The Calgary Flames have been built into a juggernaut under Brad Treliving’s supervision, so it’s no surprise that the team announced a contract extension for the sixth-year general manager on Thursday.
Treliving’s Flames amassed 107 points on 50 wins last season, easily the best record in the Western Conference for 2018-19. A first-round exit in the playoffs certainly dampered what should have been a celebratory mood in southern Alberta, but shouldn’t obscure that the Flames are set up to be serious Stanley Cup contenders again this season.
A lot of credit for the current state of the franchise goes to 50-year-old Treliving — who has overseen Calgary to a 212-163-35 and three playoff appearances in his five-year tenure as GM — and the team has repaid him with a multi-year deal that allows him to continue the work he and his staff have done so far.
With that in mind, Sporting News has put together the Top 5 moves made by Treliving since he took the reins in Calgary in April 2014.
The hiring of Bill Peters
Treliving inherited Bob Hartley as the Flames’ head coach, and Hartley found some success under new management. However, Hartley was unable to recapture the magic from his first season under Treliving, when the coach won the Jack Adams Trophy after leading Calgary to the second round of the postseason, and he was replaced by Glen Gulutzan ahead of the 2016-17 campaign.
Gulutzan guided the Flames to a wild card spot in his first season, but his fate was similar to Hartley’s as he missed the postseason in his sophomore campaign and was promptly axed.
Enter Bill Peters, who arrived in Calgary after four forgettable seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes. Treliving’s intuition about the Three Hills, Alta., native — Calgary received permission from Carolina to negotiate with Peters — has seemingly paid off in spades, as the Flames put together their second-highest number of wins and points in franchise history in Peters’ inaugural season.
Drafting Matthew Tkachuk in 2016
The narrative leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft was dominated by the men who were selected first and second-overall that year: Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets sniper Patrik Laine. But perhaps the third best player in that draft class, Matthew Tkachuk, was taken by Treliving at the No. 6 slot. The second-generation NHLer has been nothing less than a smashing success for the Flames.
Now firmly ensconced on Calgary’s dangerous 3M line alongside Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik, Tkachuk broke out in 2018-19 with career highs in goals (34), assists (43), and, obviously points (77). But his rise to elite offensive threat didn’t come suddenly — Tkachuk averaged 0.67 points per game during his first two seasons in the league.
His break-out campaign last season bumped his career PPG to 0.77 heading into Thursday’s Flames season opener, equal to Laine’s per-game production.
Re-signing Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan
Neither Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan were brought into the Flames fold by Treliving, but both players have flourished as the new GM built the team around them. When both hotshot youngsters’ entry-level contracts were up after the 2015-16 season, Treliving had his work cut out for him to bring back two-thirds of what is now one of the most feared lines in hockey.
Monahan re-signed first, inking a seven-year deal with a $6.375 million annual average value (AAV). After a summer-long holdout, Gaudreau put pen to paper on a six-year contract with a $6.75 million AAV.
Both players are locked in for another two seasons after this one (Monahan’s contract ends after 2022-23), and both of them have set career highs in points in back-to-back seasons.
That’s good business.
Elias Lindholm’s arrival in Calgary
The other player on the Flames’ top line — 24-year-old Elias Lindholm — is the crown jewel in the best trade Treliving has completed in his time as Calgary’s GM.
Acquired in a blockbuster deal that saw Calgary send Dougie Hamilton, Michael Ferland and Adam Fox to Carolina in exchange for Lindholm and Noah Hanifin ahead of the 2018-19 season, the Swede immediately saw his production skyrocket while playing alongside Gaudreau and Monahan.
Treliving knew what he had in Lindholm and signed the then-restricted free agent to a six-year, $29.1 million contract that seems like a steal in hindsight.
Sam Bennett becomes Treliving’s first draft pick
The Treliving era officially began when Sam Bennett was taken fourth overall in the 2014 NHL Draft. Not the flashiest of players, Bennett has nonetheless provided stability since he first stepped onto the ice in a Flames jersey. In four full seasons, the Holland Landing, Ont., native has recorded 116 points in 312 games played.
In the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, Bennett posted five points (one goal, four assists) in five games.
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