Brad Treliving finished two big offseason tasks in signing Sam Bennett and David Rittich. Now he has one large one left in re-signing Matthew Tkachuk, and it’s going to be his toughest job yet.

Yes, that’s almost certainly happening. Michael Stone figured to be a sixth defenceman at best next season, and at $3.5M, that’s too much for a sixth defenceman. Saving $2.3M and making more room for Tkachuk is much more important and valuable for 2019-20 than what Stone could do next year with third pairing minutes.

No, I don’t think there is one.

With one year left at $3.5M, Stone’s contract isn’t deadly, and he does have some attributes that other teams value. But those other teams have the same problem as Calgary does: those attributes aren’t worth $3.5M. They may not even be worth $1.75M a  year, and they certainly aren’t worth paying an asset for.

NHL front offices may see value in Stone, but not with his current contract. Think of Troy Brouwer last year. The Flames’ much beleaguered right winger was unemployed for only three weeks after being bought out despite two awful seasons at an advanced age. A team still wanted him. The Flames didn’t forget to do their homework and find a trade partner, it’s that Brouwer was signed to a bad contract that overvalued his actual contributions to the team, thus making him untradeable with that contract.

Brouwer was an okay fourth line guy, and like okay third pairing defencemen, those are players who are worth something to NHL teams. Just not seven figures worth. Stone will probably be in the NHL next season, but for a figure under one million dollars. The Flames simply aren’t going to be able to trade Stone based on what he’s making now.

It is probably approaching that point where the Flames might have to fire sale their expendable yet desirable assets for whatever they can get.

The Nazem Kadri non-deal was too good to be true. It made sense for both sides and helped both teams solve each other’s problems. Those are lightning in a bottle, and it’s unlikely that the Flames find another trade partner that can make them a similar offer. I suppose the Flames keep trying to maximize TJ Brodie’s value, as he is well regarded around the NHL and could certainly fetch a premium return, but I would wonder when they just throw in the towel and accept what they can for him.

The Jason Zucker/Michael Frolik swap doesn’t seem like it’s happening, as it probably would’ve been done already after being nearly completed at trade deadline. The proposed Frolik + Bennett package only saves around ~$1.3M anyways, so the Flames aren’t even saving that much while losing two forwards. Bennett’s new deal is also extremely team friendly, as it comes at a reasonable cap hit and keeps him at RFA, so it’s unlikely they’re moving from that (as if signing a new contract wasn’t proof enough).

With their two big projected off-season trades already fizzling out, the Flames are probably going to offer Brodie and Frolik to the highest bidder. I think a move materializes closer to the end of August.

The only player outside of those three I could see other teams sniffing around would be Travis Hamonic. He’s a right-handed shot with a great contract who is playing some of his best hockey. With one year left on his deal, he can be a great, high-end rental for a team who thinks they can go deep in the playoffs next season.

In 98% of scenarios, I can’t see the Flames trading him. The Flames also happen to be a team who thinks they can go deep in the playoffs next season. Given that things mostly point to Brodie leaving town, it shows what Hamonic’s status is on the team. Even from the second pairing, his contributions are so beloved that the team is more willing to move their first pairing RHD before moving him.

The other two percent is a worst case scenario option. If the Flames are running out of time to sign Tkachuk, absolutely cannot move Brodie, and have a good deal in place, they will probably have to trade Hamonic. They’ll try their best to avoid that from happening, but it still remains within the realm of possibility.

I could also see Noah Hanifin attracting interest from teams, but the Flames aren’t going to consider a trade this early into his contract.

I would lean towards keeping Brodie over Frolik. The forwards are much deeper and there’s a better chance that a young player can replace Frolik next season. Bennett had flashes where it looked like he could be a top six forward alongside Mikael Backlund and Tkachuk. Even Austin Czarnik looked lethal for a bit on that line. Frolik is a handy defensive warrior, and I am going to hate to see him go, but the Flames are going to have to prepare for life without him whether that’s now or next season.

Brodie is much harder to move. He has his flaws, but he has been a high quality defenceman for the past few years. That’s not as easily replaceable as a second line winger. I love Rasmus Andersson, but there’s a nagging doubt that he may not just be ready yet for regular first pairing duty. He only just broke into the NHL this past season. The Flames are taking a huge risk by moving their tried-and-true first pairing RHD for a guy who has almost exclusively played on the third pairing. If that move fails, it’s going to have severe repercussions for the rest of the team.

(There’s also the issue that the Flames’ RHD depth behind Hamonic and Andersson is either Stone [likely gone] and Alexander Yelesin, who has not played in North America. Moving one of your three NHL RHDs is an issue when you generally need three to play the game of hockey.)

The team is also going to have to prepare for life without Brodie, but that transition is going to be harder to make than moving on from Frolik.

Not necessarily related to the 2019 off-season, but it’s a very interesting question.

The answer is unclear, because it will definitely depend on the situation. The team’s contention window is still open and Johnny Gaudreau is an important part of that. They’ll likely make the playoffs every year until his contract runs out. The Flames are in a great position to do something meaningful in the next few years, and that’s going to be largely because of Gaudreau.

Even if he is indeed set on leaving in 2021-22, the Flames probably aren’t going to trade him unless things get extremely bleak (i.e: Gaudreau is not enough to solve their inability to get over the playoff hump). 2021-22 could also possibly be Mark Giordano’s final NHL season, so the Flames are likely going to load up sometime in the next few years to really do some damage in the playoffs. If they’re preparing to lose two core pieces in one off-season, they’ll probably make the most of what they can between now and then.


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