The Calgary Flames seem to gamble on their success every season lately when it comes to their offseason moves. This year, attempting to address their second-half collapse, general manager Brad Treliving made several key moves to revitalize the franchise, including trading away defenseman Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and collegeiate defenseman Adam Fox for youngsters Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm. The team also went out and signed a 30-year-old James Neal to a five-year, $28.75MM deal as well as signing veteran bottom-six center to three-year, $9.38MM contract. Many of those moves will turn out to be quite a gamble.
The Athletic’s Kent Wilson (subscription required) wonders whether this might be the last year for Treliving if the team doesn’t show immediate improvement and return to respectability. Several of his gambles from previous seasons have failed, most especially last year’s trade for Travis Hamonic for a slew of draft picks. While the trade made sense at the time, the deal looks worse and worse as time passes.
Treliving also has used his draft assets to add players over the last two years as he has had just one pick in the top 105 over those two seasons to acquire players like Hamonic, Curtis Lazar, Michael Stone and veteran goaltender Mike Smith, most of which have made few contributions so far to the team. Throw in the team’s lack of uncertainty in net in the future and one has to wonder whether Treliving will survive the next season if the team doesn’t make immediate improvements.
- The San Jose Sharks have done an impressive job of combining veteran talent with an infusion of youth over the years and none more than last year when several of their young players really stepped up, including Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney, Timo Meier, Joonas Donskoi and Kevin Labanc. Even on defense, their youth took another step. However, how long can the veterans hold out? The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz (subscription required) wonders how much Joe Pavelski has left in the tank and how much the team depends on him? Despite missing just one game in the last five season, the 34-year-old veteran’s production dropped to just 22 goals last year, his worst season since the strike-shortened 2012-13 season. One of the reasons for his decline was that he was banged up early in the season with a wrist injury, a broken finger and some lower-body injuries. Although Pavelski’s days of scoring 40 goals is likely over, the team hopes they can count on Pavelski’s experience and skills to help lead the team on the top-six as there is no doubt the veteran will get the lion’s share of minutes on the team again this year.
- The Athletic’s Allan Mitchell (subscription required) looks at the play of Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ethan Bear, who has been one of Edmonton’s top propsects. The 21-year-old played most of the season with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL, but finally broke into the NHL in March, playing in 18 total games. However, Mitchell writes that while Bear showed some offensive prowess, he struggled in coverage and gap control and likely needs more time in the AHL to be successful. With the injury to Andrej Sekera, Bear could get another chance to make the Oilers out of training camp.
- With few changes in their defensive personnel, the Vancouver Canucks have to look at as many internal defensive options if they want to get better. One option is Ashton Sautner, according to Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Sun. The 24-year-old agitator finally got recalled last season by Vancouver in hopes of providing the team with an energy presence. He played five games on an emergency recall and had an impressive showing. Unfortunately, Kuzma doesn’t think he has much of a chance to make the team out of training camp this season as the team has nine defenseman under contract, including 2016 first-round pick Olli Juolevi, giving him little to no chance in making the NHL squad.