As the North Division reaches the mid point of the season, the Flames are in danger of watching the playoffs slip away. With a critical two game series coming up against the Canadiens, the Flames risk losing sight of the peloton. AKA the teams in the playoffs. With the fear of getting left behind, what will the Flames do at the deadline?
Brad Treliving was clearly a cat in a previous life. Since taking over as GM of the Flames, the team has seen five different coaches walk in and out their doors. The team has made the playoffs in four times, but they have just one Second Round appearance to show for it. Not to suggest that Treliving is on the hot seat, but at a certain point you have to ask the question.
The bigger, and more glaring issue with Treliving tenure has been his inability to provide a suitable winger to play with Gaudreau and Monahan. Elias Lindholm was exceptional when on the top line, but there has been a clear emphasis made to balance the attack in the top six. The problem is that the Flames lack any sort of depth on the Right Wing outside of Andrew Mangiapane.
Treliving will not go down quietly and has made that clear bringing back Sutter. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the options on the trade market.
If I had told you that that the Flames were eyeing a Right Wing in Anaheim how many of you would have immediately said Rickard Rackell? The 27 year old has sky rocketed up Trade Bait boards across the league and would be a perfect fit for the Flames. The problem is I do not think they have the pieces to make it work if (more likely when) the bidding war begins.
Heinen on the other hand has found himself to be the odd man out since Trevor Zegras joined the big club. Heinen’s $2.8M Average Annual Value (AAV) is a lower and more affordable price tag. Of course the issue is that this is a method the Flames have tried time and time again with little to no success. Heinen is a third line player on a contending team, which in the Flames case isn’t a bad thing. If Heinen slid onto the third line with success, it would allow Mangiapane to finally move up the depth chart. Something that he has without a doubt earned.
Trading for Heinen however, would give the Flames the financial flexibility to keep all their roster players. Instead of trading money out to bring it in, the Flames can move future assets and continue to see how their current roster plays under Sutter.
Mantha looked to be turning the corner into a bonafide star last season. He averaged close to a Point per Game on one of the worst roster ever assembled in hockey history. They did go perfect against the Habs so I shouldn’t talk. However, Mantha seems to have come crashing back down to earth this season, fresh off signing an extension to boot.
Mantha would be closer to a Rakell type investment versus a Heinen, however if there were a time to take a chance on a player of this caliber, it’s now. Mantha is a modern day power forward with an incredible scoring touch. A combination of skills that I would compare to Rick Nash, however Mantha lacks the play driving ability, and does require some skill around him to reach his potential.
Gaudreau and Monahan could desperately use someone of Mantha’s skill set. Both have incredible vision and Johnny Hockey is one of the best at creating space for himself and his teammates by dragging defenders out of position. Mantha’s size would give this line an added dimension to play a stronger cycle game to further open up the Offensive Zone.
BONUS – If the price tag gets too high, Bobby Ryan on the cheap could be lightning in a bottle.
Full disclosure, I love Max Domi. I also think he would be the best fit for the Flames in so many ways. First and foremost, and this is just personal opinion, Domi needs the big market pressure. It is something that he thrives on. As far as I am concerned Domi’s best hockey came in Montreal because he embraced and loved the limelight. This is the exact sort of treatment he would get in Calgary, except a little less pressure on his shoulders.
Domi is a versatile player which would offer the Flames a lot of roster flexibility in terms of lines combinations and in-game adjustments. Just like Lindholm, Domi can play Center and the Wing, making them interchangeable and allowing Sutter to play his lines based on feel and game situation. Not only do I see a clear path to success for Domi on a line with Monahan and Gaudreau, but I would argue that he could be better suited next to Tkachuk.
At this point Domi’s asking price is probably not that high. The Blue Jackets gave up a lot to acquire him, and the contract they signed him to is not going to do them any favours. The logical trade piece going the other way would be Sam Bennett, which would make the money work. The question would be, what sort of additional pieces would it take to get this done?
BONUS – TANNER PEARSON
The Canucks would have to throw in the towel on the season for this to happen, but this trade would make the most sense logistically. What does that mean? Glad you asked!
The Canadian division is at a significant disadvantage with the quarantine protocols in place. A full two week quarantine is mandatory for any player coming across the border as we saw with Pierre-Luc Dubois. Now consider the fact that you are likely facing a situation where the team loses a roster player for two weeks in the midst of a playoff push.
Seems more like taking two steps back to take one forward and that’s why trading in division would make more sense. While it makes more sense in theory, good luck getting your competition to give you the edge.
As always check out the rest of the content in the Hot Sauce Sports family. This week on Not Sauce For Work Peeze, Terry and Eagle talk NBA All Star Game, NFL off season and the huge Dak Prescott signing down in Dallas.