We’ve been asking for a trade for weeks, and all we got was a corpse of one. That, and other things ahead.

Homerism aside, I have to say Cam Talbot. He’s younger, hasn’t picked up nearly as many injuries, and has had less miles on his career than Forever A Flame Mike Smith. Team quality matters too. In both Edmonton and Philly, Talbot was thrown to the dogs behind some unspectacular defences on all around unspectacular teams and was told to fix it. Smith has the Norris winner and a handful of capable defenders in front of him and still let in stinkers.

I wouldn’t be totally confident that a bounce-back is going to happen for either. Smith’s issues are mostly related to his body, but Talbot’s is more related to his play. His most recent season is such a far step below the rest that I don’t feel blaming his defence wipes away everything that happened. Based on his (relative to goalies) youth and his lack of wear and tear, I think Talbot is a contender for a bounce-back year, but I’ll stop myself short of saying he’s going to be dynamite.

The Flames are definitely looking at moving out both, but I have a gut feeling that they might only be able to move out one.

Who’s it going to be? For my money, it’s Frolik. We don’t really know what’s going on in the heads of all the people involved, but the entire Allan Walsh Twitter fiasco alongside the coach moving him around the lineup probably means there’s some animosity lying around. Probably nothing that will destroy the entire team’s chemistry if he stays (Frolik is still a good player with one year remaining), but a clean break is probably what’s best for both sides.

Brodie is a bit more valuable to the team than Frolik is. The team doesn’t have the defensive depth to make up for the loss, with Michael Stone being the only defender with serious NHL experience waiting in press box. What remains on free agency isn’t anything special, and hoping Alexander Yelesin is NHL ready in a couple of months is too far out there to consider.

It’s probably going to take a while. Given that both the Kadri-Brodie trade and the Zucker-Frolik (presumably – it’s strange that we haven’t heard anything) trades fell apart, the Flames are likely trying to find teams that can offer similar players. It would be pretty disappointing for the team to go from swapping out of favour players for legitimate upgrades to swapping them for picks and prospects.

At least I hope that’s what the team is doing. As I said above, both Brodie and Frolik are still really good players even if they aren’t anyone’s favourite. Losing them for a pile of lottery tickets will make the Flames worse off for 2019-20. The team isn’t trading barnacles who are stuck on the roster, they’re trading players who are the easiest to move and will allow the Flames more flexibility for the rest of the off-season. Getting Kadri and Zucker while taking on minimal money would’ve been a coup for the Flames. I feel that’s what they’re waiting for: another team with a handful of problems who need to sacrifice someone good to improve somewhere else.

But at some point, they’re likely going to have to settle for less than Kadri/Zucker. If the choice is a prolonged Matthew Tkachuk extension or a lesser player, they’re going to go with the lesser player.

I think if nothing materializes on those fronts, look for Sam Bennett or Mark Jankowski to be traded. They were already comfortable moving on from Jankowski for an older centre in Kadri, and they were considering Bennett in the deal for Zucker, so it’s not like their youth will save them. The duo can probably fetch a few decent assets for what they’re worth. They save pennies compared to Brodie and Frolik, but should the Flames move on them, they probably believe that up-and-comers Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube can be just as effective at half the cost.

I’m not so sure they’re moving on from Jankowski, just that he’s expendable given the circumstances. Toronto was interested in him because he was a 3C who made considerably less than Kadri, so it worked to get the deal done. Unless it comes down to the situation I described above, they probably aren’t moving on from him for the sake of doing so. He’s a part of a bigger deal, not the deal himself.

Here’s some good options regardless who follow in the same vein as Kadri:

  • Alex Wennberg, Columbus: a strong defensive centreman who had a disappointing season with 25 points in 75 games (his shooting percentage was 3%, and 0% at 5v5, down from normal 10% numbers), but had put up 35 in 66, 59 in 80, and 40 in 69 the three seasons before.  Makes $4.9M AAV for the next three season, and Columbus will be trying to revamp themselves in the wakes of Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel.
  • Vincent Trocheck, Florida: another centre making a reasonable amount of money ($4.75M till 2022) who had a rough year despite all underlying numbers pointing to him being better than that. This is more of a long shot deal, but one I would pursue if I were the Flames.

There are spots for all of them, but I feel the Flames still move a goalie out.

I see it as David Rittich and Talbot in the NHL, Artyom Zagidulin and Tyler Parsons in the AHL, and Nick Schneider and a random ECHL goalie in that league, with Jon Gillies being traded to make it all work.

I think the Flames have lost their patience with Gillies. Given his college numbers, he probably should’ve been in the NHL by now, or at least not struggling in the AHL. They didn’t even entertain the idea of him being the NHL backup, having essentially inked Talbot well ahead of when free agency actually opened.

It would be wrong to put Parsons, a better goalie than Gillies, back in the ECHL because his ELC allows him to be there. It would also be wrong to do that to Zagidulin, who only has one year to prove himself as a viable North American goalie. It goes against the logic of player development to try and jumpstart a player who has proven that he won’t in spite of other players with the same potential who still have more to prove.


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