It’s been an eventful offseason for the Calgary Flames.
But there’s a growing feeling that Flames GM Brad Treliving is going to make another move.
Maybe it’s because pre-season projections all seem to include prospect Jakob Pelletier in the top six. Or perhaps it’s because Treliving has a plethora (10!) of defencemen on one-way contracts. They have arguably the deepest top six in the league. And another handful who could comfortably suit up as a sixth or seventh defender. It’s an obvious position of strength to deal from to snare another top-nine winger.
The bigger the talent, the bigger the name who may depart the back end.
On the lower end, Juuso Valimaki is a popular name as potential trade bait. He has draft pedigree and experience at both the NHL and AHL levels. The 23-year-old has been through a lot since playing 24 games with the Flames in 2018-19. He sat out the following season with a torn ACL. Loaned to Ilves, he started the 2020-21 season in the Finnish Liiga with the NHL facing a pandemic delay.
He finished that year with 49 games with the Calgary Flames, scoring twice and posting 11 points in that span. Valimaki did not seem to have the same trust in head coach Darryl Sutter’s first full season, though, with the prospect suiting up for just nine games in the NHL last year.
He did enjoy more responsibility with the Stockton Heat, playing 35 games and earning a pair of goals and 18 points. Another 10 games in the Heat playoff run.
It’s clear his value has dropped significantly with the Calgary Flames since the franchise drafted him 16th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. How much he still carries with other teams, however, is to be determined.
Could Kylington be dangled for a bigger fish?
Connor Mackey is another player who could be in play as a bargaining chip or NHL replacement. The 25-year-old has looked solid in two professional seasons. He had five goals and 36 points with the Heat last year and chipped in an assist in three games with the Flames. His status as a Black Ace in the NHL playoffs seemed to indicate he’d surpassed Valimaki in the pecking order.
A name few want to hear attached to the NHL trade block right now is Oliver Kylington. The 25-year-old just signed a new two-year deal at a team-friendly salary and his value has never been higher. But he’s also the kind of young roster player with lots of upside teams will be asking about first.
Noah Hanifin has been mentioned because his $4.95 million deal comes to an end two summers from now. But it’s difficult to imagine the Flames worrying about that given their mandate to win now.
If any one, or combination, of these assets are moved, the Calgary Flames have their annual tradition of signing Michael Stone to fall back on. Their perennial No. 7 showed late last season and into the playoffs he’s a reliable reserve who shows little rust when needed to jump into the lineup.
Guys like Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Bertuzzi, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews are among the bigger names rumoured to be on the block this summer. You can add guys like Lars Eller, James van Riemsdyk, Anthony Beauvillier and Christian Dvorak to the talked-about category.
And then there are players like Jordan Eberle and Joonas Donskoi, who play for the Seattle Kraken but are in their 30s and have contracts that need attention in the next year or two.
Can Flames make a play for Atkinson or Olofsson?
Perhaps they could pry Cam Atkinson from the flailing Flyers, or Victor Olofsson from the still rebuilding Buffalo Sabres. Or familiar friend Paul Byron from now frequent trade partner Montreal.
If the Calgary Flames fail to add through trade, tinkering is sure to come via free agency. Either with signings or training camp invitations. There are still some upside scraps to pick through.
Phil Kessel played with Calgary Flames newcomer Nazem Kadri in Toronto. Sonny Milano meshed well with Trevor Zegras in Anaheim and is still just 26 years old. Evan Rodrigues put himself on the radar with a strong season and playoff showing with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Viktor Rask, Sam Steel, Rocco Grimaldi, Jonathan Dahlen, Alex Chiasson, Brendan Perlini and even Alex Galchenyuk are others who might be considered for PTOs. Either by the Flames or another club.
It may all hinge on how successful Treliving is at making one final splash this summer.