Flames Additions Analysis

Kent Wilson
July 02 2010 10:53AM

UNIONDALE, NY - FEBRUARY 13: Alex Tanguay #13 of the Tampa Bay Lightning warms up before playing against the New York Islanders on February 13, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

 

Now that the dust has settled on yesterday and the madness is over, it's time to take an objective look at the pieces the Flames picked up. I'll endeavor to eject my sour feelings (which I've obviously made quite clear) over the Jokinen debacle in this analysis and let the data do the talking instead. I'll also take stock of the Flames new situation moving forward.

Alex Tanguay, $1.7M/year, one year

The best acquisition of the day in my view. Tanguay was once a proven even strength outscorer in this league and he managed to be the second best ES player on the Flames behind Jarome Iginla during his time here. Both in terms of outscoring and the level of competition he faced. I was an ardent defender of Tanguay as a Flame and lamented his departure.

That said, there's a reason the ex-Av was available for a third-liners ticket. His last two seasons since leaving Calgary were injury marked and awful, in that order. He was still scoring at a decent clip in MTL, but a shoulder injury knocked him out of a third of the season. In Tampa Bay, however, Tanguay was flat out awful. Bad enough to be a healthy scratch on a team that desperately needed quality ES minutes. It wasn't bounces or circumstances that hurt Alex either - his PDO was a perfectly average 100.6. He faced middle of the road competition, had one of the cherriest zone start ratios on the team (55.9%), but still put up a mediocre rate of production at 5-on-5 (1.63 - perhaps the worst of his career).

To add some context, Nigel Dawes (now a free agent after being bought out by the Flames) scored 1.59 ESP/60, faced tougher competition, started in his own zone much more often (50.5) and had better raw and relative corsi rates than Alex last year. Dawes was also vastly superior on the power play (5.26 PPP/60 vs 1.56 PPP/60), which is why his PPG pace was superior to Tanguay's last season.

I still consider Tanguay a worthwhile gamble at the price the team paid - but that's what he is: a gamble. His last truly notable offensive season was 4 years ago and the last time he held his own against heavy hitters at ES was three years ago. Tanguay isn't old by any means, but he has crested the 30 year mark and has suffered some significant injuries along the way. If Tanguay can even somewhat recapture the player he once was, Sutter has hit a homerun with this addition and the Flames have another heavy hitter in the top 6. If not, then Tanguay will struggle to replicate the contributions of Nigel Dawes, at twice the price.

Olli Jokinen, $3M/year, two years

Let's ignore, for now, the ridiculously circuitous and expensive manner in which Jokinen has found his way back to being a Flame and focus on what he may bring to the club.

I was never a fan of this acquisition. Initially it was because Jokinen was miscast as a "first line center" which, despite gawdy point totals in Florida, is a false impression. Jokinen has never in his career faced other top players and come out ahead. He's made hay beating up lesser lights and scoring with the man advantage. There's a reason both FLA and PHX dispassionately moved him along when he had a ticket of $5.25 and it was clear he couldn't carry the mail.

So the Flames paid a bundle chasing the White Whale of a "first line center". Predictably, Jokinen came in, was placed in a tough minutes role with Jarome Iginla and immediately fell on his face. His possession stats, scoring chance stats, scoring rates were all putrid through the first few months of play last year. If Iginla hadn't have scored at a 30% rate in November, Jokinen's totals would have been even more laughable.

Brent Sutter started to play with the lines and match-ups after December when it was clear the Jokinen+Iginla pairing wasn't going to fly. Then the 9 game losing streak hit, Darryl lost his mind and the rest is history. During a brief stint on the 2nd/3rd lines, Jokinen certainly wasn't as detrimental as he was previously, but he didn't exaclty knock it out of the park either. Ditto for the relocation to NY, where he mostly skated with Prospal against second tier competition. In 26 games for the Rags, Jokinen managed just 4 goals and 15 points (a 47 point pace).

Like Tanguay, Jokinen's underlying numbers ended up being mediocre across the board last season. His ESP/60 rate was basically the same (1.69), he played middling competition, he started in the o-zone more often than not (51.9%) and his corsi rate was marginal as well (+4.91). That said, there's no question Jokinen was also unlucky last year. His SH% of 6.4% was well below his previous career average (10%). If he can get back to his established norms, then he should at least break the 15 goal mark.

In terms of my personal observations, I'll state that I don't think much of Jokinen as a hockey player. He's a decent enough skater and has a great shot, but that's probably the extent of his strengths. He handles the puck like a man stickhandles a brick with a fishing rod. He has worse than average vision in the offensive zone, choosing poor shooting angles over other, perhaps more appropriate plays. I also find his awareness in the defensive end lacking. Jokinien is a player that has to be carefully managed to be effective. Here's hoping the club sticks him on a second or third line with good players and easy match-ups this time around. With Langkow and Stajan on board, that's certainly possible. The good news, is, of course, his salary is more in-line with his ability level now (although personally I would have preferred a sub-$3 deal).

Raitis Ivanans

I'm not going to spend much time on this signing. I've gone record to say I think dressing a goon is pointless in the modern NHL. However, Sutter insists that the team have one year after year, despite the fact that they never seem to make any material difference (aside from giving up a lot of shots and scoring chances against whenever they're on the ice that is). Ivanans is a legit heavyweight for those who care for that sort of thing. For my part, I dread having to watch the Flames 4th line be rendered non-functional all year by the anchor-like presence of an enforcer.

Tim Jackman

A Prust/Mayers replacement, Jackman was fed to the wolves by his coach in NYI last year (33% offensive zone start ratio, high level of competition) and he mostly got his head beat in, as would be expected. He's another big guy that can throw the body around, but probably isn't much better than a host of other, similar players out there.

Going Forward...

- The Flames spent about $6M in cap space yesterday and have a more or less have full roster. They are also technically over the salary cap and have RFA Ian White yet left to sign (or trade).

- The Ivanans and Jackman acquisitions render Backlund's immediate future with the parent club rather murky, given the fact it would be inefficient in terms of both dollars (1.27M cap hit) and development to skate him with a grinder and a goon for 5 minutes a night. Unless he somehow usurps Langkow (which will only happen if Daymond is still hurt come OCT), it's back to the farm for Mikael.

- Calgary still has 7 NHL defensemen on one-way contracts (Regehr, Bouwmeester, Sarich, Staios, Pardy, Giordano, Kronwall), plus the aforementioned Ian White and the now-waiverable Matt Pelech. That's 9 NHL defenders of various levels of quality. Something's gotta give.

- Ales Kotalik remains in limbo. There's no apparent place on the team for him now and his $3M salary needs to go away more than ever. However, the team has chosen not to buy him out, so he remains a curious, problematic remnant a trade should have never been consummated.

- I noted at the start of the free agent frenzy that the Flames desperately need another top-flight player. Meaning, another guy who can play against other top players and excel. If Sutter's gambit with Tanguay fails, that need remains unfilled. Cleary, Darryl is banking on a return to classic form from both the "big names" he signed yesterday. If that happens, the Flames will improve next year. If not, they'll be worse.  

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 RossCreekNation
July 02 2010, 11:11AM
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Via Kevin Allen (USA Today)...

Hearing out of Florida that Chris Higgins is about to sign with Panthers for one season at $1.6 million.

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#2 Casey
July 02 2010, 11:11AM
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If you can ignore the strange re-acquisition optics, I can live with Jokinen at $3m/year. Hopefully they see the error of their previous ways and use him properly this time around.

It was a brutally shallow UFA pool this year, and Sutter clearly doesn't have the assets available to trade for offensive help. Signing free agents was his only real option, and didn't have much in the way of cap space to work with. Looking at the available UFA players, and the other contracts that were signed yesterday, Tanguay and Jokinen actually represent decent risk/reward.

Would I prefer another option over Jokinen? Obviously. Could this work? Possibly. Did Sutter have many other options? Probably not.

This really comes back to the history at the draft. In hindsight, we've picked way too many defensemen and the forwards we have picked really haven't panned out. If the cupboards were stocked with quality prospects then it would be a lot easier to trade for that #1 center we all desire...

Having said all of that, I don't think that he is done. Sutter is never done. And I wouldn't be shocked to see another trade.

I'm starting to wonder if we've seen the last of Daymond Langkow? If he goes on LTIR (or retires) then that frees up a bunch of cap space once the season starts.

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#3 Gange
July 02 2010, 11:42AM
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Well there's still lots of Regher talk out there. Lanks is obviously a serious concern. I suspect there's another move in the works. That said, Savard seems like a long shot.

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#4 mikeH
July 02 2010, 11:45AM
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Amongst all these "additions", whatever happened to the concept of hiring an "assistant GM" to provide feedback to Daz? I know that Holditch technically has that title, but he's not exactly a new voice or anywhere close to powerful enough to be a Darryl contrarian. Maybe they meant they were going to hire an "assistant to the GM" to keep the Whiskey & Milk topped up.

So sad to see Dawes go. Although he is "replaceable" by normal NHL logic, why replace someone who is doing their job at an efficient cost? I think that is going to cost us more than having Joker back. And I really don't want to be in the room with WI when they trade Gio to make room for White.

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#5 Gange
July 02 2010, 11:52AM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Via Kevin Allen (USA Today)...

Hearing out of Florida that Chris Higgins is about to sign with Panthers for one season at $1.6 million.

Dreger tweets:

Higgins. 1 year. $1.6 to Florida is done.

This is disheartening makes the Jokinen trade make far less sense now. He's back now and nothing can be done about that but there seems to have been a great deal of money spent to lose Prust.

sigh

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#6 R O
July 02 2010, 11:53AM
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I don't find calls for an assistant GM compelling. Unless they bring a material advantage to the table (e.g. extensive scouting experience and track record) it's all a bunch of nothing.

It's like calls for new ownership (useless unless it brings $$ and a willingness to spend them) or new assistant coaching (immaterial as the head coach usually determines forward matchups anyway).

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#7 FireOnIce
July 02 2010, 12:00PM
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So now that Higgins didn't resign, and Kotalik is getting sent to the Siberian gulags, we got nothing positive from the Jokinen/Rangers trade?

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#8 JF
July 02 2010, 12:02PM
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For what it's worth the Presser made it sound (to me at anyrate) that Langkow was still hurt. Not that I'd be surprised if that was the case taking a slapshot directly on the spinal column strikes me as something that might take a while to get over.

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#9 SmellOfVictory
July 02 2010, 12:07PM
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Jackman and Ivanans have the same agent. I now hate Ben Hankinson for his role in this.

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#10 Greg
July 02 2010, 12:09PM
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@Gange

I think that's the best summary I've heard of this whole fiasco. We spent a lot of money to get rid of Prust.

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#11 dotfras
July 02 2010, 12:09PM
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Have fun in Florida & at the bottom of the standings Higgins!

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#12 Gange
July 02 2010, 12:11PM
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LeBrun Tweets:

Told Matthew Lombardi close to a decision and should definitely be off the market by end of the day

Wouldn't it be funny if he was coming back? And by funny I mean really quite sad to get the same team as before.

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#13 Gange
July 02 2010, 12:16PM
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From Eklund, so take it for what it's worth:

Flames, Blue Jackets, and Thrashers showing interest in Ponikarovsky.

Criticize him for not getting one dimensional forwards will you?? He'll show you!! How can his logic be wrong? It worked very well in Toronto, why wouldn't it work out west??

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#14 marty
July 02 2010, 12:23PM
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ya if lanks is hurt im a lil worried. i agree with the thought that olie whould be sheltered a bit on the 2nd/3rd to open up some offence chances. i hope that him and hagman can get some chemistry maybe that will happen. i am less negative about this today as i was yester day but i wouldn't say im 100 percent positive. wait and see what lanks and future trades are

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#15 M F
July 02 2010, 12:26PM
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Who the hell is going to be the 13th forward now that Dawes is gone?

I also have an awful feeling Staios will be playing here next season. If I were to bet, I would say Pardy gets traded and Kronwall will play in Abby again.

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#16 Domebeers.com
July 02 2010, 12:26PM
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Word from Caesar is he plans on playing Joker Iggy Tangs on a line. Gentlemen, start your drinking.

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#17 Gange
July 02 2010, 12:30PM
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Domebeers.com wrote:

Word from Caesar is he plans on playing Joker Iggy Tangs on a line. Gentlemen, start your drinking.

LOL

It started yesterday though. Shall I continue? Or up the pace?

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#18 Domebeers.com
July 02 2010, 12:35PM
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@mikeH

Listening to the radio, it seems clear that the 'new assistant GM' is Jarome. Good hire. Save on payroll.

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#19 Domebeers.com
July 02 2010, 12:37PM
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I'd up the pace. He is about to force Langs to retire...I make fun of it, but Langs is the only guy on this team with grit...Hope he gets healthy, or Ill really have to start drinking.

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#20 Gange
July 02 2010, 12:39PM
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Domebeers.com wrote:

I'd up the pace. He is about to force Langs to retire...I make fun of it, but Langs is the only guy on this team with grit...Hope he gets healthy, or Ill really have to start drinking.

But if he does we have money to sign Ponikarovsky!!!

sigh

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#21 mikeH
July 02 2010, 12:52PM
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Similar to RO, I don't put much stock in actually having some sort of co-pilot/babysitter for Daz, I bring it up more as evidence that one of the supposed conditions of Darryl staying has already gone by the wayside. Money from the owners sure doesn't seem to be a concern; apparently we're paying $2.9 million to guys just to till the farm.

I was bitching to WI yesterday about Jarome seeming to have too much control. Hopefully someone reigns this stuff in. Nothing like a top line (tangs-olli-jarome) of guys who are in steady decline.

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#22 Gange
July 02 2010, 12:54PM
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Seems like an asst GM would just be there as a bookend. I'm not even a little convinced Darryl would allow the input.

Much like the current AGM

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#23 Graham
July 02 2010, 12:54PM
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Higgins to Florida for 1 Yr / $1.6 million is disappointing. Despite being snake bitten, I thought he showed some promise as a Flame.

Really hope Sutter has something up his sleeve, I am really not very enthusiastic about next year...

The actual status of Langkow worrys me....

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#24 Graham
July 02 2010, 12:56PM
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Gange wrote:

Seems like an asst GM would just be there as a bookend. I'm not even a little convinced Darryl would allow the input.

Much like the current AGM

At one point it was two AGM's, Sutter would give them each a vote, as long as he had three...

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#25 B
July 02 2010, 12:58PM
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...between 2002-2003 (his breakout year) and last year (including) Jokinen averaged:

81 games played 31 goals (11 powerplay goals) 290 shots on goals (11% shooting percentage)

...last year Jokinen had:

82 games played 15 goals (3 powerplay goals) 236 shots on goal (6% shooting percentage)

...between 2002-2003 and last year (including) Iginla averaged:

79 games played 38 goals (12 powerplay goals) 289 shots on goals (13% shooting percentage)

...last year Iginla had:

82 games played 32 goals (10 powerplay goals) 257 shots on goal (12% shooting percentage)

***I don't feel Jokinen's goals are "soft". He would average 20 goals per season even without the powerplay. As a top goal scorer he played against shutdown players/top lines for most of this peroid in time.

***Iggy and Joker need to shoot the puck more next year to reach their historical shots on goal average. With Tanguay on their line both will be able to play their game. Hopefully Joker's shooting percentage doubles to it's historical average.

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#26 FireOnIce
July 02 2010, 01:13PM
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Is it possible that part of Jokinen's problems last season were related to either (or both) of A) Dion "High and Wide" Phaneuf, B) a much heftier travel schedule than he experienced in Florida?

Perhaps, with a smaller contract, he'll ease up on the Finnish vodka and cigarettes with Miikka after the games.

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#27 Big Cap
July 02 2010, 01:15PM
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Edmonton Loves "Dutter"....Keep up the Great Work Pal!

Dont listen to the entire rest of the hockey world when they say your a compete Idiot! Your the man...keep doing your thing!!

In fact, start grooming those other Dutter kids, cousins, and relatives...so you can hire them as well!

Long Live the Dutter's and Flames!!

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#28 B
July 02 2010, 01:35PM
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Big Cap wrote:

Edmonton Loves "Dutter"....Keep up the Great Work Pal!

Dont listen to the entire rest of the hockey world when they say your a compete Idiot! Your the man...keep doing your thing!!

In fact, start grooming those other Dutter kids, cousins, and relatives...so you can hire them as well!

Long Live the Dutter's and Flames!!

...it's so sad to see some Oilers fans on our message board. I've never been on an Oilers message board, ever, never will. Get a life buddy.

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#29 dotfras
July 02 2010, 01:52PM
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Big Cap wrote:

Edmonton Loves "Dutter"....Keep up the Great Work Pal!

Dont listen to the entire rest of the hockey world when they say your a compete Idiot! Your the man...keep doing your thing!!

In fact, start grooming those other Dutter kids, cousins, and relatives...so you can hire them as well!

Long Live the Dutter's and Flames!!

Colin Fraser is gonna get you guys SO many goals next year!

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#31 walkinvisible
July 02 2010, 02:21PM
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FireOnIce wrote:

So now that Higgins didn't resign, and Kotalik is getting sent to the Siberian gulags, we got nothing positive from the Jokinen/Rangers trade?

well, we FINALLY got rid of brandon prust, thank god, so there's nobody left to toss in as a sweetener on a bad trade involving olli jokinen anymore.

oh. wait. uhhhh....

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#32 R O
July 02 2010, 02:22PM
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Is it possible that part of Jokinen's problems last season were related to either (or both) of A) Dion "High and Wide" Phaneuf, B) a much heftier travel schedule than he experienced in Florida?

No, and no.

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#33 Gange
July 02 2010, 02:28PM
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Ekliund says that Philly is going to make a huge trade soon.

My guess:

Philly trades Eklund for someone who knows something on the inside.

What do you think? Good trade? ;)

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#34 RossCreekNation
July 02 2010, 02:32PM
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@Gange

I figure the only time to listen to him is if he says (e5) or sometimes on some Philli news.

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#35 Gange
July 02 2010, 02:49PM
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It's supposed to be a 3 team deal even. LOL

Seriously?? I might be wrong but my question becomes, Does he make this up? If not who the heck are his "sources"?

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#36 Gange
July 02 2010, 02:56PM
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LeBrun Tweets:

Preds get their offense: Matthew Lombardi at $10.5 over three years.

I'm not sure I'd pay that. Fast yes, hands no.

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#37 RossCreekNation
July 02 2010, 02:58PM
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Via Tim Panaccio...

Too quiet on the FLyers front ... that means something is in the works. Moving salary, maybe pursue a goalie after that? every july 4th!

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#38 JF
July 02 2010, 02:59PM
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Gange wrote:

It's supposed to be a 3 team deal even. LOL

Seriously?? I might be wrong but my question becomes, Does he make this up? If not who the heck are his "sources"?

Eklund? With one exception I think his sources are a random name and team generater. The exception being the Flyers... he seems to have a legit source with the Flyers.

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#39 KingJafi
July 02 2010, 03:36PM
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Solid writeup Kent and great insight. I particularly liked the "[Joker] handles the puck like a man stickhandles a brick with a fishing rod" line. Definitely one of the all time bests.

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#40 walkinvisible
July 02 2010, 03:42PM
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turns out, the sex panther IS cheaper than lombardi. i guess we kinda knew that, though, hunh ?

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#41 Gange
July 02 2010, 03:45PM
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walkinvisible wrote:

turns out, the sex panther IS cheaper than lombardi. i guess we kinda knew that, though, hunh ?

6% of the time, he scores every time.

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#42 Graham
July 02 2010, 04:03PM
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Gange wrote:

LeBrun Tweets:

Preds get their offense: Matthew Lombardi at $10.5 over three years.

I'm not sure I'd pay that. Fast yes, hands no.

Lombardi probably benefited from being the 'biggest' name UFA center left unsigned. $3.5 million per season is rich, but then again we signed Stajan to 4 yrs at $3.5 million ($14 million total)

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#43 JF
July 02 2010, 04:12PM
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@Graham

True, goes back to why I didn't (and still don't) object to the terms of the Stajan re-up... we got him at what would have been fair market value. Weak UFA crop at center this year. That being said it'd be nice to see Sutter sqeeze some extra value out of his signing without having to load term and NTC's onto them for a change.

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#44 Lawrence
July 02 2010, 07:17PM
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Matt Lombardi got 3.5 million and was asking for 4! Wow. Every UFA signing that goes in the books makes me feel better about the Jokinen deal.

I wouldn't want Matt Lombardi back on the Flames for 2.75 million over 3 years, and word was that's what Phoenix was offering.

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#45 Greg
July 02 2010, 10:03PM
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You know what would make me regain faith in Sutter?

- find a way to keep Kotalik overseas - trade Sarich (must have some value still, 6th rounder?) - bury Staois in the minors (still available as 8th defenceman for the playoffs) - sign White ~ 3M/year ... - sign Kariya ~3M/year

Sure, another aging, degrading veteran, but I think one more play-maker would even out the lines a bit, and give us enough potential offense to really overcome the lack of true difference makers. I'd be very comfortable with that line up to start the season.

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#46 RossCreekNation
July 02 2010, 10:08PM
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THIS JUST IN...

Olli Jokinen got a NMC in his deal...

http://www.capgeek.com/players/display.php?id=452

Or did we know this already... had a few shots already

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#47 SmellOfVictory
July 02 2010, 10:16PM
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@Greg

I would almost bet money on him dispensing with Sarich and/or Staios' contracts, so I have faith that he'll be halfway there. White is pretty likely to get signed, as well. I like the idea of Kariya being added, perhaps on a one year contract; it could hypothetically be like the Flames lines being like a 1.5/2/2/3 as opposed to the standard 1/2/3/4 in terms of relative effectiveness. The top line might lose a bit, but I think it is possible to compensate quite nicely if the other 3 lines all do damage to the 2nd-4th lines of opponents.

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#48 JF
July 02 2010, 10:30PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

THIS JUST IN...

Olli Jokinen got a NMC in his deal...

http://www.capgeek.com/players/display.php?id=452

Or did we know this already... had a few shots already

...

...

Facepalm.

Oh well... at least we know Sutter won't go trade crazy this year. Since y'know he's given restricted transaction clauses to every MF'er on the whole gott-damn team.

FSNF

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#49 Nolan
July 03 2010, 09:39AM
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Just a comment from one of the people that dont matter according to Darryl Sutter. What is the direction of this team. There were a few things the Flames wanted to do in the offseason. 1. Get younger: technically yes with letting Connie and Mayers go but they did sign, Ivanans (31), Tanguay (30), Jokinen (31) and Jackman (28). So it doesnt appear they got that much younger. 2. More skill: see above, the last 2 guys have a combined 23 NHL goals in almost 500 games. 3. Become quicker: dont think you become quicker by getting older. 4. One player away: Ok they signed 5 players (if you include that long shot goalie), none of which appear will single hadedly push the Flames to the cup. Darryl and Ken have hitched their horse to these. As a disgruntled Leafs fan(grew up in Leafland), I left them as my team as management screwed it up, wanted them to lose, hated them, etc. Now it appears that "maybe" they're headed in the right direction. I may now have to call myself a "disgruntled Flames fan".

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#50 Nolan
July 03 2010, 09:39AM
Trash it!
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trashes
+1
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props

Just a comment from one of the people that dont matter according to Darryl Sutter. What is the direction of this team. There were a few things the Flames wanted to do in the offseason. 1. Get younger: technically yes with letting Connie and Mayers go but they did sign, Ivanans (31), Tanguay (30), Jokinen (31) and Jackman (28). So it doesnt appear they got that much younger. 2. More skill: see above, the last 2 guys have a combined 23 NHL goals in almost 500 games. 3. Become quicker: dont think you become quicker by getting older. 4. One player away: Ok they signed 5 players (if you include that long shot goalie), none of which appear will single hadedly push the Flames to the cup. Darryl and Ken have hitched their horse to these. As a disgruntled Leafs fan(grew up in Leafland), I left them as my team as management screwed it up, wanted them to lose, hated them, etc. Now it appears that "maybe" they're headed in the right direction. I may now have to call myself a "disgruntled Flames fan".

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