Calgary Flames Should Avoid Trading for Josh Anderson

The Calgary Flames are searching for a scoring winger. That won’t come as much of a surprise to fans of the team, as general manager (GM) Brad Treliving harped on it throughout training camp, and plenty of media have let it be known that he is continuing to survey the market in hopes of landing one. While there were no direct names linked in the early stages, that has now changed, as Josh Anderson of the Montreal Canadiens is believed to be of interest.

Related: Flames News & Rumors: Anderson, Kylington, Huberdeau & More

TSN’s Salim Valji sent out a Tweet days ago saying that the Flames have had an interest in Anderson in the past, and believes they could explore that option again. That may very well be the case, as Derek MacKinnon, one of several scouts they have on staff, was in attendance for the Canadiens’ game on Tuesday night (Nov. 15) against the New Jersey Devils.

Anderson’s Contract Would Be Difficult to Take On

There have been many in the hockey world that have been high on Anderson and his playing ability for years, and for legitimate reasons. With his goal-scoring ability, matched with his 6-foot-3, 218-pound frame, he is one of the league’s true power forwards. On top of putting the puck in the back of the net, he can both hit and fight, making him a very unique talent in today’s game. With that said, there are plenty of red flags when it comes to his current situation as well.

Josh Anderson Montreal Canadiens
Josh Anderson, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Throughout his career, and specifically in recent years, Anderson has had trouble staying healthy. He missed 13 games last season with the Canadiens, and two seasons prior to that was limited to just 26 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Now, if he were on an expiring contract, or one with relatively short-term remaining, the injury history may not be as big of an issue. That isn’t the case, however, as he is in just the third year of a seven-year, $38.5 million deal that carries an average annual value of $5.5 million.

Latest News & Highlights

When that contract was signed, there were plenty of detractors, as Anderson’s game is old school, one that many believed could struggle to adapt to the newer-styled NHL. To his credit, that hasn’t been a major issue, as he has been relatively productive for the Habs when in the lineup, at least based simply on looking at stats from the past few seasons.

One thing about Anderson that can be concerning, however, is that he tends to be very streaky. When he is scoring in bunches, things are great, but when he is not, he can be an extremely frustrating player to watch. That inconsistency may make his $5.5 million cap hit a hard one to stomach in the coming years if the Flames were to acquire him.

Habs Not Likely to Retain Anderson’s Salary

The other issue that makes this trade a risky one is that the Habs likely won’t be willing to retain much, if any, of Anderson’s salary. While he has been involved in trade rumors for some time now, GM Kent Hughes is by no means desperate to move him. He is still a beneficial player for them, and if Treliving doesn’t bring an offer they feel is fair, they could very well choose to hold onto him.

From the Flames’ perspective, this trade wouldn’t just be difficult to pull off this season, but it could cause serious cap issues in future years. Keep in mind that this season Jonathan Huberdeau is still at a cap hit of just $5.9 million, a number which will nearly double to $10.5 for the next eight seasons afterward. While it is believed the NHL’s maximum salary cap could increase by as much as $4 million next season, that is by no means a guarantee. And, even if it were to, that cap hit of Anderson’s would ensure there would be little to no upgrades brought in via free agency next summer, and could even result in a player or two on the current roster having to go elsewhere.

Flames Wise to Wait for Better Options

Though the Flames’ start to the season has been far from ideal, there is no reason to panic just yet. They have the luxury of playing in a relatively weak Pacific Division, and shouldn’t have much of a problem getting back into a top-three spot in short order.

The best thing they can do in terms of adding the scoring winger they desire is to wait things out and see how the market shifts as the trade deadline gets closer. Certain players such as Vladimir Tarasenko and perhaps even Patrick Kane, both of whom are far superior players to Anderson, could be made available by then and are both set to become unrestricted free agents at season’s end. Even if those two are pipe dreams, there should, and likely will be better options in the near future than Anderson, and the Flames would be wise to wait until that happens.

Sign up for our regular 'Flames Newsletter' for all the latest.