Calgary Flames

Flames Sunday Census: Calgary’s Trade Deadline tactics

The Calgary Flames have been highly active on the trade front. Bolstering their current roster with minimal changes to their lineup, they now have Tyler Toffoli and Calle Jarnkrok as two major additions to the team. With the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline just mere hours away, what should the Flames be looking for? We asked, you answered.

Calgary’s approach to the deadline

As everyone knows, Brad Treliving was one of the first general managers to put together a sizeable trade package well in advance of the deadline. Other than the Jack Eichel trade between the Buffalo Sabres and Vegas Golden Knights, Calgary trading for Toffoli was one of the biggest in-season trades of 2021–22 at the time it was made.

It gave Toffoli more time to play with the Flames rather than just for the final quarter of the season, and it’s paid off. Toffoli has been scoring, has gotten looks up and down the lineup, and has been used in every situation. Simply put, his early arrival has led to major dividends.

In addition to his on-ice performance, acquiring Toffoli early allowed the Flames to dictate the market. As seen in some of the more recent trades, prices for players have been going up rapidly, whereas Toffoli’s cost of acquisition was quite frankly very reasonable.

Then the Flames sought out Michael McNiven from the Canadiens, making it a second trade with the team in short order. However, McNiven is meant to be a depth goaltending option for the AHL with minimal impact at the NHL level.

Finally, Jarnkrok was acquired less than a week away from the deadline. Although the costs this time around were arguably steeper, it was a move targeting an upcoming unrestricted free agent as a deadline rental—typical of a team going all-in for the playoffs.

Now with just a day remaining for final trades, the Flames have a few options left. They can either force another trade by taking their all-in mantra to the next level, test the trade market and see if there’s anything reasonable remaining, or hang up the phones early by means of assessing that the team is good enough in its current state, or by means of waiting to protect some of their assets instead of letting go of all their picks.

Eagerness to keep trading

The vast majority of the votes tended to wanting to see at least another trade. A quarter of votes want to see the Flames force another trade before the deadline passes, while over half of the votes went towards wanting to see a reasonable trade that makes sense from the cost perspective. All in all, it’s a whopping 85% of votes with desires to see a new Flame arrive by the deadline.

The early bird deals

Now that the trade market has evolved with recent trades, it might take more careful negotiations. To be frank, it’s quite a pleasant surprise to see Treliving get two major trades done well in advance of the deadline. Rather than keeping the team waiting for more news the day of, the Flames already have a strong idea of what their locker room will look like heading into the playoffs.

Aside from the possibility of just one more trade, the Flames are essentially already all-in and no one would be too angry if they were in on a trade that fell through or didn’t trade at all given Treliving’s promptness to execute trades early on. At this point, another trade would be more of an optimising exercise on the roster rather than filling a major need.

Cautiously trading

In addition, the Flames have been lucky on the injury front. With the most consistent lineup out of any team in the league, they’ve hardly had adversity when it comes to injuries. Targeting one more trade could also be viewed as an emergency plan, where the Flames want to make sure they have the depth available just in case.

This was already true with the McNiven acquisition, but the Flames could do something similar with their NHL roster. Alternatively, they do have the option to graduate players from the Stockton Heat if they need to be called upon.

Making sure the right deal is in place before making trade calls would be a highly reasonable approach for Treliving—the bulk of his work is already done, but never say never while the deadline hasn’t yet passed.

Hesitance on the trade front

Just nine percent of the voters think the Flame should sit idle by virtue of the team being good enough in its current form. To be perfectly fair, this is quite reasonable. Already one of the best teams in the league, the Flames have targeted two precise needs and went out and acquired them. At what point do they get diminishing returns on the talent added, or break the chemistry in the room?

Whether intentional or not, both Toffoli and Jarnkrok were highly excited to join the Flames given their familiarity with former teammates and friends, or their literal familial ties as well. It may seem trivial to some, but I reckon these trade targets weren’t just all skill-based and the Flames definitely accounted for fit.

Adding another player at this point given cap implications, a major subtraction from the locker room would be a near necessity, and locker room chemistry may be something the Flames aren’t willing to risk breaking.

Alternatively, there’s asset management that the Flames need to account for as well. The Flames now have just three picks in the 2022 NHL Draft: Their second-, fifth-, and seventh-round picks. Again, this is a typical approach to the trade deadline by contending teams, but there are non-trivial concerns that too many picks transferring to other teams could be detrimental for the team’s future.

That said, the Flames’ scouting have been excellent as of late and they’ll definitely leverage this into trying to get maximum value out of their remaining draft picks. Being a little risk-averse at this point wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the Flames are mindful of the impacts on their future by going all-in this year.

Being proactive pays off

Treliving has done some tidy work so far on the trade front. In arguably unusual Treliving fashion, trades were made well in advance of the deadline and the Flames and the community alike are considerably less stressed about a must-make transaction in the final hours of trading.

Whether Trellving makes one more trade or not remains to be known, but at least we know the Flames are serious about making a deep playoff run with one of the best rosters they’ve iced in quite some time.

What should Calgary do for the trade deadline? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @wincolumnCGY.

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