Potential suitors for a Dan Vladar trade with the Calgary Flames

Oct 19, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Calgary Flames goaltender Dan Vladar (80) during a stoppage in play against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Calgary Flames goaltender Dan Vladar (80) during a stoppage in play against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

According to The Fourth Period, the Calgary Flames have re-engaged in trade talks regarding their current backup goaltender, Dan Vladar:

"The Calgary Flames are looking to generate salary cap space and ease their logjam at the goaltending position and TFP has learned the team is once again surveying the trade landscape.According to separate sources, the Flames have engaged in discussions with some teams about the availability of goalie Dan Vladar, and while they are only in the exploratory stage, those conversations are expected to continue this week.Vladar, 26, has one more year left on his contract after this season and comes with a $2.2 million salary cap hit.The Flames held trade talks with teams in the off-season, but the asking price – which remains unknown – was considered too high at the time, according to one NHL source. It is unclear what the Flames are looking for now.Moving Vladar would create an opportunity for the Flames to call up young netminder Dustin Wolf to backup or split duties with Jacob Markstrom."

I’m not an insider and I don’t have special sources informing me on who could be on the other end of the phone with Flames GM Craig Conroy, but I can reference CapFriendly and pay attention to which clubs might be in need of a goaltender. Let’s take a look at some prospective suitors for a trade that would land them Dan Vladar.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Bolts are in hot water when it comes to their goalie situation. Brick wall, two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Vezina Trophy winner, and Conn Smythe Trophy recipient Andrei Vasilevskiy has been placed on LTIR. After 60 starts in 2022-23, Vasilevskiy will be sidelined for at least two months (according to Bolts By the Bay).

With Vasilevskiy’s $9.5 million cap hit currently on LTIR, Tampa GM Julien BriseBois has $7.7 million in available cap space. Vasilevskiy will need to return to the lineup well before playoffs, which would put the Lightning $1.8 million over the cap. If they were to add Dan Vladar’s $2.2 million hit, the Lightning would be $4 million over, meaning that for a trade to work and for Vladar to remain with the team beyond Vasilevskiy’s return, they’d have to move out at least $4 million.

Unless the Lightning are willing to part ways with someone like Nick Paul, the Flames are capable of some cap gymnastics themselves, and the Flames are willing to throw in an asset in the form of a pick or prospect alongside Vladar in a deal with Tampa, I don’t see something coming to fruition here. As desperately in need of a goalie as the Lightning are, their cap situation is a solid demonstration of how tight the market currently is.

Florida Panthers

Could the Flames do business with their familiar trade partner in southern Florida?

The answer to this question depends on (a) how badly the Panthers feel they need a better backup than Anthony Stolarz behind starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, (b) how long Aaron Ekblad will be held out of the lineup on LTIR, and (c) whether or not the Panthers plan for Spencer Knight to be back with the big club this season.

If Florida needs a goalie, has cap space with Ekblad out long long term, and Spencer Knight’s return to the NHL is questionable, the Panthers could make something work. As a Flames fan, though, I’d highly question the return that could come back to Calgary; Florida has traded their first overall picks in 2024 and ’25, does not have a second round pick in 2024, and has one of the worst prospect pools in the league. Daily Faceoff’s NHL team prospect pool rankings peg the Panthers at 29th of 32 because “their prospect pipeline is downright awful.”

Buffalo Sabres

A team with playoff aspirations that have been reinforced by hockey pundits around the league, the Sabres are looking to rookie goaltender, Devon Levi, to deliver between the pipes. Not only are they putting a ton of pressure on a prospect in the most critiqued position in hockey, the team’s success largely depends on Levi.

From strictly a cap perspective, the Sabres could afford to take on Vladar. Unlike most teams in the NHL right now, Buffalo has a heap of space and could afford this move.

It just might not make the most sense for them considering their current backup situation. Behind Levi, the Sabres have both Eric Comrie and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen healthy and under contract for this season (set to become a UFA and RFA, respectively, next summer).

With that said, a potential deal here depends entirely on how the Buffalo Sabres organization views their playoff chances and how much they trust their current support staff behind Levi. If they view Vladar as a better option to take games off of Levi’s plate than Luukkonen or Comrie, maybe they decide to pull the trigger.

The Sabres have plenty of draft picks to work with, which are likely what the Flames are and should be targeting in a return for their current backup.

Los Angeles Kings

Heading into the season, common knowledge was that the LA Kings have a roster with young players coming into their own, vets who can still play at a high level, and centre depth that’s tough for most teams in the league to compete with. Most hockey experts agreed on two predictions for the 2023-24 iteration of Will Ferrell’s favourite hockey team: they’ll make the playoffs because they’re pretty good, but the major question mark for Robert Bowlby Blake’s squad is goaltending.

The Kings entered the season with a tandem of goalies: North Pole, Alaska’s 31-year-old Pheonix Copley and someone Flames fans may be more familiar with: 36-year-old Cam Talbot.

Copley is a big-time gamble. He’s not a spring chicken and he’s largely unproven; despite his age, Copley has only played 69 NHL games. With a .900 save percentage, he might be the definition of average. The jury’s out for whether or not he’s even backup calibre and with one start so far this season, his .737 SV% might make it hard to go back to him.

Talbot has struggled with injury, has performed better in a 1A/1B type tandem, and saw his SV% fall off last year, recording an .898 with the Sens.

In short, if the Kings want to ensure they’re on track for a playoff berth, acquiring a goaltender to share the net with Talbot might be a wise decision.

When it comes to ability to make a trade with the Calgary Flames, the Kings do currently have the cap space to make it work. Viktor Arvidsson has been assigned to LTIR and may require back surgery, leaving LA with over $2.5 million in current space, enough to make room for Dan Vladar. While the major attractions in this potential deal from a Flames’ perspective would be cap space and opportunity for Dustin Wolf to join the big club and finally start some meaningful games for the Flames, there would be an option for Conroy to acquire Copley plus assets in return for Vladar, clearing minimal cap space this year (only $700,000), but Vladar’s full $2.2 million next season, as Copley would come off the books.

The Kings also have some draft picks they could throw into the mix, including a 2024 first and all rounds in ’25 and ’26.

While doing business with a divisional opponent might not be ideal, could the Kings be Calgary’s best suitors for a trade for Dan Vladar?

It’s Dustin Wolf’s time to play…

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