Calgary Flames president Brian Burke isn’t one to mince words. So, when Burke told Sportsnet 590 host Bob McCown that the Flames won’t be using picks as trade bait at the NHL Trade Deadline, it’s legitimate:
“We don’t have a lot of picks — we’re not picking until [the third round of the 2018 draft], so we can’t use the deadline to pick up a rental player with a relatively high pick… We’re not going into  picks … unless it’s an extraordinary circumstance.”
Burke’s comments seem to line up with recent reports about Calgary’s current condition. Last week, we took a look at exactly what Burke was referring to – the team’s lack of draft picks. The Flames could potentially have to wait until the fourth round to make their first pick this June and, one way or another, have already surrendered their 2019 second-rounder. Burke is not exaggerating when he says that the team can’t afford to give up any more high picks for rentals this deadline. The team’s unwillingness to move picks also adds some credence to the report that young goaltenders Jon Gillies and David Rittich are on the market. If Calgary wants to make a move, they’ll have to dive into their prospect depth to avoid surrendering further draft picks. In addition to their young goalies, slowly-developing 2013 first-rounders Emile Poirier and Hunter Shinkaruk and young defensemen Oliver Kylington, Rasmus Andersson, and even Brett Kulak could be on the move. One player who won’t be leaving: 2017 first-round pick Juuso Valimaki, who Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman says is highly sought-after, but untouchable (Thought 6).
What exactly do the Flames need at the deadline? Burke says a scoring winger and the team’s 20th-ranked offense and 23rd-ranked power play would seem to back that up. Burke seems to think that a return to health for Kris Versteeg could be the solution, but the veteran forward alone is not enough to cure an ineffective bottom-six. Calgary currently sits in the third and final Pacific playoff spot, tied with the Anaheim Ducks and one point ahead of the Los Angeles Kings, but in fact sit behind L.A. in terms of points percentage. With it looking increasingly likely that the Central Division will claim both Western wild card spots, the Flames can’t help but seek an edge over the Ducks and Kings if they want to make the playoffs. Despite Burke’s hopes of an internal turnaround and the team’s difficult draft pick situation, sitting pat at the deadline will likely spell doom for the Flames’ 2017-18 campaign.