Okay – so maybe I was wrong. Maybe there wasn’t ever a chance of Fleur-ries in Calgary this off-season. Maybe their plan was Mike Smith all along. Hey, I’m only human after all. I guess this means that the early report of Fleury exclusively waiving his no-movement clause for the Vegas expansion could very well come to light, but we will have to wait until Wednesday to find out that one.
As most of you may know, the Calgary Flames traded Chad Johnson, prospect Brandon Hickey and a conditional third-round draft pick to the Arizona Coyotes, for 11 year NHL veteran goaltender Mike Smith. The trade was originally announced via Twitter by Elliotte Friedman and then confirmed by TSN’s Bob McKenzie. The Arizona Coyotes will retain 25 percent of Smith’s $6 million dollar salary for the next two seasons that he is under contract.
Alright, let’s quickly break this down. What is Calgary getting? In my opinion, a great goaltender who is able to make 50 saves a game and lead the Flames crease in a positive manner. It’s a great move – though some may argue Smith’s age being a factor, I believe that he will fit right in with the Calgary Flames, and potentially save their crease while Parsons and Gillies develop. What is Arizona getting? The 64th overall pick in the 2014 draft (Brandon Hickey), and a goalie to protect in the upcoming expansion draft, as well as a conditional third-round draft pick, which becomes a second round pick if the Flames make the playoffs. Many are saying that Johnson will end up back in Calgary after the expansion draft, which could very well happen, but for the meantime, he remains a member of the Arizona Coyotes. What a way to make a splash before the trade freeze.
So now this begs the question – with the protected lists submitted, who does Vegas take in the upcoming expansion from the Calgary Flames? Let’s take a look at who they have at their expense. Brandon Bollig, Lance Bouma, Troy Brouwer, Alex Chiasson, Freddie Hamilton, Emile Poirier, Hunter Shinkaruk, Matt Stajan, Kris Versteeg, Linden Vey, Matt Bartkowski, Ryan Culkin, Deryk Engelland, Michael Kostka, Brett Kulak, Ladislav Smid, Michael Stone, Dennis Wideman, Tyler Wotherspoon, Brian Elliott and Tom McCollum are all available for the taking. Now this one was a bit tricky for me to predict, but I narrowed it down to 3 possibilities of who it could be.
Hunter Shinkaruk – 22-year-old centreman
In 15 games, split between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, Shinkaruk posted 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists). I think that Hunter would be a great choice for Vegas this upcoming expansion. He is still young, has a ton of potential, and would be a valuable asset to Vegas’ power play.
Matt Bartkowski – 28-year-old defenceman
Bartkowski is the diamond in the rough if you ask me. I’ve watched the guy play, and have to say he is one of the better skaters that I have seen on Calgary’s blue line. The puck moving defenceman could be used in a pivotal role on Vegas’ penalty kill and is certainly a valuable choice this upcoming expansion draft.
Brett Kulak – 23-year-old defenceman
The Edmonton, Alberta native was selected in the 4th round, 105th overall by the Flames in the 2012 NHL entry draft, and has gone on to play in 21 games with the club. Kulak is able to play a physical brand of defense in the back end but has a flaw of taking bad penalties. The young defenceman has a lot of potential, and would also be a great asset for the expansion team in Vegas.
The NHL expansion draft will take place during the NHL Awards on June 21st, 2017, in none other than Las Vegas, Nevada. We are all anxious to find out who will be putting out the flame and donning the knight’s armor.