Conor Garland would fit the Flames’ top 6 like a glove. He has started out slow this year but has been near or over the 40-point mark his entire career. What most sticks out to me is his ability to create dangerous chances for himself. Just last year he finished 30th in the league in iXG (individual expected goals) creation at 5v5, ahead of notable goal scorers David Pastrnak, Leon Draisaitl, and Brad Marchand. He’s also been a positive player in terms of CF% and xG%, and on some pretty terrible Coyotes teams. Vancouver has a need for defense and this is something the Flames have a plethora of. Thus a trade could work for both teams.
Jeff Skinner – Buffalo Sabres
This is an interesting choice as Buffalo is performing relatively well this year. To be honest, I don’t think they keep this up (and not just because they beat the Calgary Flames). While they’re getting closer, they’re still missing some pieces and are underwater in a lot of stats. If they become sellers, Jeff Skinner should be the primary target for the Flames.
A lot of people overlook Skinner due to his cap hit. He’s due to be paid $9 million for the next 4 seasons, which is a lot of cash in a league that values cap space. The thing about Skinner is that he’s actually still a great player on a Buffalo team that can’t score. This is true even though he hit 33 goals last year, 25 at even strength. He finished third in the entire NHL in iXG, meaning that he creates a tonne of high-quality chances for himself. A player like this playing alongside fantastic passers like Jonathan Huberdeau would be a great addition to an already dangerous team. Although his cap hit would be a concern, Buffalo can always retain money on the deal if Calgary needs to get it done for some extra assets.
Timo Meier – San Jose Sharks
The real prize of a trade piece would be Timo Meier of the San Jose Sharks for a number of reasons. For starters, the Sharks are absolutely awful this year and will definitely be selling key assets. One of which will be Meier, at the end of his contract that sees him paid 6 million and still under team control. While his qualifying offer of 10 million will be a concern, Meier is an elite player in the league that instantly makes any team he’s a part of better. He’s ranked by The Athletic as a player worth 2.7 GSVA (Game Score Value Added), which would make him the second-best winger on the Calgary Flames behind Jonathan Huberdeau.
Aside from this projection, what makes Meier special is his ability to create chances for himself at even strength. Last year Meier finished top 3 in the NHL in iXG, behind only Matthews and McDavid. And he’s doing it again this year, currently ranked 4th in the entire NHL. Adding a player of Meier’s caliber would work wonders for the Flames that lost much of that chance creation last year with the departure of Gaudreau and Tkachuk, especially since he would still be under team control.
One area that the Flames lost a lot of this summer was chance creation – Tkachuk and Gaudreau were both great at this and I had a feeling that although the newcomers would help fill the gap, they’d need a bit more to fully replace what they had lost. Darryl Sutter said it best in a recent interview – their chances are up but the quality of those chances is down. Adding any of these players that specialize in getting chances in dangerous areas would do wonders for a Flames team that’s looking to make a deep run in the playoffs for years to come with a new core.