The Calgary Flames and the Florida Panthers could help one another out at the 2023 Trade Deadline seeing as they both have a need that can be addressed on the other team’s roster. Both teams sit just outside of the playoffs in their respective conference, but both could still have a strong post-All-Star break run and make it in.
Both the Flames and Panthers have underperformed based on their expectations this season. The Flames need a winger at the deadline to play in the top six, while the Panthers really need defensive help that could extend past this season and clear money out. The players of interest here are Anthony Duclair and Oliver Kylington. So let’s dive into how this trade would benefit both teams this season and in the future.
Flames Get Their Winger
Though the Flames would likely prefer a top-six winger who’s a rental, Duclair comes cheap enough that his cap hit won’t have a damaging effect for next season as well. The Flames would like a rental over a player with term due to Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar’s contract extensions kicking in next season. This is why Sam Reinhart isn’t a good target for Calgary in a deal at the deadline this season.
Duclair is the perfect blend of winger the Flames need to add offence to their lineup this season. His speed is something the Flames don’t necessarily have enough of this season. Not only can he get up and down the ice quickly, but this will also help create more odd-man rushes and fast breaks.
The Panthers’ winger has been on the long-term injured reserve (LTIR) the entire season but is returning to the lineup soon. He may need some time to get back up to speed, but with his lower cap hit and another year left on his deal, an immediate impact isn’t crucial. Duclair really broke out last season, scoring 31 goals and 58 points in 74 games.
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He’s never been the most durable player but has been underrated for his entire career. Duclair has bounced around quite a bit in his young career but is a three-time 20-goal scorer and comfortable in a middle-six role where he’s spent his entire career. His familiarity with Huberdeau could also make a big impact and get the Flames’ winger going this season. The second line wing is the area that needs addressing, and that’s alongside Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri. So now let’s look at the Flames’ trade chip, Kylington.
Panthers Clear Cap & Get Defensive Help
Duclair has been on the LTIR the entire season, but once he returns soon, his cap hit will start counting against the cap. That is where the Panthers’ issues start to come. They are already close to the cap and will be over the salary cap once Duclair and Patric Hornqvist return from their injuries. Whether this comes in the next three weeks or right after, they will be in trouble if nothing is done, and they could lose much more than just one player. At least if they make a pre-deadline trade, the Panthers control what they will get back in return.
The choice will come down to which of Duclair, Reinhart, or Sam Bennett the Panthers move, but the Flames would only be willing and able to take on Duclair in a return. So if the Panthers are dealing with Duclair, who has a cap hit of $3 million AAV, and getting Kylington back, who has a $2.5 million AAV cap hit, how will the money work? The Flames haven’t had Kylington on the LTIR all season, but he is eligible. There’s much uncertainty as to whether the defenceman will return to action this season, so the Panthers could just keep him on the LTIR, be cap compliant, and have him available for next season.
The Panthers’ defence needs addressing now, but that will be very difficult to pull off. Behind Gustav Forsling on the top pairing, the team has Marc Staal and Josh Mahura on the left side. Both are being paid league minimum and have provided as much results as they are getting paid to. Despite still being in the playoff race, the Panthers are going to need a bit of a reset in the offseason. Kylington can provide the team with a solid second-pairing option next year and potentially beyond. He showed last season that he is more than capable of providing strong offensive numbers, and the Panthers are built around that style.
So with both teams benefiting in multiple ways for longer than this season, a deal like this can surely be struck. An opportunity for the Panthers to get someone of similar value back for one of their forwards who can help out as soon as next season won’t be easy to find elsewhere. This way, the Flames also won’t have to give up too many future assets and still have room to add an impactful defender, as well as fill the hole Kylington has left this season.