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Over the years Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving has shown a willingness, let’s say, to bring in players he had a history with in Arizona.
Treliving traded for goaltender Mike Smith. Treliving traded for defenseman Michael Stone. And he may soon add to the list.
The Coyotes are looking to cut salary and retool/rebuild on the fly. They are flat-out shopping captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who Treliving is very familiar with, and seem more than willing to move on from goaltender Darcy Kuemper if the right offer presents itself.
Calgary needs help on defense, and are looking to address their situation in goal (again), so it’s not exactly a surprise to see the Flames linked to those players.
Excerpt from Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts
Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Edmonton and San Jose are among the teams who have asked about Darcy Kuemper. Boston, Calgary and Edmonton have checked in on Oliver Ekman-Larsson (there undoubtedly are more), and Colorado on Niklas Hjalmarsson (again, probably more). Rick Tocchet has one year remaining as head coach. Armstrong would have a lot of intel from Craig Berube, one of Tocchet’s closest friends (and, apparently, a morning coffee buddy in the bubble).
We’ll start with OEL. I think he would help the Flames. I do. He’s a solid puck mover, he is one of the best goal scoring defenders in the league, and he can eat up a lot of minutes.
He wouldn’t even need to play on the matchup pairing (at least not with Mark Giordano still around), which could help the team get more out of him. In saying all that, I do have some concerns.
For one, Ekman-Larsson has been worth 1.2 Goals Above Replacement over the last two years (per Evolving-Hockey.com). At 29 he is exiting his peak if he hasn’t done so already. And he is still signed for seven more seasons at $8.25 million per. I could get by the term if the dollars weren’t so high. I could get by the dollars if the term wasn’t so long. But dealing with both could make things very ugly if OEL doesn’t right the ship.
He has the talent to do so, no doubt. And, again, playing on P2 behind Giordano could help mask some of the defensive issues he has at times. So, too, could partnering up with a stout defender like Rasmus Andersson. But I would be cautious about throwing the kitchen sink at Arizona to get him.
What I will say is I’d rather bet on a top-end talent bouncing back, and performing through his 30s, than a mid-to-low tier player, or somebody who plays a physical brand of hockey that doesn’t tend to age gracefully.
Calgary – well, ownership anyways – will also like the fact that, after OEL’s bonus is paid, he’ll only make $4 million in actual dollars this season. That’s a lot more manageable during COVID when many businesses are being crushed.
Based on the players the Flames are being linked to, it would seem they want to shake things up and retool on the fly (while remaining competitive) rather than tear a few layers off and try again in a couple years. If that’s the case, I can see why a top-4 featuring Giordano, Ekman-Larsson, and Andersson would be so attractive.
I can also see why they’d have what seems to be very real interest in Kuemper. I get he’s not the biggest name out there but he very much belongs in the ‘high-end goaltender’ category.
Kuemper has managed a .928 save percentage at 5v5 over the last two seasons. That’s good for 9th among 50 eligible goaltenders – ahead of names like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Connor Hellebuyck, and Carey Price.
He is a stud and very much the reason Arizona was in the mix for top spot in the Pacific for a good chunk of the season. Forget about the Vezina; if he didn’t get injured and maintained a similar level of play he could have garnered *consideration* for the Hart.
I don’t know what exactly the cost for both players would be – or if it is even plausible for the Flames to pull off – but Noah Hanifin (if the Flames can still sell the 23-year-old as bringing someone of value), a young, cost controlled forward, and a bundle of picks over the next couple years might be enough to get them a seat at the table.
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