Last week, I wrote about who the Calgary Flames should target ahead of the trade deadline to help with their scoring. While there are no major concerns given the team’s solid 15-7-6 start, there are still areas that need improvement. Adding a scoring forward is the most important, though some fans would prefer to see general manager Brad Treliving bring in a defenceman.
So far in 2021-22, the Flames’ top-four – Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington and Chris Tanev – has been steady. However, Nikita Zadorov and Erik Gudbranson have left plenty to be desired on the third pairing, and many believe an upgrade is needed for the team to be successful in the playoffs. Here are five players Treliving should target at the deadline to shore up the blue line.
Jakob Chychrun – Arizona Coyotes
The defenceman whose name has surfaced the most in trade rumours is Jakob Chychrun, especially after Elliotte Friedman recently suggested the Arizona Coyotes were gauging the market on the 23-year-old.
If Chychrun is indeed available, most teams, if not all of them, should be interested. Last season, his 18 goals led all blueliners, while his 41 points ranked 10th. However, he’s had a rough 2021-22 season, as his minus-29 ranks dead last in the league – although a lot of that can be blamed on playing top minutes on a very bad team.
The most appealing thing about Chychrun is his contract. Not only is he underpaid with a cap hit of just $4.6 million, but he has three seasons remaining on his deal. Of course, that means he won’t come cheap. If Treliving wants to add him, he would need to put together a hefty package.
Mark Giordano – Seattle Kraken
The Flames’ biggest offseason loss was their captain, Mark Giordano. The 38-year-old was unsurprisingly selected by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft, marking the first time in his lengthy NHL career that he joined a different organization.
Many were worried that losing Giordano would be a huge blow to the Flames’ blue line without an offensive defenseman on the team to replace him. Thankfully, Kylington has stepped up in a big way in that regard, but there is no denying that the team has missed Giordano’s calming two-way presence.
However, Giordano has struggled with the Kraken, posting just eight points in 25 games. Like Chychrun, his team hasn’t been good, which has certainly played a part in his lower numbers. Given the fact that he is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, a reunion with the Flames shouldn’t be out of the picture.
Ben Chiarot – Montreal Canadiens
Ben Chiarot is guaranteed to be moved ahead of the 2022 trade deadline. The Montreal Canadiens’ major struggles in 2021-22 means they will almost certainly ship out any pending unrestricted free agents at the deadline, including the 30-year-old rearguard.
Chiarot, who has never cracked 25 points in a season in his 446-game career, does not have nearly the same offensive talent as the two listed above. However, he is solid in his own end and has averaged north of 20 minutes per game in his three seasons with the Habs. In 2021-22, he has five goals and seven points in 31 games while averaging 23:30 minutes.
The one issue with Chiarot is the cost it will take to acquire him. There have been rumours that the Canadiens are looking for a first-round draft pick, which is a steep price to pay for a player of his calibre. However, he is an upgrade over Zadorov on the left side, so this will likely come down to whether or not Treliving believes his group has a shot at the Stanley Cup.
Josh Manson – Anaheim Ducks
Another defenseman whose name has come up a lot in trade rumours is Josh Manson. The 30-year-old has been an under-the-radar, rock-solid defensive defenceman for a long time and will garner plenty of interest from now until the deadline if he becomes available.
Heading into the 2021-22 season, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Manson would be dealt at some point by the Ducks, but given their solid record, that may no longer be the case. Ranked second in the Pacific Division, general manager Jeff Solomon may choose to keep his roster intact to give some of his young players some playoff experience. If they begin to slide down the standings before the deadline, however, a player like Manson will be on the move.
Manson, who has played all 441 of his NHL games in a Ducks uniform, has a team-friendly $4.1 million cap hit. While he isn’t known to produce offensively, he is very solid in his own end and would be a great addition to the Flames’ roster.
Flames Have Options
As mentioned last week regarding Calgary’s forward options, there should be many players available for Treliving to improve his roster between now and the deadline. We’ll have to wait and see which route he chooses – adding a forward or defenceman – and of course, he may end up adding both. Regardless, salary will have to be moved out, meaning this roster could, and likely will, look different between now and the trade deadline on Mar. 21.
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.