Just one month after the team was motivated to have a strong season, the Flames are one of the best teams in the league at losing with a 2–7–1 after November 1. The cries to rebuild are loud once again, and the franchise will have to make some tough decisions to sell their players if this continues for the rest of the season. The team has many pending unrestricted free agents that could fetch them some good returns, so who would be the first of them to be traded? We asked, you answered.
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Who will be the first Flame to go?
We presented the below poll to our readers.
Those getting the most votes: Lindholm and Hanifin.
Almost 30% of voters selected Elias Lindholm to be the first Flame traded. When looking at the results of this poll it seems like the answers are more representative of who Flames fans want to be traded first, because they will provide the biggest return. Lindholm is on a very reasonable cap hit for the remainder of the season and is viewed by many in the league as a solid two-way forward. Many teams around the league could use Elias Lindholm, however, the price would be massive, which is why I don’t think he would be the first player to be involved in a swap. A deal like this takes a good amount of time to develop, and I think that will be the case this year if he does get traded.
Hanifin received the most votes in this poll, however, I think what applies to Lindholm also applies to Hanifin. Noah Hanifin is a young defenceman, on a very reasonable cap hit, and is a solid top-four defenceman. Players like him don’t grow on trees, and NHL GMs will be hounding Conroy on the phone if he does in fact go on the trade list. Hanifin previously informed management that he would not be re-signing in the offseason, then later on during the season was reportedly close to re-signing with the team, before pressing pause on the process. Despite this, the Flames may have had a bit of a head start gauging the market on Hanifin. However, because the return would be pretty big, I don’t think he would be the first player traded off the roster either.
Now, this would be my choice for the first player traded. Zadorov has played pretty great hockey for the Flames over the past couple seasons. On top of that, he is a big body, plays very physically, and seems to be a solid person to have in the locker room. GMs love players like Zadorov, and teams in the league should be able to afford trading for him as well. Despite Zadorov loving his time in Calgary, he is a defenceman who might be traded to a contender to add some toughness to a team looking for a long playoff run.
Tanev has had his fair share of injury history in his career, however, practically none of that has come in Calgary. Tanev, once looked at as a risky acquisition, is now looked at as a solid defensive defenceman who would bring stability to a team’s defence group. Contenders would be itching to add a player like Tanev to their group, and it would cost much less than Hanifin. Though he won’t give the Flames the most value out of the rest of the names in this list, it will probably be one of the easiest trades for Conroy to make.
Win the games, or pack your bags
Of course, all this is contingent on the Flames continuing to lose their games. The only way players won’t be traded away to sell off assets is if the Flames finally play to their potential. If this continues, it’s going to be a long couple of years, as the Flames embark on the rebuild.