What a summer it has been in Calgary. A summer that started off with so much doom and gloom for the Flames has turned into so much promise. What general manager Brad Treliving has done for this Flames organization in a month span has been remarkable. The Flames went from a team that would struggle to make the playoffs to remaining contenders in the Pacific Division. Though some holes still need to be filled, the outlook for the Flames is much better now than in July. You can argue the Flames team as constructed right now is better than the one that lost to Edmonton in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Brad Treliving Masterful Offseason Keeps Flames Relevant
Once the Flames season ended at the hands of the Oilers, the offseason began for Treliving and the Flames. However, nobody knew what a rocky road or roller coaster the ride would be. It starts with Johnny Gaudreau telling the Flames the night before free agency he is not coming back. Though Treliving did everything in his power to keep Gaudreau there, it was a shock to the system when the decision came this late. This was a tough pill to swallow as a 115-point scorer was gone for nothing. But Treliving continued to march on with his work ethic.
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Several days later, the Flames traded Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers. Reports had been swirling that Tkachuk did not want to stay in Calgary. And once the trade happened the narrative was being driven about players not wanting to play or live in Calgary. Which was not the case. Maybe it was for Gaudreau and Tkachuk, but that was not the consensus.
However, that talk changed when the Tkachuk trade happened and the return Treliving got from the Panthers. Treliving was able to get Jonathan Huberdeau MacKenzie Weegar, a top prospect, and a first-round pick for Tkachuk. What makes the trade even better is that he was able to sign Huberdeau to an eight-year contract extension. It was a similar deal to what either Gaudreau or Tkachuk would have signed if they had stayed.
That was a huge win for Treliving considering the circumstances. If Huberdeau had decided to follow the same path as Gaudreau and Tkachuk, the Flames would have been in the same position during the 2023 off-season. But now they do not have to worry about it. As he has replaced one 100-point scorer with another. Treliving is working on an extension for Weegar to keep the defenceman locked up on the Flames blueline.
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In addition to the trade, Treliving had other work to do in regard to the Flames. But as he told the media he was not going to cry and complain about woe is me or woe is the Flames organization because two players left. No, he went to work. Kept his head to the grindstone and took care of business.
The Flames had some work to do with their restricted free agents in Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington. Both players were going to arbitration before signing new deals with the Flames. Both players took very team-friendly deals with the Flames up against the salary cap. Kylington and Mangiapane had career seasons with the Flames. However, Treliving knew he needed to get these core pieces signed. There was no need of going through the process of arbitration as the Flames did not need any more bad press.
Kylington signed a two-year deal that has a salary cap hit of $2.5 million a season. In 73 games, Kylington recorded nine goals and 22 assists. Mangiapane signed a three-year deal that had a salary cap hit of $5.8 million a season. For the Flames, they need Mangiapane to continue his successful scoring touch. Last season, Mangiapane recorded 35 goals and 55 points in 82 games. It was a step in the right direction to keep the Flames team relevant in the Pacific Division.
Kadri Signing Puts Flames Over The Top
With the Flames using their salary cap wisely during the opening of free agency, they had room to make a big deal still even after the signings of Mangiapane and Kylington. Nazem Kadri, one of the biggest fish on the market had finally chosen his destination. And it was Calgary.
Brad Treliving had been interested in Kadri ever since he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, Kadri rejected a trade to go to Calgary when he held the power. Thus Kadri went to Colorado. But that never meant he never wanted to play in Calgary. Kadri signing a seven-year deal worth $7 million a season, showed he was willing to commit long-term in Calgary.
This move puts the Flames over the top. Even with Huberdeau and Weegar coming back in the Tkachuk trade, Kadri gave the Flames some skill and grit at the center position. Something that was necessary after a disappointing loss to Edmonton in the playoffs. Not to mention, Kadri plays with an edge that head coach Darryl Sutter loves. Kadri is the perfect player for Sutter to have on the team.
In order for Kadri to be signed by the Flames, Treliving had to move a player out for the money to work. That player was Sean Monahan. Calgary traded Monahan and a conditional first-round pick to Montreal for future considerations. Treliving just needed the cap space. Plus Monahan had been a player the Flames had been looking to trade for a couple of years now.
With Kadri now signed, the Flames top nine was set as they solidified their depth down the middle. The moves Brad Treliving made this offseason should give him the GM of the Year Award.
The Season Outlook
The Flames remain contenders in the Western Conference. The defending Pacific Division champions will look to win the division again and make a deeper run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Comparing this year’s team to last year’s team, the Flames are in a better position to win now than they were last year. That has a lot to do with Brad Treliving believing in his ability to get the job done and not fold when things went bad.
While the Flames still have some weakness on defence, it is no denying one thing, the Calgary Flames have remained relevant thanks to their general manager Brad Treliving.
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