As the Calgary Flames seem to be figuring out where many players fit within their lineup, they are also uncovering the team’s needs. For example, despite their winning record and a wild card spot within reach, they are struggling to produce offense. They score 3.08 goals per game, a figure which ranks them 19th across all NHL teams. In addition, their power play is 24th league-wide, converting at a 20.9 percent clip. However, the Flames actually generate the fifth most shots, which means they are creating opportunities but are having difficulties putting the puck in the net as no member of the team has recorded more than 10 goals as of yet.
This would logically lead many to believe that the Flames are in need of a proven finisher, and unfortunately for them, they do not grow on trees. They also don’t usually come cheap, and the Flames are already up against the salary cap ceiling with approximately $1.25 million left in space. Therefore a large contract or two will have to be shipped out if the team wants to add a major difference-maker. There are cheaper options available such as calling up one of the many offensive studs from the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Calgary Wranglers, but if general manager (GM) Brad Treliving and company don’t see this as the answer, there are likely NHL moves on the way shortly. Let’s have a look at some names that may be available and how they might fit into the Flames’ lineup.
Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
Likely the top available forward on the trade market is Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser. It was recently announced that the team granted him and his agent permission to talk to other teams, and it’s reported that that list is at six teams. Boeser would be exactly what the Flames want; the Minnesota-born sniper has recorded 23 goals or more four times in his career thus far. In fact, on a per 82-game basis he averages 30 goals, 65 points, and a 13 percent shooting percentage to boot. His team controls the puck whenever he is on the ice as well, as his career Corsi For rating comes in at 58 percent. Surely he would look great sharing the ice alongside Nazem Kadri or depositing passes from a skilled playmaker such as Jonathan Huberdeau.
While Boeser is exactly what the Flames want, there are difficulties involved with his acquisition. For starters, while his per 82-game stats look marvelous, he has never actually played all 82 games in any of his NHL seasons (he did play all 56 in the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season) and has missed six games already this season. A fractured back, a rib injury, a hand injury, and a myriad of illnesses have been among the things that have kept him from playing hockey. The other issue with him is his contract; he is in the first season of a three-year deal that pays him $6.65 million average annual value (AAV). The Canucks don’t seem to be interested in retaining salary and therefore the Flames would need to move a lot of money out to fit Boeser’s contract on their books.
Anthony Duclair, Florida Panthers
Next, a bit lesser-known name that could be had is Florida Panthers forward Anthony Duclair. He is currently on the team’s injured reserve after undergoing surgery on his Achilles tendon back in July. The Panthers’ finances are quite messy currently with zero cap space and both Duclair and Patric Hornqvist returning from injuries soon. There is a minimal chance that both men will be able to skate for the team again due to NHL cap restraints, making way for trade rumours. Duclair is the more attractive of the two for the Flames; he is coming off a career-high 31 goals and 58 points in 2021-22. Per 82 games, he scores 21 goals and 44 points. Plus, he is quite familiar with new Flames star Jonathan Huberdeau having skated over 300 minutes with him last season.
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Duclair converts on 14 percent of shots in his career, and like Boeser, he has a very positive Corsi For rating of 55 percent. Another nice thing about his acquisition is that it would be a lot easier financially. He is owed $3 million this season and the next before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Flames would likely get a better deal because of the Panthers’ financial pickle as well. The French-Canadian does struggle with injuries, having not played a full season since his first in 2015-16 with the Arizona Coyotes; however, when healthy, he is always a threat to score and at 27 years old is just nearing his prime.
Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers
Last on this edition’s list is Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny. While their GM Chuck Fletcher hasn’t openly indicated whether or not his team is headed for a rebuild, they certainly seem destined for one from an outside perspective. They currently sit third last in the East and don’t boast much in prospects or future assets, leaving fans little hope. Konecny would likely be their finest available piece should they make this decision, as the 25-year-old is a point-per-game player this season with 23 points in 21 games including 10 goals. He is not as pure of a goal-scorer as the previous two players but puts up solid numbers. In 449 career games, he’s totaled 120 goals and 294 points, equating to an average of 22 goals and 54 points per season.
Konecny also offers something the other two players do not; he plays a grittier game that includes throwing his body around to the tune of 87 hits per year to go along with sacrificing his body for an average of 41 blocked shots a season. Furthermore, he is more durable than Boeser and Duclair, playing less than 70 games in a season only once in his career apart from the shortened 2020-21 season. Coach Darryl Sutter would almost surely love to add a player such as this to his lineup. His only knock is affordability, as he is owed $5.5 million AAV for two more years after this one. The Flyers will also likely want a high pick and a decent prospect to take on a large contract and trade away one of their best offensive players.
To conclude, Treliving might decide to stand pat or pursue a player of a lesser calibre than the ones listed above. All the same, after last summer it is clear he is certainly not afraid to make a splash. If the Flames don’t start depositing pucks as frequently as they are shooting them, a change should be made to shake things up.
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Derek Olsen has a Bachelor of General Studies with focuses in History and English, and is now working on a Bachelor of Education. He grew up an avid sports fan and participant, but hockey has and always will be the most important to him. Eat, sleep, and hockey. Blood, sweat, tears, and hockey. He has a relative presence in the ever-expanding sports card industry and claims his collection will “be his retirement”. He is pleased to be able to write for The Hockey Writers and to cover the Calgary Flames.