STOKING THE FIRE - FEBRUARY 23rd

Vintage Flame
February 23 2012 09:43AM

 

As we get ready for trade deadline day, many Flames fans are wondering if this team is going to be a player and if so, what role are they going to play in the convoluted game? The Flames position right now is one that leads us to think they will be buyers rather than sellers, but there are also two games to go before the 27th. Are those two games enough to change their position and view of deadline day? Or, regardless of the outcomes, will they merely serve to justify the moves they do make.

Craig Conroy was on the Fan960 and said that regardless of whether or not the team pursues the buyer or seller routes, the one option that cannot be considered is standing pat. That line of thinking may not make sense to many, but if you think about it, it is what we have all been saying all season long. The core of this team needs to be re-vitalized, whether it comes on the 27th or at the draft, or after July 1st. Tuesday night’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers stung, but it isn’t the end of the road and really neither are the two remaining games before D-Day.

I have to assume that Feaster and Company have a plan and aren’t just flying by the seat of their pants. As Mark Spector said, this is a One-off and move on type of game. The Flames have fought too hard, for too long; there is no turning back now.

MAGIC BEANS?

So even if the Flames are buyers at the deadline, what have they possibly got to offer in exchange for any commodity that is obviously going to also be coveted by team with much deeper pockets in terms of moveable assets? Calgary’s biggest asset is Olli Jokinen, but as Steve MacFarlane points out, there is no way Feaster deals his most marketable asset when he is also a key part to not just the Flames getting into a playoff spot, but keeping it once they are there. So, what’ll it take for the Flames to land a big fish? Steve runs through some scenarios and why they may be attractive options for the Flames. Now if Feaster can just manage the other GM’s to listen!

The last thing that the Flames want is a repeat of last year. At one point the team sat as high as the fifth seed only to have a disastrous March, where they fell out of contention and into tenth. This year, management will want to be especially careful in weighing their options as to what moves to make that will avoid a repeat of a March meltdown. In essence, the playoffs have already started for Calgary. They have taken a similar path and this time they’re hoping there is a better route to the second season. The Flames don’t have the luxury of ‘working smarter, not harder’ - they are going to have to be efficient in both areas. Something they clearly forgot against the Oilers.

One thing that is obvious to everyone, be it fans, players or management, is that in order for Calgary to make the post-season, they will need to rely once again on Miikka Kiprusoff. His play thus far in the second half of the season is the only reason why any of us are even having this conversation. When you look at his numbers, they are not quite what we all saw in 2005-06 when he won the Vezina Trophy, but they aren’t too far off.

He trails in the 42 wins and the 2.07 GAA, but his .924 save percentage is slightly better. He is by no means a favorite to win a second Vezina. However if he continues to quietly go about his business then maybe, just maybe, if he can lead the Flames into the playoffs, he would have to at least be in the conversation.

“I mean, I think he’s better,” agrees assistant to the GM Craig Conroy. “This is the best hockey I’ve seen Kipper play. He looks so relaxed, so calm.”

Part of what takes the awe out of Kiprusoff’s play is perhaps that the fan base has just come to expect the highlight reel saves that we see on a regular basis. Even the captain admits that the more you play with Kipper, the less surprised you are to see him bailing the team out of one mess after another.

“All of us as players, we talk among each other, and some of the guys who’ve come here say they’ve never had a goalie play that well that consistently. We who have been here, well, you never take him for granted, you’re always impressed, but … you tend to get used to it.”
-
Jarome Iginla

SO CLOSE...

Four times the Flames previously approached a spot in the playoffs, only to let it slip away. The fifth time they actually had the star align. Even though they only held that spot for a few days, they are still in the mix and still control their own destiny.

"If you're winning, it's way more fun," said Kiprusoff, who has compiled a 10-3-3 record and a 1.65 goals-against average in his past 16 games. "That's what we have to do anyways. It's hard. There's so many teams right there and we have to be that one team that's going to make it so we have to really push hard here.”

We have already acknowledged the contribution of Miikka Kiprusoff as he leads the Flames season resurgence, but the players to have had to adapt and help out where needed.

Olli Jokinen is the first name that comes to mind when considering those alternatives. Even when Curtis Glencross went down, Olli maintained his level play and even chipped in in the scoring department. When the Flames then lost Mikael Backlund to an upper body injury (shoulder) and then Blair Jones until at least late March, another member of the core stepped up: Mike Cammalleri may have taken a few minutes to adjust to being moved to the center position, but has looked quite comfortable as the team’s second line pivot. Not only has he been comfortable there, he also has the confidence of his head coach as well.

“You know what? I’ve been happy with Cammy,” Sutter says. “He had the puck a lot, he made some really good plays. At centre ice right now, he’s finding some flow. He’s not getting caught standing along the boards having to make plays. I think he’s done a really good job.”

WOUNDED WARRIORS

Chris Butler may not ever show up on a noted scoring list, but he has become a statistic. He will now be added to the Flames 255 man-games lost to injury. There are those out there that are not thrilled with the play of Butler and don’t see this as a major loss to the team but... Consider that he plays 20 plus minutes a night against the opposition’s top lines  and that there is not really anyone set to just jump in and take that spot.

The loss of Butler is a bit more serious than people realize. Even with the approaching return of Derek Smith, I highly doubt he will step back in and join Bouwmeester in the top pairing. I think more likely we see Brodie brought up to play with Jay, leaving Sarich on the third pairing with one of Babchuk, Carson or Piskula (Yikes). On a positive note, Butler avoided serious injury, despite requiring some 30 stitches to close the gash left from Kiprusoff’s skate.

After being injured for what has seemed like an eternity, David Moss began skating again for the first time since his ankle surgery in December. Moss is still expected to miss a few more weeks, but at least he’s back on the ice. The biggest surprise though had to come from Vicki Hall, and is probably the best news Flames fans could ask for right about now. Weeks ahead of schedule, it is possible that the Flames could have Curtis Glencross back in the line-up as early as tonight for the game against the Phoenix Coyotes. Is it too soon for GlenX? The doctors say no, he’s good to go. He’ll wear a knee brace for the rest of the season, and undoubtedly there will be some rust to shake off; so what will the effect be of having arguably the team’s best player (prior to injury) back in the line-up?

“Everyone is hoping to go in and pick up where they left off,” Glencross said. “That will be my mindset. I’ve got to keep my standards, come back and bring my compete level.”
-
Curtis Glencross

Although the final decision will come from Sutter and Glencross, from a timing standpoint, this might seem like a rushed decision. From a fan position and probably all of his teammates, the timing could not have been better.

E42f2ca09dfb26046c3060ff46473aff
Vintage Flame is a Calgary based sports junkie that prefers to call hockey a "religion" rather than an addiction. He believes there are two types of hockey fans. Those who cheer for the Flames, and those who don't understand the sport yet. Follow Vintage_Flame on Twitter
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#1 Clay
February 23 2012, 09:54AM
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Disagree on the immovability of Olli Jokinen. For any player on the roster, any move that improves this team materially long term, maybe at the expense of this season, must be considered.

I personally think we should keep him, but the last thing I want is a late season push and a few injuries to fog Feaster's goggles.

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#2 Kent Wilson
February 23 2012, 10:02AM
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If I were to guess, I'd say either Hannan or Giordano will move up to skate with Bouwmeester. In fact, I don't even think Brodie will move from the third pairing. He's been given some of the softest circumstances by Sutter so far (and for good reason...dude is a 21 year old rookie).

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#3 schevvy
February 23 2012, 10:05AM
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Stoking TEH Fire, get it right. :)

VF Edit: Sorry schevv. I keep forgetting ;)

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#4 NateBaldwin
February 23 2012, 10:14AM
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I hope it's not a rush decision. If glenx comes back just to go back down, I think we'll see whatever hope the team has left go down with him.

Also I completely agree with how important butler is to the team, like his play or not, he was eating big minutes and the flames are short on top 4 d-men, without him.

Here's hoping we can pull one out over Phx, and that management doesn't make any rash decisions over the next few days. To this point I've held the opinion that to adequately judge feaster and co. patience is required, so im tryingto withhold judgement of this season until the first 20 games of next season. But after Sutter's managerial collapse near the end of his term, I've had to fight the expectation that the Feaster will go out and do something that will disappoint me. To this point he hasn't (overly), but I've almost been conditioned to expect the worst.

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#5 Gange
February 23 2012, 10:15AM
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I like what Olli has done this year. I'd be ok with bringing him back.

However, if he can be moved as part of a deal to make this team better now and for a longer time going forward I think that needs strong consideration. It's highly unlikely that keeping Olli on the team will be the tipping point to a Stanley Cup.

Butler is a huge loss. You can't lose a top pairing defenceman and not feel it.

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#6 NateBaldwin
February 23 2012, 10:16AM
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@Kent Wilson

I've been worried that sarich might get bumped up. Wasn't he playing with Bo after the injury in the Edmonton game?

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#7 JF
February 23 2012, 10:47AM
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With all due respect to Craig Conroy I think he's wrong... standing pat is exactly what they should do.

Nobody will want our garbage, we don't have a strong enough farm system to deal away what quality we have in development, 2nd round draft picks are gone until 2014, 1st round pick has the potential to be too high to trade away for anything but true quality star level signed talent, What quality players we do have to sell are either considered untouchable (Iginla/Kipper) or Injured or have some form of veto(NTC/NMC).

I think standing pat is precisely what the Flames should do. Trade Sarich if you can but I don't think the Flames are in any position to buy or sell.

As an aside I think trading to get in the playoffs is silly. You should build your team to get into the playoffs in the offseason... deadline deals should be used to cement your position or become playoff favorites.

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#8 Kent Wilson
February 23 2012, 11:05AM
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@NateBaldwin

Sarich averages the least amount of ice time amongst regular defenders on the team (14:41). He's the last guy Sutter will elevate.

I honestly think it will be Hannan. And that could get scary too.

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#9 everton fc
February 23 2012, 11:10AM
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I tend to agree w/JF. They type of guy we need, in my opinion, is someone like Gaustad. Someone who can win faceoffs and gives us some toughness up and down the middle. I know Pat and Rhett were re-visiting Carter this morning on the FAN. I guess Carter will be considered by sportswriters/casters/fans until the deadline's over. So be it. I am not as adverse to picking him up as I have been. But what's the cost - Baertschi? I don't think that's smart... But Carter's a proven NHL player. Baertschi is indeed, still a prospect. Still, I wouldn't move our youth. Other than Nemisz... and yes, I'd move Backlund for the right price...

Still, you try and make the playoffs with the group we've got. One could argue if Glencross/Stempniak/Moss/Smith/Gio all didn't go down when they did, we'd be in 5th or 6th spot, given recent performance. One could also argue the opposite.

The only pieces I'd pick up are one's that add depth. Players like Babchuk/Sarich/Carson would be the most likely to move.

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#10 Kevin R
February 23 2012, 11:10AM
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Holy Batman!!! Anyone see the projected lineup for the Coyotes for tonight? With the acquisition of Vermette, looks like Langkow has been bumped to the 4th line with Raffi Torres. Some may call that depth but I call that 4.5 mill salary/4.5mill Cap hit insanity. That alone should confirm that Feaster made a very prudent deal moving Langkow for Stempniak to gain cap space. Wait................we have Stajan 4.5 mill salary/3.5mill cap hit on the 4th line. Damn you Dutter!!!!!

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#11 everton fc
February 23 2012, 11:11AM
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Olli would be a decent of a 2nd/3rd line centre for, say, the next two years...

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#14 Kevin R
February 23 2012, 12:15PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

I'm thinking it would have to be one hell of a deal for the Flames to move Baertschi. In the same interview with Craig Conroy on the Fan, he was pretty adamant that they would not deal Sven. That being said, there is a lot that can change management's mind on a player with zero NHL experience.

Under the right circumstance and in the right package, I too would consider moving Backlund. I wouldn't be happy about it, but if it is something that you just can't overlook [ie Carter], then I'd probably be on board.

Agree VF. Backlund & Leiland for Carter (with no draft picks) would be a deal that Feaster would absolutely have to consider, if you had to throw in Sarich or Babchuk or someone to balance the Cap hit so be it. I think Leiland will be a bonafied #1 goalie but seems to me this Flames Management/Owners are not prepared to part at any time with the 2 franchise players of Iggy & Kipper. If they have no intention of trading Kipper then Ramos would be a perfect fit here behind Kipper next year or the year after & Leiland & Backlund plus a B prospect or a 3rd rounder should be enough to get Carter.

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#16 schevvy
February 23 2012, 12:23PM
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I think that Irving would absolutely have to be part of a deal to land Carter. The BJ's (haha) are in desperate need of a goaltender, and Irving is a young goalie who could possibly fix their goaltending problems. Now, maybe they want a goalie who will help them NOW, but why, this year is a lost cause for them anyway.

Purely speculative offer: Backlund, Irving and a 3rd round pick for Carter. Does Columbus hang up the phone laughing or would they think about it?

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#17 Kevin R
February 23 2012, 12:46PM
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On the flip side, if the price is much higher than Backlund, Leiland + something not too significant( a 3rd), if I were Feaster I would hang up & go back to the drawing board & rethink my strategy. That would be 2 first rounders for Carter plus a 3rd. With both first rounders totally NHL ready & able & perfect fits for a youth movement in Columbus. If some GM wants to way overpay, then good luck & God bless.

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#19 T&A4Flames
February 23 2012, 01:00PM
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If a rival team were to view Backlund & Horak as equals with all things considered, who would CGY rather move. I think I would rather keep Backs because I think he will be a good 2nd line 'C'. Thoughts?

That said, in a deal for Carter (who I still beleive would be better suited on our 2nd line RW) we would have a log jam of centers; Carter, Jokinen (if resigned), Backlund/Horak, Jones, Stajan and you still throw in Cammi, Moss, Byron, Kolanos & even Bouma I believe.

Jones may be the best fit at 3rd line'C'. If that is the case and we aquire Carter (BIG "IF") I guess that makes Backs disposable. I still hate the idea of trading away our own develping draft picks. Double that for Irving.

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#20 Kent Wilson
February 23 2012, 01:09PM
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@T&A4Flames

If the Flames get Carter, that makes Olli Jokinen dispensable. His next contract will be a big gamble (unless he signs his one year) and he's bad bet to get any better going forward.

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#21 the-wolf
February 23 2012, 01:11PM
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The asking price for Carter from Calgary would be Irving, Baertschi, Backlund and a 1st.

If you look at it from the perspective that Calgary still has Karlsson and Ramo, Baertschi is unproven, Backlund has 3 goals and our drafting sucks........

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#22 JF
February 23 2012, 01:19PM
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@Vintage Flame

Always? It's what Feaster did last year but need I remind you that the two prior years Daz went white whale hunting for Olli and then the next year went crazy contructing the Calgary Maple Rangers.

No, it's not what they always do and I don't think any reasonable person can say that the team wouldn't have been better off if they had stood pat.

I don't want the team to go off chasing another whale that turns into a white elephant, I don't want the team pissing away it's reasonably talented (and more importantly cost-controlled) youth for a quick fix, and I don't want to turn into the Edmonton Oilers (folk content to be amoungst the biggest losers in the league year in year out, shoving away talent in pursuit of a magic lottery ticket to the top). That precludes me wanting to see the team buy or sell.

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#23 T&A4Flames
February 23 2012, 01:22PM
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@the-wolf

WAYYYYYYYYYYY to much to give up for Carter. If you consider that CLB only gave up Voracek a 1st and a 3rd, why would anyone give more than that to aquire a player who's stock has taken a bit of a hit this season; injury questions, contract concerns & poor attitude perceptions.

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#24 T&A4Flames
February 23 2012, 01:26PM
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@Kent Wilson

Even without Olli, that leaves a log jam. Who do you think would be the most likely to get dealt between Backs, Horak and Jones; how would it fit best, with or without aquiring Carter?

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#27 joey joe joe jr shabadoo
February 23 2012, 01:51PM
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I have strong suspicion the Flames trade deadline day will be a lot like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NNOrp_83RU

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#28 the-wolf
February 23 2012, 02:59PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

No way the Flames give up that kind of return for Carter. Four first rounders for Carter and all his luggage? Especially with 2 of them already NHL capable?

Uh-uh..

4 1st rounders who have done what?

I'm not advocating it, I'm just saying that based on all the trade talk, I think that's what they'd want.

Carter is still a big #1 center onpace to score 30 goals for the 6th straight year.

Compare that to an unproven back-up (Irving has been great, but the sample size is beyond small), what a lot of people call a 3rd liner, a middling 1st round pick and, yeah, a top prospect, but an unproven one.

For a guy who has scored 46 goals and plays a 200' game.

Again, not saying I would do it, but it's in line with MSM reports.

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#29 the-wolf
February 23 2012, 03:03PM
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Voracek is better than Backlund and CBJ gave up an 8th overall pick. Again, just going off MSM rumors, not saying I'd offer that much.

Though in response to JF - aren't you sick of trying to claw into 8th every year?

This team either has to rebuild (already taken off the table) or go for broke.

Otherwsise, it's deja vu all over again next season.

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#30 T&A4Flames
February 23 2012, 03:28PM
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@the-wolf

Voracek isn't that much better and he has had a lot more games played in the NHL. I believe he is still a 3rd liner in Philly with only 10 goals. Yea, Backlund is having a bad season but he'll come around. And yes, CLB gave up a 8th overall but like I said earlier, Carter's stock has dropped for various reasons.

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#32 the-wolf
February 23 2012, 04:07PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

Voracek isn't that much better and he has had a lot more games played in the NHL. I believe he is still a 3rd liner in Philly with only 10 goals. Yea, Backlund is having a bad season but he'll come around. And yes, CLB gave up a 8th overall but like I said earlier, Carter's stock has dropped for various reasons.

Yes, but Philly is much deeper than Calgary. And Backlund has played plenty of top 6. I agree that it's too much and I think the same with Nash. And Frankly, I prefer Carter (in strict hockey terms) as a player over Nash.

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#33 Redd3vil
February 23 2012, 04:24PM
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the-wolf wrote:

Voracek is better than Backlund and CBJ gave up an 8th overall pick. Again, just going off MSM rumors, not saying I'd offer that much.

Though in response to JF - aren't you sick of trying to claw into 8th every year?

This team either has to rebuild (already taken off the table) or go for broke.

Otherwsise, it's deja vu all over again next season.

amen bro

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#34 RexLibris
February 23 2012, 04:52PM
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the-wolf wrote:

Voracek is better than Backlund and CBJ gave up an 8th overall pick. Again, just going off MSM rumors, not saying I'd offer that much.

Though in response to JF - aren't you sick of trying to claw into 8th every year?

This team either has to rebuild (already taken off the table) or go for broke.

Otherwsise, it's deja vu all over again next season.

I think that with the Flames management talking about winning now, they are somewhat hampered in pursuing that direction because the deadline this year doesn't have a lot of mid-range talent on offer (at least not ones that the Flames don't already have like Stempniak or Jokinen).

Just like you've said, it's nothing or go for broke, well the players available to the Flames this year (basically Carter, because while Nash and Hemsky don't really make sense for them, they are the de facto alternatives) would all require a significant return. Howson has nothing but time to trade either of his stars, and there are so many teams that are kicking tires and have spare parts to offer that the Flames would almost have to overpay to get either one of Nash or Carter and the bulk of the cost would be in futures.

There aren't many other options available to Feaster where he can acquire a forward and say that he is making moves to win this year while not giving up too much in the fans' eyes. Roy is the only other name that comes to mind as a possible alternative.

One could also argue that the longer Feaster waits the more that any move he makes is likely to cost, at least that appears to be the way that the prices for players is trending.

Next season won't be entirely deja vu. The results may or may not be the same, but there will be new faces, new numbers, new performances to critique at several positions.

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#35 everton fc
February 23 2012, 04:59PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:
That said, in a deal for Carter (who I still beleive would be better suited on our 2nd line RW) we would have a log jam of centers; Carter, Jokinen (if resigned), Backlund/Horak, Jones, Stajan and you still throw in Cammi, Moss, Byron, Kolanos & even Bouma I believe.

If the Flames were to land Carter, then as Kent mentioned, Olli would become expendible. Backlund or Horak would certainly be part of the deal going the other way. Stajan sill be the candidate if the new CBA includes an Amnesty Clause.

As for the others.. Cammalleri and Moss are wingers. Kolanos will be back in Abbotsford, while Byron and Bouma will be the fringe guys.

Assuming Jokinen signs say a 1 year or 2 year deal, you're probably looking at for centers...
Carter - Jokinen - Horak - Jones. If Stajan sticks around, then I would think Horak becomes the bubble center, having a two-way contract.

Random thoughts:

Not sure Byron's a fringe guy - they just sent him down w/Glencross coming back. Kolanos stays. I find this interesting... but Kolanos has done more, and done well in the faceoff circle. Bouma certainly is. Kolanos may be back at Abby when Moss returns...

Maybe...

A 4th line of Bouma/Jones/Jackman would be a good one.

I think Jokinen would sign for peanuts - why would he be expendable? He was doing well in a 2nd line role w/Glencross. To me, both are ideal third line players on a strong team. Stempniak or Moss would be the RW in this scenario, unless you don't sign Jackman and the 4th line becmes Bouma/Jones/Moss. Not a bad 4th line, but Moss is often injured. The only way Moss and Stempniak are both here next season is if Jackman's gone.

Who says Cammy can't be a #2 centre, flanked by a rookie like Ferland? Or does Cammy go back to the wing if Carter's here. Horak is not guaranteed as a 3rd line centre, but you can't keep him and Backlund, can you?

Backlund is a tough one; he's produced little in the way of points.. but most see so much potential. Perhaps he has value now. Not later?

I wonder if a team like Florida or the Isles would take Stajan for a 4th round pick?

Certainly no room for Comeau next season. Or is there?

And we haven't even discussed where guys like Baertschi/Ferland/Reinhart/et al MAY fit in if they can make the jump to the NHL immediately.

A lot to discern.

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#36 RexLibris
February 23 2012, 06:16PM
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@everton fc

My guess at this point would be that Ferland, Baertschi, and Reinhart all spend some time, maybe half a season, in the AHL. One of them may start the year in the NHL, but it seems likely that at least two of them spend some time in Abbotsford.

Sorry, does that read Stajan WITH a 4th or FOR a 4th. ;-)

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