It was almost 30 years ago when the Detroit Red Wings and Calgary Flames became dance partners and hooked up for a hockey trade. Calgary had a wealth of goaltenders at the time, with Mike Vernon, Trevor Kidd, Jason Muzzatti, and Andrei Trefilov all vying for playing time. Detroit was desperate for a starting goaltender, and on June 29, 1994, Scotty Bowman, Detroit’s coach and director of player personnel, and Doug Risebrough, general manager of the Flames pulled the trigger, and a trade was consummated. After eight seasons as the Flames’ No. 1 tender, Vernon officially became a Red Wing, and the Flames received defenseman Steve Chaisson in return.
Since that trade, there has been nothing of significance between the two clubs. However, that was then, and this is now. Steve Yzerman is the general manager (GM) of the Red Wings, and the Flames are in the process of hiring a new GM. I was reading a The Hockey Writers (THW) article “Ranking the Red Wings’ Offseason Priorities: Detroit’s Needs & Targets,” by Tony Wolak, when I thought now might be a good time for the Flames and Red Wings to become reacquainted with the trade table. Wolak identified a whole litany of needs for Detroit, and it occurred to me that the Flames are facing serious salary cap issues as they try to get back into Cup contention. I have put together three trade possibilities for consideration.
Jacob Markstrom for Draft Pick
One of the areas of concern identified by Tony Wolak for Yzerman is goaltending. Wolak specifically referred to the backup position, but I have heard that the Red Wings are looking for overall improvement in their goaltending depth chart. Calgary may not have the wealth of goalies that they had back in 1994, but they could be persuaded to part with Jacob Markstrom if the price is right.
He was not having his greatest season last year, but he did seem to get his mojo back after the All-Star Break and performed closer to his Vezina consideration play of the previous season. With Detroit’s Ville Husso under contract for the next two years at an average annual value (AAV) of $4.75 million, Yzerman may not wish to take on the 33-year-old Markstrom’s four-year, $6 million AAV contract, but if he is serious about improving goaltending, then I think Calgary could persuade Markstrom to waive his no-move clause. Likely, Calgary would want Detroit’s 2023 17th-overall pick as a return.
Benefits for Calgary: frees up $6 million in cap space and makes room for Dustin Wolf to move up from the American Hockey League.
Benefits for Detroit: big improvement to their goaltending depth chart.
Elias Lindholm for Picks & Prospects
Two other areas of weakness identified in the aforementioned Wolak article were for a right-shot centre and a top-six scoring forward. Why not solve both of these two problems at the same time? Elias Lindholm would be an excellent solution for the Red Wings as he is both a right-shot centre and a point-per-game, top-six forward who plays on both the power play and the penalty kill. As I mentioned before in another article, the 28-year-old forward has one year left on a very team-friendly $4.85 million AAV contract. Detroit must be willing to part with at least a roster player or a young “A” prospect, plus the 2023 ninth-overall draft selection to entice Calgary to part with Lindholm.
Benefits for Calgary: frees up $4.85 million cap space and adds to their prospect pool.
Benefits for Detroit: helps improve the team in all areas.
Dan Vladar & Chris Tanev for Picks & Prospects
A potential trade could be Flames’ backup, Dan Vladar and defenseman Chris Tanev to Detroit in return for two second-round picks and a couple of “A” prospects. This trade addresses two areas of need for the Wings, goaltending and a right-shot defenseman. Vladar has shown himself more than capable in a backup role, and at only 25 years of age, still has the potential to become a number-one starter. He is under contract for two years at an affordable $2.2 million AAV. The often-injured 33-year-old Tanev plays without fear and eats valuable minutes. He has one year left on his $4.5 million AAV contract.
Related: History Says Yzerman Will Sell at Deadline
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Benefits for Calgary: this will make room for both Dustin Wolf and Oscar Kylington on the roster, frees up $6.7 million in cap space and adds depth to the prospect pool.
Benefits for Detroit: this adds another right shot on the point and a well-qualified NHL backup goaltender with No. 1 potential.
Flames & Red Wings as Trade Partners – Final Thoughts
For obvious reasons, most NHL teams prefer not to choose trade partners within their division or even conference. It makes much more sense to trade with the clubs from the opposite conference. Inter-conference play only allows for two games per regular season with each of the teams in the opposing conference. Unless teams reach the Stanley Cup Final, they also will not meet in the playoffs. It makes perfect sense for Calgary and Detroit to partner in trades more often than once every 30 years.