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Craig Conroy’s First Season Couldn’t be More Intense

The Calgary Flames are expected to be busy around March 8th’s NHL Trade Deadline. A real test coming for rookie GM Craig Conroy.

With the 2024 Trade Deadline less than a month away, NHL teams are in for a busy next few weeks as player movement and other team transactions start. A team that has been in the thick of trade talks and rumors all season has been the Calgary Flames. Craig Conroy inherited a fringe playoff team with lots of uncertainty about the future, but also a chance to introduce a fresh new perspective.

Conroy’s moves in his first season as Flames general manager have aligned with the ideas mentioned during his introductory press conference back in May. He has created a promising youth movement introducing the likes of rookies Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil into the lineup full-time. He has also been able to capitalize on value for pending unrestricted free agents such as Tyler Toffoli, Nikita Zadorov, and Elias Lindholm, who have all since been traded from the team.

Related: Flames’ Noah Hanifin Going to UFA Market, U.S. Teams Favorited

However, it’s common knowledge that the Flames have fallen short of expectations this season. Analysts anticipate them to sell players as they likely undergo a retooling during this year’s trade rush. The Flames still have pending unrestricted free agents in defensemen Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin with the team, as well as goaltender Jacob Markstrom, all of whom have been the subject of trade rumors. Craig and his staff will hold the attention of all as they prepare to make significant decisions for the future of his club.

Flames Aim To Stay Competitive During Retool

TSN’s Trade Bait List for 2024 has the Flames being the top sellers during trade season. Hanifin and Tanev are both expected to be hot commodities for contending teams around the league, while Markstrom occupies the top spot on the list. Let’s face it, the Flames are not expected to be playoff contenders this season, and getting value for meaningful assets is crucial. The Flames have an amazing opportunity to build for the future with draft capital and to further usher their youth movement through a much-needed roster retool.

Craig Conroy Flames GM first trade deadline will be busy

Craig Conroy has made it clear however that he still expects the Flames to be competitive during a retool and doesn’t believe in the whole idea of “tanking”. He outlines the importance of sticking to a competitive mentality during a chat with Flames insider Eric Francis.

Conroy states:

“Whether they’re playing ping pong, or TopGolf, or cards, everyone wants to win. They’re very competitive and you never want to take that competitive fire away from them. That’s why I always expect us to win”.

His message is clear. Under no circumstance will it be ok to lose or to entertain the idea of tanking. Navigating a retool certainly won’t be easy, but instilling the mindset of winning early on is critical for finding success in the long run, especially when young players are in the picture.

Trade Deadline to be a Major Test for Flames Management

This will be Craig Conroy’s first time navigating trade season as General Manager. While Conroy has shown he is unafraid to make significant moves, the weeks leading up to the Trade Deadline are undoubtedly busy and intense. With Calgary being a significant seller this season, the Flames must get meaningful returns for their assets that are in high demand. The Flames are open for business, and there’s no doubt that the moves Conroy makes near or at the Trade Deadline will redefine the franchise’s future.

Conroy could trade both Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin from Flames

In short, the March 8th Trade Deadline is another thing to look forward to for a busy Craig Conroy as he navigates the ins and outs of the future of the Calgary Flames. With a retool most likely in the works, capitalizing on future draft capital and continuing a strong youth movement are the keys to success. Some may say it’s a lot to ask for a rookie General Manager, but for Conroy, it’s a welcome challenge to involve himself and his staff on what’s best for his team moving forward.

Next: Oilers Clear Deadline Message: Won’t Trade Broberg for a Rental



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