The NHL Trade Deadline is, in my opinion, the most exciting marker over the course of the season. Are you a contender? Are you a buyer? Are you a seller? The league takes shape with big names and depth guys on the move as we get set for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Where do the Flames find themselves? The Flames are currently six points out of 3rd in the Pacific division and four points back of the Kraken for the second WC spot. Albeit, the Kraken also have a game in hand.
The Calgary Flames have to make some big decisions here. If they decide to take the normal course of action and look ahead to their future, the only guys they could really attempt to sell out of the pending 2023 UFA class are guys like Milan Lucic, Trevor Lewis and Brett Ritchie. However, they have a ton of notable expiring deals coming up in 2024; Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Mikael Backlund, Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov and Oliver Kylington.
In breaking down Brad’s tenure, it’s evident he enjoys buying to shore up the edges and his aggression goes up when the team is in a good spot; but he’s really only ever decided to be a seller, twice over the course of his tenure as GM. Let’s break it down:
2015: Season Outcome = 45-30-7: 97 points (3rd in Pacific; Playoff Birth + Trip to Round 2)
Trade 1: March 1, 2015: The Calgary Flames traded Curtis Glencross to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 2015 2nd Round Pick (Selection #52 which turned into Jeremy Lauzon) and a 2015 3rd Round Pick (Selection #83 which turned into Jens Lööke).
Trade 2: March 2, 2015: The Calgary Flames traded Sven Bärtschi to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2015 2nd Round Pick (Selection #53 which turned into Rasmus Andersson).
As depicted, the Flames still lightly sold in 2014-2015 yet made the playoffs and went on a run regardless. They also added what would later turn into Rasmus Andersson at this deadline. It was a great year indeed.
2016: Season Outcome = 35-40-7: 77 points (26th in the league)
Trade 1: February 22, 2016: The Calgary Flames traded Markus Granlund to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Hunter Shinkaruk.
Trade 2: February 27, 2016: The Calgary Flames traded Jiri Hudler to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2016 2nd Round Pick (Selection #54 which turned into Tyler Parsons) and a 2018 4th Round Pick (Selection #108 which turned into Demetrios Koumontzis).
Trade 3: February 29, 2016: The Calgary Flames traded Kris Russell to the Dallas Stars in exchange for a 2016 2nd Round Pick (Selection #56 which turned into Dillon Dube), Jyrki Jokipakka, and Brett Pollock.
Trade 4: February 29, 2016: The Calgary Flames traded David Jones to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Nicklas Backstrom and a 2016 6th Round Pick (Selection #166 which turned into Matthew Phillips).
The Flames were clear sellers and a bottom 5 team in the league in 2015-2016, their moves in regards to stocking up on draft capital represented this heavily. They added picks who would turn into guys like Dube and Phillips, at this year’s deadline.
2017: Season Outcome = 45-33-4: 94 points (Playoff Birth WC1)
Trade 1: February 20, 2017: The Calgary Flames traded a 2017 3rd Round Pick (Selection #78 which turned into Stuart Skinner) and a 2018 5th Round Pick (Selection #136 which turned into Akira Schmid) to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Michael Stone.
Trade 2: March 1, 2017: The Calgary Flames traded Jyrki Jokipakka and a 2017 2nd Round Pick (Selection #47 which turned into Alex Formenton) to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Curtis Lazar and Michael Kostka.
The Flames saw themselves as buyers, they made the playoffs but ended up getting swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round. The Michael Stone saga in Calgary, started at this deadline.
2018: Season Outcome = 37-35-10: 84 points (20th in the league)
Trade: February 26, 2018: The Calgary Flames traded a 2019 7th Round Pick (Selection #212 which turned into Tyler Angle) to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Nick Shore.
Waiver Claim: February 26, 2018: The Calgary Flames claimed Chris Stewart off waivers from the Minnesota Wild.
The 2017-2018 deadline was weird; the Flames were in a position shaping up to be on the outside looking in on the playoff picture but the club decided to make some minor additions via the cost of a 7th round pick and via the waiver wire.
2019: Season Outcome = 50-25-7: 107 points (1st in the Western Conference + Pacific Division Title)
Trade: February 25, 2019: The Calgary Flames traded a 2020 4th Round Pick (Selection #112 which turned into Juho Markkanen) for Oscar Fantenberg.
The Flames only pulled the trigger on depth at a time the club was comfortably sitting atop the Pacific division and in a year where they won the Western Conference. Yes, there was a trade in place for Jason Zucker that didn’t go through allegedly due to ownership approval, but in some ways; maybe it could’ve been a good thing, as the price point was the pick that would become Jakob Pelletier in return.
2020: Season Outcome = 36-27-7: 79 points (Playoff Birth via Play-In Round)
Trade 1: January 2, 2020: The Calgary Flames traded Michael Frolik to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a 2020 4th Round Pick (Selection #96 which turned into Daniil Chechelev).
Trade 2: February 24, 2020: The Calgary Flames traded a 2021 4th Round Pick (Selection #109 which turned into Jackson Blake) to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Derek Forbort.
Trade 3: February 24, 2020: The Calgary Flames traded a 2020 3rd Round Pick (Selection #81 which turned into Wyatt Kaiser) for Erik Gustafsson.
Trade 4: February 24, 2020: The Calgary Flames traded Brandon Davidson to the San Jose Sharks for Future Considerations.
Via dumping Frolik’s deal earlier in the year, the Flames used that cap space to acquire a new-look 3rd-pairing for the remainder of that season and heading into the return to play bubble, later in the summer.
2021: Season Outcome = 26-27-3: 55 points (5th in North Division)
Trade 1: April 11, 2021: The Calgary Flames traded David Rittich to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 2022 3rd Round Pick (Selection #90 which turned into Aidan Thompson).
*This pick was later shipped to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Zadorov on July 28, 2021.
Trade 2: April 12, 2021: The Calgary Flames traded Sam Bennett to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2022 2nd Round Pick (Selection #61 which turned into David Goyette) and prospect Emil Heineman.
The Flames were clear sellers this year, saying goodbye to the club’s highest draft pick in franchise history in Sam Bennett and fan favourite goaltender David Rittich.
2022: Season Outcome = 50-21-11: 111 points (Pacific Division Title + Trip to Round 2)
Trade 1: February 14, 2022: The Calgary Flames traded Tyler Pitlick, Emil Heineman, a 2022 1st Round Pick (Selection #26 which turned into Filip Mesar) and a 2023 5th Round Pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Tyler Toffoli.
Trade 2: March 2, 2022: The Calgary Flames acquired Michael McNiven from the Montreal Canadiens for Future Considerations.
Trade 3: March 16, 2022: The Calgary Flames traded a 2022 2nd Round Pick (Selection #61 which turned into David Goyette), a 2023 3rd Round Pick and a 2024 7th Round Pick for Calle Järnkrok.
Trade 4: March 21, 2022: The Calgary Flames traded a 2024 5th Round Pick in exchange for Ryan Carpenter.
Trade 5: March 21, 2022: The Calgary Flames traded Michael McNiven to the Ottawa Senators for Future Considerations.
The Flamed did what they didn’t do in 2018-2019 and aggressively bought at last year’s deadline; most notably bringing in Tyler Toffoli who leads the club in goals and points this season.
What’s To Come?
On February 24, 2023, General Manager Brad Treliving sat down with Sportsnet’s Eric Francis taking some questions in regards to his approach as we get closer to deadline day. In regards to Treliving’s level of aggression heading into March 3rd, he stated:
“Everybody is always focused on buying or selling, but you may stand pat. Where we’re at now, you’ve got to be careful putting first and second round picks for UFAs, in my opinion. We have a pretty good sense of where all the teams are at. It’s tight. There’s a muck of teams in the middle.”GM Brad Treliving
In answering the ‘are you a buyer or seller?’ question, which most of the fanbase has continued to debate and ponder; Treliving stated:
“You don’t just move players for the sake of moving them. We don’t have expiring contracts that are going to return massive assets. We’re having conversations on all kinds of stuff. At the end of the day you’d always like to help the team, but the team has got to be in a position where you can help them.”
We shall all see what direction the Flames decide to take heading into this year’s deadline, but judging by what the St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, or Nashville Predators have done thus far; we all know the one they should take. Some big decisions should start being contemplated and are going to have to be made. It’s time to finally be proactive, not reactive.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire