Flames Acquisition of Toffoli Makes Dube Expendable

On Monday, Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving made a big and crucial move for his squad as they enter the second half of the season, acquiring forward Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens. By all accounts, it was a great trade and one that will benefit the team not only in the short term but for the next few years. It does mean, however, that if Treliving wants to add more ahead of the trade deadline, he will need to move out a contract, as the team now has less than $500,000 in cap space.

Related: Flames’ 3 Most Disappointing Players Through First Half of 2021-22

Most would agree that although the Flames do have a good roster, they are a level below a true Stanley Cup contender. However, anything can happen in the playoffs. With a player like Johnny Gaudreau in the final year of his contract, Treliving needs to keep looking at options that can improve his squad as they prepare for the playoffs. In order to make moves, however, means certain players may become expendable, and one of those players is Dillon Dube.

Not Working Out in Calgary

During the 2019-20 season, Dube, who was just 21-years-old at the time, suited up for 45 games with the Flames, registering six goals and 16 points. Those numbers weren’t staggering but showed promise for the young talented forward. As a result, many were believers that a breakout season was in store in 2020-21.

Dillon Dube Calgary Flames
Dillon Dube, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

That breakout season never happened, however, as Dube managed just 11 goals and 22 points in 51 games, and didn’t seem to impress his head coach in Darryl Sutter as he was healthy scratched on multiple occasions. With that being said, he was still a very young player, and given the promise he showed in both the Western Hockey League as well as the American Hockey League, there was still room for optimism.

That optimism is dimming, as Dube has regressed in 2021-22 with only four goals and 12 points. Averaging less than 12 minutes per game, it is clear he doesn’t have the trust of Sutter, and each game that passes makes it feel less and less likely that he will find his stride. At this point, moving his contract that carries a cap hit of $2.3 million in order to find help at the deadline seems like the best course of action for the Flames to take.

Young Talented Forward

Despite his struggles at the NHL level through the first 167 games of his career, plenty of teams would still be interested in adding a player like Dube. Teams that are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture would have nothing to lose by giving up a rental for a young player who still has potential and another two years remaining on his contract.

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Though they are different types of players, teams could look at a similar situation in Sam Bennett who was traded by the Flames last April. He too was a skilled forward, albeit with more sandpaper to his game, but was struggling to find his offensive touch. When picked up by the Panthers at the deadline he recorded 15 points in 10 regular-season games and is continuing that success in 2021-22 with 21 goals and 30 points through 37 games. It goes to show that sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes for players to play to the level they are capable of.

Little Benefit for Flames to Keep Dube

While some fans may wish to hang on to Dube in hopes that he can still discover his offensive touch, the fact of the matter is this is a team with both high expectations and pressure this season. Treliving chose to give this core another shot when many expected him to blow things up this summer, and with several players on expiring contracts this team could look much different in 2022-23.

Dillon Dube Calgary Flames
Dillon Dube, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In order for a team to go on a deep playoff run, they need contributions from each and every player. Right now, Dube is not providing much of anything for this roster, and could be used as part of a package to bring in a player who provides an immediate impact. Yes, it is possible that he could break out with a new team, but this is a risk the Flames have to be willing to take if they hope to have success in the postseason.