Oof, two straight Ls to the second worst team in the north (were last) with a combined two goals against a rookie goaltender. The 2018-19 excitement is all but erased from our memories as the team continues to lose, and can barely put the puck in the net at that.
There has been a lot of chatter online about a potential rebuild looming so I thought I'd share my own opinion about what a rebuild would look like for the Flames organization.
Right off the bat I want to say this, Darryl Sutter is in Calgary to win a Stanley cup. He isn't here to develop players or lead this team to a cup in 10 years. The Flames want to win as soon as possible. As well the Flames have a plethora of young solid players that could certainly be a part of Stanley cup winning core if they added some more top end talent (Hanifin, Lindholm, Tkachuk, Mangiapane, Andersson, Tanev, Valimaki, and Dube). That's why in my opinion a Flames rebuild may be more of a significant "re-tool".
So to start I'm going to highlight the players that I think will be almost certainly gone if the Flames choose to go down this path.
Bye Bye 2015-2020 Core
El Capitain has definitely lost a step. He shouldn't be protected in the expansion draft and therefore I think he will be gone by next season at the latest.
I love Johnny as much as anyone but dump n chase style hockey isn't really in his blood. Building on that he also probably has the highest trade value of any Flame, excluding Tkachuk.
While Mony has been a fan favourite since he was drafted. He is a number 2 center at best, and right now the Flames have a better #2 center in Elias Lindholm. Add in Backlund, and Monahans role on this team gets smaller and smaller.
Backs has probably been one of the best Flames forwards this year, and thats exactly why I think the Flames should trade him sooner rather than later. You could get a serious package for Backlund especially at the deadline. Could you imagine sending him to Toronto at the deadline? They would pay a premium for the center that has been tasked with McDavid duty for the past 5 years.
At this point Bennetts likelihood of being a Calgary Flame next season are really low with the expansion draft incoming. If I am Brad I would try an recoup any asset I can for Bennett at the deadline this year, which probably could be as high as a 2nd round pick or even an A prospect/ a first if the Flames retained salary. Before you call me crazy, Tampa paid a 1st for Barclay Goodrow last deadline and Bennett brings the same sort of impact.
Big Save Dave is a UFA and won't be resigning in Calgary it just doesn't make sense lol.
Another solid UFA the Flames could sell at the Deadline and bring in a decent pick. He could come with a similar Blake Coleman type trade from last year where with salary retained the Devils acquired a 1st and Nolan Foote. Ryan may not get that much but he definitely would be a solid rental for any team looking to improve their 4th line.
Before or After the Deadline?
With the deadline in just over two weeks the Flames need to decide whether to ride it out and make their moves in the summer, or sell hard now. Derek Ryan, Sam Bennett and David Rittich should all be moved in the next two weeks, get value for them while they can and look for teams who need help in the coming months.
With Sean Monahan I'd wait until the summer. The $ that comes alongside him is a hard sell at the deadline for a guy with two even strength goals in the last 27 games. However teams in the summer may be more open to make a move for him after they have a dissapointing run in the playoffs and look for help in the most important position on the ice. I have a trade package below with him to Montreal that could perhaps happen at the deadline if the Habs panic when other teams make moves.
For Giordano, if you can find a buyer for him do it now. Moving a teams captain mid-season is the biggest wake up call for any team and would help the next leadership group take over before the season kicks off next fall.
Mikael Backlund is a tougher one but he would be a great deadline acquisition for a team looking to make some serious noise in the playoffs. With the Leafs showing interest in Mikael Granlund, I wonder if Dubas would be interested in the upgraded version of him in the Flames swedish center.
Johnny Gaudreau is interesting for two reasons. With this contract status up only a year away, a team trading for him now could maybe entice him to resign this summer if they go on a run. Trading for him now gives a team two shots at a cup with the speedy winger; making his value before April 12th probably double what it would be in the summer. Johnny also has a M-NTC that kicks in this summer so moving him now is a lot easier and hopefully Brad could start a bidding war between the teams that are most desperate for a top 6 star (Toronto, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, etc).
What Could They Get?
Right now the Flames best bet at speeding up a rebuild is attempting to build a big package for Jack Eichel. However, at this point they don't really have the prospects or draft capital to out do teams like LA, NYR, MTL, OTT etc.
While Buffalo isn't going to swap Eichel for Gaudreau and Monahan, if the Flames were to move the aforementioned players they could probably get enough to catch Buffalos attention. A few trades I would investigate:
Johnny Gaudreau to Philadelphia for Nolan Patrick, Joel Farabee and a 1st round pick.
Mikael Backlund (50% Retained) and Sam Bennett (50% Retained) to Toronto for Alex Kerfoot a 1st/2nd round pick and Nick Robertson OR Rodion Amirov.
David Rittich to the Washington Capitals for Vitek Vanecek and a 2nd round pick.
Mark Giordano (Somewhat Retained) to the Winnipeg Jets for a 2nd Round pick.
Sean Monahan, Oliver Kylington and the Flames 2nd & 4th round picks to Montreal for Cole Caufield.
Derek Ryan to somewhere for a 2nd round pick.
These trade packages are all hypothetical but here are my reasonings:
Trade Johnny and get serious trade capital in Patrick and the Draft pick while bringing in a player that could potentially play in the Flames top 9.
Bring in an A prospect for Bennett and Backlund that could either make the Flames down the road or be used as a big trade chip.
Get what you can for Rittich as the Capitals look to stablize their net situation for a potential cup run.
Get what you can for Giordano.
Get as much as you can for Monahan and Kylington. Montreal needs help down the middle and Cole Caufield could be a great trade chip or be an instant impact in the Flames top 6.
You blow up the core now, and the Flames could realistically be picking in the top 7 or 8 come July. At the draft the Flames could elect to flip some of the young talent they brought in alongside a top pick to build a package for Eichel that is competitve with some of the other teams who will be hunting for Jack this summer.
To Buffalo: Nolan Patrick, Nick Robertson/Rodion Amirov/Cole Caufield, and Two First Round picks
To Calgary: Jack Eichel and some draft compensation.
You do all this, between now and the draft/ resign or replace Nesterov, and the Flames would enter free agency looking like this:
While this roster still has some holes, particularly down the middle and in the bottom 6. The Flames after retaining some cap hits with Backlund, Gaudreau and Giordano would still have roughly 10 million dollars in cap space. Use that to bring in a solid 3rd line center and the Flames get a lot younger with no skater besides Tanev, Nesterov and Lucic over the age of 26. The Flames need to get younger and turn their core into a supporting cast behind young top end talent.
If you can't get Eichel than you look elsewhere. Perhaps Aleksander Barkov in Florida if they don't think they can get him to resign in 2022. If not him maybe you look at a younger guy with more upside like one of LAs young studs. You can always build through the draft but if the Flames want to get competitive again, they'll need to go big fish hunting.
While this is a pipe dream, I think my main point here is that even though the Flames don't have serious draft capital or a crazy nice prospect pool, they have moveable pieces that could help them get back into contention in the next few years.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter @CofRUnfiltered, I feel like the only real outrageous mock-trade could be the Montreal one but whatever.
Go Flames Go!