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Let’s Make (Another) Deal: Oilers And Flames Edition

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Flames defenceman Juuso Valimaki suffered an ACL tear, leaving a hole in Calgary’s defence. Now’s the time for Ken Holland to shine.

Calgary Flames v Los Angeles Kings
Valimaki: out with ACL tear.
Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s been a wild offseason for Calgary.

It’s even wilder when you consider that the Oilers and the Flames hooked up for a trade about a month ago, when the Oilers sent Milan Lucic (!!) to the Flames for James Neal. It’s easily Ken Holland’s finest work with the Oilers to date. I don’t even want to know what Brad Treliving was thinking on that day. Though, I did enjoy it.

Whatever the Flames GM was thinking on that day, I’ll never know. Maybe his club needed “identity” after getting bounced by the Avalanche in the first round of the 2018-19 NHL playoffs. Maybe they needed some grit. Whatever Treliving was thinking in the minutes before signing off on four more years of Milan Lucic (with a NMC for two of them and a modified NTC for the other two), I’d sure like to be able to harness it and use it against them again. Maybe that opportunity can come up again sooner than later.

The Oilers might have a chance to make a deal with their provincial adversaries once more.

STRIKE WHILE THE IRON’S HOT

Calgary’s defence corps took a hit earlier this week when it was announced that rearguard Juuso Valimaki sustained an ACL injury while training. Prior to his injury, Valimaki was all but certain to make the big club. It’s unfortunate for Valimaki, and it’s certainly unfortunate for the Flames to be without one of top prospects poised to make a breakthrough.

Relax, Calgary. Uncle Ken might be here to help you. Now, don’t get all worried on us. We know that you’re tight against the cap, what with Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane needing new deals. Let’s talk turkey.

REUNITED, AND IT FEELS SO GOOD

There’s only one option here that makes sense for both teams. By “both teams’, I mean “could work for Calgary, but would be quite favourable for the Oilers”.

That option is Kris Russell.

Russell is halfway through a four year deal that pays him 4MM annually, and it would be fantastic to see him back in the red and white. Over the past three years, Russell has played both sides on defence. He’d be a couple of steps back when compared to Valimaki’s puck handling (I get nervous when Russell makes the first pass out of the zone), but he blocks shots! A lot of shots!

If you’ve been around here for a minute or two, you’ll probably know that blocking shots is just great once in a while. Blocking a whole tonne of them may signify a larger issue, like not being able to get the puck out of your zone with any fair regularity, or giving up the zone way too often. In other words, I think that the Flames could greatly benefit from adding a veteran stalwart like Russell.

TIME TOUGH

So look, Calgary. I know that 4MM isn’t exactly a small cost to add when you’re trying to sign Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane. No sweat, really. That’s why the Oilers should be prepared to take Derek Ryan off your hands without any trouble.

Derek Ryan would be an exceptional get for the Oilers. The centre has had back-to-back 38 point seasons, one in Carolina (2017-18) and last year in Calgary. His most recent season (13-25-38) saw him team up most commonly with Garnet Hathaway (19 points in 76 games) and Mangiapane (13 points in 44 games). Ryan pulled in 24 points via even strength, and would be an extremely attractive option given the fact he’s a right shot centre who could be a fine addition to the third line. Ryan is scheduled to make 3.125 through 2021. I’d even offset the difference in salary between Ryan and Russell (875K) if it made this deal happen.

THE LIKELIHOOD OF ALL THIS

I have a varying degree of belief on whether or not something like this could happen.

I do know a few things that are certain.

  1. The Flames are down a defenceman, and they’re going to be looking to add a defenceman.
  2. Kris Russell is a defenceman.
  3. The Flames are familiar with Kris Russell from his time in Calgary from 2013-16
  4. Kris Russell has played LD and RD
  5. The Oilers made a deal that sent Milan Lucic to Calgary roughly a month ago, a move I previously would not have believed possible. What do the Flames see in Lucic that the Oilers do not? Grit? Toughness? The ability to take on a significantly worse deal than James Neal? I have a hard time seeing the allure of Lucic’s perceived value to a team that had 50 wins last season. But hey, go on.

The Oilers and Flames made a big deal happen nearly a month ago.

Do they want to make one more?