move. The Flames need to avoid a John Tavares situation because they don’t have a Mathew Barzal type player waiting in the wings. By trading him now, an acquiring team will get two cracks at the playoffs with him before he can leave for wherever in free agency. If the Flames were to wait until the summer, they lose whatever extra value they could have earned by moving him before the deadline. With the Flames likely to miss the playoffs and experience turnover for next year, it just might be time, and that absolutely sucks.
I would not be behind trading Gaudreau for pennies on the dollar, but if it doesn’t seem like an extension is going to happen, and he doesn’t want to stick around, you have to make the move sooner than later. He should fetch a nice return regardless of what his detractors say. Finally, trading him now might make a ton of sense because once the 21-22 league year begins, he has a 5 team trade list associated with his contract.
Potential Trade Partners: Winnipeg, Carolina, Florida, Philadelphia, Boston