The 2023 NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, and the Calgary Flames mostly did things that looked to improve the team enough to try to put together a Cinderella run towards the playoffs, but not necessarily compete as a Cup-contending juggernaut. They added Troy Stecher, Nick Ritchie, and Dryden Hunt while trading away Connor Mackey, Brett Ritchie, and Radim Zohorna.
With these moves, the team might have improved, but it was entirely in the realm of the 2022–23 season with no moves made to either improve nor worsen the future. All being said and done, how did Flames fan feel about the trade deadline? We asked, you answered.
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Calgary’s trade deadline performance
With the moves made and taking into consideration where the team is today in the standings, the choices presented were: outstanding, average, poor, or a disaster.
Average performance across the board
Just like the Flames have been in the standings, their trade deadline was deemed mostly average, with about half the votes trending this direction. All of the moves made were entirely short-term. That said, the Flames didn’t do anything that fundamentally changed their approach to the year or the draft. Things largely remained status quo, at least with how the team can operate. There were no changes to roster slots and no changes to draft capital. Just changes in name plates and eventual player usage.
If the team did get better, it was marginal at best, but with so many one-goal games, maybe marginal is all they need.
The prudent approach to the deadline that general manager Brad Treliving cited was one that kept things mostly in tact. No major swings and misses, no major swings and home runs.
None of the moves were designed to be high-risk, high-reward. Instead, low-risk, low-reward was clearly the mantra. The thing is, with the exception of Stecher, there’s probably very little NHL time slotted in for Ritchie or Hunt. So even with a total of three new faces, there’s really only room for one on the bench.
All in all, an average performance at the deadline to keep pace with the average performance on the ice.
Poor to disastrous deadline results
The flip side of the argument was that this year saw players go at a premium and the Flames should have read the market as a signal to sell. With teams all loading up for playoff runs, the Flames should have taken the opportunity to acquire future assets.
The Flames could have at least looked to get at least one additional draft pick in upcoming drafts. Surely at least one buying team would have taken a flyer on one of Calgary’s underperforming players.
Alas, none of that happened as the Flames made precisely zero changes to the team that extended beyond the conclusion of this season. All three players acquired have contracts that expire at the end of 2022–23.
The Flames also held onto all their 2023 unrestricted free agents (UFAs) as no other teams wanted them as rentals. This includes Milan Lucic, Trevor Lewis, and Michael Stone. They also held onto all their 2024 UFAs which is an incredibly large class of nine players (as per CapFriendly.com). This includes Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli up front, and Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev as backend headliners.
To say the no other team in the league expressed enough interest to execute one trade seems unlikely. It could just be the case that the Flames had their hands tied as they wanted to compete with this roster for one more season and will use the next year to evaluate the bigger picture.
It’s just that the immediate outlook is that the Flames missed a huge opportunity to improve their future and might be stuck losing more players for nothing.
An all around deadline that included lateral moves and missed opportunities may just have been par for the course the Flames find themselves on.
For much of the season, the Flames have been known to be underperforming despite having a good roster. So many storylines revolved around their unbelievably unlucky goaltending, and the incompatible injection of superstars into the Darryl Sutter system.
Had the Flames gotten even just average goaltending from Jacob Markstrom and Daniel Vladar, they’d be in the playoff picture. Had the Flames didn’t see the production decrease in Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, and MacKenzie Weegar, they’d be in the playoff picture.
The lack of major moves this deadline gives the team the signal that they’d at least consider running it back. This season was a statistical outlier with the skill the Flames have on their roster. By staying put, the team can go into the draft with their own plans and draft based on their scouting. Then, next year (or even in the offseason) they can start tweaking more to see exactly what it is that this team needs.
Doing enough to help the team now without hurting the team in the future, that’s all you could have hoped for with this Flames squad.
What you had to say
Here’s what some replies had to say about Calgary’s deadline outcome:
In between average and outstanding; decentOriginally tweeted by Mark (@Lethmark84) on March 4, 2023.
Would’ve sold some pieces to make room for our prospects.Originally tweeted by glamburger79 (@glamburger79) on March 4, 2023.
I think I’m in the minority but this is exactly what I wanted. This team has the capability. If we had average goaltending we’d be top 3 in the division.Originally tweeted by ℕ𝕠𝕟𝕤𝕥𝕠𝕡𝕊𝕦𝕡𝕖𝕣𝕘𝕦𝕪 🇨🇦 (@NonstopSuperguy) on March 4, 2023.
Not disappointing. Not exciting.Originally tweeted by Trevor (@PK_Militia) on March 4, 2023.
I was good with Treliving’s strategy. Assessing team performance based on an entire season is paramount. Any required transactions of significance are best made during the off-season.Originally tweeted by Dean (@DinoPrimo) on March 4, 2023.
The final stretch
Now, the Flames have less than a quarter of a season to see what they can do. They’re not so far out of the playoffs that it’s an impossibility, and they’re also not too high up in the standings that a decent draft position could be possible too. What is this team capable of doing?
How are you feeling about where Calgary ended up after the trade deadline? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @wincolumnCGY.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire
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