Phew. The Edmonton Oilers are finally eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs after losing game 7 last night to the Anaheim Ducks. That was a tough series for Flames fans; cheering for either team felt morally wrong on many levels. Not to mention the fact that the entire league has become accustomed to the Oilers bowing out in early November instead of making a solid run to the conference semis. Despite the division over the Ducks-Oilers series though, we can probably all agree that we felt a little dirty cheering for either team. Let’s all take a long
golden shower and look ahead to what should be a very important offseason for our hometown Flames.
The entire city of Calgary let out a collective sigh of relief when our lord and saviour Brad Treliving was re-signed to a multi-year contract last week. While we’re not exactly certain of the full details of the contract, we can all look forward to at least two more seasons with Tre at the helm. We’re extremely happy about the signing, and you should be too. With a new contract, however, comes great responsibility to the heir of the Boston Pizza kingdom. Before he’s able to see Johnny Gaudreau lifting the Stanley Cup next season, he’s got a lot of work to do. It might sound farfetched, but we were able to obtain a list of items that Brad is aiming to complete this offseason. We’ll be sharing those items, along with a few additions of our own in this offseason checklist.
1. Sign Ilya Kovalchuk
At the tail end of an unconventional rebuild that saw the Flames qualify for the postseason twice in three years, it’s time to take a big step this offseason and make a real statement. As this playoff season has proven, forward depth is crucial in separating the merely good teams from the contenders. The 3M line is among the best lines in the NHL, and the chemistry between Sean Monahan and Gaudreau often forces fans to the edges of their seats. We thank Micheal Ferland for his service along those two this season, but it’s time they were given a real scoring winger. Our vote? Ilya Kovalchuk. Make it happen Brad, we know you can do it. And if not, we’ll be content to settle for TJ Oshie or Patrick Eaves.
2. Draft zero goalies
With Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson both on expiring contracts, it isn’t clear who’s going to be between the pipes for Calgary next season. No matter what Treliving decides to do, he’s going to make some fans very happy and other fans very not happy. Between the goalies already in the system and goalies that the Flames can bring in, this is probably the year to pass on goalies at the draft in Chicago.
3. Trade for Carey Price
Despite there being several promising goaltender prospects in the pipeline for the Flames, none of them are ready to be full time NHL goalies just yet. It is imperative that Treliving sign or trade for a bonafide NHL starting goalie this summer. Elite goalies are harder to find than Waldo, and for many teams, the trade route is the easiest way to obtain one. Set your sights high, Mr. Treliving, and put Carey Price into a Flames sweater this October. If that doesn’t work out though, UFAs Antti Raanta and Jonathan Bernier are also options (in that order), along with potential expansion draft casualties Marc-Andre Fleury and Juuse Saros (not necessarily in that order).
4. Find TJ Brodie a partner
TJ Brodie didn’t have a great year. Granted, he was dealing with some heavy personal struggles for which we wish him the absolute best, not to mention being primarily paired with Dennis Wideman who was more useless than a bag of pucks this season. As good as Brodie is, he can only do so much. Bringing in Michael Stone was a definite step up, but it’s time a true top-4 defenseman was brought in to play with Brodie. Some point to his switch to the left side as a reason for his down year, so maybe signing/trading for a left-shot defenseman would be best. Right shot defensemen are coveted in today’s NHL, so acquiring a blueliner on the other side would presumably be an easier task. UFAs like Brendan Smith, Dimitry Kulikov, and Cody Franson could fit the bill.
5. Re-sign Kris Versteeg
What more could anyone have wanted from Kris Versteeg this year? He was among the Flames’ most productive player on a dollars-per-point basis, he played all over the ice in all situations, and most importantly he spurned the Oilers in the eleventh hour back in October. That gets him full marks just on its own. Re-signing him is a no-brainer, especially considering he wants to remain a Flame. This one is more of a formality; don’t worry, it’ll happen.
6. Get rid of Troy Brouwer
Look, Troy Brouwer is probably an amazing human. Maybe even the best human. But he’s not very good at hockey anymore, and nobody can justify keeping a bottom-6 forward at a $4.5M cap hit. If we need to send a pick or two to Vegas to ensure he’s selected in the expansion draft then so be it. Contenders don’t have room for dead weight, and sadly, that’s what Brouwer is at this stage of his career. There are plenty of cheaper, younger players with much higher ceilings who can easily fill his role on the team.
Well Brad, it looks like you’ve got a lot of work to do. Hopefully we can check all these items off your list by October.