So far in the 2021-22 season, there hasn’t been much to complain about if you’re a Calgary Flames fan. This team has fully bought into Darryl Sutter’s system, and it’s paying off in a big way, as they are a much more consistent team than just one season prior. They currently sit just four points shy of the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the Pacific Division while also having four games in hand.
If there are any concerns with this team, they have been brought to light during their current four-game losing streak. One is a lack of secondary scoring, as they haven’t been getting much offence outside of their top stars as of late. Given that a playoff berth seems likely for the Flames at this point, general manager Brad Treliving should strongly consider adding a scoring forward to this lineup ahead of the trade deadline. Here are some options he could take a look at.
Tomas Hertl, Center
One player who has had tons of trade rumors surrounding him since the beginning of the season is Tomas Hertl. The San Jose Sharks forward is in the final year of a four-year contract that carries a cap hit of $5.625 million.
Hertl was linked to the Flames this fall, though nothing materialized, at least yet. The 28-year-old has expressed a desire to remain with the Sharks, but given the fact the two sides haven’t reached a new contract yet, it may force general manager Doug Wilson to ship him off for assets rather than risk losing him for nothing in the offseason. In 30 games this season, he has put up a team-leading 14 goals and 22 points, and would be a huge boost to the Flames’ top-six.
Filip Forsberg, Left Wing
Another forward who would provide a significant offensive boost to the Flames is Filip Forsberg. The current Nashville Predator is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and has a manageable cap hit of $6 million. He has been an extremely consistent goal scorer since his rookie season in 2014-15, scoring 20 or more in six of the past seven seasons.
Forsberg has been great thus far in the 2021-22 season, scoring 13 goals and 22 points in just 21 games. Thanks in large part to his great play, the Predators have surprised many early on and currently sit in second place in the Central Division. Their hot start may have the Predators hesitant on trading him right now, but if they begin to slide down the standings prior to the deadline, he is a player that many teams will be inquiring about, and the Flames should be one of them.
Rickard Rakell, Left Wing
Though his play had fallen off in recent seasons, Anaheim Ducks forward Rickard Rakell has been solid when healthy during the 2021-22 season, posting eight goals and 13 points in 22 games. The 28-year-old has been involved in trade rumors for a number of years now, and that may soon again pick up given the fact he is in the final year of a six-year contract that carries a cap hit of just $3.80 million.
Like Forsberg, the Ducks may end up holding onto Rakell due to the fact that they are currently sitting second place in the Pacific. Given the fact that most expected them to be a lottery team this season, however, it wouldn’t come as a big surprise if they started to fall down the standings in the near future. If that is the case, Rakell would almost certainly be on the move.
Phil Kessel, Right Wing
The Arizona Coyotes have just six wins in 29 games this season, and non-surprisingly, they don’t have a ton of attractive assets to trade away. One player who teams have already been calling about, and one who will almost certainly be traded at or prior to the deadline, is Phil Kessel. The 34-year-old is no longer the dynamic winger he was with both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs, but he’s still capable of putting the puck in the back of the net.
While he, along with the rest of his team, has struggled immensely in 2021-22, he was solid the season prior, scoring 20 goals and 43 points in 56 games. The one issue with Kessel is that although he is in the last year of his deal, he has a cap hit of $6.8 million. The Flames wouldn’t be able to make room for that salary, but they may be able to convince the Coyotes to retain some of his salary. If the Coyotes were willing, he is a player worth considering.
Jake DeBrusk, Left Wing
The final option the Flames should consider to boost their forward group is Jake DeBrusk. The son of former NHLer Louie DeBrusk recently requested a trade from the Boston Bruins, the team which selected him 14th overall in the 2015 draft. Through his first three seasons in the league, he appeared to be on the right track to stardom, but he had a very disappointing 2020-21 season in which he put up just 14 points in 41 games. He hasn’t been much better this season, and appears to be in need of a change of scenery.
At 25 years old, DeBrusk still has room to grow as a player and has shown how good he can be in the past, particularly during the 2018-19 season, where he scored a career-high 27 goals. A move to a new team may bring that player back, and if so, he’d make him a great addition to this Flames team. On top of that, he is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the Flames could keep him around once this season comes to an end if they wish to do so.
Plenty to Choose From
With the trade deadline set for Feb. 10, Treliving still has some time to decide which player(s) he wants to target. The options listed above would be some of the preferred ones, but there are plenty of others who will be available by the time the deadline rolls around. If the Flames are able to land one who can help with their scoring, they will be viewed by many as contenders by the time the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.