Flames Should Shuffle Their Depth Ahead of Trade Deadline

General manager Brad Treliving and the Calgary Flames made the first splash leading up to the March 21 trade deadline by acquiring Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens. Many fans lauded Treliving for bringing in an impact right-shot winger, which the team needed, and not giving up a regular roster player in the process. It’s just under three weeks until the trade deadline and many are wondering if the team will make any more moves.

According to CapFriendly, the Flames have $580,500 in cap space right now and are projected to have $870,750 by the deadline. It is not much to work with but it does give them some space to make another move, although they would likely still need to move money out. The question remains though of what the team will do to improve. They have been rumoured to be in on some depth defencemen and knowing Treliving’s track record, that may still happen. The team could shuffle their depth forwards as well to have a good reserve in case of injuries down the stretch.

Treliving Should Shuffle up the Depth

The Flames have had a pretty consistent lineup since the calendar turned to 2022 with their top two lines playing well together. Since Toffoli was brought in, that has essentially solidified all four forward lines. As it stands today, the team’s extra forwards are Brett Ritchie and Brad Richardson, along with Michael Stone as the seventh defenceman. The forwards have a combined four points in 48 games played and Stone has only played in two games this season.

Brad Richardson Calgary Flames
Brad Richardson, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ritchie and Richardson combine for a cap hit of $1.7 million, which like Tyler Pitlick, could be moved out for cap purposes to add another player. Moving one of those players out could help the Flames improve their depth, by bringing in a player who may push Trevor Lewis to the press box or as an upgrade to one of Ritchie or Richardson. Travis Boyd of the Arizona Coyotes comes to mind and is a player they could try and add who’s having a nice season with 24 points in 45 games.

It’s hard to believe, but Stone is now in his sixth season with the Flames as he has become the team’s bonafide seventh defenceman. He’s played 171 games since being acquired from the Coyotes in 2016-17. Last season he played 21 games and played fairly well in a third pair role after Darryl Sutter took over behind the bench. He is a coveted right-shot defenceman which coaches and management surely want to have in the case one of their righties goes down.

There are options out there for the team to improve their depth, such as Justin Braun who the Flames have already been linked to. He is a right shot who has been playing top-four minutes for the Philadelphia Flyers who could replace Erik Gudbranson. The clearer move may be to bring in players to replace one of Ritchie or Richardson to give the Flames some dependable depth for a playoff run.

Could the Flames Make Another Splash?

It’s hard to see the Flames making another big move before the deadline as a second big trade would require them to move money out. Given how the lines are currently constructed and playing, either Dillon Dube or Sean Monahan (who has a no-trade clause) would be the money going out which seems highly unlikely at this point.

Sean Monahan Calgary Flames
Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There are big names out there that could be dealt at the deadline like Tomas Hertl, Claude Giroux, Joe Pavelski, and now Filip Forsberg. One could argue that the Flames are as well-positioned to go for a deep playoff run as they have been in decades and they should be pushing all their chips into the middle. That, however, brings in the problem that they are near the salary cap ceiling and it may be hard to move guys like Monahan or Dube as both have not had inspiring seasons.

Related: Flames Can Increase 2022 Cup Odds with Offensive Defenseman

John Klingberg is another name on the market who is fairly cheap on a contract of $4.25 million and is a right-shot. Making the money work would be fairly difficult unless they could get the Dallas Stars to retain at least 50 percent of his contract and they would be willing to take a contract like Gudbranson’s. That move would greatly improve Calgary’s defence group and you could argue it would be one of the best in the Western Conference. It is hard to say if a move like that would happen as the Flames have little cap room, are playing well with their current group, and Treliving isn’t one for acquiring rental players.

Standing Pat an Option Ahead of Trade Deadline

It’s pretty hard to think that the Flames want to change much with their current play after a seven-game win streak at home. They have one of the best top lines in the NHL and they are currently getting secondary scoring from the rest of the lineup. Even the defence has been hot of late as every defenceman is currently on pace to set new career-highs in scoring.

The addition of Toffoli has essentially set the forward lines in stone, aside from Dube and Milan Lucic switching spots on the third and fourth line. The Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund lines have been rock-solid for Calgary and if the new third line and fourth lines get going, this will be a tough team to face every night. Being that the team has already parted with multiple draft picks in 2022 and prospect Emil Heinemann, it may be in Treliving’s best interest to stand pat at the deadline unless a deal he can’t refuse comes along.

After the Toffoli trade, Treliving said he was going to assess the next 20 games leading up to the trade deadline and so far, the Flames have won five of six games. It is hard to fault this team anywhere as everyone appears to be on the same page and contributing. If they do decide they’re done dealing, they have a pretty good shot of winning the Pacific Division if their solid play continues.

What Should the Flames Do by the Deadline?

It’s hard to critique a team that just won 10 of 11 games in February, but if the Flames are to do anything before the deadline it should be to shuffle their depth. Ritchie and Richardson haven’t moved the needle much when they’re on the ice this season and Stone has barely seen any games. The team should be looking to try and move these players out and bring in some more impactful depth players.

Justin Braun Philadelphia Flyers
Justin Braun, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Bringing in a defenceman like Braun or Colin Miller from the Buffalo Sabres would be a better insurance policy than Stone as both players have played 54 and 32 games respectively. Those players could be easily swapped with Gudbranson, which would make for an easy switch if Sutter wants a change or injuries happen. The main focus should be on shipping one of Ritchie or Richardson out to bring in a solid third or fourth line player like the Coyotes’ Boyd who could push Lewis for a spot every game.

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