As if the Calgary Flames season didn’t include enough disappointment along the way. The Flames head into the trade deadline, with a barrage of bad luck threatening their future.
Three recent injuries, Kari Ramo, Kris Russell, and Ladislav Smid, coupled with a landmark 20 game suspension on Dennis Wideman, are providing impediments to General Manager Brad Treliving’s idea of salvaging something from this lost season.
The Dennis Wideman saga continues to drag on. While Wideman appealed his suspension, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld all 20 games on review. Later this week Wideman and the NHLPA are using their final appeal to take his case to a neutral arbitrator, likely putting an abrupt end to hopes the team could trade the 32 year old before Monday’s trade deadline.
With one year left on a contract that comes with a cap hit of $5.25 million, the Flames might have liked to swap out Wideman and potentially put that money towards re-signing the pending UFA Kris Russell.
Both Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are in line for history making deals in the neighbourhood of $7 million this summer, making it almost impossible to keep both Wideman and Russell. The only solution would have been to trade Wideman. You can assume the Flames are hoping the arbitrator will allow Wideman to return before the deadline, potentially opening up a move.
Further complicating things for the Flames is the fact Russell has missed the last four games with a groin injury that would clearly have potential trade partners concerned. As respected and selfless a player as the club has, Russell is the consummate team guy who was arguably the best Flame in last spring’s playoff series win over the Vancouver Canucks. Russell is what every team would like to add in the post-season: a heart and soul defenceman who had 34 points last year and can do a bit of everything. His cap hit is low ($2.6 million) and his offensive upside and pain threshold are high, but being on the limp could have many GM’s hesitant to pay full price for renting him.
After a rough start and being sent down to the Stockton Heat, Karri Ramo proved conclusively this year he is an NHL goalie worthy of a healthy deal on the free agent market this summer. He could have provided a playoff team with a solid backup at the deadline, but was lost for the season when he tore his ACL Feb. 11.
The latest injury came last week when depth defenceman Ladislav Smid suffered an upper body injury that will reportedly keep him out at least a few more weeks. One less option for Treliving going into the trade deadline.
The good news is Jiri Hudler has played much better the last month, potentially upping his trade value from a projected fourth rounder to upwards of a third or second round pick. A player with experience and size like David Jones could command interest too.
The Calgary Flames did start their trade deadline on a more positive note today by moving centre Markus Granlund to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Calgary native Hunter Shinkaruk. The 21 year old was drafted in the first round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. In 45 games he has 21 goals and 39 points. He played one game with Vancouver. He will report to the Flames AHL affiliate team the Stockton Heat.