As news of Calgary’s latest trade and signing arrived Thursday, the hockey community praised Flames architect Brad Treliving for another masterful development.
Nazem Kadri in, Sean Monahan out.
The moves have had numerous nominations from Treliving as General Manager of the Year next year, with one going so far as to suggest he should win the Hart.
The last magic trick the NHL’s most prolific base player performed came on his 53rd birthday while in Texas, taking his daughter to school.
“I was on the s-list — today I pretended to be on the phone all day as a lot of heavy stuff was happening,” laughed the man who may also be top of them all. the general directors of the humor department.
“It’s been a busy day today.”
Make it a busy five weeks, starting with Johnny Gaudreau’s decision to halt contract talks on July 12, setting off a chain of trades and signings that made Treliving the NHL’s central figure this summer.
As Rome seemed to be collapsing all around him, he managed to ensnare and sign a superstar like Jonathan Huberdeau, followed by Thursday’s seven-year, $49 million deal with Kadri to give the Flames the depth at the environment they had wanted for decades. .
When asked why it took one of the top unrestricted free agents five weeks to finally sign with Calgary, Treliving cited the tighter cap as a major hurdle.
“It’s a bit like fishing – sometimes you think you’ve got it on the hook and then it kinda goes away. Then you see if you can get it back,” laughed Treliving, who dreams of having time to launch from a boat.
“At first, I didn’t really think… well, it was an interesting time because at the start of free agency, we were trying to manage our situation.
“We didn’t know what (Tkachuk’s) number would be, so we made the trade and wanted to leave as much flexibility as possible.”
Suffice it to say, his plans changed quickly.
The two teams stayed in touch, but it wasn’t until Treliving felt satisfied with Kadri’s desire to sign in Calgary over the past few days that he came out and paid handsomely to rid the team of the cap. of $6.375 million from Monahan. He did so by sending him to Montreal with a conditional first-round pick, which could be in 2024, 2025 or 2026.
Returning was coveted ceiling space and future considerations.
As unbelievable as a Flame was Monahan in Calgary’s first six years, a growing list of injuries has weakened him to the point that he was hurting the club as a costly fourth-line liability in recent years.
Through it all, Monahan was the best soldier a team could ask for, which made Treliving somewhat emotional as he thanked the longtime assistant captain for his service.
But like everything that happened in Calgary this summer, Treliving quickly turned the page on one of the league’s hottest signings this summer.
“Putting (Kadri) with the current center players that we have gives us a terrific group,” said Treliving, who tried to trade for the 31-year-old Cup champion in 2019.
“He’s got a unique combination of skill and snark and he’s got a great position at center ice.
“By watching him throughout his career, he really developed an ability to play in all kinds of situations.
“This mix is unique, he can play on the power play, he can play heavy, he’s very competitive, very skilled. Smart player and plays center ice.
“He’s our kind of player.”
So is Darryl Sutter’s kind of player, which is why Flames fans are wondering if this year’s team will be better than last season’s 111-point edition when Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk were there.
It’s an incredible debate given where this club was after losing Gaudreau for nothing.
“You take care of it – it’s not just me, it’s our staff,” Treliving said, drawing universal praise for its crisis management.
“You dig in and you go to work saying, ‘How can we improve our team? »
“Last month was probably a bit more dramatic with the people and players involved.
“You can curl up and play woe on me or dust yourself off and go after it, and that’s what we did.”
Seven million a year (and a first round to make the deal possible) is a big price to pay, but the intangibles and pedigree Kadri brings as one of the league’s most intense competitors should continue to pay. help turn the Flames into a spring threat. .
“When there’s a lot at stake, some get tense and some accept – he loves the spotlight,” said Treliving, who knows how hard it is to get a top-six center.
“He plays to that advantage, which we appreciate. He crossed the line several times and paid it off.
“You mature and learn from that. When we were doing our homework, it kept coming back that he was a winner.”
Does this change the identity of the team?
“I don’t think our identity has changed at all,” he said, shrugging.
“We have very competitive players, a team that is competitive, checks hard, plays hard and hopefully can play any way the game needs to be played. But before we get into identity, let’s get into camp.
Before that, no one would pass up Treliving to make another move or two.
With 10 one-way signed defenders, it feels like he’s not quite done.
“We improved our team by adding Naz and we will continue to do so,” Treliving said.
“We still have a lot of defenders. We can modify some things in advance.
And maybe throw some moving boxes for his daughter while he’s there.