NHL Rumours: Calgary Flames Could Move a Defenceman for a Winger

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The Calgary Flames have been one of the busiest teams this off-season. Core players like Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan left. Replacing them are stars like Jonathan Huberdeau, Mackenzie Weegar and Nazem Kadri joined the team. Both Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri signed long-term as well. With all the excitement Flames general manager Brad Treliving has seen, he may not be done. In today’s edition of NHL rumours, we look at the Flames and their need to move several of their defensemen. The Flames have 10 defencemen on one-way contracts and may try to move some of them.

NHL Rumours

Calgary Flames

Rumour: Sportsnet’s Eric Francis said on the Tim & Friends Show, “(Treliving has 10 defencemen on one-way deals, and I don’t think that’s great business going into next season. He’s alluded to it a couple of times when I was talking to him that perhaps he could swing a trade for a defenceman or two to pick up maybe a winger because that is where they are the shortest in terms of depth.” 

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Analysis: The Flames do have 10 defencemen on one-way contracts. Calgary has eight regular NHL players last season: Mackenzie Weegar, Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Chris Tanev, Oliver Kylington, Nikita Zadorov, Jusso Valimaki and Nicholas Meloche. They also have Connor Mackey and Dennis Gilbert, top-tier AHL defencemen, on one-way deals. Having that many defencemen on one-way deals is not normal and, as Francis said, not good business.

At least two defencemen will have to be sent down to the AHL and have to go through waivers. If they stay on the team, Calgary won’t get the AHL discount and will have to pay a few defencemen in the AHL a full NHL salary.

Which Defencemen Could be on the Trade Block

The two defencemen most likely to be trade bait are Jusso Valimaki and Oliver Kylington. The 23-year-old Valimaki has struggled to find his way in the NHL. Last season he played nine games in the NHL and 35 in the AHL. This was after he played the entire season in Calgary the year before. During the 2021 season, he played 49 games, averaging 15:26 in ice-time, scoring 11 points and posting a 51.2 Corsi For percentage. His AHL demotion this year signals that he doesn’t fit in Calgary. A change of scenery could benefit him.

Oliver Kylington could also be on the trade block due to circumstances around him. Meloche, Zadorov and Weegar were brought in or brought back to the organization this summer, while Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson and Chris Tanev were the top three on the team last year in average ice-time, so it’s implausible any of them get moved.

Kylington had a breakout season last year. He scored 31 points in 79 games, averaging 18:10 in ice-time, and posted a 53.8 Corsi For percentage. He’s signed for the next two seasons at a 2.5 million salary cap hit.

Which defencemen are more likely to be traded depends on what type of winger the Flames are looking for. If they want an unproven or a bottom-six guy, Valimaki makes the most sense. Kylington will be the more attractive piece if they want someone more established.

Who Could the Flames Target?

Calgary could use some help on right-wing. Tyler Toffoli, Blake Coleman and Dillon Dube are all excellent players who can put up points. Coleman and Dube haven’t produced like top-six players, and Toffoli is streaky, so they could use some scoring help.

The two players who are the best fits are Vancouver’s Conor Garland and Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi. The Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers have been open to moving those players to shed salary. You can read about them in previous NHL rumours pieces. Edmonton is tight to the cap and isn’t in a position to receive defencemen back, so that won’t work for Calgary. Vancouver makes more sense because trading Conor Garland and his $4.95 million cap hit for either Kylington or Valimaki will save them $2.45 million or 3.45 million in salary cap space. The Flames will get a feisty, hardworking player in Garland who can score 50 points, which fits well with their identity.

That’s all for today, thank you for reading NHL Rumours.