Calgary Flames

Breaking down who the Calgary Flames could move before the trade deadline on Friday

Are they buyers? Are they sellers? No one knows yet as the Calgary Flames have been one of the quietest teams in the NHL when it comes to trades this season. As of right now, the Flames the only team in the league who has not made a trade during the 2022–23 season.

With the Flames dropping another heartbreaker on Tuesday to the Boston Bruins, they now stare down a very tough path to playoffs. At this point in the season, the best path forward for the team and organization may be to sell what they can, and reassess the future of the team in the offseason. It seems like that’s the path general manager Brad Treliving is seriously considering.

So if the Flames do decide to become sellers, who could they move? They have a plethora of options, some more minor than others. Let’s take a look at some realistic players the Flames could move between now and Friday at 3 p.m. EST, including unrestricted free agents (UFAs) and restricted free agents (RFAs), and even a potential blockbuster.

Calgary’s 2023 UFAs

The most obvious names to move this year are the 2023 UFAs the Flames currently have on their roster. Most of these players are likely gone in the offseason anyways, and with the way the market has been with depth players this year it makes a ton of sense to dangle these players to playoff teams looking for depth.

Milan Lucic

Love him or hate him, there’s no doubting the reputation Milan Lucic has around the league. A physical veteran with a history of playoff success and respected in the room? Easy to market that.

His contract is a mess, but the Flames could easily retain 50% and make it manageable. There were rumours floating around last year that Brian Burke and the Penguins were potentially interested in acquiring him, so the market is clearly still there. If the Flames were to put his name out there, I think they could easily get a mid- to late-round pick back. Considering he’s likely on his way out this offseason, that’s a free asset for a fringe NHLer even if it’s a late pick.

Trevor Lewis

Of the Flames’ 2023 UFA class, Trevor Lewis holds the most value on the market. He’s signed for dirt cheap, is still a decent defensive player, and like Lucic, has the reputation around the league of being a veteran player with playoff and Stanley Cup experience.

Considering we’ve seen similar depth forwards like Lars Eller get moved for a second-round pick and Pierre Engvall for a third-round pick, it’s clear that it’s a seller’s market this year. I have no doubt that the Flames could get back a third-round pick for Lewis, or at worst a fourth-round pick given his status around the league as an experienced shutdown veteran.

Calgary’s 2024 UFAs

This is where it gets interesting. The Flames have a loaded 2024 UFA class including numerous core roster players. Are things bad enough that the Flames should start to consider selling some of them off now while teams could get them for two playoff runs, thus increasing their value? At the very least, Elliote Friedman believes the Flames are considering it, and teams are calling. If they were to go this route, they have fully given up on this season.

Mikael Backlund

No doubt a move that would tug on the heartstrings of Flames fans, but moving Mikael Backlund right now could be a very smart move for the Flames. The 33-year-old is playing some of the best hockey of his career and is among the Selke favourites. At a reasonable cap hit of $5.35M for this year and next, his value is the highest it will ever be. If you’re the Flames, you have to consider moving him.

Any contender needing depth down the middle would be all over Backlund if he were available due to his elite two-way play. If the Flames are truly entertaining a retool, moving a veteran like Backlund right now while his value is at an all-time high is the right move. I mean if Lars Eller can get you a second-round pick, imagine what a centre like Backlund could bring back?

I know he doesn’t have the hardware or playoff success that Ryan O’Reilly does, but in terms of their underlying numbers the two are very similar players right now. Take a look at how they compare in regularized adjusted plus-minus (RAPM) over the last three seasons courtesy of

O’Reilly fetched multiple draft picks including a first rounder and Backlund could probably get you something not too far off that. The best case is you send him off to a contender and bring him back in 2024 to retire a Flame. A win-win for everyone.

Chris Tanev

Like Backlund, Chris Tanev is a respected veteran and a player that’s still putting up high-end results. He’s regularly been one of the best defensive defencemen in the NHL the past few years, and has a reputation of being one of the toughest players in the NHL. In other words, the exact type of player contenders love to add.

Rugged physical veteran defenceman typically command a fortune at the deadline and Tanev would likely be no different. Vlad Gavrikov, Dmitry Orlov and Jake McCabe have all been dealt in deals for first-round picks and Tanev is on a different level. I mean just look at how Gavrikov and Tanev compare over the last three seasons.

At a modest $4.5M cap hit, he would be easy to fit onto a contender with some retention if needed. Moving a veteran like Tanev while his value is still high is worth considering especially since he’ll be 34 years old when his contract is up.

Tyler Toffoli

Just acquired at the deadline last season, Tyler Toffoli is another name that the Flames could move if they are truly interested in retooling. Toffoli is in the midst of the best season of his career and carries a very modest $4.25M cap hit into next season. Last year he cost the Flames a first-round pick and a mid-level prospect around the deadline. Considering he’s having a much better season this year, he would at least garner the same return if not more.

He’s got playoff success and experience in spades, is near a point per game player this season, and plays a dependable two-way game. He’d be a strong fit on nearly every single contender looking for depth on the wing. If he were made available, he’d immediately become the best winger available on the market. If the Flames are unsure about keeping him past next season, moving him now while his value is high is worth looking into as they’d get quite the nice return.

Noah Hanifin

Do I think the Flames will move Noah Hanifin? No. Do I think they should? Absolutely. Hanifin is a defenceman who has garnered a reputation around the league higher than his actual worth. Sure, he’s a decent top-four defender, but outside of last season he’s typically been nothing special for the Flames.

Here’s the things though. He’s a former top-five pick, has played nearly 600 games at just 26 years old, and is averaging over 22 minutes a game. Those three factors are what teams typically love in the NHL and it makes them overlook a players actual underlying value. JFresh put it best:

Hanifin is the textbook definition of this player. He’s a good-not-great player who gets overrated due to a couple factors. It makes a lot of sense to move him while they can as his value is likely much higher than it should be. Considering he makes under $5 million a year right now, he’s likely in line for a raise next offseason that the Flames might not be able to afford.

Losing a valuable trade chip like Hanifin for nothing would be far from ideal and the Flames would be wise to look to move him now if they aren’t serious about paying him next year. Considering the market for top-four defenceman this season, Hanifin could likely command a first-round pick and more.

Nikita Zadorov

Yet another 2024 UFA defenceman that the Flames could move, Nikita Zadorov has had a great 2022–23 season for the Flames. He’s the typical rugged, physical defenceman contenders love adding going into the playoffs and would have a nice market if made available. Zadorov only makes $3.75M this year and next, so his contract is manageable for any team looking to add him. Here he is compared to McCabe who is around the same age with a similar contract. McCabe was moved for a first-round pick.

I don’t necessarily think the Flames will look to move him as Darryl Sutter clearly loves him and the style of game he plays and he’s still only 27 years old, but he could definitely bring back a decent return if traded.

Calgary’s 2024 RFAs

Dillon Dube

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Flames should rush to move Dillon Dube. He’s only an RFA in 2024 and is still very young at 24. That said I think it make sense from the Flames perspective to at least ponder the idea of moving him. His value is the highest it’s ever been due to his modest breakout this year and his low cap hit. The Flames should be thinking about it at the very least given where they sit in the standings right now.

With Matthew Coronato reportedly on the way, you’ve potentially got a replacement for Dube in the top-six right there free of charge. His name hasn’t been thrown out there so I doubt he’ll get moved, but if a large offer comes in they should definitely consider it. With the massive return the Predators got for 14-point scorer Tanner Jeannot, there’s a chance Dube could return a haul for the Flames.

The Flames’ blockbuster

Elias Lindholm

I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted Elias Lindholm of all people to be on the trade block, but that’s the type of season it’s been for the Flames. On his show earlier this week Jeff Marek speculated the Hurricanes could be interested in Lindholm.

As a 2024 UFA due for a massive raise from his current bargain $4.85 million cap hit next, the Flames need to consider their options when it comes to their first line centre. If they have any doubts that they can re-sign him, they need to consider moving him. This would likely be more of an offseason move, but his value would be higher now if a team could get him for two playoff runs.

By the time his contract is up, he’ll be 29 years old and you’ll likely have to overpay him on a max-term deal to keep him around. Would it really be in their best interest to lock up more long-term money in a player entering his 30s? Yes, he’s your top line centre and arguably your best overall forward, but if the Flames are serious about retooling right now, moving Lindholm would be a great way to kickstart that considering the return you’d get.

The return for Lindholm would be astronomical. He’s a year removed from a 40-goal season in which he was runner up for the Selke and this season despite losing both his linemates he’s still on pace for 71 points. He’s a bonafide top line centre, something that is rarely ever available on the trade market. Add on his bargain cap hit and you’ve got yourself an asset with tremendous value.

Marek suggested the Hurricanes as a potential fit as mentioned above. If the Flames could get back something along the lines of Martin Necas or Seth Jarvis and a combination of first-round picks and prospects, you have to consider it right? I highly doubt Lindholm is moved anytime soon, but I think it’s certainly in the Flames best interest to consider it right now depending on the return.

Plenty of trade options for the Flames

Whether the Flames decide to go nuclear and blow it up or simply move out some expiring deals for mid-round picks, they certainly have plenty of options as we head into the Friday trade deadline tomorrow. As the only team who hasn’t made a deal this season, it has to be coming soon right? By all reports the Flames could be very busy the next 24 hours, or at least we hope so.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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