Hours before the final buzzer went off on a relatively pedestrian trade deadline day, ESPN analyst Ryan Callahan took a position that few outside of Calgary could subscribe to.
Asked to compare the two best teams in the West, the retired forward gave a nod to the Flames against league-leading Colorado.
“I think Calgary is deeper,” he said.
“I think they have more talent.”
Given the Flames’ progress in the standings this year, Deadline Day is a great time to take stock of where they stand against Jared Bednar’s big boys.
The two were both active before the deadline, all aiming to be talented and deep enough to beat the other, should it come to pass in the Western Finals.
The Flames kicked off Valentine’s Day with an arrow through the hearts of their competition, adding Tyler Toffoli in a deal that could very well be the league’s most impactful acquisition down the stretch.
Colorado strengthened with Josh Manson and Nico Sturm before Brad Treliving plugged the Flames’ biggest hole with third-line center Calle Jarnkrok.
On Monday, both made deep moves.
The Flames lost 37-year-old center Brad Richardson to Vancouver on waivers before replacing him with Ryan Carpenter, who will play a similar role as a sporadic backup with six years younger on his frame.
The Avs finished their shopping spree by adding third-line wingers Arturri Lehkonen and Andrew Cogliano.
Despite their best efforts, the Avs were unable to use some of Gabriel Landeskog’s LTIR cap space to lure Claude Giroux or any other big fish, which may be just as well as the captain of the Colorado vows to be back before the playoffs after recent knee surgery. .
Bowen Byram returned to practice on Monday, giving the club eight solid NHL players – arguably the deepest fullback in the league.
They also have the most prolific defender in the world in Cale Makar.
As good as the Flames defensemen are, they are not the Avs.
Up front, the Flames are deeper because they’re in front of the net.
Give Colorado the lead in 60 games, but hand Calgary GM the win at the deadline.
Treliving admitted he was looking for a defender on Monday, but he was comfortable enough with his seven defenders here, and a few in the minors, that he didn’t feel the need to. force.
The addition of Carpenter, you can bet, had a lot to do with finding someone to replace Richardson, who was popular in the room but was a healthy scratch for most of the season.
“It wasn’t, ‘lose Brad and now we have to go get a guy – we talked about Ryan before that,’ Treliving said of the 31-year-old center who is another fourth-line option with experience in playoffs and 300 NHL games under his belt.
“I would say once we knew Brad was gone, maybe it pushed us a bit more.
And if we didn’t do anything, we were comfortable with that. I think you also have to watch out for guys who are airlifting just because it’s trade deadline day.
“Our squad did well, and we’ve grown our squad significantly over the last month, and we’re happy with how the day went.”
Carpenter’s prize was a fifth round, which Chicago will use in 2024.
“Ryan fits our style of play, he’s a north/south player,” Treliving said of the undrafted, six-foot, 200-pound right-hander who enjoyed playoff success with Vegas.
“Excellent penalty killer, plays hard. He has sandpaper in his game and he will fit in well with us.
“The three players we brought in all have playoff experience, they’re all good shooters, they all play different positions, they all fit the way we play, so I think that gives us a lot of flexibility. and gives Darryl (Sutter) and his staff plenty of options.”
Those options were presented in training on Monday, where Sutter kept the revamped lines his club used so successfully in a 5-2 win at Vancouver.
Toffoli remained on the big line with Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm, while Matthew Tkachuk remained with Mikael Backlund and Dillon Dube.
Blake Coleman, Jarnkrok and Andrew Mangiapane completed a powerful top nine that would be the envy of many in the league.
“There are options that I don’t think were there before,” Treliving said.
“You look at Vancouver and put Chucky (Tkachuk) and Backs (Backlund) back together and, it’s not a small feat for anyone, but a month ago, if you did, there’s probably someone who plays a little above his skis to play with Johnny and Lindholm. .
“It adds competition and gives some flexibility to Darryl and the staff.”
It also gives them plenty of swagger, as the NHL’s best team of the past seven weeks is significantly better, deeper and more dangerous than when they started that 19-3-3 streak.
“We love our team, and we loved our team,” said Treliving, who also traded minor league goaltender Michael McNiven to Ottawa on a forward contract.
“Today it wasn’t about doing anything because we felt we needed to. I like the composition of our team. I like the professional approach of the team, they are stable behind the wheel. I like the chemistry of the group. They believe they are a good team. There is a good feeling around him. I’m glad we can add to that.
Whether that’s enough may not be determined until/unless the Flames and Avalanche meet this spring.