The Calgary Flames’ summer has been unexpectedly quiet. For a team that has made significant organizational changes after their season ended and find themselves with a plethora of unsigned pending free agents, everyone simply expected more.
There has been lots of noise around the likes of Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, with some even looking at Nikita Zadorov and Mikael Backlund as options for the trade block. One name that has remained relatively quiet—and surprisingly so—is veteran defenceman Chris Tanev.
Tanev is entering the final year of his four-year, $4.5M contract signed in October 2020 . After playing his entire career with the Vancouver Canucks and being an injury ridden player over that time, Tanev has become an absolute fixture on the team’s back end and has earned himself the right to be called one of the leagues’ best defensive defencemen.
His trade status though remains murky as for both the player and team there are a wealth of pros and cons that make it difficult to understand just where his destiny will fall. Let’s take a look at those options.
The case for trading Chris Tanev
The most obvious and glaring reason the Flames should be looking to move Tanev in the near future is due to his pending unrestricted free agency. He will be 34 years old in December and will most likely be looking for one final deal to round out his career.
Based on his play with the Flames, most teams would be absolutely willing to give him a contract, meaning the Flames could lose him for nothing—a trend the team has become a little notorious for.
Not capitalizing on his outstanding defensive tenure with the team would be a disservice to the franchise. Based on his past three years, his defensive numbers have literally been off the charts:
Tanev has never been an offensive juggernaut, but my goodness his defensive numbers stand out on the page like they are raised from the screen themselves. His xGA/60 doesn’t even fit on the page—it’s just that good. Looking at his player card too, you can see just how highly ranked he is when it comes to the penalty kill as well.
Tanev’s value has never been higher potentially in his career and whether the trade is now or near the deadline, the Flames have an opportunity to recoup a wealth of assets.
The case against trading Chris Tanev
Now all that being said, it’s evidently clear that Tanev’s on ice contributions have not gone unnoticed in the organization. They value him immensely.
Looking back at the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the team was extremely different (read: worse) after Tanev separated his shoulder. Despite playing through it, the team clearly missed him playing at 100% as their defensive game collapsed against the Edmonton Oilers. If the team is serious about pursuing a playoff spot this coming season, doing so without Tanev on the back end would be a hard task.
You also have to look at the rest of the defensive corps for the next few months. Hanifin and Zadorov may not be on the team much longer and the return of Oliver Kylington is imminent; altogether that is a lot of change. If you also trade Tanev away, you are talking about three major defencemen that log significant amounts of minutes. The load on Rasmus Andersson and MacKenzie Weegar would be immense and unlikely sustainable.
Plus, the Tanev and Kylington pairing two seasons ago was one of the league’s best. Allowing Kylington to return under the most ideal scenario is best for his transition back into NHL hockey.
In addition to the play on the ice, the Flames could be without quality veteran leadership for not only this season but those after it as well. Tanev was an alternate captain last season and will most likely be one again this coming year. The team respects him as one of the team’s best, taking him out of that lineup could have additional ripple effects.
It’s a complete toss up on if the team will keep or trade Tanev. It’s highly probable that the team will wait to see how the first few months go before making any decisions on his future. Although prudent, if the team is in the middle of the pack then Tanev’s departure becomes more unlikely.
A contract extension isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. With Tanev’s current contract coming in at $4.5M over four years, that sets the absolute floor on his next deal.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire