Flames Should Be Sellers But Standing Pat May Predict GM’s Future
The Calgary Flames aren’t doing themselves any favours ahead of the NHL trade deadline this week and should be looking at selling. If GM Brad Treliving stands pat, he may not be the one making the decisions for the future.
Time is of the essence. Those were the words of Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving this week in a Q&A with Sportsnet.
In terms of the trade deadline, time is running out.
Maybe it already has.
It’s put Treliving in a bit of a pickle. As much as he wants to believe this is a team that is performing below its capabilities, the Flames are too inconsistent to declare a true Stanley Cup contender. So selling off what few valuable future assets they have for rentals or high-priced talent in the hopes of making a deep playoff run doesn’t seem like a smart move. They might not even get there.
The Calgary Flames woke up four points behind both the Seattle Kraken and Minnesota Wild for the two wild-card spots in the Western Conference.
“Everybody is always focused on buying or selling, but you may stand pat,” Treliving told Eric Francis this week.
“Where we’re at now, you’ve got to be careful putting first and second round picks for UFAs, in my opinion.”
This was before a disastrous loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, with the defending Stanley Cup champion Avs missing Gabe Landeskog and Cale Makar, and playing the same goaltender for a second straight night in different countries.
At their best, the Flames have a powerful puck-possession group that can compete with the league’s best. At their worst, they’re a fragile, mistake-prone set of head-scratchers wondering why they can’t seem to bring that always-moving-forward mentality for the entirety of a single game, never mind string together more than two wins in a row.
They haven’t even had back-to-back victories in a month.
Their last three-game streak — which is still their season high — was way back in early December.
Two games remain for the Flames before the NHL trade deadline. They happen to come against two Eastern Conference powerhouses. The Boston Bruins are at the Saddledome on Tuesday night. The Toronto Maple Leafs visit on Thursday.
If the Flames can’t come away with critical points against these teams in a desperate situation, Treliving should shift to selling mode.
We’re not talking scorched earth, bomb-for-Bedard trade talk. But if you can get any assets for this year’s UFAs — Trevor Lewis, Milan Lucic and Brett Ritchie — pounce on it.
And given the high returns that could be fetched by dealing some of the Flames players who have contracts that expire after next season, it’s at least worth dangling the likes of Mikael Backlund, 33, Tyler Toffoli, 30, Chris Tanev, 33, and Nikita Zadorov.
It’s painful to imagine Backlund ever wearing another jersey in the NHL, but his value may never be higher than it is right now, and there’s a very good chance he’ll choose to move on once his final year expires.
Both Backlund and Tanev have modified no-trade clauses that require them to submit 10-team trade lists. You’d have to think they’d be willing to go to a Stanley Cup contender at this point of their careers.
Especially since it really looks like the Calgary Flames are not in that category. And it’s tough to imagine any offseason moves that would change that next year — which according to the current assembly of this group, should have been a second Cup window.
There may be more important questions to be answered at the highest levels of the Calgary Flames franchise before March 3. Treliving is nearing the end of his deal, so if he’s going to walk, should he really be the guy making these critical moves for this season and beyond?
If not, you have to think the Flames are going to stand pat — something Treliving had alluded to.
Maybe that tells you everything you need to know.