As we enter into the third month of the 2022–23 season, teams have begun to separate themselves and stand out as real playoff contenders. We’ve all heard the about the checkpoint of American Thanksgiving for the NHL season. More often than not most of the 16 teams who are in the playoffs come thanksgiving are in the playoffs come spring.
This has created some early buyers and sellers on the market, with teams beginning to settle in and determine which side they are on. The Calgary Flames as we know are very clear buyers. The team went all in this summer and despite a seven-game losing streak, they still currently sit in the playoff mix.
Players for the Flames to look at
Last week Frank Seravalli listed his top 20 trade targets across the NHL.
This list should be of great interest to Flames fans a the team is clearly in the market for another winger. Despite Brad Treliving’s great work in the offseason, losing two 100-point wingers won’t be a quick fix. A couple weeks ago Elliotte Friedman mentioned the Flames are currently looking to add another scoring winger. Early in the season it’s very clear the Flames desperately need some more speed and skill in their lineup.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at Seravalli’s trade board and who could be a potential fit with the Flames.
The biggest name on Seravalli’s trade board, Patrick Kane’s name has been swirling in trade rumours for what seems like a year now. With the Chicago Blackhawks in full on rebuild mode and Kane nearing the end of his career, a split seems almost guaranteed at this point. Kane would certainly be a massive add for Calgary considering his pedigree, but it would it be worth the cost and hassle of fitting his enormous cap hit in? Probably not even if he does fit their need at right wing.
Kane has been one of the more divisive players in the NHL over the past couple years, as his dynamic offensive production is countered by some of the worst defensive metrics in the entire NHL. There’s no denying his elite offensive ability, but he’s showing signs of decline this year. After posting 92 points last year, he sits with 16 in 20 games this season. Compound that with his downright ugly defensive numbers, and it’s fair to say he’s likely overvalued on the market.
This season he hasn’t even posted positive offensive metrics. Of course part of that is how terrible the Blackhawks are, but it’s hard to overlook just how bad his underlying numbers have been this season. He’s not really contributing at either end right now. And again, he is just terrible defensively. I’m not too sure that warrants a good fit under Darryl Sutter. His 5v5 defence has been atrocious, per HockeyViz.com.
There’s also the logistics of the deal. Kane carries a $10.5M cap hit for one more season which would be incredibly difficult for Calgary to fit in even with retained money. He also has a full no-move clause. Would he be willing to accept a deal to play in Western Canada? Unlikely, but only he knows. Even if we overlook the high cost and deficiencies as a player, the logistics make a deal for Kane very difficult to pull off.
Sure it would be cool to see Treliving pull off yet another blockbuster for a superstar, but the odds of Kane ending up in Calgary seem slim to none. Even if they could make it work off the ice, I don’t think it’d be worth it in the end unless the Blackhawks lower their price. He’s simply not the player he once was. At 34 years old with lesser offensive impacts and a weak defensive game, neither aspect can be overlooked. Due to his name value, he’d come at a very high price which the Flames probably shouldn’t be paying.
The most valuable winger on the trade board is also the one the Flames could use the most. Timo Meier would quite frankly be the perfect addition to the Flames roster. He is exactly what they’ve lacked since Tkachuk and Gaudreau left. Meier is the most talented name on this list as he’s a bonafide goal scoring winger who can also drive play very well. He also plays the right wing. It’s doesn’t get better than that if you’re the Flames.
He’s posted at least 20 goals in four of his five seasons since entering the league full time. He’s also posted 30 goals twice in that span. Meier exploded last season to the tune of 35 goals and 76 points, as well as posting some dazzling underlying numbers. The Flames have desperately lacked Tkachuk’s play driving ability since he left, and Meier can offer that exact skill.
Just take a look at his results from last season courtesy of Evolving-Hockey.com. He was dominant offensively and an elite play driver.
Even this season on a terrible Sharks team, he’s sitting with 12 goals and 22 points in 24 games. His results also remain very impressive as he’s singlehandedly carrying the Sharks winger group right now. He really hasn’t taken much of a step back from last year’s breakout campaign which is a great sign for his future output. Just take a look at his offensive impacts this season courtesy of HockeyViz.com.
Another positive is that it seems like his asking price is much lower than you’d expect it to be for a 26-year-old, 35-goal scorer. Seravalli reports that Meier’s “starting value on the market is considerably less than the Alex DeBrincat deal last summer.” As a refresher DeBrincat was traded for a first-, second-, and third-round pick. If Meier is being valued considerably less than that, his price would be dirt cheap for what he brings and something the Flames could easily pay.
The major caveat is Meier’s contract status. He currently makes $6 million this season, which isn’t an impossible number to fit under the cap. Again, Lucic would be a perfect expiring contract to throw in to make the money work for this season. The problem is Meier is an upcoming RFA with a monstrous $10 million qualifying offer. That would be an incredibly difficult number for the Flames to work with and if you’re paying for him you certainly don’t want to lose him after one season. They’d have to send out some major money this offseason to re-sign him.
The bottom line is Meier is an elite play driving winger who brings every aspect to the game the Flames lack. He’d be a picture perfect fit alongside an elite playmaker like Jonathan Huberdeau and would improve the Flames forward group immensely. Sure his contract status going into next season is a big worry, but considering his price is low right now it makes a ton of sense for the Flames to go all-in on him. They need to win now and Meier would help them do that right away.
Andreas Athanasiou is an intriguing low-cost, low-risk addition. It’s easy to forget he fetched two second-round picks at the trade deadline just two years ago. He’s also posted 30 goals in a season before. Those days seem like a lifetime ago now, but he can still be an effective winger and is still just 28 years old.
He suffered a couple injury -plagued seasons with the Kings in both 2020–21 and 2021–22, but still posted a respectable 40 points and 21 goals across 75 games over the two seasons. Now with the Blackhawks he’s posted six goals and nine points in 21 games to start the year. His six goals would be second behind Tyler Toffoli among Flames wingers.
What makes Athanasiou such an intriguing add is his style of play. He offers top-end north south speed which is something the Flames desperately lack in their lineup. Combined with his goal scoring touch he has the makings of a perfect low-cost add to bolster the Flames depth on the wing. Adding his style of game over say someone like Kevin Rooney or Brett Ritchie in the bottom-six would be a big addition.
The Blackhawks will likely be looking to pick up a mid-round pick for him before the deadline, which is cost the Flames can certainly afford. If they’re unwilling to pay up for one of the bigger names on the market after giving up plenty of draft picks in the past year, Athanasiou would be a good low-cost add. At just a $3M cap hit that the Blackhawks can easily half retain, his contract would be no issue to fit in either.
The Vancouver Canucks are a disaster. If that continues, they’ll have no choice but to blow things up and offload some of their bigger contracts. One of those contracts belongs to Brock Boeser. On paper, Boeser seems like a great fit with the Flames. He’s a goal scoring winger who shoots right.
Boeser seemed like he was on the path to superstardom before a subpar 2021–22 season in which he posted just 46 points in 71 games. The three seasons prior to that, Boeser’s point per game pace came in at 0.88, 0.79, and 0.82. He was also on pace for 30 goals in two of those seasons. There’s no doubt he has immense talent and the potential to be a consistent 30-goal, 60-point winger. The problem is we haven’t seen that Boeser in almost two years now.
Despite posting 14 points in 16 games this season, only three of them are goals. He’s also posting some dreadful results in his own zone. So despite his point totals rebounding so far, he’s still far from the Boeser we saw between 2017 to 2021. That’s not to say he can’t bounce back as it’s still early, but it’s certainly cause for concern.
There’s no doubt the Flames could use a goal scoring winger like Boeser on the team if he can find his game again. The problem is he won’t come cheap at just 25 years old and two years removed from a season with 23 goals and 49 points in 56 games.
There’s also the off ice obstacles with the deal. Boeser carries a hefty $6.65M cap hit for two more seasons after this one, which would be pretty tough for the Flames to fit in. It’s unlikely the Canucks would want to retain much of that or take on another big contract if they’re looking to offload money. Perhaps an expiring contract like Milan Lucic could work as a throw in. Even if the money works, there’s also the fact the Canucks would probably want to deal a 25-year-old with 30-plus goal potential outside of their division and not to a direct rival.
In theory, Boeser could be a perfect fit with the Flames if they could somehow make the money work. The problem is it could be a massive risk considering the assets it will take and the fact he hasn’t been at his best in nearly two years now. It’s certainly worth exploring given the skillset he brings, but the Flames would be ill-advised to go all-in for Boeser.
Another low-cost add like Athanasiou, Kasperi Kapanen also checks off plenty of the Flames’ needs. He’s a right shot, plays the wing, and can skate like the wind. He may not bring the goal scoring touch that some of these other names bring, but there’s no doubt he could help the Flames compared to the current wingers they’re using in the bottom-six.
Kapanen has struggled to start 2022–23, as he sits with just one goal and five points in 13 games. He’s also been in and out of the Penguins line up. Despite his struggles, his underlying results haven’t actually been that bad although like the other names here he’s not great in his own end. He may not bring the offensive upside the likes of Kane, Boeser and Meier bring, but if he’s on his game he can still be an effective bottom-six option for a much cheaper price.
His $3.2M cap hit for one more season isn’t great however considering the production you’d get from him. The Penguins have reportedly been pushing to move him, so they’d likely be willing to retain at least some of that cap hit. Given they’re having trouble finding suitors, he’d also be dirt cheap right now which is a bonus. Kapanen won’t jump off the page or score a ton, but what he does bring is speed and some skill which is exactly what the Flames need. If he can be had for cheap, he’s worth a look.
Plenty of options for Calgary
It’s no secret the Flames desperately need to add some more skill to their lineup. If they’re unwilling to use their stacked AHL team to fix their issue, then the trade route is the best option. With plenty of good fits available on the market, some cheaper than others, the Flames have no excuse to not be exploring adding one of the above wingers. If they fail to address their needs, it could spell an early end to the season for any playoff hopes.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire