Treliving: Phillips and Pelletier ‘deserved an opportunity here at some point’

On Matthew Phillips and Jakob Pelletier’s performances with the AHL’s Stockton Heat this season:

In Jakob’s case, his first year as a pro, it’s a big adjustment. In my mind, that’s one of the biggest adjustments, going from junior hockey or college hockey to the American Hockey League, and he did it seamlessly. He’s become a really big player for that team there, he’s touched every part of the game. And then Matthew, you know, Matty’s kind of been doing it now for a few years there. […]

So to answer the question, you bring guys in when you have a need, whether it’s an injury or a positional need, or when you think they’ve earned an opportunity. In both cases, in my mind, they deserved an opportunity here at some point. So at the end of the day, you’re balancing: the coach puts on the ice every night the lineup that he thinks will give him the best chance of winning, and you’re not in a position right now where you say, “OK, we’re going to take 20 games to test people.” But certainly these two guys – and we’ve got more knocking on the door, now – whether it comes in the form of them getting their opportunity by simply committing or through injury, hopefully here , at some point, we’re going to see these guys. They just have to keep doing what they’re doing and keep being really good players there and waiting for that opportunity, and hopefully we’ll see them here at some point.

In terms of the chatter and activity around the league at this point ahead of next month’s NHL Trade Deadline:

Yeah, I’d say that’s normal, Pat. You have conversations throughout the year. You speak with everyone – for the most part everyone has now, if they haven’t they are finishing their pro [scouting] meetings, we went through them a few weeks ago. It’s an interesting season this year, much like what we’ve been through for the past two years, where there’s so much uncertainty almost day-to-day with COVID, isn’t it? You don’t know your day-to-day alignment or how it’s going to affect things. We’ve now had the testing protocol change, but the COVID effect, if you will, is going to be felt through the end of the year, mostly from a planning standpoint. […]

In some cases, teams haven’t seen their full roster in a long period of time, so, I know, talking to a lot of managers, they’re still sort of wondering what their team is, when they don’t haven’t had everyone in the queue at the same time for an extended period of time. So I don’t think it’s going to be much different, Pat, than any other timeline, there’s certainly a lot of discussion going on.

On the specific direction of the Flames in the trade market:

Look, like I said before, you take inspiration from our team. Our team is, we have a lot of work to do here. We are not yet where we want to be. We have certainly shown that we can be a very good team. […]

If our team develops as I expect, we want to add to our team, and we have these discussions now. If we can find a solution, if we can find something to help us move forward, we certainly want to do it. […]

It’s taken some time, but I think we’ve built some organizational depth – you have to balance that, where could these people help you, but also look outward and look at the market, which we’ve been doing these lately, here, to see if there is an agreement that can help us. We will continue to look into that, and that would definitely be my preference, and my goal is to add to that group and give us some support as we move forward here.

On the distinction between adding rentals or players with a term before the trade deadline:

Well, I haven’t necessarily been a great rental player, if you will, in the past. In many cases, a lot of it is price driven, giving up a lot of assets for players that you think might be very short term. There are two ways of looking at it, and I think sometimes people look at it and say, “Well, we’re going to get into the rental market” — sometimes when you add a rental player, you have a pretty good indication that you may be able to extend this player or there is a chance that he will become a longer term player or part of the squad in the future. In some cases, when you add a player, you know he’s there for the rest of the season and he’s going to test the market or go somewhere else.

In the past, I haven’t really been very aggressive in adding rental parts at prices that I thought were substantial. Now you look at the current market, in a cap situation where we expect you are going to have low or minimal cap growth next year, knowing that we have contracts that are needed for players on our team this year, you’re looking to bring in players who have a mandate – we’ve modeled a lot of different scenarios. So I think we would be open to whether it’s solutions for players eventually – again, depending on how the deal works – or the rental market. We investigated and nibbled on both markets at this particular time.

The other thing to keep in mind right now is, in many ways, it’s still – I’m sure you’re making a lot of predictions about who’s available and who should go here and who should go there – in a lot of cases, you’re not sure yet. We can sit here and say, ‘Player XYZ, go get him’ because he’s a pending UFA – well, in some cases they have trade restrictions, and in some cases teams haven’t determined if they go to extend that player, then he may not be an available player. So all of those things are coming into play right now, but we’re definitely having discussions in both markets, whether it’s with term players or players whose contracts are expiring. […]

Certainly trying to add more goals to our squad would be an area we are looking at. And like I said, it’s both internally – we’re starting to see some guys who hopefully continue to move in the right direction and find the back of the net – but if there’s an area where we can help ourselves, by bringing in an offense and staying true to our identity here, that’s definitely something we’ll continue to beat the market on.

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