The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is just over a month away, but Calgary Flames General Manager Brad Treliving didn’t want to wait until then to get the party started. Earlier this week, the Flames went out and acquired right winger Tyler Toffoli in the second blockbuster trade of the season (while missing out on Jack Eichel for the first), and easily the biggest in-season trade for GMBT during his Flames tenure.
The trade cost the team a 2022 top-ten protected first-round pick, a fifth-round pick, prospect Emil Heinemen, and Tyler Pitlick. This package is a price well worth paying for a player that would fit perfectly in the Flames’ system.
What was more interesting about the deal was initially the construct was based around the Flames acquiring Toffoli and defenceman Ben Chiarot. The latter was eventually excluded from the deal due to a recent injury concern as well as cap constraints.
What this does tell us though is that GMBT is looking to make an upgrade on his blueline before the deadline. He has notorious been active in this regard over the past few seasons, striking deals for Michael Stone, Erik Gustafsson, Derek Forbort, and Oscar Fantenberg.
There is no doubt that the team will make a similar move this coming deadline, but the question remains who exactly is out there aside from Chiarot? Let’s take a look at some options:
Starting with the obvious, Ben Chiarot is unfortunately a target but he absolutely should not be. Here are is 2021–22 stats (with on-ice percentages at 5v5, from NaturalStatTrick.com.
We aren’t quite sure what the appeal would be, especially with rumours of him costing upwards of a first-round pick plus more. At his $3.5M cap hit, there would need to be at least $2.7M of cap heading out in a deal as well which would cause serious impacts to the roster.
It’s scary to think a team that made such a smart call with the Toffoli deal would also be interested in this player. Hard no here.
The story everyone is hoping for, the former captain’s return to Calgary. It’s an interesting concept, but a move that becomes much more difficult to construct.
Even this season, Giordano has been a star on a young and struggling Seattle Kraken team. He is absolutely the type of player that would boost a team’s defensive corps. A move for Giordano makes a ton of sense narratively and on the current blueline.
What makes it harder is how to possibly acquire him. Recent reports have shown that Giordano’s cost to acquire has dropped to a second rounder, for which the Flames have an extra this coming draft. That being said, even if Seattle were to retain 50% of Giordano’s cap hit the Flames would still need to move out money.
If the team could somehow attach Nikita Zadorov to the deal, with a second-round pick, that would clear up a number of the issues. Of course, and although it pains me to say it, the six defencemen have been playing well as of late under Sutter and would this type of move improve the entire group or simply have it be more of a lateral move? This close to the deadline teams want to add to their depth, not make horizontal moves for the sake of a story.
My heart wants this to happen, but my brain tells me that another team will have more flexibility to get a deal done.
A recent name that has hit the rumor mill, Justin Braun is an interesting name to add to the list.
Braun is in the final year of a contract that is paying him $1.8M annually, which is a much more tolerable number for a cap-strapped team. Move out a player like Brett Ritchie and the Flames may just have enough cap room to take him on.
Additionally, Braun is a right-shot defenceman which we all know is the ticket to NHL value in today’s game. That being said, just having a right shot doesn’t make him automatically a strong defender. His numbers this year aren’t the best, but he’s also been on a brutal Philadelphia Flyers team which impacts it a great deal.
With a wealth of playoff experience, he would be a strong depth candidate to add to the team in a bottom pairing role.
Another rental left-shot defenceman that should be on the market, Nick Leddy provides dependability on the back-end.
Leddy brings with him the same concerns as other defencemen noted above: potential cap issues. With one year left at $5.5M, there would need to be some moving pieces, but Leddy could be a target for the Flames.
He fits the bill in terms of playoff experience, and was actually a big piece of the New York Islanders runs the last few years.
I do wonder if he falls off the list due to his exclusive Eastern Conference experience. A trend we have seen from GMBT and Darryl Sutter is talking about Pacific Division experience, and that may seem silly, but also makes Leddy a less likely candidate.
Speaking of Pacific Division experience, would former Vegas Golden Knight Colin Miller make sense?
Currently sidelined due to injury, Miller is set to become a unurestricted free agent come July and would be just who the Buffalo Sabres would look to move for some assets. We know GMBT and Kevyn Adams have been talking earlier this year in the long-winded Eichel talks, so perhaps they could easily re-ignite their talks and work toward another deal.
Miller is a right-shot defenceman with decent offensive upside. His underlying numbers aren’t quite as flashy due to Buffalo’s performance this year, but in the right situation he may fit well.
Sticking with the Buffalo Sabres, Robert Hagg would be just the type of player to fit under Sutter’s system.
Hagg’s numbers are slightly worse than Miller’s this season, which doesn’t bring that much optimism to the table, but he is younger and has been noted to have a much more physical game—which we all know to be the Flames’ style this season.
Hagg was acquired last year in the Rasmus Ristolainen deal, and it would be interesting to see the Sabres immediately flip him. At 27 years old and only making $1.6M a season, he could be a welcome addition this season and perhaps a most cost effective body to sign for the year after as well.
Take your aim Brad
There are no shortage of available candidates on the market this year for GMBT to choose from, it just comes down to what the Flames are willing to give up for short term benefit. They only have three picks remaining this coming draft, and I’m not sure they want to start mortgaging the future quite yet without knowing the contract status of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk.
Of course, Treliving does have another option up his sleeve: Juuso Valimaki. Still playing in the NHL, Valimaki would be the “own-addition” to the Flames’ defencemen depth that would know the system and not cost the team anything outside of additional cap space. Although it appears Sutter doesn’t love the young Finnish defenceman, it can’t be denied that with him in their wheelhouse it makes things much easier to control.
I still think the Flames will make some sort of defenceman deal before March 21, but it would be less ideal for them to give up a current roster player or futures for a rental player that may only play a handful of games in a Flames uniform.