It has been quite the eventful offseason for Flames General Manager Brad Treliving. He had himself the busiest summer since taking over in 2014. Treliving was dealt an almost impossible hand this summer, and shocked the hockey world with how he came out of the mess. 2021–22 saw a a career-best season for Treliving as a GM, as well as the team. Unfortunately, both 100-point scorers Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk decided to play elsewhere. Losing your two best players could halt any general manager in their tracks, but Treliving endured. By not panicking or overreacting, he managed to completely change this roster.
The rapid turnover in Calgary
In a matter of five weeks, Treliving was able to trade Matthew Tkachuk for a return of two premier NHL pieces, and lure unrestricted free agent (UFA) Nazem Kadri to join the Flames in free agency. That is magical work Treliving, who was given one of the hardest situations of any major sports GM ever. And I don’t think he’s done adding yet.
Restricted free agent (RFA) Adam Ruzicka still needs a new deal, and that will come. The Flames could also use another top-nine winger, preferably right shot. If that gets checked off, it’d be quite hard to find a hole in this group. Given the way this summer started, the fact that the Flames are being talked as a contender is highly impressive. They should be playoff locks, and they might contend for the Pacific Division crown again.
Are the Flames better than last year? Huberdeau and Gaudreau are essentially a wash. Kadri is a downgrade on Tkachuk, but was the best option available and plays a more premier position. MacKenzie Weegar is a massive upgrade on Gudbranson; however, and the Flames defence is top three in the league. You can legitimately argue that the Flames lost two 100-point players and actually got better. That alone is a masterful display of not folding too early from the GM and the rest of the front office.
Brad Treliving’s contract ends after the 2022–23 season
Rightfully, most of the Flames’ focus has been on their lineup and the contract situations surrounding it. However, most forget that both Treliving and Darryl Sutter’s contracts are up in a year’s time. Both have been instrumental in revamping this Flames franchise. The Flames earned its first playoff victory since 2015—and just the second since 2005—with lots of credit going to the bench bosses and the general manager.
Treliving has had his fair share of success and also mistakes when it comes to trading. However, beyond trading mishaps, the major blunder could be rushing the rebuild after a surprise 2015 playoff run. Fortunately, management has since gotten the Flames on the right path and they project to be a good team for at least the next two seasons.
All of this must go into consideration when it comes to tending Treliving’s next contract offer.
Flames have a ton of expiring contracts in two years
In two years’ time, the Flames have a hefty list of players who will be seeking new contracts. That list includes: Unrestricted free agents Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, Tyler Toffoli, Mikael Backlund, Nikita Zadorov, Oliver Kylington; and RFAs Dillon Dube, Jakob Pelletier, and Dustin Wolf.
It’s hard to project two years into the future, as things will definitely be different. However, re-signing Elias Lindholm would be a massive priority for the Flames. Treliving already has relationships with these players and likely has plans and forecasts in place with his assistant GMs and other front office members. It’d be a shame to introduce discontinuities into the fabric of the Flames by changing the GM unnecessarily.
With the Flames projected to be a playoff team again this season and not too many free agents next year, I see no reason why the team would not extend Treliving now. Of course, games are played for a reason and a down year could change things, but right now, Treliving has done enough to earn another extension.