Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving is a busy man these days. Watching his carefully constructed roster - the same roster that managed 97 points and a playoff series victory last year - stumble out to a 2-7 start to the 2015-16 season has apparently been too much for the notoriously steady-handed Treliving. Reports and rumors have swirled ad nauseum over the past week suggesting that the Flames top personnel man is hard at work, hitting the phone lines and pursuing a deal or three that he thinks will shake up the core of his currently sleepwalking team.
On Tuesday, two of the NHL's top insiders suggested the same two names as possibilities to eventually be shipped elsewhere be Treliving - Flames defensemen Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell. TSN's Bob McKenzie, appearing on TSN 1040 on Tuesday, indicated that Treliving is "working the phones hard" and that Wideman and Russell are "amongst the defensemen" Treliving is "trying to move."
Later in the day, McKenzie's fellow TSN reporter, Darren Dreger, echoed a very similar sentiment, suggesting that Treliving is "making his calls and listening to those with interest." Dreger also dropped Wideman and Russell's names as possible trade pieces before adding that he "doesn't for a second" believe that Russell will be dealt, adding that from what he's heard, the Flames actually want to extend the still-young veteran blueliner.
Russell though, no goals and no assists on the year, seems to perfectly embody whatever it is that is currently ailing this talented Flames team. Beyond superstar Johnny Gaudreau, not one player on the NHL's Calgary-based franchise is living up to their offensive potential. Mark Giordano hasn't looked right thus far. Big off season acquisitions Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik have struggled to fill up the score sheet through nine games, and Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett have all of two points combined.
With a seeming surplus of defensemen, it makes sense that that's the area of the roster from which Treliving would potentially poach. The only question is, what kind of asset could he really hope to receive in return at this point?
The Boston Bruins could use a defenseman and they certainly have a desire to move out parts like a Loui Eriksson. But does Eriksson provide more at this point than a Joe Colborne or a Derek Grant? The answer, after Eriksson scored 22 goals and added 25 assists in 2014-15, is likely a resounding yes. But would the Bruins give him up for a 32-year-old Wideman? Russell would likely be more enticing for a Boston team already struggling with an aging blueline and if they're not really willing to move him, then that seems a dead-end.
Maybe the Carolina Hurricanes are willing to deal Jeff Skinner or the Philadelphia Flyers would part with Brayden Schenn. But again, neither team seems interested in older defenseman, especially not the already cap-strapped Flyers, and so questions of potential compensation remain.
And in the end, what Treliving is attempting so early in the season, is tricky. His roster is talented and may very well, with time, round into the form most expected preseason. So maybe a desperation deal for Treliving - and yes, this early in the season, that's what this would be - isn't the best answer.
Then again, if Treliving stand pats and the team never gels into a cohesive unit, perhaps failing to make the NHL playoffs after an offseason of such promise, there's liable to be looting and pillaging at Scotiabank Saddledome come April.