The Calgary Flames won’t win the Stanley Cup this year or even make the NHL playoffs, but they won the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline. That’s worth an awful lot.
General Manager Brad Treviling’s winning total was at least two second round picks, a fourth rounder, and a sixth rounder for three unrestricted free agents who weren’t going to be brought back.
On Monday, Treviling sent Kris Russell to the Dallas Stars for defenceman Jyrki Jokipakka, junior prospect Brett Pollock, and a conditional second round pick. The pick becomes a first rounder if the Stars advance to the Western Conference Final and Russell plays at least half of their playoff games.
Russell believes he can command at least $5 million with his next contract but the Flames weren’t willing to go that high, since they’ve got a lot of money already tied up on the blueline and have to sign Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan to rich new contracts this summer. Also, they’ve got to find a quality goaltender to save them on the nights Johnny Hockey and Mony don’t score.
Treviling closed out the day by getting a sixth-round pick for rarely helpful forward David Jones, who makes $4 million on a contract that also is expiring. So, the Flames essentially got something for nothing. Aging goalie Niklas Backstrom came to Calgary in a salary dump and will be a Flame only for a few weeks.
Jiri Hudler brought a second and a fourth from the Florida Panthers a few days earlier, which is a great return for an aging winger who is on the decline.
The Russell deal was a big one and Treviling worked hard to get a winner.
“It was a grind to be perfectly honest,” he said.
“The days of first-round picks and multiple picks going out the door — that was not this deadline. To have a chance with that being a first-round pick – and we have a chance because Dallas is an excellent team – was important. Giving us three seconds is key.”
Judging by the reaction in Flames Nation, everyone is happy. The team’s rebuild can now proceed in earnest, delayed a year by the fluke playoff run of 2014-15.
Calgary now has at least one first round and three second round picks in the 2016 Draft. Or, two first round and two second round picks depending on how the Stars and Russell do in the playoffs.
If the first, first round choice — their own from the pending lottery — becomes phenom Auston Matthews, then the Flames will win the 2016 NHL Draft too.