With the Calgary Flames general manager entering the final season on his current contract, TSN Calgary Correspondent Salim Valji predicts Brad Treliving may look for job opportunities outside of Calgary. If this is the case, here are a few options the Flames may look at this summer.
Midway through the 2022-23 NHL season, it seems that the Calgary Flames’ offseason drama has come to a simmer, at long last. While nothing may ever compare to the whirlwind of events that unfolded last summer, this offseason is already posing a different concern for the club. With just six current Flames skaters — Milan Lucic, Trevor Lewis, Radim Zohorna, Brett Ritchie, Connor Mackey, and Michael Stone — being contractless for the 2023-24 season, there should be little to no issues when it comes to balancing the club’s salary ahead of next season. Instead, the Calgary Flames may have their hands full trying to lock down and ink a new general manager (GM).
Now is not the time to worry, however.
The panic button — which was put to good use last summer — isn’t in any immediate danger.
The future job status of Flames’ current GM Brad Treliving stems from a bold prediction made by TSN Calgary Correspondent, Salim Valji, in his recent article.
The article is a pure prediction piece and clearly states there is no conclusive evidence to back up the claim. Brad isn’t going anywhere, yet.
But, the prediction does make us consider whether Treliving would actually be interested in moving on to other projects and what the next steps would be for the Calgary Flames if this were to happen.
Much like head coaches in the NHL, the position of general manager is one of the most volatile jobs in professional sports. It’s either find success or find another job. There is a very small margin of error in these roles and a very large turnaround rate.
With that in mind, Brad Treliving’s time with the Calgary Flames is one of the longest tenures in comparison to the other active general managers in the NHL.
Sixth longest to be exact.
This is how the rest of the list shakes up:
- David Poile: 25 years (Nashville since July 1997)
- Doug Armstrong: 12 years (St. Louis since July 2010)
- Kevin Cheveldayoff: 11 years (Winnipeg since June 2011)
- Jarmo Kekalainen: 9 years (Columbus since February 2013)
- Jim Nill: 9 years (Dallas since April 2013)
- Brad Treliving: 8 years (Calgary since April 2014)
Treliving’s time as Calgary’s general manager was far from quiet. According to CapFriendly, Treliving’s stat line (if you can call it a stat line) is as follows: 202 signings, 54 draft picks, and 49 trades. Most of these roster moves were rather minor acquisitions and signings, however, this didn’t mean Treliving was scared of making the big splashes through trades and the open market. On the contrary, Treliving was the mastermind behind the Flames’ current roster and helped build Calgary into a two-time Pacific Division Champion (2018-19, 2021-22).
While some of his early moves were questioned by the public and, on occasion, some claimed he failed to meet the needs of the team, Treliving was actually playing the long game. All of his roster moves done in the past eight years culminated into Calgary’s endgame and Stanley Cup push last May.
With his contract expiring at the end of the 2022-23 season and having spent the last eight years vying to make the Flames into Stanley Cup contenders, it would not surprise us if Treliving chose to update his resume and hit the job boards for another challenge elsewhere in the NHL.
After all, what else can Treliving do? He met all the demands this team needed and still managed to avoid a full-fledged rebuild with his summertime heroics just months ago. In Treliving’s eyes — and ours — he’s done his job, he’s paid his dues, and it may be his time to move on.
Treliving could also be looking for a role with a little bit less monitoring. Working with Darryl Sutter has its own list of pros and cons.
Pros, you get to work closely with a Stanley Cup-winning coach and future Hockey Hall of Famer.
Cons, you are always kept under a close eye by said Stanley Cup-winning coach and future Hockey Hall of Famer.
Since arriving for the second time in Calgary, Darryl Sutter has had his hand in many decisions made by the Calgary Flames. From which players to acquire, to who gets called up and sent down. If Treliving is looking for a position free from babysitting, Calgary isn’t the spot.
If Brad Treliving does opt out of a contract extension with his current employers, the Flames will be tasked with finding his replacement. While this situation remains of the purely hypothetical variety, there are some very early options the Flames will most likely pursue if this instance turns real.
Option 1: Resign Treliving
Well, no duh.
Very few people can meet the Calgary Flames’ needs better than their current general manager. If Treliving hasn’t already made his mind up about his future with the Flames, the owners should be prepared to offer him an extension until at least the 2024-25 NHL season (the same season Darryl Sutter’s contract expires).
Option 2: Promote from within
If not Brad Treliving then who? Probably his second-in-command, right? That seems to be the most logical solution.
Lucky enough for the Calgary Flames, they have a crop of three assistant general managers (AGM) to select from: Craig Conroy, Brad Pascall, and Chris Snow.
In this scenario either Conroy or Pascall would be the front runners, having been hired together shortly after Treliving’s start in June 2014. Conroy also suited up 507 times for the Flames in his paying career and spent three years as the special assistant to the general manager before his promotion to AGM.
Snow had the most recent hire as he was promoted from analyst to AGM ahead of the 2020-21 season and is currently battling ALS.
Option 3: Give Darryl Sutter the reigns
Where have we seen this one before?
While we all know Sutter’s previous stint as the Flames’ general manager went not so great, it wouldn’t surprise us to see him take up the mantle once again. Regardless of who sits in the general manager’s chair, Sutter will always have a say in the decision made by management. Why not cut the middleman out and let Sutter run point on both coaching decisions and roster moves.
Option 4: Look for an outside hire
There is nothing wrong with bringing in a fresh set of eyes. An outside hire can be a benefit to a club that is unsure of what direction its team is heading in. They would bring in an unbiased opinion and outside look that is often lost from inside the rank.
Valji also hinted that Treliving may be a good fit in Toronto, as the Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas’ contract is also set to expire at the end of this season.
Perhaps we will see the Flames and Leafs discuss a swapping of general managers at one point.