With the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline coming and going, the Calgary Flames had some interesting decisions to make. Coming into the season as one of the favourites in the Western Conference after last season’s 107-point showing, they have struggled to gain any type of traction this season.
The inconsistent squad currently sits in the top wild-card position with 70 points, but have the Arizona Coyotes, Winnipeg Jets, and the Nashville Predators all within two points of them.
Did the Flames Do Enough?
The deadline day was quiet for the Flames, especially when you compare it to the day their provincial rival had. Despite it being a quiet day, general manager Brad Treliving still made a few moves to give his team some help as they look to climb up the Pacific Division.
Add Forbort and Gustafsson
In total, the Flames made three trades. The final deal, however, didn’t impact the roster at all as they sent American Hockey League defenceman Brandon Davidson to the San Jose Sharks for future considerations. The first trade of the day saw them bring in Los Angeles Kings defenceman Derek Forbort for a 2021 conditional fourth-round draft pick.
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Forbort is a steady defensive defenceman who has been limited to just 13 games this season due to a back injury. The 27-year-old is a former first-round pick, having been selected by the Kings 15th overall back in 2010. He had spent his entire NHL career with the Kings (268 games).
For the Flames’ second deal of the day, they brought in former Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson, 27, put his name on the map last season when he went off for a career-high 17 goals and 60 points in 79 games. This season, his play has fallen off, with 26 points in 59 games.
The offensive numbers are still fairly impressive, however, his defensive play has been questionable, and resulted in him being a healthy scratch earlier in the season. Despite the down season, this deal still seems like a no brainer for the Flames. They were able to grab him for just a third-round pick. This is an extremely cheap price, especially if he re-elevates his game anywhere near last season’s standard.
Addressed Injury Issues
Although many fans will argue that Calgary needed help up front more than they did on the back end, it is important to note the injuries they currently have. The Flames have two key defensemen in Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic on the injured reserve. Giordano has been out of the lineup since Feb. 5 when he took an awkward fall while attempting a one-timer, which resulted in a hamstring injury. Hamonic was injured on Feb. 10 in a game against the Vancouver Canucks with what the team is calling an upper-body injury.
The good news for Flames fans is that it sounds like Giordano is nearing a return and could be back in the lineup sometime this week. Until then, it may give Gustafsson a chance to showcase himself as the offensive defenceman the Flames need. With Giordano out of the lineup, Noah Hanifin leads the Flames in points from the back end with just 21. This has been a big reason why the Flames have struggled to score all season long.
Flames Deadline Day Was Disappointing
The Flames needed scoring, and although Treliving did pick up Gustafsson, he still did not do nearly enough to address that issue. Sure, it is hard to blame him as his team has been underachieving all season long, but he put this roster together and deserves some of that blame. Perhaps an addition up front would’ve brought some chemistry to their forward lines and also given some extra motivation to this group.
In a season in which the Pacific is wide open, the Flames could have added a forward or two and been in a great position to win the division. Instead, Treliving elected to keep the forward group as is.
Flames Control Their Own Destiny
Despite not acquiring any help up front, it should be noted that Calgary still has a great chance to win the division. Though they currently sit in a wild card position with 70 points, they only trail the Vegas Golden Knights by six for tops in the Pacific, while also having a game in-hand.
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If their top forwards such as Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, and Sean Monahan are able to play the rest of the season as they did in 2018-19, it would give the Flames a very good chance to win the Pacific Division for the second straight season.
How Will the Flames Respond?
It will certainly be interesting to see how they respond to the moves (or lack thereof) made on deadline day. Will they view it as motivation, perhaps thinking it is Treliving telling them he believes in the current group they have? Or will they view it as him giving up on the season, and lose their will to compete? We will get our first glimpse Tuesday night when they take on the Bruins in Boston.
Former Jr. A player turned writer. Cover both the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, and am part of both the Flames Faceoff and Oilers Overtime podcasts.