The list of general managers who have tried to expedite a rebuild is long. The list of GMs who lasted to see the finished product however, is much shorter (see: Brian Burke, Toronto).
So you’ll have to forgive Brad Treliving if he hammers home the patience angle, as his Calgary Flames move from an improbable playoff run to a place he knows so well, the National Hockey League draft.
“Where a lot of my calories are spent is long-term,” Treliving said in a pre-draft press conference Thursday. “How do we get better for now? But are there fits that can help us beyond the next 82 games? And it’s in all positions.”
The problem is, in the cap system there are precious few significant moves that can be for today — say, acquire a top six winger with size — that isn’t going to cost Treliving a little, but a lot. The dual move — helping today, and tomorrow — barely exists anymore, does it?
And you know that Treliving will err on the side of tomorrow, which brings us to the intrigue surrounding an organization that punched far above its weight in 2014-15: With the unforeseen success that Calgary had last season, how difficult must it be for Treliving to stick with his organizational projections?
Other general managers have deviated from their patient plans after far less success than the two playoff rounds Calgary enjoyed this spring.
“For the first time in a long time here, we have some depth, youth, and some stability down the middle,” Treliving said “The [Sean] Monahans, the [Michael] Backlunds, the [Sam] Bennetts, the [Drew] Shores, the [Matt] Stajans. … There’s depth there [at centre].
“Our defence … it’s an area we still have to improve upon. And then in goal. We’ve got three goaltenders under contract. There are decisions to be made there.
“How do we get better? It never stops.”
Treliving would never say it, but he’s trying to move Jonas Hiller, who lost the starting job to Karri Ramo during the Anaheim series.
As an unrestricted free agent, Ramo is too expensive for what he does. Hiller isn’t good either, we are led to believe, but still has a year left on his contract. So Treliving could flip Hiller to the St. Louis Blues for a Brian Elliott, or should the Minnesota Wild sign Devan Dubnyk, perhaps acquire a Darcy Kuemper-type partner for Ortio. There is also Frederik Andersen and Jonathan Bernier, who could both use a change of scenary.
There has been a string of success with top draft picks in Calgary, with Monahan, then Gaudreau, then Bennett stepping right into the lineup and having an impact. Treliving is smart enough to know those occurrences are a bonus, but not part of any master plan.
“We’ve seen some rapid progression,” he said. “That’s not the norm. When you start trying to align your immediate needs up with an 18-year-old, you can make mistakes.
They ended up trading the 15th overall pick to Boston, in a package deal that saw Dougie Hamilton come to Calgary.
Again, any moves may stem from his need in goal, along with the ability to move Hiller.
Treliving is a smart talent evaluator.
There’s no hurry in Calgary, and with a patient, smart GM in charge life’s good in Southern Alberta, and is only going to get better.
Calgary is in good standing. As long as they shed cap this offseason, sign Gaudreau and Monahan to long-term extensions and possibly bring in a starting goalie they will be good.
Move along people, there’s no car wreck to see here.