Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Next move Calgary Flames

The 2010 2011 season was a complete roller coaster ride for the Flames. Missing the post season the previous year while the team entertained cup aspirations tempered this seasons expectations a little. Making the post season was the expectation for last season. By Christmas the Flames were well out of the post season. A potential lottery pick even and trade rumors were heating up. Then Darryl Sutter was removed as GM and replaced by Jay Feaster and the team started winning. They played well enough to not only move into a playoff berth they had home ice advantage at one point. Then the roller coaster ride went for a dip and the Flames finished three points short in tenth overall in the West.
So what's next for the Flames? Where do they go from here? Can they still go for it or has the time come to "blow it up"?

The fact the Flames have six players with no movement clauses and three with no trade clauses makes the "blow up"  difficult. True, several players with such restrictions on movement have been traded before. The clause simply gives the player a say in where he will waive his protection to go. However,  several players have exercised their negotiated right to block any trade to any team. Leaf fans will vouch for this citing Sundin and kaberle as prime examples. Assuming Feaster gets permission to move some veterans would anyone want cap hit nightmares like Langkow $4.5, Jokinen $3 or Stajan $3.5? It is unlikely to say the least. Jokinen and Langkow only have one year left on their deals so buyout may be an option costing a combined $2.5 for the next two years. Saving $5 in cap space. At the center position the Flames have Jokinen, Langkow, Stajan, Backlund under contract. Alex Tanguay who was brought back for his second tour of duty was the teams highest producing center with 22 goals, 47 assists in 79 games and rediscovered chemistry with star Jerome Iginla. Surely Feaster will attempt to resign Tanguay for this reason and he should be an affordable cap hit only earning $1.7 last year.
Best case scenario for the Flames at center would be to find a taker for Jokinen regardless of what comes back if anything. Langkow retires or they buy him out. Tanguay resigns as the teams number one. Backlund earns the second slot. Stajan is the best (and highest paid) third line center. That leaves one vacancy for the fourth line to either be filled from within or via free agency.
On the wings the picture is much clearer. Iginla and Bourque headline a formidable roster complemented by Glencross, Hagman, Moss, Kostopolus, Jackman. Again only one real vacancy exists likely to be filled via free agency this summer.
Defense has long been the back bone for the Flames and is lead by long time Flame Regher and Bouwmeester. Mark Giordano has emerged as the teams best all round defense man leading all defenders in points with eight goals and thirty five assists. Sarich rounds out the Defense corps under contract leaving two spots to fill. Staios, Babchuk, and Pardy are all UFA this summer and while Feaster may want to keep one or two of them the Flames do have some prospects who can step in and fill the void. Tim Erixon and T.J. Brodie are the two most probable.
Miikka Kiprusoff anchors the goal tending position. Henrik Karlsson who played well in his seventeen games is also a UFA and may leave the back up spot vacant. Both Feaster and karlsson have stated they want to return to the Flames so look for that to get done soon. Prospect Leland Irving may be ready for the job otherwise.
Stajan and Hagman are the only players remaining from the horrible Phaneuf deal and quite frankly have not worked out. If possible Feaster should look to swap these players for another teams failed experiment. A trade our problem for yours and hope for the best scenario. Possible partners could be New York Rangers Wolski, or Sens Michalek,.
Currently the Flames have seventeen players signed at a cap hit of $55.815 leaving $3.5-$6.5 in space (depending on how high next years cap goes up by) and four players to sign. The best moves to make would be purge Jokinen and Langkow by any means necessary.  Target free agency to fill second line wing position. Candidates may include Fleischmann, Kopecky, Zherdev, Gagne, or Bergenheim. The top four Defense is excellent, round out the fifth sixth spots from within the organization and the back up goalie. Not a blow up but a shake up. Iginla should retire a Flame and Feaster has stated he will not be moved.  Regher, Bouwmeester and Kiprusoff have no move/trade contracts and are not going anywhere. Bourque and Giordano are too valuable and affordable to move.
Bottom line. A blow up is simply not possible but a shake up is and is desperately needed. The Flames are a good team but time is running out on this veteran laden squad. There is time left for one more kick at the can before years of floundering like the Leafs have endured.
Fortunately Calgary has their first round pick (thirteenth overall) and can use it to help restock a very empty prospect cupboard.
Best fantasy value. Iginla and Kiprusoff are as consistent as you get. Giordano and Bourque continue to improve and are great value in any pool. They can possibly be picked in mid rounds and have acceptable cap hits. Backlund has the opportunity to break out. Backlund played 73 games and scored 25 points but scored twelve in his last twenty four including a three point night against Edmonton. If Tanguay is brought back he should be a lock to center Iginla and possibly Bourque making him a great sleeper pick.
Next moves for the Calgary Flames are; Move Jokinen and Langkow. Sign a winger to increase scoring.

1 comment:

  1. Another great read.

    Being an Oiler fan I don't admit to many good Flame moves. However, Jokinen is a decent 2nd line centre and his 54 points for $3 million is better than the going rate. Much better value for a 54 point 2nd line centre like Lecavalier at $7.7 million or Tim Connelly's 42 points for $4.5 million. Personally,

    I think they should be focusing on getting Hagman's $3 off the books first, but even if they do the FA cupboard is pretty bare this year.