To some it seems like the Calgary Flames simply gave up in the last stretch of the regular calendar. The Flames broke down in March and let go of the chances to make the postseason for a second straight year. Yes, the Flames broke down with one of the league’s worst home records (16-20-4) and the acquisition of the summer, goalie Mike Smith did not manage to stay strong all year, due in part to several injuries. But that's not all that went wrong. At the start of the season, general manager Brad Treliving took a huge gamble and signed veteran forward and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr... and we all know it did not turn out so great for both camps.
Now, Treliving must consider another move to acquire a scoring forward, and the solution offered by Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun might shock and anger Flames fans. Yeah, you are not going to like it. Francis believes the Flames need to shop a core defenseman such as Dougie Hamilton or T.J. Brodie to bring in a scoring forward.
"If the New Jersey Devils can turn Adam Larsson into Taylor Hall, surely the Calgary Flames can turn one of those two into a high-end, top-six forward," Francis writes as he recalls the trade that has turned the Devils into a Cup contender this spring.
He strongly believes that it would be the best move for Treliving and management to address a significant need without overspending via free agency. Players like top forward James van Riemsdyk of the Toronto Maple Leafs are set to test the free-agent market, but would command a lucrative contract the Flames might not be able to afford. On top of that, the Flames’ depth in promising blueline prospects, including Juuso Valimaki and Rasmus Andersson, also makes it possible to shop players like Hamilton or Brodie.
If a deal can be made with a rival club for either defender, the Flames could try to recoup a draft pick or two in the deal to continue building a stronger depth.
If Treliving chooses to use his blue line depth as trade bait, fans will be torn to see with Hamilton or Brodie go. However, Spector's Hockey's Lyle Richardson believes fans in Calgary will prefer to hold on to Hamilton, though the young defenseman would most likely fetch a bigger return than Brodie, whose stock is likely down after struggling throughout this season.
Despite the Flames' woes, Hamilton managed to score a career-high 17 goals this season and exceeded 40 points (44) for the fourth straight season. The 24-year-old blue line remains signed through 2020-21 with an annual cap hit of $5.75 million and lacks no-trade protection until 2019-20.
It could be the right time to move him, but how will fans feel about the trade?