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Realistically speaking, things could not be going better for the Calgary Flames.
We're better than 50 games into the season and they sit 2nd in wins (34), points (73), goals (197), and goal differential (+45). The Flames not only lead the Pacific Division but the Western Conference as well.
They have as much reason to buy as any team in the NHL and it seems like they plan on doing just that. It was recently reported the Flames are aggressive on the trade market
Futures are generally the trade currency of choice for teams that think of themselves as contenders. That's why it was hardly surprising to hear their 1st round pick could be moved prior to the trade deadline.
Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos had this to say during Saturday Headlines on the HNIC broadcast (video here
"Everybody wants a 1st pick. LA still wants a 1st pick for Toffoli, Ottawa wants a 1st pick for Dzingel, and of course there's Ferland out there in Carolina and they also want a 1st pick. Teams that we think that have their 1st round in play: the Winnipeg Jets, the Calgary Flames, and the Nashville Predators."
The Flames are already without 2nd and 6th rounders in this year's draft. They've made just one pick (Juuso Valimaki) inside the first three rounds of the last two drafts. Factor in the graduations of some of their top guys (Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, Valimaki, etc.) and suddenly their system is getting thin in a hurry, especially when it comes to high-end talent.
If they trade their 1st round pick, they're essentially going all-in. That's why it is imperative they are careful who they spend that asset on if and when they make a move.
The player better be of high quality (not in terms of reputation, but on-ice performance) and/or have some term remaining on their contract.
Wayne Simmonds, for example, is a player I'd avoid spending a 1st on. He has long been one of my favorite's but his game has really gone south, particularly at 5v5. In that game state, he's recorded fewer points than guys like Zack Smith, Devin Shore, Marcus Sorensen, Radek Faksa, Connor Brown. His underlyings (48.5 CF%, 45.1 GF%) aren't exactly great either and he is a free agent come July.
If we're talking someone like Micheal Ferland, I'd be more inclined to make the trade. He is averaging more points/60 than Ryan Getzlaf, Mika Zibanejad, Jamie Benn, Gabriel Landeskog, Sasha Barkov, Anze Kopitar, and Vladimir Tarasenko, among many others, and his underlying numbers (54.62 CF%, 61.7 GF%) are strong as well.
Shooting for the stars and packaging a 1st, a top defense prospect, etc. for someone like Mark Stone could obviously be justified as well.
I can fully understand using futures to buy players in order to take a real shot at the Stanley Cup. They just have to be the right ones.
Report: Flames aggressive on trade market
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Hotstove: Western Conference bounce-back player of the year?
Flames well represented in PHWA midseason awards
Hotstove: midseason Norris Trophy picks
Hotstove: midseason Hart Trophy picks
Predicting the Pacific Division standings