Calgary Flames Roundtable: How To Make Cowtown Stronger?

Calgary Flames

In our latest roundtable, we discussed the Calgary Flames and how to make them stronger for the playoffs.

Scott Kestrel –

As it stands, I would stand pat with the Calgary Flames roster. 

The chemistry seems right and they are getting steady goaltending from Mike Smith and David Rittich. In addition, everyone is healthy and they are rolling 4 lines that have the potential to carry the load any given night. The trade they made with the Carolina Hurricanes seems to have worked out well. Therefore any other moves seem redundant.

Justin Miner –

The Flames rank in the Top 10 in most statistical categories and have played very good hockey all year. The biggest hole that could derail their whole season would be a long term injury to David Rittich. As of right now, Mike Smith is the backup and he has been less than stellar all year. He currently has a .888 SV% and 3.00 GAA. They need to solidify the backup Goaltending situation, or they are 1 injury away from a lost season.

Ryan Boonstra –

If the Flames want to do what’s best for their organization they should just sell off assets and prepare for their inevitable move to Houston. I mean really, the Calgary Hurricanes– I mean Flames, aren’t going to win anytime soon so why not just rebuild now. – A (Jaded) Oilers fan

On a more serious and analytical note If the Flames seriously want to contend for the cup right now they should focus on not poisoning the metaphorical team stew. They have a winning formula and are succeeding up front and on the back end. The only thing I would seriously look to add is a goaltender behind Rittich that is more stable then Smith. While Rittich has been very good Smith has struggled mightily with an .888 save percentage and 3.00 GAA.

This is simply unacceptable at the NHL level. If Rittich regresses or struggles down the stretch Mike Smith is not the goalie you want replacing him, especially in the playoffs. If a Jimmy Howard or even a Cam Talbot (typing that hurt) becomes available, Calgary would be wise to trade Smith plus a pick/prospect for him.

Alex Hobson – 

If the Flames are looking to add anybody at the deadline, a low-risk safe acquisition would be Alex Petrovic.

The Flames have had no shortage of offense on their team this season. Their power play is top ten in the league and they currently have four players who are above a point per game in Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, and Matthew Tkachuk. Their defense, however, could use some work. Primarily on the defensive side.

The Flames’ defensive core has had no issue generating offense (Mark Giordano and Noah Hanifin are the main contributors) but they’ve allowed the second most power play goals of any team in the league. And while the left side of their defensive core is loaded, the right side could use some work. This is where the Flames could look at the Florida Panthers for a deal involving Petrovic.

He’s a big body at 6’4 and 216 lbs, and while his offensive totals won’t jump off the scoresheet at you, he plays the game of a reliable, stay at home defenseman, which is exactly what the Flames could use on the back end.

He is also relatively young at 26 years old and he doesn’t have cement in his skates when he moves down the ice. He also has a team-friendly contract at just under $2 million and he’s currently in the last year of his contract until he becomes an unrestricted free agent. This means he likely won’t have a hefty price tag on him if the Panthers decide to move him. All in all, it’s a low risk, potentially high reward deal if the Flames go through with it.

Connor Criscuola –

Unfortunately, the Calgary Flames lack offensive depth. Aside from the top line (comprised of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm), they don’t have a tremendous amount of offensive firepower. 

With that being said, the Calgary Flames can go in two directions. They could either make a trade for defenseman who could help drive possession and get the puck into the offensive zone at a consistent rate or they could acquire a forward to upgrade their second line. 

If the Flames are hungry for a Stanley Cup, they shouldn’t be shy about completing a blockbuster trade. Perhaps, their general manager, Brad Treliving calls the Philadelphia Flyers to inquire about Shayne Gostisbehere. While the 25 year old won’t come cheap, he’d provide the Flames with a much needed mobile puck moving defenseman. 

If Treliving decides to go with an offensive upgrade, he should take a look at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers and/or Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers. 

While some Flames and Oilers fans might argue that a trade involving Nugent-Hopkins would never happen, you can’t rule it out. In-division trades do happen. In fact, last season, the Montreal Canadiens dealt Tomas Plekanec to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yet, the Flames will still have to unload prospect after prospect to land Nugent-Hopkins. 

If the Flames are looking for a trade in which they wouldn’t have to fork over a ton, they should look to scoop up Zuccarello. The Norwegian forward is in his contract season and the Rangers will likely be sellers at the deadline. With his contract situation, the Flames could potentially get him without giving up the farm. Even though Zuccarello doesn’t have the same upside as Nugent-Hopkins, the Flames would be adding a veteran forward, who has experience in the playoffs.

Josh Tessler – 

Any team that is a contender should be looking to improve their team. If they don’t, it’ll only make their team worse off down the stretch as their competition will be adding assets. In Calgary’s case, you have to expect that the Nashville Predators, Vegas Golden Knights, San Jose Sharks, Winnipeg Jets and the Colorado Avalanche will be very aggressive at the deadline. So, if I’m in Treliving’s shoes, not adding to their team at the deadline wouldn’t make much sense. 

As several of my fellow contributors have mentioned, the Calgary Flames should definetly look to add to their offensive depth. There are a few forwards that are free agents at the end of the year and would be rentals for the Flames. Some of the rentals who would be a good fit in Calgary include Matt Duchene of the Ottawa Senators, Charlie Coyle of the Minnesota Wild and Kevin Hayes of the New York Rangers.

If you look at the Flames offensive lines, it’s not a secret that centre depth is a concern. Right now, the Flames have Mikael Backlund on the second line. Backlund is currently being paired with Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett. Unfortunately, Backlund is hurting Tkachuk’s 5v5 value. If the Flames were to add a centre like Duchene, they’d be much stronger when playing at full strength. 

stats from NHL.com and hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

Author: Josh Tessler

Josh Tessler is the Editor and Founder of Puck77. Josh was born in Montreal, Quebec, but has spent most of his childhood and adult-life in the United States. From an early age, Josh had a passion for hockey. He spent a lot of time watching hockey with his grandfather, Sidney Schwartz. His favorite player growing up was Ray Bourque and he’s chosen to honor Bourque by using his number “77” in the blog’s name. Prior to Puck77, Josh wrote for FanSided’s Editor in Leaf (Toronto Maple Leafs blog), SB Nation’s Amazin’ Avenue (New York Mets blog) and Clark University’s The Scarlet. @JoshTessler_ - Twitter