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Opportunities for prospects opening up as trade deadline approaches

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- With every ending, there is a new beginning.

Age-old wisdom that applies to a multitude of experiences in life -- good, bad, or in between.

In the case of the Calgary Flames, that saying could very likely sum up their 2016 NHL Trade Deadline experience.

On Monday, the Flames acquired prospect Hunter Shinkaruk from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Markus Granlund. Five days later, veteran Jiri Hudler was sent to Florida Panthers for a 2016 second round pick and a 2018 fourth round pick coming back.

Any other deals made before the Feb. 29 deadline will no doubt include pieces that the organization will be of benefit in the long-term future. With the team sitting 14 points out of a playoff spot in the Pacific Division and 12 points out of a wildcard position, garnering assets that will play a role in the team's development down the road is the most likely route for the Flames.

"You go into the market and look at what’s the best deal you can make," general manager Brad Treliving said in a press conference on Saturday evening. "We like picks. I think a second round pick has great currency, both in drafting at that stage of the draft, but also as you get to the draft. Those picks, with each hour that passes between now and the draft, those become more valuable."

Draft picks aren't the only assets Treliving and his scouts are targeting when breaking down potential deals. Prospects, in all stages of their development, are in their sight lines and if they are able to nab a player they feel will slot into their lineup in the future, all the better.

"We look at prospects. At the end of the day you see what’s available … what teams are willing to pay and you make a decision. We are very much open to prospects. In any deal that we look at, we want to talk about young prospects. Those are players that are closer to being ready to play in the league.

"There is an incubation period for a pick. Odds are they’re going to go back to school or back to junior and go through the American league process. There’s an incubation period for those. At the end of the day you sort through it, you rate prospects, look at what’s available and make a decision."

This year's trade deadline could also open up a few roster spots for deserving candidates from the Stockton Heat in the American Hockey League. Since dealing Granlund and Hudler, the Flames haven't recalled any reinforcements from their AHL affiliate.

With the team heading out on a week-long road trip on Sunday, Treliving anticipates summoning at least one forward from Northern California.

"That is something we are looking at right now regardless of any of the moves," Treliving stated. "We’re at the number right now but that is something that we are discussing. I would anticipate someone is going to join us before the road trip."

If more than one skater is required from Stockton, the Flames have plenty of options up front. While Derek Grant (jaw) is out indefinitely, plenty of forwards have stepped up.

Shinkaruk, with 21 goals and 18 assists, and Kenny Agostino, with 17 goals and 22 helpers, lead the Heat in scoring with 39 points apiece. Both have limited NHL experience under their belts, with Shinkaruk making his debut with the Canucks earlier this season and Agonstino getting into eight games in the 2013-14 season, right after his collegiate career came to a close.

Freddie Hamilton, Dougie's brother, has been a consistent producer in Stockton. In 46 skates, he has netted 15 goals and recorded 33 points.

Drew Shore (6 goals, 25 points), Turner Elson (9 goals, 23 points), and Emile Poirier (8 goals, 20 points) have all surpassed the 20-point plateau this year.

Bill Arnold and Garnet Hathaway have been limited to under 40 games this year with injuries but both could be viable call-ups for a bottom-six role.

On the back-end, the Flames have gotten a taste of what Brett Kulak brings to the table thanks to his six-game stint in Calgary at the start of the season. With TJ Brodie on the injured reserve and Ladislav Smid still recovering from neck surgery, Kulak beat out the likes of veteran NHL Ryan Wilson and Czech import Jakub Nakladal for a roster spot on opening night.

Other options include Patrick Sieloff and Ryan Culkin or rookies Kenney Morrison and Oliver Kylington.

Regardless of what transpires over the next few days, Treliving won't be getting a lot of sleep as he tries to make the best possible moves for his club as they continue their rebuild.

"It’s going to be lots of calls. We’re going to try to see if we can help ourselves. You’ve seen some teams be real aggressive in terms of adding pieces.

"It’ll be busy. Our amount of activity? We’ll see. We’ll see."

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