It’s no question that the Calgary Flames’ weakest point on the roster is top-six scoring, specifically on the wing. The last few weeks have brought more glaring emphasis to the issue. After losing two straight horrible one-goal outings in overtime to Chicago and St. Louis, Darryl Sutter and Brad Treliving have both spoke on the team’s need for an impact player on the offensive end. Now, whether or not that player comes internally or externally is still yet to be decided.
Options for offence
Matthew Phillips made a short stint with the team in December and although not getting much time in the lineup, was sent back down. Much like Phillips, we saw Jakob Pelletier recalled this week alongside Walker Duher. Pelletier has yet to debut and it’s been explicitly stated that he needs a top-six role when he does make his first appearance.
It seems as though there is some potential friction between Darryl Sutter and Brad Treliving on the roles and opportunities that should or shouldn’t be given to prospects. It’s no question Sutter favours big players that skate well, check hard and… come from the WHL. All jokes aside, if Pelletier doesn’t make his debut in this recall period, it could turn more eyes onto this presumptive issue.
Time for Timo Meier?
Externally, the Flames have trading options for scoring wingers. It’ll be costly but it’s what it takes for a team that’s all-in right now. One target of note: San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier.
The ninth overall pick of the 2015 draft would walk onto the team and become their leading scoring with 24 goals and 43 points—an instant upgrade to the offence. With proven production this season within the same division, the point-per-game player is a very attractive addition.
Meier is on pace for a career year after setting a new high last season with 35 goals and 76 points. Meier would likely slot into the lineup with Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri, taking Milan Lucic’s spot.
There’s no doubt gaining a player on pace for 40 goals won’t be cheap for GM Brad Treliving. Meier would likely cost the team a steep price.
Meier would likely take two or three prospects that might include Connor Zary, Connor Mackey, Matt Coronoto, Jacob Pelletier, Matthew Phillips, or even Dustin Wolf. Depending on the calibre of the prospects the Flames may also look to include a draft pick. Knowing how tight the team is for picks, especially in Rounds 1 and 2, I would imagine Treliving tries his best to protect the draft capital the franchise currently holds.
Out of those prospects the most likely to see a first class ticket to San Jose would be Matthew Phillips. The AHL star clearly isn’t going to crack a lineup in Calgary during the Darryl Sutter era. With Matthews contract coming to a close it just makes sense to include him as the centrepiece of the return.
Harvard star Matthew Coronoto would likely hold the most value to the Flames just slightly behind G Dustin Wolf. With the Flames’ goaltending woes this season and Wolf’s undeniable rise in the AHL over the last two seasons, the team would likely protect him. If Markstroms play wasn’t wavering, I don’t think the team would hesitate to move Wolf, essentially holding three NHL calibre goalies by the start of next season, let alone two starters. Vladar;s play this season has been phenomenal and could be another option the team may consider to save draft capital.
Connor Mackey would make sense as a fringe NHLer in Calgary’s system that only holds a roster spot right now because of Oliver Kylington’s absence. An opportunity on a weak team like San Jose might be the jump start he needs, much like Juuso Valimaki with Arizona.
Mackey may be attractive to move but with Kylington still up in the air for the remainder of the season, it’s unlikely we see him leave Calgary unless he’s the deciding factor in the trade.
That leaves Pelletier and Zary. Two young forwards starting to breakout in the AHL that are arguably NHL ready would be very attractive alongside Phillips.
No matter what the move consists of I’d be happy to see it happen as long as Matthew Coronato isn’t included. A major trade that would drain many prospects from the Flames system, but at this point you would think the team should be in “win now” mode.
The salary cap issue
Undoubtedly this would be a tight one to pull off. Meier has a $6M cap hit this season and has a $10M qualifying offer coming up at the end of the year. Yeesh.
Sadly that’s the price the team would likely have to pay next season as it appears the Swiss star is on pace this season to demand every cent of that $10M.
The money would be difficult to manage but it is very possible to see something of this magnitude happen before the deadline. The Flames have placed themselves in an odd position in the standings and gave up a lot of games due to lack of scoring. Meier might be the final piece of the puzzle that everyone knows has been missing since camp started in September.
The objectives can be kept simple: Keep Coronato, get Meier, figure out the money later.
My proposed trade would look something like this.
CGY – Phillips, Vladar, Zary, 2024 third-round pick
SJS – Timo Meier
It’s bold, but so was this entire summer for the Calgary Flames front office. It might just pay off…