Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving was probably an amazing boy scout.

Well-known around the hockey world for his work ethic, Treliving hasn’t let the coronavirus stoppage in the 2019-20 season derail his preparation for the future. In a conference call with local media on Tuesday afternoon, he revealed that rather than dive into Tiger King he’s spent his time as he usually does: working and preparing for the future.

After acknowledging the hard work of those involved on the front lines of the current situation, Treliving detailed that the current day-to-day work is usually devoted for prep on one of three files:

  • The upcoming 2020 NHL Draft
  • The season re-starting
  • The 2020-21 season

It’s worth noting that there is no date set yet for the NHL’s critical dates (the NHL Draft, the buyout window, qualifying offers for restricted free agents and the opening of unrestricted free agency), a potential season re-start, or the potential impact of those shifting dates on the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.

“I keep coming back to it: 19-20, 20-21, there’s going to be an ending and a start,” noted Treliving. “At some point it’s going to turn into a sprint. You can’t be in a situation that you’re just opening up the file for the first time and saying okay let’s deal with this. Let’s have answers to the questions that we know inevitably will come and when they do come, we can act appropriately.”

The 2020 NHL Draft

From a draft scouting and preparation perspective, the majority of the 2019-20 season for major juniors, collegiate and European hockey had been completed. But with the cancellation of the IIHF Under-18 World Championship and playoffs in basically every league, preparation is slightly impacted. Treliving estimated roughly 90% of the live viewings were done, but noted that seeing players in high quality competition can’t happen.

But with scouts not cris-crossing the globe, instead they’re diving deeper on what’s termed cross-over scouting – scouts from other regions doing additional looks on players on each area list. As a result, the team is potentially diving deeper on those lists than they usually would. Player interviews are still happening, but being done via conference calls or online tools rather than in person.

“The work is still getting done, but the only thing that’s probably missing is you’re not going and seeing live viewings of playoffs or other events. And then ultimately you’re going to make decisions based on the information you have.”

The potential season re-start

In short: nobody knows when the 2019-20 season will resume (if it even will). The league is taking its cues from public health officials, and Treliving noted there are a lot of moving parts if they get to the restart stage, and they’ll have to figure things out. Only 8-10 players are still in town out of a roster of roughly 25, and it’s unclear if travelers would need to self-isolate for 14 days or not. Would there be a training camp? What would it look like? Teams and players alike will need to be flexible.

In a positive note: Juuso Valimaki has been allowed to continue his injury rehab during all this chaos. He’s skating and progressing well. He might be an option depending on what happens with season, but they’re maintaining a long-term view on him and will only let him play when he’s at 100%.

The 2020-21 season

The Flames have signed a couple college players (Connor Mackey and Colton Poolman). They’re currently talking with their development team to assess whether to sign internal prospects, including Milos Roman and Linus Lindstrom. They will have some AHL signings of college and junior players to announce “in the coming days.”

Other than that, though, a lack of cap certainty for 2020-21 has made it challenging to get serious work done on talks with their own pending free agents. As with everything else, they’ll have to remain flexible.