To bring good players in, you have to move players out. When you’re buying specifically, you have to move out pieces that have tantalizing potential to a team in a rebuild or can at the very least fill a lineup spot for a few years with a chance to develop into something more alongside picks and/or prospects.
While the Calgary Flames have ample prospects and most of their top selections still in their possession, a lot of big trades often involve a younger NHL player as part of the returning package to the team dishing the prime talent.
With the Flames sitting fairly comfortably in a playoff spot as things currently stand, the discussion has shifted to what they are looking to acquire at the deadline and if this is the year they make the big swing. After being in (but just missing out as usual) on Jack Eichel, it has indicated that the team is once again going big game hunting. There are a number of high-end candidates that have roused interest in the fanbase and likely the team including Claude Giroux, Joe Pavelski, JT Miller, and Tomas Hertl to name a few.
These players are all going to be highly sought after in bidding wars between teams gearing up for a run at the Stanley Cup. If the Flames are going to be in, they will have their prospects and picks on table for sure, but another player that will likely have to consider moving is Dillon Dube.
Dube is in his second full season with the Flames after a long look in 2018-19 and finishing out the second half of 2019-20 with the team. So far this year he has four goals and seven assists through 40 games after having a career high 22 points in 51 games last year. Dube is 23 years old and was a 2nd round pick back in 2016. His most impressive stretch of hockey came during the 2019-20 playoff bubble where he had 5 points in 10 games and was very impactful, especially early in the Dallas series.
He is often grouped with fellow youngster Andrew Mangiapane but hasn’t taken the same steps that #88 has in the last two seasons. There is undoubtedly still potential there with Dube, but he just hasn’t been able to fit into a defined role with this club in the last two years. In 2020-21 he often found himself elevated in the lineup at the start of the game, but was benched by the end of the game on a number of occasions. This year he hasn’t really sniffed any top six minutes or much second unit powerplay time.
The Flames have also moved Dube between centre and the wing a number of times this year, further indicating that they don’t have defined plans on how to use Dube or how to at least best set him up for success. For my money I’ve thought that he’s looked far more impactful at centre than wing, but that’s just my eye test.
With some big pending free agents on the books, this is an all-in year for the Flames and it has to be pondered whether Dube will have more value as a trade chip than a roster piece for this season alone. If he is the cost to bring in an upgrade to the forward core or push a deal over the hump, then the Flames have to consider it.
It is also worth noting that Dube is in the first year of a three year deal carrying an AAV of $2.3M. While it’s not a huge number, if you feel that he could be replaced by a younger prospect next year on an ELC (Jakob Pelletier if he’s not moved?) then that should factor into considerations as well. Calgary is going to need every dollar to re-sign their free agents and fill out their roster.
Has Dube’s development hit a wall in Calgary? Or is it just time to look at a big move to try and win now with this core? Either way, it would not surprise me at all if the Flames made a big move in the next two months, and Dillon Dube was a part of the package heading out of Calgary. It would really suck as he’s a Cochrane native and a player that fans like, but it’s a business and the Flames have to be willing to do whatever it takes to win this year. Dube may just be a casualty of that.