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Trade Coverage

Flames not letting injuries alter strategy before Trade Deadline

Won't sacrifice young talent for short-term help with Neal, Stone expected to return, GM Treliving says

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

CALGARY -- James Neal's lower-body injury won't affect any decisions made by the Calgary Flames prior to the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline on Monday at 3 p.m. ET.

Neal, who was injured against the Florida Panthers on Feb. 14, is week-to-week and will be re-evaluated in one week.

"This isn't one where we're not expecting him back," general manager Brad Treliving said Wednesday. "We're expecting him back. In that regard it doesn't really change things. We're still looking to see if there's ways to help ourselves. But it's not a season-ending thing where we feel that we're not going to have use of the player at some point. We'll continue to look and see if there's ways to help us."

The Flames also expect defenseman Michael Stone to return this season. Stone, who has missed 35 games, wore a non-contact jersey when he rejoined the Flames on Wednesday for his first practice since being diagnosed with a blood clot in his arm on Nov. 22.

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"The fact that he's now skating with us … he's going to be back," Treliving said. "He's going to be back playing. It's just a question of when now. Medically he's improved to the point where we think he's -- with that type of situation, you're always scared to say he's over it.

"But at this point, he's proved that he's moved past it. Now it's a matter of getting him up to speed. He's missed a lot of time."

Stone's return will give the Flames more flexibility on defense.

"One way you look at it is that it gives us more depth. It gives us another option at some point," Treliving said. "It may be a little bit of time here before he's up to playing games. He's an NHL defenseman, right shot, who has experience. At this time of year, you can never have too many guys on the blue line."

The Flames (37-16-7) lead the San Jose Sharks by three points for first place in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference following their 4-2 victory against the New York Islanders on Wednesday. 

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Calgary's position in the standings won't necessarily dictate how active the Flames will be prior to the deadline.

"I chuckle sometimes when people say, 'They're going for it,'" Treliving said. "Everybody is trying to win. That's sort of the objective. If you can make your team better; this isn't the last year of the franchise. We plan on playing next year too. We're not going to give everything away and close up shop when it's done. You manage all those things.

"The other thing I also caution everybody with is the idea that we're starting the window. Our key guys are young guys. But you never know when your time is. The idea that, 'Oh, this is going to happen next year…' There are guys that show up in their first year, get to the Stanley Cup Final and never get there again."

Treliving is trying to fill any needs of this season's team while keeping the Flames set up to contend in the future.

"There's no guarantees in the League. There's soon to be 31 other teams and they're selfish … they want to win too. Nobody lets you say, 'This is your time for the next four or five years.' But you balance that. We know the core of this team is young. It's going to continue to get better. Hopefully we're going to be a good team beyond this year. But you never take anything for granted in this game.

"Probably the best way to say it again is if we can help ourselves at a cost that makes sense -- we're not taking out young core players for a quick fix or a quick rental player. But if there's something there that we think can help this team, we'll certainly try our best to do that."

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