The Calgary Flames are the most well positioned in a long, long time for a deep playoff run. Their defence is strong on both ends of the ice, they have been able to score up and down the lineup, and add that into the mix with a top-tier goaltender, and the Flames are an incredibly well-rounded team.
Their addition of Tyler Toffoli a few weeks ago was just further solidification of the team’s visions for this year’s postseason. By acquiring a top-nine forward who can play on the power play and penalty kill, it gives the teams even more options heading into the rest of the year.
The team made their big swing already, and are most likely going to try to acquire a depth defenceman, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that the team tries to add another forward. It’s probably not first on their list of priorities, but when it comes to playoff time, depth is the key to success.
If the Flames were to lose one of their forwards during the playoffs, and have the option of inserting someone who has more upside than they currently have on their roster, it’s something the team needs to look at. After all, the Flames have lost the least amount of man-games this season, they haven’t gone through any serious injury adversity (knock on wood).
To make things very clear, we won’t be looking at any of the big names like Claude Giroux or Joe Pavelski because they just aren’t realistic. We will exclusively be looking at targets that are pending unrestricted free agents who are cost-effective. That way we don’t get into the constant theme of the Flames not having enough money to sign their free agents.
No disrespect to the likes of Brett Ritchie or Brad Richardson, but there are some potentially salivating options on the trade market right now that would be too good to pass up if the price is right.
Swedish? Check. Elias Lindholm’s cousin? Check. Right shot forward that can play up and down your lineup? Check.
Calle Jarnkrok would be an absolute dream scenario for the Flames. He would fit in perfectly within the Flames structure, being able to be used in multiple situations, and only would cost $2M against the cap this season and also being a pending UFA.
The Flames would need to send about $1.2M in cap out the other way to make it work salary wise, which may be the trickiest part, but for a Seattle team that could use all of the draft and prospect capital they can get, it may be easier to work something out than you initially think.
Jarnkrok may be had at the price of the Flames’ extra second-round pick this year, and frankly it would give them a player they can insert into their lineup and bolster their middle-six without a doubt.
Ahead of tonight’s Flames contest, Flames are the heavy favourite at -215 to win in regulation. the Canadiens are the underdog at +380 to win in regulation. A win in extra time is set at +410
It may shock you to know that Andrew Copp is a pending UFA next year, making only $3.64M a season. It’s a possibility a player like Copp could add a whole lot to this current roster.
The Winnipeg Jets are currently an enigma. They are still in the playoff race, but have been up and down far more times than they can count. They look to be at a crossroads and a roster shakeup will be in the cards this summer.
Copp will have some demand, assuming he makes it to market, so he becomes much more of an expensive piece for the Flames to acquire. That being said, could a Copp for Dillon Dube trade make any sense for both sides? It begs the question to at least look at it. He got off to a very hot start, but has since cooled down, but add him in with Tyler Toffoli and Sean Monahan and that may re-ignite the production.
A pending UFA making just $1M against the cap makes Ryan Carpenter the ideal candidate for a trade this season.
Carpenter is by no means an offensive juggernaut or someone who is going to move the needle that much for a team that would be looking for goals, but Carpenters game fits very well under Sutter’s system. He kills penalties, strong on the defensive end, and takes and wins a lot of faceoffs. Plus, his playoff experience would be key for this group in a bottom line role.
The real question is he really that much of an upgrade over what they have? Trevor Lewis, Adam Ruzicka, and Brad Richardson have been rotating in that spot all season, so depending one the acquisition cost it may not make the most sense. During the playoffs though, teams win through the centre of the ice and Carpenter may be a depth piece worth exploring.
This is almost a double-edged sword to even explore, but we will anyway.
Smith would be another offensively gifted right winger that could play on the second power play unit and most likely be an impact player in this group.
The downside is the team would be helping the Vegas Golden Knights tremendously out in the salary cap department. If the Golden Knights need to activate Mark Stone off of the IR—assuming they don’t wait until Game 1 of the playoffs—then they need more room and would probably include an asset to get rid of Smith and his $5M contract.
This is the most unlikely of targets, but it’s too intriguing not to bring up.
A bit more realistic of a target, Zach Sanford could be a savvy depth addition to this Flames team.
After being traded from St. Louis, Sanford has been mediocre during his Ottawa Senators tenure. He has nine goals on the season, which includes a hat trick back in November, but he is a very physical player that could be key during the playoffs.
If you look up Sanford you will see immediately two highlights of fights against Nikita Zadorov and Erik Gudbranson, which makes you laugh a bit, but there is no doubt he would be a cheap addition and upgrade over the likes of Ritchie.
Not in the cards
Although these names are very appealing, the odds are still that the team will use what little draft capital they have left to acquire a depth defenceman come March 21. Brad Treliving doesn’t make a whole bunch of in-season forward deals, and so another one would be quite shocking.
This situation is almost like getting that extra scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day. Do you really need it? Probably not, but you’re going to love every second of it. Will it come back to bite you one day? It’s possible, but you won’t be thinking of that during the ice cream consumption.
That being said, if the Flames were truly savvy, they could call up the likes of Matthew Phillips, Glen Gawdin, Walker Duehr, or even Jakob Pelletier to fill that role. Sutter would most likely opt to play a veteran over an NHL rookie, but that option still exists for the team.
That being said, if the team could add Jarnkrok that would be a massive move for the team and truly add to their already stellar depth.
Photo credit to: AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson