Hours before the final buzzer went on a relatively pedestrian trade deadline day, ESPN analyst Ryan Callahan took a stance few outside of Calgary might subscribe to.
Asked to compare the top two teams in the West, the retired forward gave the nod to the Flames over league-leading Colorado.
“I think Calgary’s deeper,” he said.
“I think they have more talent.”
Given how far the Flames have ascended in the standings this year, deadline day is the perfect time to take stock of where they stand in comparison to Jared Bednar’s big boys.
The two were both active leading up to the deadline, all with an eye on being talented and deep enough to beat the other, should it come to that in the West final.
The Flames opened on Valentine’s Day with an arrow through the heart of their competitors, adding Tyler Toffoli in a deal that may very well stand as the league’s most impactful acquisition down the stretch.
Colorado beefed up with Josh Manson and Nico Sturm before Brad Treliving plugged the Flames’ biggest hole with third-line center Calle Jarnkrok.
On Monday, both made depth moves.
The Flames lost 37-year-old center Brad Richardson to Vancouver via waivers before replacing him with Ryan Carpenter, who will play a similar role as a sporadic fill-in with six fewer years on his chassis.
The Avs finished their shopping by adding third-line wingers Arturri Lehkonen and Andrew Cogliano.
Despite their best efforts, the Avs weren’t able to use some of Gabriel Landeskog’s LTIR cap space to lure Claude Giroux or any other big fish, which may be just as well as Colorado’s captain vows to be back before the playoffs following recent knee surgery .
Bowen Byram returned to practice Monday, giving the club eight solid NHLers — arguably the league’s deepest back end.
They also have the world’s most prolific defenseman in Cale Makar.
As good as the Flames blue-liners have been, they aren’t the Avs.
Up front, the Flames are deeper, as they are in net.
Give Colorado the edge through 60 games, but give Calgary’s GM the win at the deadline.
Treliving admitted he was in the market for a defenseman Monday but was comfortable enough with his seven defensemen here, and a few in the minors, that he didn’t feel the need to force it.
The Carpenter add, you can bet, had plenty to do with finding someone to replace Richardson, who was popular in the room, but was a healthy scratch the bulk of the season.
“It wasn’t, ‘lose Brad and now we have to go get a guy — we had talked about Ryan prior to that,” said Treliving of the 31-year-old center who is another fourth-line option with playoff experience and 300 NHL games under his belt.
“I would say once we knew Brad was gone it may have pushed us maybe a little bit more.
And if we did nothing, we were comfortable with it. I think you have to be careful, too, of airlifting guys in just because it’s trade deadline day.
“Our team has done well, and we’ve added significantly to our team in the last month, and we’re happy with the way the day went.”
The price tag on Carpenter was a fifth-rounder, which Chicago will use in 2024.
“Ryan fits the style we play, he’s a north/south player,” said Treliving of the six-foot, 200-pound undrafted righty who had playoff success with Vegas.
“Excellent penalty killer, plays hard. He’s got some sandpaper to his game and he’ll fit in well with us.
“The three players we brought in all have playoff experience, they’re all right shots, they all play different positions, they all fit how we play, so I think it gives us a lot of flexibility and gives Darryl (Sutter) and his staff has lot of options.”
Those options were on display at practice Monday, where Sutter stuck with the revamped lines his club employed so successfully in a 5-2 win in Vancouver.
Toffoli remained on the big line with Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm, while Matthew Tkachuk stayed with Mikael Backlund and Dillon Dube.
Blake Coleman, Jarnkrok and Andrew Mangiapane rounded out a potent top nine that would be the envy of many around the league.
“There’s options that I don’t think were there before,” said Treliving.
“You look at Vancouver and put Chucky (Tkachuk) and Backs (Backlund) back together and, this is no slight to anybody, but a month ago if you did that there’s probably somebody playing above their skis a bit to play with Johnny and Lindholm .
“It adds competition and gives some flexibility to Darryl and the staff.”
Gives them plenty of swagger too, as the NHL’s best team the last seven weeks is significantly better, deeper and more dangerous than when they started this 19-3-3 run.
“We like our team, and we have liked our team,” said Treliving, who also swapped minor-league goalie Michael McNiven to Ottawa for futures.
“Today wasn’t about doing anything because we felt we needed to. I like the makeup of our team. I like the business-like approach of the team, they’re steady at the wheel. I like the chemistry of the group. They believe they’re a good team. There’s a good feel around it. I’m glad we could add to it.”
Whether it’s enough might not be determined until/unless the Flames and Avalanche meet this spring.