After months of speculation, countless mock trades, and finally a few hours spent constantly refreshing Twitter, the 2019 NHL trade deadline has come and gone. As of 1 p.m. MST today, teams are now unable to engage in any further transactions for the remainder of the season. This year saw many big names traded extremely close to the deadline. Mark Stone made his way to the Vegas Golden Knights, Kevin Hayes packed his bags for Winnipeg, and former Ottawa Senator teammates Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel reunited in Columbus.
That being said, it was an extremely muted affair for the Calgary Flames. Although they seemed to be attached to almost every big name out there, the Flames walked away only making a single transaction. The Flames acquired defenceman Oscar Fantenberg from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a conditional fourth round selection in 2020. The condition of the pick is if the Flames make the conference finals and Fantenberg plays in more than 50% of the Flames’ playoff games, the pick becomes a third rounder. Not exactly a blockbuster move (especially considering the moved made by other Pacific Division teams) but it improves the team’s depth for the remainder of the season.
Of course, the moves made, or lack thereof, has divided the fanbase. Fans seem frustrated by a lack of action by Brad Treliving, while others support his confidence in the current roster. Here at The Win Column, we also are divided in our thoughts on yesterdays events. This is where we currently stand heading into the final stretch of the regular season:
I think it’d be safe to wager that no one in the Flames organization would have held the belief that they would be leading the Western Conference (and be second overall) at the trade deadline. Yet, here they are, and they’ve strung together one highly entertaining season; one that isn’t just going to suddenly end in despair because they didn’t make a big trade deadline splash.
The better belief to hold here is that the Flames being atop the conference isn’t a fluke, and they got to where they are thanks to the players already wearing the Flaming C prior to the deadline. Every single team in the West looked at making moves the catch the Flames. Calgary, on the other hand, while looking to upgrade, afforded to opportunity of being more idle. They aren’t like the San Jose Sharks who are desperate to keep their window open for one more round with Joe Thornton before it might slam shut.
Flames management had a message to send to their players: they believe in their current group, and they aren’t going to hedge their future for a better chance at the one of pro sports’ most randomly decided championships.
I would be remiss if I said I wanted the Flames to stay as put as they ended being, but I am more than content with the overall poise and patience Treliving exhibited.
The Flames have a roster that includes some of the league’s top scorers, potential individual trophy winners, and an exciting injection of youth. That’s a pretty good roster to boast if you want to compete for the Stanley Cup this year, next year, and the year after that one too. I think they’re ready to prove to the rest of the league that they will see their plan come to fruition.
Probably the only major concern in sitting idle is Mark Giordano‘s longevity. His performance this year has been spectacular and one of the biggest reasons to go all-in for the Flames is to win while their captain is still capable of playing at his current calibre.
But hey, if there’s any roster in the league that believes they can win any given game on any given night, it’d be the Flames. No need to mess their roster up; they’re ready for the challenge of knocking off their opponents.
I think that there is one main takeaway from yesterday’s trade deadline for the Calgary Flames. Brad Treliving and the Calgary management believe in the group that has carried them to first place in the Western Conference.
The main argument for making a big splash in the trade market was that the Flames’ owed it to guys like Giordano and Mike Smith. In reality, how many more kicks at the can do those veteran players have, so let’s reward them for the team’s strong season.
While this line of thinking makes perfect sense, we cannot lose sight of the fact that Treliving has already done this in a way. He had so much faith in his core group before the season, despite some question marks, that he made his trade and signings to bolster the Flames for a whole season, not just for the final stretch.
The additions of Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, James Neal, Austin Czarnik, and Derek Ryan were already evidence of Treliving doing everything within reason to push this team over the top.
Don’t get me wrong, as I too was all in for a big move like Mark Stone of Kevin Hayes. However, with the prices that were paid during yesterday’s deadline, I am glad that the team did not mortgage their future. I would rather have five plus years of Juuso Valimaki and Rasmus Andersson than two months of Stone or Hayes.
So while I was initially upset, it also helps to remember that most of the moves made by our conference rivals will only serve to catch those teams up to the Flames. It is such new territory for the C of Red to be the pursued and not the pursuer. Now is a time to take a breath and remember these things.
I think that Treliving’s decisions yesterday were strongly impacted due to a matter of circumstances. Heading into the deadline the Flames most likely wanted to add to their forward depth, more importantly in their bottom six group. That being said, the best part about the Flames over their five game winning streak has been that bottom six group.
With Neal out of the lineup, Czarnik has taken full advantage of his opportunity and scored four goals in five games. The fourth line of Ryan, Garnet Hathaway, and Andrew Mangiapane has easily been the team’s best line over the win streak as well. What was once looked at as an area with room for improvement is now their biggest strength right as the deadline passes. Making a move to alter that chemistry could have been devastating.
Where the team appears to be lacking at the moment is in their top six. The top line doesn’t look quite the same as they did earlier in the season, and the second line has been in a bit of a blender for a few games. An upgrade in that group looked like the best possible move for the team.
I don’t think that Stone was really an option, as a rental or a long term piece. The acquisition cost, in addition to the long term contract, both would have been tough for the Flames to accommodate. Hayes simply got a much higher return than the Flames were comfortable with.
Where I do question the moves is when you look at Gustav Nyquist and Mats Zuccarello. Both were acquired for two conditional picks, easily something the team could have afforded. While Zuccarello unfortunately won’t be playing much for Dallas, the Nyquist acquisition could come back to haunt the Flames.
I understand balking at the first round pick, but two picks for an upgrade to the top six is something Treliving could have done. That being said, if the current top six is able to find their groove again then a complete forward group that has already played a full season is better than adding a marginal upgrade. Plus if Neal is able to return to his normal form, and that is a big if, then the Flames make an upgrade at zero cost. I don’t like the lack of movement, but it is understandable based on the current state of the team.
To be completely honest, I’m not thrilled about the Flames’ deadline. From July 1st last year, the Pacific Division has been an arms race, and this deadline was more of the same. Fortunately, the Flames added several great pieces last summer including Lindholm, and were able to use those additions to almost officially secure a playoff spot for the upcoming spring.
The only problem is that as the Pacific arms race extended into the deadline, the Flames didn’t make an relevant moves, while every other Western contending team did. It’s not great that the Flames, who were just slightly ahead of teams like the Sharks, Jets, and Predators before the deadline, saw all three of those teams add a significant boost to their rosters.
This is a year unlike any the Flames have experienced in decades. This year’s team has proven to be one of the best in the entire league, and there is every reason to believe they’ll make some noise in the postseason. The issue is replicability.
Can this many players beat their career highs again next season? Can we expect Giordano to post another Norris Trophy worthy season? Can we expect the Flames to last with two less than ideal goaltenders? I don’t think so. This is the year to go all in. This was the year that I think the Flames should have pushed their chips into the middle of the table, and bolstered a roster that has a legitimate chance to win some precious postseason hardware
The most frustrating thing about this deadline was the availability of players who can move the needle, and the Flames’ inability to acquire any of them. This isn’t just about Stone or Duchene, both of which the Flames were in on but couldn’t come to terms with the Senators’ price. This has to do with the other names out there like Zuccarello, like Nyquist, like Hayes. These players didn’t cost a debilitating amount to get, and would have significantly improved the Flames’ middle six. Even taking a chance on Jimmy Howard could have swung the needle in the Flames’ favour.
Alas, the prices weren’t right for Treliving, and here we sit, with the Flames three points up for first place in the West, and a long list of daunting playoff opponents ahead. They’ve proven they can hang with the big boys all season long; let’s see if they can do the same against conference rivals, all of whom took steps to improve their position at yesterday’s deadline.
What are your thoughts on the trade deadline? Let us know in the comments or @wincolumnblog.
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