With the NHL trade deadline fast approaching, and Canadian hockey fans everywhere stockpiling the beer and getting the work-escape plans ready, I thought that I would analyze each Canadian teams game plan for trade deadline day, highlighting each teams needs, possible trade bait, and what players they could be targeting. Today, I will begin with the Calgary Flames. Friday: Edmonton Oilers. Saturday: Montreal Canadians. Sunday: Ottawa Senators. Monday: Toronto Maple Leafs. Tuesday: Vancouver Canucks
Number One Centre: While Daymond Langkow has performed well beyond what was expected of him, he is still not a legitimate number one centre. Part of the reason he has done so well is because he plays on a line with Jerome Iginla, who could also greatly benefit from having a top centre to feed him the puck. Acquiring a top centre would allow Langkow to play on the second line with Alex Tanguay, creating two solid scoring lines, making it harder for opposing teams to stop the Flames from scoring.
Top-Six Right Winger: After Jerome Iginla, there is a steep drop-off in the talent at the right wing. Currently Owen Nolan plays on right wing, but he is more suited for a third or fourth line role at this stage of his career. The Flames top line has potted 78 goals this season. The second line? 35 goals. A second-line sniper would be of great benefit to the Flames and would give playmaker, Alex Tanguay someone to feed the puck to.
Dustin Boyd: Once considered one of the Flames better prospects, Boyd has struggled in the Flames line-up this season, putting up 4 goals and 8 points in 33 games with a -9 rating. He still is young though at the age of 21 and would be an attractive prospect to rebuilding teams.
Stephane Yelle/Craig Conroy: If the Flames acquire a top centre, look for Yelle or Conroy, both pending UFAs, to be on the way out. Sutter will not trade Lombardi, as he has his best years ahead of him and has shown flashes of becoming a top centre. Also, Langkow has been a valuable contributor this season and while he is a UFA, Sutter hopes to retain him. Both Yelle and Conroy would be good additions for teams seeking experienced centre for their third or fourth line. Yelle would be the more affordable choice, at a 1.4 million cap hit compared to Conroys 2.5 million.
Possible Target Players:
Mats Sundin: While he has insisted that he will not waive his NTC, Sundin would be a huge addition to the Flames line-up. However, with the exception of Mikael Backlund and Leland Irving, both of whom are likely untouchables, the Flames lack the big name prospects that would be need to bring Sundin to Calgary.
Michael Ryder: Has found himself in Guy Carbonneaus doghouse, often playing on the fourth line or sitting in the press box. He could use a change of scenery, away from the heavy eyes of the public in Montreal and would fit the role as a second line sniper. It likely would not take too much to get him away from the Habs, possibly Dustin Boyd and Stephane Yelle.
The Flames should be one of the quieter Canadian teams on the deadline day, as Sutter will be reluctent to move any of his prospects or draft picks. They have roughly 2.4 million in cap room, enough to add a solid forward. Any player Sutter does pick-up on deadline day will have to be a pending UFA as the Flames cap will be tight next season, with 44.8 million committed to 13 players. Rumour mills have been throwing around Tanguays name but I doubt he will be moved until the off-season because if the Flames are serious about challenging this season, they will need his offense and playmaking skills. Your best bet would be that Sutter brings in a second or third line forward for a mid-level prospect and a mid-level pick.