The Boston Bruins were the talk of the town yesterday in the NHL after signing three key players to new deals. Patrice Bergeron opted not to retire and sign a one-year bonus-laden deal, David Krejci returned from semi-NHL retirement also on a one-year deal, and recently acquired Pavel Zacha also inked a one-year deal avoiding arbitration.
Quite the day.
Of course with these new signings, the team has a salary cap crunch they need to address before the start of the season. CapFriendy projects the team at a $84,741,667 projected cap hit, with 24/23 contracts, leaving them just $2,241,667 over the salary cap for this season. So there is some work to be done.
What is even more fascinating from the Bruins is that this year truly does look like the last kick at the can for this core. Even with the return of Bergeron and Krejci, the team has nine unrestricted free agents (and two restricted) next offseason including David Pastrnak, Nick Foligno, Zacha, Craig Smith, Tomas Nosek, Trent Frederic, and Jeremy Swayman to name a few.
The team should be going all out this year.
So is there a potential angle for the Calgary Flames to capitalize on through a potential trade? Let’s see what makes sense.
Flames Trade Assets
First off, the Flames have far too many NHL level defencemen on their current roster and would most likely prefer to upgrade their forward group. They have both Juuso Valimaki and Connor Mackey—who are no longer waiver exempt—fighting for the seventh defensive spot. The team could carry eight blueliners to start the season, but at the cost of an already weaker forward corps. They most likely would want to trade someone on the back-end if they had the preference.
Secondly, there has been a ton of rumours swirling about former Bruin Milan Lucic who is in the final year of his contract too. With the Bruins looking at one last kick at the can, fans are probably the ones linking this thread more than anything. But if the noise is out there, could it be possible? Potentially, but any deal would need more money coming into the Flames than leaving. A difficult task considering Lucic’s $5.25M contract for this coming season.
Signed last summer to a two-year, $3.8M AAV contract, Foligno was easily the whipping boy among Bruins fans last season. Scoring just two goals and thirteen points, Foligno didn’t look to fit in with his new team very well.
Could a Lucic-Foligno swap, with the Flames retaining some salary make sense? The teams would have to abide by the retained salary rules since Lucic is already on a retained salary contract, but that wouldn’t be much less than the $3.8M that Foligno is being paid.
Both players had somewhat similar seasons and may be just that classic equal swap for both teams. From Evolving-Hockey.com, comparing each player’s regularized adjusted plus-minus shows they’re not too different, despite Foligno clearly ranking ahead.
Both players’ offensive games are lacking to say the least, but both have some defensive upsides that make them into decent pieces for both teams.
The only caveat here is that the Bruins would not be solving any of their salary cap issues. They need to shed additional money as part of a deal, and Lucic isn’t going to be that player they can bring in without worrying about salary cap.
If they want Lucic, either there needs to be an additional player going to Calgary in the deal, like a Craig Smith. If not, then the Flames need to think about a cheaper younger player, or just draft compensation, but in that case why would you acquire Foligno?
Not sure this one makes a ton of sense for both sides.
Speaking of Smith, does he make more sense for the Flames? My gut says yes.
A somewhat decent offensive contributor during his NHL career, Smith fits the salary cap size that the Bruins need to move out, fits the position the Flames need on the right side of the forward group, and wouldn’t be as expensive of a trade compared to other players.
Smith’s all around game would fit the Sutter system seamlessly, while also having some power play experience with the Bruins to fit on the second unit in Calgary.
I’m unsure if the Bruins would even want to give up Smith in a potential deal, but if the Flames were to dangle Juuso Valimaki and a late-round draft pick would that make sense for both sides? This is of course acknowledging that the Flames could have used Valimaki in another deal earlier in his career when he had more value, but also knowing they could lose him for nothing on waivers this season.
This is a deal the Flames should target.
I think it’s safe to say that this probably won’t happen, but why not take a look just for fun.
Flames fans have linked Taylor Hall to the team for years now, based solely on the fact that he was born in Calgary. Hall isn’t at the same level he was when he won the Hart Trophy a few seasons ago, but he’s still a solid player who is coming off one of his best seasons in years with 61 points.
His 20 goals last season surely would help the current Flames roster, combined with his star power makes it extremely tantalizing.
Of course, why would the Bruins trade Hall? Well what if the Flames were able to offer Boston-born Noah Hanifin in a deal? Would that change their minds?
Coming off one of his best seasons in the NHL—and with the acquisition of MacKenzie Weegar—has Hanifin become an extremely valuable trade chip. If the Flames want to upgrade their forward group using one of their many defenceman, this makes a ton of sense.
That being said, is Hanifin more valuable than Hall now? It’s entirely possible seeing as Noah Hanifin is still only 25 years old on a very team-friendly deal for two more seasons. Hall on the other hand is now 30, and has three years left at a $6M cap hit. The Flames are going to be taking on much more cap next season with Jonathan Huberdeau’s new contract (and a potential Weegar extension), so adding $6M to that equation makes for a tight squeeze.
As enticing as it is, this one also seems unlikely.
Can the Flames and Bruins make a deal?
In all honesty, despite there being a ton of narratives at play, the Flames and Bruins don’t seem to be the most logical trade partners. The Flames have extra defencemen, but the Bruins also have eight blueliners signed to one-way deals next season. They can’t take on more without trading with others.
Additionally, the Bruins cap situation makes it much harder for the team to take on additional money, which the Flames would most likely be offering. Calgary does have about ~$2.8M in cap space, but surely doesn’t want to use it to take on a bad contract.
A Lucic reunion or a Hall homecoming, would make for a great story, but probably isn’t the best case of asset management on either side.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire