The Calgary Flames currently hold a mediocre record of 6–6–2. The Flames started off great with a record of 5–1–0 then went on a seven-game winless streak going 0–5–2 in this stretch. Just last night they broke the streak with a 3–2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
They haven’t necessarily been playing awful, but they haven’t been the best either. It’s very easy to notice that this team lacks finishing and that has been one of the bigger problems on this winless streak along side blowing leads in almost every game and not playing a full 60 minutes.
You might be right to say that there’s no need to panic and the Flames are unlucky which is true considering that the Flames have the third lowest PDO in the league right now. You would also be right if you say changes need to be made, whether it’s getting another true top-six or middle-six forward, or calling up some talent from the AHL.
Insider Elliotte Friedman said that the Flames are looking for a scoring forward and have been since August. He also linked the Flames to the St. Louis Blues.
Knowing that information, Let’s take a look at some players I think the Flames could target to fill their needs.
Top-six forward targets
The current captain of the Detroit Red Wings might hit the market soon and the Flames would be stupid to not attempt to trade for him. Dylan Larkin is on an expiring contract with no extension in place. If the Red Wings fall back down to earth, it wouldn’t be surprising if Larkin’s name hit the market.
Larkin is a very fast, playmaking centre with solid defensive and finishing results and would add the speed missing in the Flames lineup. He wouldn’t be playing third line centre if the Flames got him, the best thing to do would be to push Lindholm back to right wing and have a line of Huberdeau, Larkin, and Lindholm which would be scary good.
The San Jost Sharks are said to be shopping everyone not named Tomas Hertl so that would include winger Timo Meier. Meier would be a great fit on the Flames’ first line. A strong driver of offence, decent defensive results, and a true finisher wrapped together with a some nice hands and bigger frame. Last season he was one point shy of being a point-per-game player and currently has 14 points in 16 games this season on a very bad Sharks team. The only problem—and a major one at that—would come with getting Meier is his $10 million qualifying offer at the end of the season.
With the Flames being linked to the Blues, I knew I had to include at least one player from the Blues and Vladimir Tarasenko seemed like the perfect candidate to talk about. Tarasenko’s trade request has yet to be rescinded and the Blues are awful right now so Tarasenko is a very strong candidate to the be traded.
Even if the Blues go back to being good, he is on an expiring deal and it might be in their best interest to trade him. Tarasenko is a pure sniper and finisher which is something the Flames are lacking. He is also a very creative, fast, and agile player. He is terrible in his own end but that should not scare the Flames away. Huberdeau has mentioned that having to adjust to playing with two right shot players has been odd so maybe giving him a left shot, pure sniper would help him out.
I have talked about my love for Conor Garland again and again, so it made sense to include him in this piece. Garland is most likely out of Vancouver before the trade deadline. The 5’10”, versatile winger would look great in the Flaming C. He’s fast, agile, and isn’t afraid to fight for the puck. He seems to always be positioned well and can score from any angle. Garland’s $4.95M cap hit for the next four years is also a bargain. Garland would fit on any line in the top-nine and would be a great add in my opinion.
I was advocating for the Flames to sign Nino Niederreiter around the time Flames lost Johnny Gaudreau and hadn’t gotten the haul for Matthew Tkachuk yet. So here I am, 14 games into the year, advocating for the Flames to potentially trade for him. Niederreiter is a strong driver of offence and has put up some solid defensive results. He has some good finishing and has scored at least 20 goals in the past two years and is likely to score 20+ this year. I don’t think he would necessarily be great on the first line, but he would do well on the second.
Middle six forwards
Now that we have assessed some top-six choices, let’s take a look at some options for the middle-six.
Travis Konecny could be in the top-six category, but if the Flames were to acquire, I think it’s very likely he would play in the middle-six. Konecny has scored and been on pace for 50+ points in the past two seasons. He has started off this season strong with 15 points in 13 games. Konecny would be an awesome fit on the second line as a line consisting of Mangiapane, Kadri, and Konecny might be the feistiest in the league. If not the second line, I still feel as if he would fit well with Backlund and Coleman even if he hasn’t been the best in his own end the past few years.
I would be quite happy if the Flames acquired Pius Suter. He is a fast and agile, two-way forwards posting very good results both offensively and defensively. He as well has been amazing on the penalty kill. He doesn’t have the best finishing results but he has been right around 15 goals and 30 points the past two seasons. Suter might not be second line calibre but he definitely could play there if needed, and he would fit perfectly with Coleman and Backlund on the third line.
James van Riemsdyk
James van Riemsdyk screams Calgary Flames to me for some reason. It might be that he is 6’3″ and 208lbs or maybe it’s that no one being willing to take his contract is the reason the Flyers missed out on former Flames star, Johnny Gaudreau, and that it would be ironic if he ended up in Calgary.
He has been a 20-goal scorer pretty much his whole career. He has good offensive and finishing results and does well on the power play. His $7M dollar cap hit isn’t ideal, but you would hope Philadelphia will retain 50%. Van Riemsdyk is out with an injury right now but is expected to return in mid-December.
Max Domi is pure offence which might not fit well with Darryl Sutter‘s system. Domi has had a good start to the year with eight points in 13 games on a weak Chicago team. He is more of a playmaker than a sniper so he is not exactly what the Flames are looking for, but he would add speed and agility. I do think that maybe if you put him on the third line, he could produce the offence missing from that line.
It’s surprising to me that Tanner Pearson is not a Flame yet. Maybe it’s the amount times I have been told by Canuck fans that the Flames can have Pearson over another Canucks player, or maybe it’s because I always seem to see his name linked to the Flames. I don’t think the Flames should go after Pearson at all. His results are not too great and his cap hit of $3.3M for the next two seasons is not ideal, but he just seems like a player the Flames would target and eventually trade for, so that’s why I included him.
I’d be more surprised if Nick Ritchie wasn’t a Flame by the seasons end than if he was. Nick Ritchie just seems to be the type of player the Flames would trade for to try and fix their problems. He is 6’3″, 236lbs, has a crazy unsustainable shooting percentage, and is the brother of one of the most beloved fourth liners, Brett Ritchie. Just like Tanner Pearson, I don’t want the Flames to get Nick Ritchie but it seems like he will be a Flames uniform soon, so that’s why I included him here too.
Trading might be the best route
The Flames do have problems and the solution to those problems might be trading. Going out and acquiring another true top-six forward such as Timo Meier or Vladimir Tarasenko might be the all-in move of this season. Or a little less bold move may be upgrading the depth in the middle-six with the likes of Travis Konecny or Pius Suter, which could also be the potential solution for Calgary.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire