Flames and Leafs can’t keep their eyes off each other

It’s typically in the couple weeks leading up to the trade deadline where we start getting wind of which pro scouts or other front office executives are traveling around and making appearances at games where “available” players might be. I’m not sure if I’ve ever noticed it starting this early in a season, but with some notable names being kicked around the trade rumour mill, like Evander Kane and Dougie Hamilton for example, it’s probably not surprising a lot of teams are making the rounds. And it isn’t just scouts.

For the Leafs and Flames, who seemed to have a bit of a connection last season without anything materializing, it looks as though there could have something brewing again. But what could be on the table?

According to a couple sources, the game between the Sabres and Flames earlier this week was well-attended by personnel from other clubs. I’m sure this happens plenty over the course of the season without much fanfare, but given Kane and Hamilton were playing, perhaps there was a solid contingent there to see each side. Toronto had a scout in attendance. They also had Kyle Dubas there, which is a lot more newsworthy.

Whether the Leafs are a team in on Hamilton is obviously unknown (though he would be an ideal fit), and with Lou running the show it’s unlikely we’ll see any information like that surface from even the most well-known insiders. But you don’t send someone as high-level as Dubas to see the game in-person for no reason, even if it is just a quick jump across the border to Buffalo. 

Something is up. So much so that the Flames’ general manager Brad Treliving himself took in last night’s game in Toronto.

Again, Hamilton seems like the natural center-piece here if anything were to go down, but that’s admittedly wishful thinking on our part. It could be something completely out of left field. And these sources above are guys on the beat who have access to the arena seating chart, but not much insight otherwise. If something is to go down between these two clubs, unless something leaks on the Calgary side, it’ll likely be the Leafs official PR account breaking the news.

  • Capt.jay

    I always like trades and so I decided to look to see what the leafs cap situation was. Apparently we have $22 million in space but I’m not sure how that can be. I understand Horton comes off the books and obviously we found a loop hole for Lupul and Robidas. Cap Central doesn’t include Brooks Laich and Machalik against the cap as they are in the minors. I thought their cap hit still counted against? Also, how did we convince the league that Robidas and Lupul should be on IR?

    • BarelyComments

      Don’t think we have 22 million… We Currently have just under 1million in real cap space but I think all of Horton (5.3m) Lupul (5.25m) and Robidas (3m) could be moved from IR to LTIR which would give us just about 14 million in space unless I’m missing something… Also have to consider that we are likely going to have to deal with a number of rookies hitting their bonuses at the end of the year.

        • BarelyComments

          Just took a look… The site’s numbers are wrong because it hasn’t taken into account any of the salary on IR or any of the salary buried in the minors… CapFriendly is probably a more reliable source…

      • Kanuunankuula

        We can only move Horton to LTIR without the league raising a stink about it. He’s the only one we know for sure is too hurt to play.Besides LTIR won’t help with the rookie bonuses, so I’m not sure we should take on salary dumps.

        Other than Hamilton, is there anyone we’d want and Flames would give up?

        • LukeDaDrifter

          Teams are allowed to exceed the cap by 7.5% as a result of performance bonuses (but not more than that). In the Leaf’s case that comes to aprox. $5.5 million. It is a hard cap and any overages resulting from performance bonus’ are automatically tacked on to the start of next year’s cap. The Leafs have so many large contracts coming off the books this year they are definitely covered. That is not to say, just like owning a credit card it is smart to max it out.

          It is likely the Leafs would be sending some salary back to the Flames as well as taking some back.

          Like you I don’t see the Leafs taking any more salary dumps this year.

          The Flames have about 3 older D-men and 3 younger ones. Hamilton must be the one folks are interested in. Maybe TJ Brodie at 26.

          My feeling if any trades are being considered, it may be simply testing the market for later down the road. While the Flames could use more scoring now, their goals against is not so hot. I would consider that a bit of a red flag.

  • Albertan Leaf Fan!

    As some one who follows both these teams religiously. They are obvious fits for each other. Calgary has Hamilton yes, but also has a few blue chip d prospects in Stockton. Toronto has more than enough blue chip forward prospects. For me the flames lack of scoring depth, and the leafs lack of defensive depth makes them obivuse trade partners. Though why the GMs are watching each other’s big teams I wish I new. Also the flames haveroe than a couple goalie prospects who I am pretty high on so maybe theirs a fit their. As for Dennis Wideman, the flames need cap relief, and if the leafs can give them the relief for this season as his contract ends this summer, I would consider it for the right price.

    • LukeDaDrifter

      When it comes to the expansion draft the Flames do have a minor problem. They are allowed to protect 3 D-men and must expose one D who meets the exposure requirements.If the expansion draft occurred today the Flames only have 3 D-men who meet the requirements. Giordano (33), Hamilton (23), and Brodie (26). They would be forced to expose one of those guys. Everyone else is not signed for next year.

      • Capt.jay

        We could trade for Hamilton and not lose any core D in the expansion draft. Zeitev and Carrick are exempted while REilly and Gartner would be protected. We could add another Dman and not lose him as he would make the third. Teams will trade for cheap come the end of the season for fear of losing them for nothing. My guess is there will be a lot of third liners going for 5-7 round draft picks. Plus a number 4 Dman on a team with a deep defensive pool could be forced to sell too.

        • LukeDaDrifter

          Yes we could trade for Hamilton and not end up exposing any of our top four guys assuming Hamilton would be one. We would likely end up protecting Rielly, Gardiner, and Hamilton ( or some other good D we may get instead).

          Zeitev is exempt. Carrick is not. He does need to play 21 more games though to meet the exposure requirements. So that would leave both Marincin and Carrick exposed. Don’t forget the Leafs can only lose one player and Vegas must take one of ours. Depending who they grab from other teams they may end choosing a forward from us. I believe they will be looking for as much youth and speed, as they can get. It makes good sense on their part.

        • LukeDaDrifter

          Just for fun I will ask you. Given a choice of Martin, Komarov, Bozak, Carrick or Marincin, Who would you choose?

          I should have added those players are from the NHL regulars we must expose. As Vegas will have a 30 man roster to start they will also be choosing 7 prospects. We have guys like Leivo, Rychel, Leipsic, Loov, Froese, It is possible they choose a prospect from us rather than an NHL regular

          • DukesRocks

            Nylander conveniently was scratched with an upper body injury. What if the trade was JVR/Nylander for Hamilton/Tkachuk. Would you make this trade? My only concern with doing a trade like this is the Expansion draft. The Leafs can get that top 4D and give up less in my opinion. However, Tkachuk is the prize if you’re a Leaf fan and you do have the Marner connection. Skill wise Nylander beats Tkachuk but it’s the physical presence that makes Tkachuk appealing to me.

          • Capt.jay

            A constant 30 goal guy who is still young and appears to be liked is awesome to have, so In my opinion JVR is worth more than Hamilton who is looking at possibly his third team already, but that’s just me. Nylander to me is also more valuable then tkachuk as he can/will carry a line and create plays. Tkachuk needs someone to do that for him.

          • LukeDaDrifter

            You are right JVR is worth more to a team, than Hamilton. Problem is the demand for a top four D has driven the price way up above fair market value.

            So either you part with a top forward or hope for a delivery from the farm.

          • Capt.jay

            I totally agree that the price would be steep and that’s probably why I wouldn’t do a JVR for Hamilton. But then again we could SOMEWHAT replace a JVR easier with our system full of forward prospects than we could for a top pairing D man.

            Now I’m torn! Damn you Luke for making me think!

          • LukeDaDrifter

            That made me laugh,,, Now if you were the Calgary GM and you put it out that Hamilton “might” be available, you know for sure you will be getting good offers from almost every team in the league. It is kind of like overpaying at an auction for something you really wanted and likely regretted after. Don’t forget this is all media speculation because scouts were seen about. Calgary may be looking to trade one of their older D-men for all we know.

          • DukesRocks

            I agree with mostly everything you said. The reason to trade JVR is the new contract in two years from now. He will demand around 7 to 8 million for 5 or more years. He will be 29.5 to start that contract. I agree Nylander is the better skilled player in comparison to Tkachuk, but to state Tkachuk can’t create in incorrect. I’ve seen the kid play in London and a bit in Calgary, he has all the skills to be a premiere power forward in the league and beats JVR in ever category. Best of all he’s got a mean streak and the Leafs need that. Hamilton has term and will fit in perfectly on the top 4.

            Bottom line you trade from a strength to address your weakness.

            The movement of Nylander opens the door for players like Kapanen, Leipsic and Bracco (more smallish forward, yikes). Of the 3, I like Bracco most but all 3 will not be Leafs. These guys are trade chips to create a contender for the cup.

            The addition of Tkachuk and Hamilton addresses needs in the quest to create a championship team.

          • LukeDaDrifter

            It would be a close to an even trade for both, I think. I would be really doubtful that Calgary with part with Tkachuk…. Just like his father, Tkachuk is a real power forward that can do it all. Pass, check, score, likes to go into the rough areas to get the puck. It looks to me that Tkachuk will be one of the top forwards in the league for the next 15 years. It would make him 33.

          • DukesRocks

            Calgary’s present need is scoring. With Nylander and JVR they address a need. Which could get them into the playoffs. Agree, its pretty close to even trade.

          • LukeDaDrifter

            I think I might choose Martin. He is signed for three more years. He can skate with anyone in the league. He can score if someone gets him the puck. He may be the best bodychecking forward in the league.

            Remember this is Vegas….. After losing all your money at the tables everyone is looking for some fisticuffs.

            Especially if you intended to go to the Chicken Ranch, before you went broke.

  • Marcel DePass

    I’m guessing that Hamilton is still the center piece, and Carrick the likely chip being moved. I’m sure another forward prospect will be included, like a Leipsic or possibly Bracco. What’s the deal with Hamilton and teams tiring from him so quick? Does he have nasty habits or a close talker with bad breath? Strange. If they do deal him, it is because of a need to make a big overhaul change, meaning we would need to take a bad contract back.

  • Keaton Smith

    Dave Morrison, Director of Pro Scouting, was in Philly to watch Calgary as well. Something to consider.

    A lot of smoke for no fire. With the teams playing each other soon, could be the perfect time to make a move.

  • Stan Smith

    “Again, Hamilton seems like the natural center-piece here if anything were to go down, but that’s admittedly wishful thinking on our part.”

    Who exactly do you mean by “our”? I personally don’t think giving up a number of assets, and then getting stuck paying close to $6M a year for Calgary’s #5 Dman is a great idea, especially figuring out their defence as a whole, is one of the few in the NHL that is actually worse than the Leafs.

      • Stan Smith

        The comment was directed at the author, whose quote I led with. It seemed to me he was using the word “our” to mean Leaf fans collectively. As a fan my thoughts are not inline with his on Hamilton.