Heading into deadline day, the Calgary Flames were thought to be in search of a defenceman to help bolster their top-six as they prepare for the playoffs. That turned out not to be the case, however, as they instead acquired forward Ryan Carpenter from the Chicago Blackhawks in what was their only addition of the day.
Heading the other way in this deal is a fifth-round pick in 2024, proving that this is very much a depth deal. Nonetheless, general manager Brad Treliving was able to find an inexpensive option to round out his forward depth for a very cheap price. With three goals and 11 points in 59 games this season, Carpenter won’t be relied on to provide offence, but he has other intangibles in his game that will make him a useful player for the Flames down the stretch.
Carpenter Is a Defensive Specialist
Over the course of his 300-game NHL career, Carpenter has turned into a great defensive centerman who does some of his best work on the penalty kill. In each of the past three seasons, he has averaged north of two minutes per game while shorthanded. In 2021-22, his average of 2:10 on the penalty kill trails only Sam Lafferty for Blackhawks forwards.
On top of his great penalty kill work, he is a player who can play in any defensive zone situations, something that could be very handy for the Flames when trying to protect leads late in games. He is your typical lunch pail player who shows up each and every night, makes few mistakes, and is never outworked on the ice. In other words, he is a prototypical Darryl Sutter-type player.
Carpenter Slots Into the Fourth Line
On Sunday, the Flames opened up a spot on their roster by placing forward Brad Richardson on waivers, and he has since been claimed by the Vancouver Canucks. He was often relegated to the press box for the Flames this season but jumped into the lineup when needed. We could see a similar situation with Carpenter, who has never played more than 69 games in a single season throughout his NHL career.
It’s also a possibility that Carpenter takes over the role as the team’s fourth line centerman, a position in which Sean Monahan has found himself as of late. This could end up resulting in Monahan seeing some time on the wing, something that may prove beneficial as he tries to get his game back on track.
While Carpenter has also seen some time on the right wing throughout his career, it’s unlikely he plays anywhere other than center when in the lineup. Part of what makes him such a solid defensive player is his ability to win draws. This season, he has won 174 of 333 total draws for a success rate of 52.3 percent, which ranks amongst the Flames’ best.
Flames Have Quiet Day but Successful Deadline
If one were looking at today and today only, the Flames deadline would seem quite disappointing. The only reason for the lack of moves, however, is because of the fact that Treliving did his best work well in advance.
Back in February, Treliving made one of the best pickups of any team this season, acquiring Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens. He followed that up weeks later with the addition of Calle Jarnkrok from the Nashville Predators, solidifying what has already proven to be a very solid roster. This Carpenter deal was simply icing on the cake, and now it is up to this group to not only finish out the season strong but put their past playoff struggles aside and go on a long run this spring.
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: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, 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.