The trade winds are blowing throughout the NHL. It seems like there’s a new trade every hour or so, as teams ramp up their roster for the playoffs. Teams in the Eastern Conference seem to be fighting with one another over who can add the most, and these playoff battles are going to be a bloodbath. One team that hasn’t made a massive edition yet is the Carolina Hurricanes, however. They made one smaller move on Tuesday, sending prospect Patrik Puistola to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Jesse Puljujarvi.
That is a smart move from one of the shrewd management groups in the league, and I don’t think they are done. They’ve had a very good season so far, and have been connected to many of the big names during this deadline, such as Timo Meier, and Ryan O’Reilly. They seemed to be the runners up for Meier, so it is clear they are going big. Owner Tom Dundon spoke to the media a week ago, and said that the Hurricanes are leaning towards being aggressive.
The Jeff Marek Show drops some Flames nuggets
On Tuesdsay morning, Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman dropped a few nuggets about the Flames on The Jeff Marek Show:
Marek: “I think the Calgary Flames are in a state of shock. It seems to me that Calgary is stunned that they are in this situation, and if I am a rival General Manager, I’m trying to take advantage of Brad Treliving, and force him into making a decision he didn’t think he’d have to contemplate this deep into February.”
Friedman: “Calgary has a lot of good players with one year left on their contracts. It’s not ridiculous term, and teams like the idea of getting a player for not one, but two playoff runs. I think [Brad Treliving] is weighing things, especially over the last couple of days. I do think it’s a really realistic that Calgary goes down the road in thinking about things they wouldn’t have contemplated at the beginning of the season.”
Marek: “You know who I think of? A lot of those players seem like great candidates to become Carolina Hurricanes. I look at Lindholm, he’s got Hurricane written all over him. I look at Backlund. We’re all waiting for Carolina to make their move. I wonder if it could be something with Calgary.”
Friedman: “It makes sense. Toffoli is another one with one year left. He’s got 25 goals.”
Jeff Marek also ended his show again wondering about the Flames and Hurricanes:
What to take from that segment?
No one really knows what is up Brad Treliving’s sleeve. I think at this point in the season, and where they are in the standings, being a seller of some sort makes sense. I think selling on UFA’s such as Trevor Lewis and Milan Lucic should be done at minimum, but the thought of selling someone with term is very intriguing.
Not only can you get a better return for a player with term, but you can also free up some flexibility for the future. Per CapFriendly.com, Calgary has 82M in cap committed to next season. Most reports are suggesting the cap will jump to 83.5M, leaving the Flames with only 1.5M to tinker.
As mentioned by Friedman on this segment, the Flames have a plethora of players who have contracts ending after next year. That list includes Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Mikael Backlund, Chris Tanev, Noah Hanifin, and Nikita Zadorov. The Hurricanes are a very smart organization, and can take on the cap for remainder of this year and next with no troubles.
Who makes sense to move?
I think trading one of Hanifin or Zadorov to either the Hurricanes or another team makes a ton of sense. Assuming Oliver Kylington returns to the club next season, the Flames will be stuck with four LD on the roster (Weegar, Hanifin, Zadorov, Kylington). Sure, you could move one of those players to the right side. But I think moving one of Hanifin or Zadorov makes sense, considering the prices being thrown around for defenceman at the moment.
I would lean towards moving Hanifin, because of the strong season Zadorov has had in Calgary. Sure, there is the odd defensive breakdown and a ton of penalties, but Zadorov’s metrics have been incredibly solid with whoever he has played with. Hanifin would also fetch a higher return, and the Flames could save that return, or use it in another deal.
One thing that pops into my head is Jakob Chychrun. He is signed for an extra year past Hanifin’s, is younger, and on a cheaper AAV. The Flames could sell Hanifin for futures, and package those futures with whatever else is needed to the Coyotes for Chychrun. Just an idea, but something the Flames could do to get younger, cheaper, more term, and stay competitive in 2023-24.
Another player that makes sense for me is Nick Schmaltz, who has three years left on his $5.85M AAV deal. The right winger has an injury history, but is close to a point per game, and can pot you 20 goals when healthy. This could be another example of the Flames moving one of their cap commitments for next year, and flipping those assets for someone else to help them for next year.
This could be a deadline of surprise
So many moves have been made, but as of Wednesday morning, only two teams haven’t been involved in a trade during the 2022-23 season; the Calgary Flames, and Pittsburgh Penguins. There is still a few days until the NHL Trade Deadline at 1pm MT on March 3rd, and the Flames could surprise us. Brad Treliving has a reputation as being in on everything, so it would be no shock for something to come out of left field. They could also remain stagnant, and let the team play out the season. Who knows?
Is there a potential fit between the Flames and Hurricanes? I think the Hurricanes could look to defence, or a second line centre, to improve their team ahead of the deadline. I think their biggest need is definitely someone who can put the puck in the net, so one of Lindholm or Toffoli make sense there. It’s funny that the Hurricanes are potentially connected to Hanifin or Lindholm, given the blockbuster trade that occurred back in 2018. The organization knows both players quite well.
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