Flames Need to Make a Deadline Move to Keep up in Division

The intent of general manager Brad Treliving of the Calgary Flames has become blurry as the team has not shown good enough results for them to go all-in at the 2023 Trade Deadline, but are still in the race and may not warrant them selling. Just one day remains before this year’s deadline and the Flames have yet to make a move, whether it be adding someone or trading someone away. Any sort of move has to be coming very soon and it will reveal his intentions this season.

The Flames sit in ninth place in the Western Conference and are five points back of both the Winnipeg Jets and Seattle Kraken who hold the two wildcard spots. The Kraken have a game in hand on the Flames as well and the recent stretch of games has proven very difficult for Calgary. They have won just three of the last 11 games, five of which have been in overtime. The team has also lost three in a row and four of the last five, blowing two third-period leads to the Vegas Golden Knights and Boston Bruins. It is obvious that the Flames need reinforcements, but at what cost and how much would an addition or two really change the tune of the season with 21 games remaining?

Flames’ Division Rivals Adding Help

The Flames sit fifth in their division, so all four teams above them in the Pacific Division hold a playoff spot. All four teams have made an addition to some degree this season via trade while the Flames have sat on their hands. The Golden Knights added Dysin Mayo, Ivan Barbashev, Teddy Blueger, and Jonathan Quick for fairly cheap. The Edmonton Oilers acquired Mattias Ekholm in a much larger deal to shore up their defence. The Los Angeles Kings addressed both of their glaring needs by adding both Vladislav Gavrikov and Joonas Korpisalo (from ‘Column: Kings use their heads over hearts in trading Jonathan Quick,’ Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2023). The Kraken even made an early move bringing in depth defenceman Jaycob Megna. It remains to be seen if any of these teams are done making moves yet and could do even more before Calgary pulls off one trade.

Mattias Ekholm Edmonton Oilers
Mattias Ekholm, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Flames are in need of help defensively and on the wing to add scoring. Jakob Pelletier has helped increase scoring a little bit, but the big addition can’t be a rookie. This season’s playoff hopes can’t also hang in the balance of a player who has played 15 NHL games.

The team lacks high-end scoring this season as multiple (too many) players have taken a step back offensively. No player is scoring at a point-per-game rate after three players were last season, including Elias Lindholm. Tyler Toffoli leads the Flames is points per game this season with 0.87. Though a top-six winger could make a difference in a few games seeing as Calgary leads the league in one-goal losses, many have been taken off the board already because of Treliving’s patience.

Related: Flames: 3 Potential Landing Spots for Phillips at Trade Deadline

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Since the Central Division has also struggled as a whole lately, many of those teams have now put themselves back in play for the Flames and have the potential to drop out of the top eight in the conference. That being said, none of the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche, or the Winnipeg Jets have been quiet at this year’s deadline either. The Stars brought in Evgenii Dadonov so far. The Wild acquired a couple of draft picks, Marcus Johansson, and Gustav Nyquist. The Avalanche made a series of moves trading for Ryan Merkley, Matt Nieto, Keith Kinkaid, Jack Johnson, and Lars Eller, while the Jets added Nino Niederreiter. The Flames are the only team in the conference, above or below them, yet to make a trade at this year’s deadline.

Should the Flames Buy?

The Flames’ remaining schedule isn’t a breeze, but it also isn’t extremely difficult. That being said, they have points to make up and this time of the season is always very hard to win. Calgary hasn’t shown much ability to come out on top in the tough games and have won just 27 of 61 games this season.

Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving
Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal)

Where they are in the standings could call for a depth move or two, but also allow them to sell some of their depth pieces as well such as Trevor Lewis. There is a very logical argument for Treliving to stand pat and see how the season plays out while saving assets. This may not be their year, and with more comfortability and chemistry among the players, they could come back stronger next season and have more assets to work with to go on a run. I’m not counting the Flames out, but with the lack of movement by Treliving, it appears as though the team is going to have a quiet trade deadline.

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