Welcome back to The Sunday Census. Throughout the week, The Win Column will be posing topical and intriguing polls on Twitter (@wincolumnblog) to gauge the fan-base’s stance on pressing issues. Want to make sure your opinion is taken into effect? Vote in the polls, start a debate, and propose alternative suggestions on the polls!
The February 25th NHL trade deadline is fast approaching, with only 16 Flames games left until that date. The Flames are clearly in a buying position, with the LHD spot and backup goaltender position being areas of interest for the team. Not known to be big players at the deadline, Brad Treliving may be willing to change that mindset come February 25th.
Obviously to get, you have to give. The Flames have everything but a 2nd and 4th round pick in this year’s draft, as well as a full set of picks in 2020 and 2021. They also have a number of prospects that could potentially come into play if need be. What we wanted to focus on was which current roster player could be available for Treliving to barter with. We chose three: Michael Frolik, Mike Smith, and Sam Bennett.
Bennett received the least amount of votes, most likely due to a handful of reasons. Firstly, Bennett’s play has been on the upswing the entire season. While he has been unable to equate that into more points, the difference in his game is extremely noticeable. Under Bill Peters he has received increased ice time, and has fully seized that opportunity. He may possess the most value of the three players, due to his age and potential ceiling, but is least likely to be dealt unless a significant piece was coming back.
Frolik received the second highest amount of votes, in addition to my personal vote. That is not to say he should be traded by any means, but he’d arguably fetch the best return as he is the best player of the three. A two-way forward that can play consistent top-six minutes, in addition to having one more year of term on his contract, Frolik would probably fit on any team. Currently though, I don’t think there would be much appetite to trade a player like Frolik with the team in its position. But more on this later.
Smith was the majority winner on this one. Whether that came as a result of people wanting to see him gone, or the realistic possibility that he might actually have some value to a few teams with goaltending woes, fans believe he is on his way out. The goaltender market is limited at the moment, but there still exists some potential backup replacements. It remains to be seen if teams would want to trade for Smith, who is a UFA after this season. He may not be the Flames most valuable trade piece at the moment, but Brad Treliving isn’t doing his job if he isn’t at least looking at all of the options available, and trading Smith is one of them.
We spoke on this topic last week’s Sunday Census, with the focus being on the fan’s opinion of the situation. This week, we wanted to focus on what people thought the resolution to this situation would be. After his strong individual outing against the Panthers on Friday night, it’s tough to imagine him not having a consistent role on the second line moving forward.
Four options were available for potential paths the Czech winger could find himself: on another team, a permanent fixture back with the 3M line, in the bottom six rotating, and leaving the issue until the summer. Fortunately perhaps for a lot of Frolik fans, an extremely small amount of people actually think that he will end up on another team by the season’s end. This answer makes sense, as unless the Flames are getting someone of equal or greater stature back for Frolik, then it would be wise to have him remain in his current role.
Speaking of his current role, less than a quarter of voters think that he will remain in his bottom six/healthy scratch role. Since being scratched against Vancouver on December 29th, Frolik has netted four goals and four assists in seven games. Playing over a point per game pace (small sample size and all), Frolik has been essential on both ends of the ice. He even recently saw his penalty kill time increase with Mikael Backlund by his side. To say that he belongs in the bottom six, or in the press-box, makes little sense, especially when no one seems to have the same impact as him across the lineup.
My personal vote went for the 3M option, as that is where Frolik thrives the most. We saw that in full display against the Sharks on New Year’s Eve and again versus the Panthers on Friday night. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Frolik’s “promotion” to the second line midway through the game, chances are the Flames may not have come back. Bennett has been a great right wing on that line as well, but it’s not the same as when Frolik is there. If the Flames want to give themselves the best possible chance at winning, then they need to keep the 3M line intact moving forward.
That was not the most popular vote though, as the majority of fans think that the Frolik situation is a summer issue. Entirely true, as the volatility between the agent’s, player’s, and management’s opinion of what Frolik brings to the team should be evaluated when games aren’t being played. If Frolik thinks that it is best for him to be on another team, whether it is his want or his agents, then I am sure management wants to re-evaluate that after the season. He may not have the same utilization as he did under Glen Gulutzan, but if the Flames are primed for contention over the next few season, why leave?
Friday was a day to remember, but also forget for some Flames fans. Earlier in the day, the winners of the Last Man vote were announced. This was the NHL’s attempt at drawing additional interest into the All-Star Game through fan voting from a select group of potential candidates for the final spots. Call it a marketing ploy or call it a way to make-up for missed candidates, Flames fans weren’t pleased when captain Mark Giordano was not announced as the winner. Instead, Leon Draisaitl was selected as the last Pacific Division representative.
We gave three options for fans to choose from, and for the first time in Sunday Census history, we have nearly a perfect three way tie. The options were that he was snubbed, that he deserved the rest, or that the All Star game presented limited interest. It’s safe to say that fans are split.
Giordano is third in defenceman scoring, third in assists, and is best in the league in plus/minus (regardless of your personal opinion of the statistic). He is the number one defenceman on the best team in the Western Conference, which makes it confusing why he isn’t going. Completely understandable to see why a third of fans are upset that he was snubbed. Plus the fact that the spot went to a provincial rival that happens to be struggling, also rubbed salt in the wound.
On the other hand, it is also completely understandable to see why a third of fans want to see him get the rest. The rest of the season, in addition to the playoffs, is far more important to the fan-base than one All-Star Game. Being one of the oldest players on the team, Giordano has more than earned himself a week off to recoup. I don’t think anybody has an issue with that.
I think where the key difference for myself was, and why my vote went to the final option, is that the All-Star Game has simply lost much of its appeal. Yes, it is a phenomenal event for fans of the game, in addition to promoting the sport, but it’s just not a make-or-break event for many people. I enjoy watching the game, but if it didn’t exist I also wouldn’t be crushed.
I think that a lot of issue I have with the event is who is actually determined to be an All-Star? There are players who are superstars in the league that are “stars” that consistently attend, but sometimes people opt for those players rather than ones who have produced more that season. For example, the fact that four of the top ten players in NHL scoring are not attending is almost a disservice to those players contributions to their teams.
All in all, the All-Star Game will be lacking without Giordano this season, but the Flames captain will most likely benefit more from the week off, which is a great silver lining folks.
Want to be a part of the conversation next time around? Follow us on Twitter @wincolumnblog and be sure to keep a look out for our polls throughout the week.