Calgary Flames: Does a Matt Dumba for Sean Monahan Trade Make Sense?

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 26: Matt Dumba (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 26: Matt Dumba (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Calgary Flames have been rumoured to be interested in Matt Dumba. Does it make sense to pay the hefty price?

The Calgary Flames are going to need to find some new defencemen for next season. A quick glance at their capfriendly page shows a long list of defenders who are going to be unrestricted free agents in two weeks.

Most of those defenders played the bulk of their time on the right side. T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic lined up most nights this season among the team’s top four defenders. Michael Stone was often on the right side of the third pairing when healthy. All three of them are UFAs on October 9th.

Trade deadline acquisitions Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort will also be UFAs, bringing the total to five.

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There has been little action on negotiating new contracts and there hasn’t been much of a murmur at all that any of these players are getting close to announcing a new deal in the near future. That would be a lot to lose all at once, especially Hamonic and Brodie who handled heavy minutes on the right side.

Who would replace these guys? Well, one option would be to trade for Matt Dumba. The 26 year old appears to be the odd man out on the Minnesota Wild blue line. He would be a great addition to the Flames blue line.

He is a physical, two-way right shot who can easily handle a top four role. He has put up points in the past, scoring 14 goals and 50 points in 2017-18 and he had 12 goals in just 32 games the following season. He dipped to 24 points in 69 games this season, but the Wild had an up and down season and weren’t the highest scoring squad in the league.

Dumba grew up in Calgary, playing his minor hockey in the city before heading slightly north to play his Junior hockey with the Red Deer Rebels. With so many defencemen leaving the team as free agents, and just Rasmus Andersson signed next season as a right shot, a former Calgary resident who hits hard, skates well, can provide offence from the blue line and make opponents think twice before heading to the front of the Flames net would be a great fit.

But what about the cost? Dumba is not a free agent himself, he is signed for three more years with a cap hit of $6 million.

The rumoured acquisition cost would be a top six centre. The Wild were already thin down the middle and they traded Eric Staal and will see Mikko Koivu and Alex Galchenyuk leave as free agents.

They acquired Nick Bjugstad but they need someone capable of providing offence who is accustomed to playing a top six centre role. Which means, if the Flames are going to want to acquire Dumba it is going to cost them Sean Monahan.

Monahan has been a lock for 25 goals every season since his rookie campaign. His production dipped this season as he scored 22 goals and 48 points in 70 games. He had career bests a season earlier with 34 goals and 82 points in 78 games.

This was his 7th NHL season and 6th as the unquestioned top centre on the team. He almost always has been on a line with Johnny Gaudreau and the pair have been the two biggest offensive threats on the Flames roster for most of the past decade.

But, is the hole on right defence glaring enough and the depth down the middle deep enough that the Flames can move Monahan for Dumba?

This would give the Flames a top four next season consisting of Mark Giordano with Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin with Matt Dumba while Juuso Valimaki tries to pry minutes away from Hanifin and Giordano. It would be quite the defence core.

The big shift up front without Monahan is Elias Lindholm would pretty much have to be able to move to the middle. This would give the Flames Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett and Derek Ryan at centre.

That would be just fine if Lindholm can quickly adjust to playing centre. He hasn’t been moved to the middle much since arriving in Calgary. If he could step in and produce offence on a line with Gaudreau and Andrew Mangiapane, while Backlund continues his two-way prowess with Matthew Tkachuk and Dillon Dube, the Flames would have a heck of a top six.

However, there would be no room for error with Linholm and Bennett playing centre. Neither has played down the middle long term in their NHL careers but they would need to make it work with Monahan in Minnesota.

It would be a risky move for the Flames. But they need to do something to address right defence. It might make more sense to try and land a big fish free agent like Alex Pietrangelo. Or even a second tier guy like Sami Vatanen or Kevin Shattenkirk. Or maybe they can convince Brodie to stay.

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Right defence are hard to acquire, but not as hard as first line centres. Trading Monahan and hoping Lindholm works at centre wouldn’t be a wise move. Acquiring Dumba would be great, but the Flames should look to upgrade their defence without greatly weakening another position first.