Amidst endless questions about the future, Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving was asked if he was bracing for “hurt feelings” this summer.
While it might seem an odd concern in a billion dollar industry, it was a pointed question aimed directly at the situation involving Troy Brouwer.
After all, Brouwer will almost certainly be one of the odd men out this summer when the Flames to submit their protected list June 17 for the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft.
Brouwer likely won’t be one of the seven forwards shielded from the upstart franchise, which is obligated to take one player from every NHL roster.
The acquisition of Curtis Lazar at the trade deadline for a second round pick came with a public assurance from GM Brad Treliving that Lazar was a reclamation project he planned to protect.
Thus, the list of seven forwards protected will likely include Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Micheal Ferland, Sam Bennett and Lazar.
First and second-year players like Matthew Tkachuk are exempt.
Brouwer, Matt Stajan and perhaps Brett Kulak are the likeliest targets for Vegas. And so, one year after Brouwer made a four-year commitment to an organization housed in the city where he was already building a home in, his future could be up in the air. With three years left on a deal paying the 31-year-old winger $4.5 million annually, Vegas may very well take a pass on Brouwer, especially since he finished the season on the Flames fourth line.
The three defencemen to be protected are Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and T. Of note, Knights GM George Mc Phee traded for Brouwer in the summer of 2011 and as GM in Washington later gave him a three-year extension. He knows what Brouwer is all about and may see it as a no-brainer to add a veteran of his sort. If so, how do you repair the relationship once he returns to Calgary in the fall, knowing the club went from courting and overpaying him as an unrestricted free agent to being open to losing him for nothing? While the exposure might sting and provide his family with some tense moments when the Vegas squad is announced at the NHL Awards Show June 21, he’s a true pro who can handle it.
Stajan might be the more attractive pick as he only has one year left on his contract at $3.12 million and is a solid candidate to be the first captain in Golden Knights history.
Either way, no team is excited about losing a player, especially those with the character and experience Stajan and Brouwer possess.
A Stanley Cup winner in Chicago with 102 playoff games to his credit, Brouwer was brought in for much more than the 20 goals a year he had averaged the last seven campaigns.