Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving gave himself the flexibility to make a final move. But when Brad Richardson was claimed by the rival Vancouver Canucks, the Flames had little choice to but make one.
Whether it was the one they planned or not is irrelevant now.
Before the NHL trade deadline passed, the Calgary Flames added one more forward to the mix. Ryan Carpenter is on board as another grind-line option.
Strong in the faceoff circle, and a staple on the penalty kill for the Chicago Blackhawks, the 31-year-old centre will compete for time either up the middle or on the wing.
It cost the Flames little – a fifth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. They’ll also pick up an asset to be determined down the road. They made a smaller deal, sending goaltender Michael McNiven to the Ottawa Senators for future considerations.
In Carpenter, the Flames made up for the vacancy left by Richardson’s sudden departure. Waived on Sunday, the 37-year-old veteran was plucked by the Canucks and suddenly the depth Treliving had so meticulously accumulated was lacking in a spot his coach considers a premium.
Flames use same lines as Sunday’s victory
Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter rolled out the lines he used in their weekend win over the Canucks on Monday. Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli at the top; Mikael Backlund flanked by Matthew Tkachuk and Dillon Dube; Blake Coleman, Calle Jarnkrok and Andrew Mangiapane; and Milan Lucic, Sean Monahan and Trevor Lewis.
A right-handed shot, Carpenter could rotate in and out of the wing with Monahan and provide flexibility for faceoffs – which lead to all-important possession in Sutter’s system.
“Ryan was a guy we liked a lot. I think he fits the style we play,” Treliving said. “He’s a north-south player, excellent penalty-killer, plays hard, has some sandpaper to his game and I think he’ll fit in well with us.”
Richardson’s replacement was someone Treliving says they had been looking at prior to the waiver claim on Monday. The GM also admitted the Flames were looking for depth on defence, as prior reports had frequently mentioned.
“I would say once we knew Brad was gone it may have pushed us maybe a little bit more,” Treliving said. “And if we did nothing, we were comfortable with it.
“I think you have to be careful, too, of airlifting guys in just because it’s trade deadline day. Our team has done well, and we’ve added significantly to our team in the last month, and we’re happy with the way the day went.”
Flames made major additions ahead of NHL trade deadline
Treliving was able to be picky and relatively quiet at the NHL trade deadline because of the heavy lifting he did in the weeks leading into it. He picked up Toffoli on Valentine’s Day, and added Jarnkrok last week to significantly bolster the strength up front.
This might be the deepest group of forwards in the league post-deadline when everyone is healthy and playing at the top of their game.
“We like our team,” Treliving said.
And so he should.
This team has been elite since mid-January. There’s no other word to describe a squad that has yet to lose back-to-back contests since a four-game skid more than two months ago.
Multiple 30-goal scorers, A defensive group that is highly underrated. Rasmus Andersson will hit the 40-point threshold with his next one. Two others – Noah Hanifin and Oliver Kylington – are on pace to finish with 35 or more. Chris Tanev has an outside shot at 30 and has already set a career high with 21 points on the season.
More importantly, their 38-16-8 records has them as the frontrunner for the Pacific Division title and a prime slot for the Western Conference playoffs.
Chemistry in locker-room made it easy to lie low
They’re outscoring opponents by a wide margin (+66 goal differential) and, as you might expect, are coming away with the edge in expected goals more nights than not.
Legitimate hardware considerations for Sutter (coach), Gaudreau (Art Ross, Hart), Elias Lindholm (Selke) and goaltender Jacob Markstrom (Vezina) are sidebars to what has been an insanely successful collaborative effort.
They’re playing for each other and dedicated to doing it the same way night in and night out.
“I like the makeup of our team. It’s a real business-like approach,” Treliving said. “They’re steady at the wheel. I like the chemistry of the group. They believe they’re a good team. There’s a good feel around it.
“I’m glad we could add to it.”