Trade announcement: Flames get McNiven (but why?)

The Calgary Flames have made a puzzling trade with the Montreal Canadiens. Details below.

On Wednesday, the Calgary Flames announced a second acquisition from the Montreal Canadiens.

Flames Get
Michael McNiven (G)
Canadiens Get
Future Considerations

McNiven was immediately been assigned to the Stockton Heat.

To me, this move is a bit of a head-scratcher.  McNiven is a middling prospect at best. He’s spent most of this season with Montreal’s AHL affiliate, the Laval Rockets.  There he put up a Save Percentage of .869 in 11 appearances.  Hardly world beating.

His only NHL experience came in late January against the Minnesota Wild.  He relieved Cayden Primeau and, in 20 minutes of play, allowed 3 goals in 7 shots in an 8-2 loss.

So, in the immortal words of Jerry Seinfeld, “what’s the deal” with this trade?

Goaltending is not an area of need for the Calgary Flames at either the NHL or the AHL levels.  Much has been written about Jacob Markstrom’s success in Calgary.  Indeed, as I have pointed out, he has been overused at times at the expense of Dan Vladar.  In Stockton, Dustin Wolf is among the top 5 goalies in the AHL with a .924 in 29 appearances.

I wonder, then, if either Wolf, Vladar, or both are being poised for a move.

Dec 30, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Calgary Flames goaltender Dustin Wolf (32) blocks a puck during pregame warmups prior to the game against the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

As mentioned, Vladar is the Calgary Flames’ most underutilized asset.  Head Coach Darry Sutter has not taken a liking to him.  So, as the trade deadline approaches, is it possible that Vladar is being positioned as a trade piece?  Would that further mean that Dustin Wolf is set to be promoted to be Markstrom’s backup?

A Vladar trade seems both more likely and advisable than a Wolf promotion.  As good he’s been at the AHL level, Wolf’s development would take a step back if he’s thrown into a run for the NHL playoffs.  So, again, why acquire McNiven?

I certainly hope Wolf isn’t being shopped around. And, if he is, the return has got to be world beating. Elite home grown goalie prospects like him don’t grow on trees. He can very realistically be the Flames next number one puckstopper at the rate he’s going.

Brad Treliving hit it out of the park when he acquired Tyler Toffoli from Montreal.  I look forward to see how McNiven fits into his master plan.