The Calgary Flames were the focus of TSN’s Off-Season Game Plan segment that takes an in depth look at the possible moves to be made by each franchise over the course of the summer. The gist of Scott Cullen’s article on the Flames is that they will need to add reinforcements in order to defy the advanced statistics and make the NHL playoffs again next season.
Cullen mentions one other very interesting tidbit at the end of the article, stating the Flames could add some top six punch to their lineup by trading for Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins. He says that Lucic would bring a mix of skill and grit to the top six that would fit in very well and fill a hole on this Flames team.
Though he doesn’t outline the specifics of a deal between Calgary and Boston, notably absent from Cullen’s depth chart on the Flames is defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon and last year’s first round pick, forward Emile Poirier.
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So, what would you think about a Wotherspoon and Poirier trade for Lucic?
Lucic is a 27 year old left winger who is one of the best power forwards in the NHL at 6’3″ and 230 pounds. His offense was down a bit last season, but it was a bad year for the entire Bruins team. Lucic scored 18 goals and 26 assists for 44 points, though he had 24 goals and 59 points just one year ago.
Though the Bruins missed the postseason this year, Lucic has a plethora of playoff experience already with Boston. He has played 96 career NHL postseason games and scored 26 goals and 61 points. He would bring a much needed physical presence to the Flames top six, but also a level of experience and scoring ability that doesn’t exist on the second line right now.
Jun 30, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Emile Poirier puts on a jersey as he is introduced as the number twenty-two overall pick to the Calgary Flames during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Poirier was the 23rd overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, a pick that the Flames acquired from the St. Louis Blues in the Jay Bouwmeester trade. The highly skilled left winger from Montreal, Quebec played his first full pro season this year and though he played a handful of games with Calgary, he primarily played with the Adirondack Flames in the AHL.
Poirier had the highest points per game average of all regulars on the AHL Flames squad, scoring 42 points in 55 games. At 6’1″ and 185 pounds, Poirier won’t supply the same physical impact that Lucic would provide, but he has the skill and potential to be an even better offensive player. There are no sure things coming out of the AHL, but it would be extremely risky to move Poirier at this point in the 20 year old’s career.
Wotherspoon was the second round pick of the Flames in the 2011 draft. After a very successful Junior career with the Portland Winterhawks, Wotherspoon has played most of the past two years in Adirondack. It’s been a steady ascent for Wotherspoon as he blossoms into an NHL defenseman and though he played just one NHL regular season game, he suited up for six of the Flames postseason games.
Wotherspoon played sparingly in the postseason games, but asserted himself well and appears to be on the cusp of making the Flames NHL roster full time. At 22 years old he would add a solid dose of youth and speed to the Flames blue line behind the top pairing of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie.
Dec 10, 2013; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) tries to score on Calgary Flames goalie Reto Berra (29) at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Though I am intrigued by the idea that Scott Cullen throws out here, I don’t think it would be the rise move for the Flames organization right now. Sure, Lucic would add a solid combination of toughness and scoring ability and may be a perfect winger for Sam Bennett on the second line. However, it would just cost too much future promise in a 20 year old Poirier and a 22 year old Wotherspoon.
Lucic is also a pending unrestricted free agent next summer. The possibility of making this trade and then watching Lucic walk away as a free agent just one year later is far too risky and leaves the possibility of this trade becoming horribly one sided in favour of the Boston Bruins.
The Flames should embrace the slow rebuild and not try to expedite the process by dealing a pair of top prospects for a proven 27 year old. If Poirier continues to develop the way he has already, it won’t be long before he becomes a better offensive player than Lucic, which would make this trade look awful in hindsight.
If the Flames were on the cusp of winning a Stanley Cup, this would be a great trade to put them over the top. Unfortunately, the Flames are a few years away from being able to compete with the heavyweights of the Western Conference, and that makes the timing of a trade like this very poor.