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Brad Goes Deep Sea Fishing — Possible Trades With The Kings and Jets

August 16, 2022, 7:47 PM ET [31 Comments]
Trevor Neufeld
Calgary Flames Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
In the wake of what was a decade-defining offseason for the Calgary Flames, Brad Treliving, Calgary’s General Manager, currently holds an abundance of depth on the blue line.

While you could take Tanev’s requirement for further time to recover due to shoulder injuries accrued during the 21-22 NHL Playoffs as a reason for such depth — it feels weird that the Flames would hold so many NHL-able defensemen within their rights.

Connor Mackey has done everything required to make the NHL. Production, defence, and the iron price of sacrificing the body both in the blocked shots category as well as dropping the gloves for the organization.

Similar to his situation, Nicolas Meloche has put his time in and crafted his game in the minors within the Sharks organization. Last year he showed real impact in a game against the Flames by running over Jacob Markstrom then backing himself up when challenged by the daunting Flames enforcement crew.

That likely earned Meloche a contract in it’s self.

Both have put up enticing results during their first cup of coffee in the NHL.

NHL Games Played

Connor Mackey: 9
Nicolas Meloche: 57

It feels almost criminal that these two should sit between 7-9 on the depth chart. If the Flames are to remain an attractive spot for both burgeoning NHL defencemen and NCAA blue liners; perhaps there are moves yet to be made.

Further to This
After all the chaos of acquiring the elite Panthers left winger while losing two Flames star first liners had calmed: one line from Jonathan Huberdeau speaking to the media of his dinner with Treliving has stuck, lingered, stewed even.

“He wants to build a good team; he wants to go get players,”


“He” can’t be done yet. Can he?

Welcome back to a Canadian market, Jonathan.

Where every word is pressed into sweet juice that inks even the most destitute of offseason deliberations.

So, let’s say Brad told Huberdeau a few off-the-record discussions he’s had with other NHL executives.

Let’s take a swing at what he might be working on. Given the GM entering his eighth full season with the Calgary Flames is clearly going deep sea fishing for a committed, younger impact player— good luck getting a sniff on the return before it happens.

That said, we can still put our ears to the ground and listen.


Clearing space

The first step would be clearing space. The team has 2,761,667 in cap space with just Adam Ruzicka left to sign. Call it a hair under two million. Here are the “easier” options.

Milan Lucic - One year: 5.25 million AAV
Clearing the big man’s AAV would open the team up to adding a top six talent.

That said, with Erik Gudbranson leaving as well – how scary would the Flames be without the 6’3” 230lb forward patrolling the ice?

The league is still putting a premium on a nuclear option.

Here’s an example.

Nicolas Deslauriers
Despite caving the Minnesota Wild’s numbers in virtually every category during their six game series in the first round of the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Deslauriers was rewarded with not only value – but term.

Notable Stats During the Wild’s Six Game Loss – Nicolas Deslauriers
CF%: 39.44
Goals For: 0
Goals Against: 3
High Danger Chances For: 4
High Danger Chances Against: 8

Beyond this, the Wild lost in six games. Deslaurier was dressed for the first five games. Scratched in order to stave off elimination is a damning indication of Wild Coach Dean Evason’s limited experience with Deslauriers.

Nicolas signed a four year contract with a 1.75 AAV this summer with the Philidelphia Flyers. They also gave him a Modified No-Trade Clause in the final two years of the deal.

The Flames would miss Lucic for the same reasons that teams are handing out a premium for players like Nicolas Deslauriers and Ryan Reaves. Moving Lucic would create a vacancy in terms of intimidation and presence.

Another option is.

Sean Monahan: One year - 6.375 million AAV

It would be almost poetic if the recipient of the previous highest value contract in Flames history was dealt in the same summer that they acquired and signed the current record holder in that regard (Jonathan Huberdeau 8x10.5).

Yet, it seems to be a fit. Monahan has battled through a number of injuries in the past five years. Wrist surgery following the 16-17 season, four surgeries following the 17-18 season: two herniated discs, a groin operation, and a left wrist surgery. A cracked thumb in 19-20. 20-21 he injured his hip early and played through it recording 28 points on 50 games. 21-22 he was shut down prior to the stetch drive to get surgery on his other hip.

Pretty bad when you lay it all out on the table. He deserves credit for playing through some brutal issues, but counting on him to return to form might be a tough bet.

Maybe they shouldn’t trade him on the merit of what he has sacrificed to help the team. Maybe they shouldn’t trade him because he is the triggerman to perfectly match Jonathan Huberdeau. Betting the season on a Schrödinger’s Monahan might be too much risk.

The third route makes a little more sense

Moving a Defenceman
Rasmus Anderson has four more seasons at a 4.55 AAV. Noah Hanifin two more at 4.95. MacKenzie Weegar is on for more season at 3.25. Oliver Kylington, conversationally is at 2.5 for the next two years. The first three likely bring back a solid younger player yet to reach u restricted free agency.

Let’s say one of the two get dealt along with a pick - or just a defenseman moves. What trades could Treliving make with the space cleared?

Unfortunately we’re swinging in the dark given the deep sea fishing going on, but here are a couple suggestions.


The LA Kings
The Kings come to mind due to three factors.

#1: They’re a Mix of Aging Veterans Playing With a Core That Has Found an Identity
34 year old Anze Kopitar remains the column that supports what is a motley core. 36 year old Jonathan Quick has the ability to steal games against the best of teams, but injury lurks every desparate save he makes. He makes a lot of desperate saves. Then there is 32 year old Drew Doughty. Anyone else feel old reading that? Drew has played 14 seasons. 13½ based on missing the second half of last season due to wrist surgery.

Then there are younger players succeeding.

Just searching up Sean Durzi might lead you to believe he was a fringe rookie last year. Technically Swedish, but grew up in Canada. Durzi put up three goals and 24 assists with the LA Kings totalling 27 points. By the end of the season he became a mainstay on the first powerplay unit on the left point. They started designing their powerplay around him. Tipping in or catching a rebound off a Durzi shot has become the name of the game in LA.

Durzi is one note, the rise of Adrian Kemp (35 goals and 54 points), the Arvidsson-Danault-Moore line that emerged as the second best two-way line in the NHL (behind Gaudreau-Lindholm-Tkachuk), forwards such as Kaliev (27 points), Iaffalo (37 points), and Lizzote (24 points) waiting for their top six opportunity — there’s justification to sell assets to meet the closing window of the aforementioned veterans.

#2: The Kings Direly Lack Transition
Possession is an interesting statistic to track. Looking at a number following a game may provide some missed context. That said, the core of the LA Kings and even their tertiary lines had issues maintaining control of the puck.

Watching their seven game series against the Ducks, you would see a team dumping the puck almost every instance they had a chance to do so. The game plan for current Kings Head Coach (and former Oilers Head Coach) Todd MacLellan was to make the Oilers defence really earn their time on the other end of the ice. That strategy almost won them the series, but the possession stats didn’t look great. Only five players posted above a 50% Chances For rating. Lemieux, Rasmus Kupari, Kaliev, Lizotte, and Dustin Brown.

Getting a quicker breakout into motion might be all that is missing. A hard-passing left defenceman to go with the always swift Drew Doughty might push them out of the category of being pretenders.

#3: The Needs Line Up

The kings have a bit of an abundance of burgeoning talent on the wings. Here’s a look at their forward lineup.

Kempe-Kopitar-Fiala
Moore-Danault-Arvidsson
Iaffolo-Lizotte-Kaliev
Vilardi-Byfield-Kupari
Lemieux

Compare that to their defence.

(Mike) Anderson-Doughty
Bjornfot-Roy
Edler-Durzi

That left side doesn’t look great. As mentioned before, you could see the result in their transition game. The Oilers ate them alive when it came to turnovers leading to losing the defensive blue line.

OK. We have a motive. Where is the trade?

If you read this column somewhat regularly, you might be familiar with the Sutter connection. If you aren’t, feel free to google “Trevor Neufeld Archive”. You won’t miss the topic. Darryl is comfortable with what he knows or something resembling it – and he’s handpicking players to be acquired. See Toffoli, Gudbranson, Coleman, etc.

That leads us to the speedy Adrian Kempe and the intangible Brendan Lemieux.

Kempe is a left winger that Darryl had one season to work with. He plays a very straightforward game. Beat the player to the outside and gain the inside. Fundamental Sutter hockey. Based on their weakness along the defensive left side, a trade like this may work out.

To LA

Noah Hanifin – Two more seasons at 4.95 million

To Calgary

Adrian Kempe – Four more seasons at 5.5 million
Brendan Lemieux – One more season at 1.35 million
2023 2nd round pick

The Flames fill a top six need with a player who will play a hard North-South game and finish plays set up by Huberdeau. They also get an agitator that has managed to get under even Matthew Tkachuk’s skin. Not bad.

Worth noting is that, despite being slower than any other player on the Kings: Lemieux was far and ahead the best possession player on the team — despite him being projected outside of the lineup.

Brendan Lemieux – Playoffs
CF%: 64.12
Scoring Chances For: 49
Scoring Chances Against: 18

The Kings get a left side defenseman to pump their painfully slow transition. Something they direly need to address in order to move forward as a team.

And, hey, if the Flames can’t have the son of Keith, why not go for the son of Claude?


Ok. Team two.


The Winnipeg Jets

The 2C conundrum still looms heavy over the Calgary Flames. The Winnipeg Jets happen to have a bit of a developing situation with their second line center, Pierre-Luc Dubois. Signing his qualifying qualifying offer of one year and six million in salary poured water on what was beginning to turn into a controversy. Prior to the signing his agent, Pat Brisson, confirmed that Dubois was interested in playing for the Montreal Canadiens organization. Here’s what Pat told TVA Sports roughly a month ago:


“Montreal is a city he would probably … I can talk about it because he doesn’t have a contract at the moment — he’s a restricted free agent,
~
Montreal is a place, a city he’d like to play in. That’s all I can say about that.”


Sources confirmed to The Athletic that Dubois had gone so far as to attend the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal with the expectation that he would be traded to the Canadiens during the event.

Yowza.

One has to wonder if Dubois could be won over. Perhaps a conversation with incumbent Flames All Star Jonathan Huberdeau might sell the 6’2” 205lb power center on signing with the Flames long term should he be acquired.

There is zero doubt that Darryl Sutter would endorse the add. Pierre had 28 goals and 60 points last season. 19 of those points from the powerplay and more interestingly: fifteen of those points were goals. Even more interesting is that Dubois’ powerplay input doesn’t stop at production alone; the man from Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec led the NHL in penalties drawn last season at 45.

Penalties Drawn in 21-22

Pierre-Luc Dubois: 45
Matthew Tkachuk: 32
Johnny Gaudreau: 21

The It’s a complicated issue given the arbitrary nature of NHL officiating, but subtracting 53 penalties drawn just by having Tkachuk and Gaudreau leaving may have an adverse effect on overall team production. Perhaps other players will fill that void, but having the NHL’s best player come in to supplant that statistic would do much in helping maintain the status quo.

Also worth noting is that Dubois doesn’t explicitly go out of his way to draw a penalty like Matthew Tkachuk would. That sort of characteristic goes a long way in keeping the penalty differential of a team in the green given, again, the arbitrary nature of NHL officiating.

Perhaps it’s a bit of a pipe dream given Dubois’ questionable commitment to signing for anyone but the Canadiens, but his current team, the Jets, would certainly like to upgrade on Brendan Dillon on left side of the first pairing.

Jets Blue Line

Dillon-Pionk
Morrisey-Schmidt
Stanley-DeMelo

A trade such as:

To Winnipeg

Noah Hanifin – two more seasons at 4.95 million

To Calgary

Pierre-Luc Dubois – one year at 6 million and extended at seven years and eight million per

There isn’t much to complain about on either side. The Jets finally get back to the transition they have been lacking since moving out Byfuglien, the Flames answer their 2C question long term and have a trifecta of Lindholm, Dubois, Backlund that could go deep into the playoffs – that is if Pierre is interested in signing a new contract.

We’ll look at a few other teams before training camps get into full swing. If only we could have been a fly on the wall during the meeting between Brad Treliving and Jonathan Huberdeau.



Trevor Neufeld


@Trevor_Neufeld


Stats via naturalstattrick.com, moneypuck.com, eliteprospects.com hockeyfights.com and nhl.com.
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