The Calgary Flames have one of the deepest defense corps in the entire NHL, with several young options pushing for regular roles and a captain playing at a Norris-caliber level even late in his career. Still, they are apparently looking to add to the group. Both Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic (subscription required) and Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet have recently noted that the Flames are looking for a left-handed defenseman, specifically a rental for the third pairing according to LeBrun.
Calgary currently has four left-handed options on the roster, though T.J. Brodie routinely plays on the right side. That leaves young Oliver Kylington holding down the third pairing left-hand side recently, something that the team may not be fully confident in given their Stanley Cup aspirations. Kylington is a talented prospect, but is still just 21 years old and obviously doesn’t have the full trust of the coaching staff at this point. He’s played fewer than 12 minutes in 11 of his 16 games this season including a low of just 8:21 on December 22nd.
Juuso Valimaki very well could be the answer on the left side, but is still dealing with a high ankle sprain and Friedman notes that the team is unsure of how he’ll respond when back in the lineup. Adding some depth to the roster in that position may be prudent, though it is not clear who they are targeting at the moment. In terms of left-handed rentals, Jay Bouwmeester and Niklas Kronwall stick out as veteran options on struggling teams, though both have trade protection and may not be what the Flames are after.
It is interesting that the Flames apparent search for help on defense comes just as the team is dealing with a situation regarding an expensive, underutilized forward’s agent publicizing his frustration. Michael Frolik’s agent Allan Walsh went to Twitter recently to call out the Flames for scratching the veteran forward, spawning plenty of speculation over his future in Calgary. Frolik carries a $4.3MM cap hit through next season, a number that may be impossible for the team to keep around after handing out new contracts to Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett this summer. Frolik still has plenty of talent left in him—as evidenced by his two-assist performance on Monday after being reinserted into the lineup—and could certainly help someone around the league.
Obviously there is no guarantee the Flames find what they’re looking for, but the simple fact of them asking around about rentals should indicate that they have an appetite to “go for it” this season with their strong core. The team sits in first place in the Pacific Division with a 24-12-4 record and could very reasonably come out as the top seed in the Western Conference. With that kind of positioning halfway through the season, it’s easy to see why they would want to make sure every little roster hole is filled.