If there’s one thing Brad Treliving likes, it’s a blockbuster deal. After pulling off perhaps the biggest trade of the salary cap era a couple weeks ago, he added to his already long resume of making big time trades. Treliving has never been shy to make a big move via trade, as shown by his long list of wheeling and dealing.
When you go out with an aggressive mindset like that you’re bound to come away with some big wins, as well as some big losses. Treliving knows that all too well as he’s been on both sides of extremely one sides deals throughout his tenure with the Calgary Flames.
To kick it off on a more positive note, let’s take a look at some of Treliving’s best trades during his time as the Flames general manager.
March 2, 2015 – Traded F Sven Baertschi to VAN for a 2015 2nd (Rasmus Andersson)
A Jay Feaster draft pick, Sven Baertschi never found his footing in Calgary. Treliving didn’t wait long to ship him out either as he traded him prior to the 2015 trade deadline after less than a year on the job. Getting a second-round pick back was tidy work from Treliving as Baertschi almost certainly wasn’t going to re-sign with the team. He had a couple decent seasons with the Canucks, but has spent most of his time in the AHL over the last two seasons.
What makes this trade a win is the fact that Treliving then used that second-round pick (53rd overall) to draft Rasmus Andersson. As we all know, Andersson has developed into a legitimate top four defender at just 25 years old for the Flames. Since being drafted by the Flames in 2015, he’s already logged 298 games and 112 points in Calgary.
Locked up for another four seasons and coming off a career-best 50-point season, the Flames got tremendous value out of an asset in Baertschi who mostly likely would’ve left for free a few months later. The trade was a small win from the start, but absolutely nailing the draft pick made sure it was one of Treliving’s best to date and its affects will be felt for years to come in Calgary.
June 26, 2015 – Traded a 2015 1st (Zachary Senyshyn), 2015 2nd (Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson), and a 2015 2nd (Jeremy Lauzon) for D Dougie Hamilton
Going into the 2015 offseason the Flames needed help on defence, and with a then 22-year-old Dougie Hamilton on the market Treliving pulled the trigger in his first big move on the job. Getting a top-pairing young defenceman like Hamilton for only three draft picks was some incredible work from Treliving as many assumed the return would be much larger. He then signed Hamilton to a very team-friendly six-year deal with an average annual value of $5.57M.
To make things even more favourable for the Flames, the Bruins would completely fumble all three picks. The trio selected by the Bruins would combine for just 119 games in Boston with each player no longer in the organization. Picked directly after Senyshyn at 15th? Matthew Barzal, Kyle Connor, and Thomas Chabot. Had the Bruins picked any of those players this trade would’ve looked a lot different right now.
Hamilton would develop into one of the best defencemen in the league with the Flames, forming the league’s best defence pairing with Mark Giordano. Across his 245 games in Calgary, he posted 137 points and 42 goals and finished top 10 in Norris voting once. Despite Hamilton only lasting three years in Calgary, this trade was a huge win for the Flames as they only had to give up draft picks which the Bruins then wasted.
June 27, 2015 – Traded a 2015 3rd (Jens Looke) and a 2015 3rd (Adin Hill) to ARI for a 2015 2nd (Oliver Kylington)
2015 was a pretty good year for Treliving when it came to acquiring defenceman. He clearly made it a goal for the organization to restock the cupboards on defence and he nailed pretty much every move to do so that year.
Oliver Kylington came into the 2015 draft as one of the year’s most tantalizing prospects. He possessed first-round talent, but came with major questions surrounding his defensive game and attitude. Seeing an opportunity with Kylington falling to the end of the second round, Treliving traded up to draft the high-risk, high-reward defenceman.
What makes the trade look even better for the Flames is the fact that Jens Looke didn’t manage a single game with the Coyotes, while Adin Hill played in just 49 games for the Coyotes before being traded in 2021. Once again, other teams botching draft picks helps Treliving’s deals look much more favourable.
That said this trade would’ve been considered a loss if Kylington was picked up on waivers last year, but things changed quickly. Instead of losing him for nothing, Kylington emerged as a top four defender last season for the Flames making this trade one of Treliving’s best as the gamble was worth it. It may have taken awhile to pay off, but it looks to have paid off in a big way. Kylington was recently re-signed for two more years as well.
February 29, 2016 – Traded D Kris Russell to DAL for D Jyrki Jokipakka, F Brett Pollock, and a 2016 2nd (Dillon Dube)
Kris Russell was a big part of the Flames roster at the time, but was on an expiring contract with the team well out of the playoffs at the 2016 trade deadline. Treliving made the smart call of moving Russell for assets instead of potentially losing him for nothing in free agency.
Russell was loved for his hard work and grit, however he was never a great defenceman in Calgary and his underlying numbers were dreadful. Treliving no doubt used the grit factor to his advantage as he got a solid return for a rental. Jyrki Jokipakka and Brett Pollock never amounted to anything in Calgary or in the NHL at all, but what makes this deal a huge success is of course the selection of Dillon Dube at 56th overall with the Stars pick.
Dube has since logged 200 games and 75 points for the Flames, as he’s developed into a full-time middle-six winger in the NHL. He may not have reached his potential just yet, but anytime you can get full-time NHLer with upside for a rental that would’ve walked for nothing you made a great move. Russell played just 23 games with the Stars between the regular season and playoff before leaving for Edmonton in free agency.
June 23, 2018 – Traded D Dougie Hamilton, F Micheal Ferland, and D Adam Fox to CAR for F Elias Lindholm, and D Noah Hanifin
It’s quite rare for a general manager to win both the trade to acquire a star player and the one to ship him out, but Treliving managed that feat with his 2018 blockbuster deal of Hamilton. It’s still to this day one of the biggest deals of the salary cap era.
With rumours surrounding Hamilton’s fit in the locker room, Treliving sent him to Carolina along with Michael Ferland, and blue chip prospect Adam Fox for two former top five picks in Elias Lindolm and Noah Hanifin. At the time this deal seemed like a potentially huge mistake and was a huge risk. Despite their draft pedigree, both Lindholm and Hanifin had failed to live up to the hype at this point in their careers.
Lindholm had a career-high of just 45 points, and Hanifin had struggled thus far to establish himself as a top-four defenceman. Trading a yearly Norris candidate in Hamilton for two underachieving top draft picks was a huge risk for Treliving to make.
Hamilton was a bonafide number one defenceman in the NHL, while Ferland was coming off the best season of his career. Fox of course refused to sign in Calgary, but using him as a throw in for this deal seemed like a waste of a very valuable asset. Luckily for Treliving everything went right after the deal was made.
Lindholm would immediately reach his potential in Calgary the next season, and has since become a true number one centre for the Flames. He’s posted 261 points in 289 games for the Flames and at just 27 years old shows no signs of slowing down. Hanifin took a little longer to settle in, however he’s developed into a borderline top pairing defender for Calgary over the last couple seasons.
Despite the massive package the Flames gave up, Carolina has almost nothing to show for the deal just four years later. Hamilton had three good years in Carolina, before leaving for nothing in free agency in 2021. Ferland meanwhile spent just one year in Carolina before leaving in free agency in 2019. Lastly Fox forced his way out of Carolina just like in Calgary and they ended up trading him for two second round picks.
This was a massive risk at the time, but turned out to be a huge win for Treliving and the Flames given how Lindholm and Hanifin have developed and how all three players traded to Carolina are no longer in the organization with little to show for them.
July 22, 2022 – Traded F Matthew Tkachuk to FLA for F Jonathan Huberdeau, D MacKenzie Weegar, F Cole Schwindt, and a 2025 1st
Treliving’s most recent trade and arguably his best to date. Backed into a near impossible corner to get out of, Treliving somehow managed to pull off arguably the biggest trade in the salary cap era as well as the first sign-and-trade in NHL history. Not bad.
The full context for this deal is important, as on paper it could be viewed much differently. The most important factor of course is the fact that Matthew Tkachuk requested a trade, and Treliving had no choice but to move on. It should be impossible to win a trade when you’re forced to move a 24-year-old, 100-point superstar, however Treliving somehow pulled it off with this deal.
Fetching a return of not only Jonathan Huberdeau who was a Hart trophy finalist and 115-point forward last season, but also a legitimate top pairing defender in MacKenzie Weegar is tremendous work from Treliving. And it doesn’t even end there. He somehow managed to also get a first-round pick along with a very decent prospect in Cole Schwindt. To fetch that kind of a return for an asset that the entire world knows wants out is some 4D chess from Treliving.
The contract statuses of both Weegar and Huberdeau made this deal a cautious win when it was made, with outside fans stating there was no chance either player would stick around long-term in Calgary. Unfortunately for the naysayers, recent developments the deal is making it look like an all-time fleece job by Treliving.
Huberdeau of course signed a max term eight-year extension, ensuring he all but finishes his career in Calgary. Weegar meanwhile has expressed a “strong, genuine desire” to sign long-term with the Flames, and a deal seems all but done at this point. Signing both a mere couple weeks after the deal was made should earn Treliving a statue in Calgary.
The main asterisk on this deal for the Flames was the looming 2023 unrestricted free agent status of both Huberdeau and Weegar, as losing them both for nothing would’ve turned the deal into a catastrophic loss for Treliving and almost certainly would’ve cost him his job (assuming the Flames didn’t win the 2023 Stanley Cup). However with Huberdeau already locked up and a Weegar deal seemingly on the way, this trade looks to be one of the best not just under Treliving, but in franchise history.
A comeback story
Treliving clearly came out of the gate swinging in the first couple years on the job, as most of his best trades to date came within the first couple years of his Flames tenure. He hadn’t experienced a big win in a deal in what seemed like forever, that is until a couple weeks ago. He made the wait worth it as he pulled off his best move yet a couple weeks ago with the Huberdeau deal.
Treliving has certainly taken some flak over the years for his trades, or lack thereof, however he does deserve some credit for pulling off some major wins over the past eight years. In particular, bringing in a good chunk of the Flames’ current core in Andersson, Kylington, Lindholm, Hanifin, Huberdeau, and Weegar through trade warrants Treliving a ton of credit.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire