Five things: You say goodbye

Ryan Lambert
April 11 2012 01:01PM

1. A new wrinkle

Boy am I ever obsessed with the ongoing Jarome Iginla/rebuild drama.

Reached for comment on his situation with the team vis a vis his future, Jarome Iginla said something to the effect of, "I don't know if I want to be around for a rebuild."

I thought that was interesting. It's perfectly understandable why a guy of his age and stature within the NHL would not want to suffer through a blowup. He has maybe two or three seasons left as an even remotely effective power forward in this league and he probably doesn't want to waste them wiling away 30-win seasons. Fair enough. See that completely.

I'm sure there will be numerous conversations between Iginla and management over the next few months while the playoffs go on about just what the hopes — and very likely the contingency plans — will be for both sides depending on what the brass sees as the most effective way in which the club can go forward from this unmitigated disaster of a three-year run without playoffs. And my belief is that while Feaster started a partial rebuild to get younger with things like the Regehr trade and so forth, it seems very possible that this latest failure will be enough to kickstart things in earnest. He's said all the right things in the past but now it's time to start saying a whole new variety of right things for the future.

Things like, "We need to look at all our options and figure out what is best for both Jarome and the club." And I think we all know what that will mean in the end. It means the team's long-time captain, leading goalscorer, leading point-getter, leading everything-reallyer, will be gone. Maybe by the time next season starts. Certainly by the time his contract expires next July 1. Tough to wrap one's head around, really.

But this is the brave new world into which we have been thrust, uncomfortable though it may be, by years of roster mismanagement, belief in the wrong guys, and so forth. It's kind of weird that we all knew this day would come, and yet...

2. Why I hate when guys clean out their lockers

Garbage bag day, cleanout day, or whatever you want to call it, really sucks. Not just because it means your team's season ended unhappily (especially at this point in the calendar year), but because of all the excuse-making that inevitably comes with it.

Alex Tanguay, for example, played the back stretch of the season with some sort of wrist injury that did not allow him to lift the puck. Derek Smith's "upper body" injury was, as we all suspected, a concussion. And TJ Brodie could have been back for the playoffs if only the Flames had made it! And so forth.

If you're Alex Tanguay and you can't lift the puck, you probably shouldn't play. Maybe that's just me. It's just frustrating to hear things like, "My foot fell off in Game 54 but I stuck it back on with one of those purple glue sticks and well I guess that's why I spent the back half of the season looking like I was skating in mud."

It's all pretty annoying and at the end of the day, reads as the unsatisfying final few pages of a Sherlock Holmes short story: "Of course he wouldn't go into the corners, Watson! His spine was mashed into a fine paste against the Avalanche a month ago!" Forgive me for not happily accepting these answers as good reasons why the team sucked.

I must, then, give the biggest of ups to Olli Jokinen, who has recently not only revealed that the only NHL team he wants to play for is the Flames (and hopefully at a reduced salary), but flatly refused to discuss any injuries he may or may not have had down the stretch.

3. Did you see that Gaudreau goal?

As you probably know by now, Flames prospects and Boston College players Billy Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau won the NCAA title with their team over the weekend, and Gaudreau in particular figured rather heavily into the final, a 4-1 win over Ferris State.

With just over under three minutes left in the third period of what was, at that point, a 2-1 game in favor of the heavily-favored BC Eagles, Gaudreau got the puck and then worked a bit of magic that brought the crowd to its feet and their jaws to the floor.

 

Just look at that. It's beautiful.

Gaudreau finished the season with 44 points in as many games, finshing second on the team behind Chris Kreider. That includes 12-14-26 in his final 17 games, and his team won 19 straight during that time. It was a bananas finish for team and player alike, and one very few probably expected when Gaudreau arrived on campus in September.

Arnold, for his part, sixth on the team in scoring, posting a 17-19-36 line in 42 games, with 4-7-11 in his final 11. He's only a sophomore.

4. Goaltending for next year

What with Henrik Karlsson having been, you know, awful this season, it pretty much looks like a safe bet that Leland Irving will be Calgary's backup next year, and that will also likely be an audition for the starting job.

Given that the team now appears at least somewhat likely to enter a serious rebuild, a conversation will likely be had about Miikka Kiprusoff's ongoing viability at some point, and one imagines that if Irving acquits himself particularly well at all next season, that might be enough incentive to move Kiprusoff either at the deadline or over the summer. I don't know if I'm particularly in favor of such a move, mind you. Maybe you get a decent career backup or 1b on the free agent market as an insurance plan, and try to platoon them if nothing else? At any rate, I just don't know how this team will keep Kiprusoff around that much longer than Iginla.

5. Looking for your opinion...

It recently occurred to me that over the summer, there may not be five Flames-related things worth talking about every single week, so I was thinking about branching out my purview here somewhat. Would you guys be in favor of me adding my two cents on hockey-related things other than the Flames throughout the playoffs and over the summer?

686dfac3780611cb7acad6ce5166c6c1
Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#1 Gange
April 11 2012, 01:51PM
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Around goaltending, perhaps Karri Ramo can be coaked out of the KHL as a starter...

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#2 everton fc
April 11 2012, 02:29PM
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I know this may sound "daft"... But they have to give Danny Taylor a look next pre-season, don't they? He's got a better save percentage than Irving in more games... More minutes... Also has more shutouts this season than Irving...

He certainly makes Karlsson expendable.

In a dream world, if you moved Kipper and could go with Irving and Taylor as a tandem... At least until Ramo is ready to move over (and who's to say Ramo does well here? He certainly wasn't stellar w/the Bolts when he played last in the NHL)

I know, this is "fantasia"...

As for Gaudreau, he seems like he might be quite a find. Too bad he can't play in Abby now. It'd be neat to see him.

If Aliu could skate... and played LW... He might be nice on a 4th line w/Moss and Jackman.

Byron is certainly proving he may be a career AHLer. Is there any hope Jessiman could play minutes up here? Any hope at all?? Say, as a 4th line centre??

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#3 Kent Wilson
April 11 2012, 02:36PM
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@everton fc

Danny Taylor isn't technically Flames property. He was signed by the Heat only.

And forget about Aliu or Jessiman or any career AHLer making the Flames in any meaningful sense. The term "replacement level" player is employed for good reason - it means they could be replaced easily at minimum cost from the vast pool of pro talent bubbling beneath the NHL ranks.

That's what Jessiman et al. are. Replacement level players. Which is why they were added to the Flames minor league affiliate team for nothing.

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#4 suba steve
April 11 2012, 02:37PM
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As long as you can continue to provide one new article weekly, you can branch out to your heart's content. But, please don't provide Iggy/Kipper trade rumours exclusively. Cant wait to see (if) it happen, but getting tired of hearing all of our fantasy deals.

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#5 everton fc
April 11 2012, 02:46PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Danny Taylor isn't technically Flames property. He was signed by the Heat only.

And forget about Aliu or Jessiman or any career AHLer making the Flames in any meaningful sense. The term "replacement level" player is employed for good reason - it means they could be replaced easily at minimum cost from the vast pool of pro talent bubbling beneath the NHL ranks.

That's what Jessiman et al. are. Replacement level players. Which is why they were added to the Flames minor league affiliate team for nothing.

I hear you, Kent. Simply wondering just how good Ward is at rehabing replacement level players... to more than replacement level.

Shouldn't expect miracles.

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#6 Kent Wilson
April 11 2012, 03:06PM
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@everton fc

Fair enough. Sometimes you get the miracle late bloomers like Burrows or Penner. 99.9% of he time, though, they're 4th liners for life.

There's no pancea to be found at the bottom end Im afraid. That's not really the Flames weakness anyways, unfortunately.

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#7 Graham
April 11 2012, 03:42PM
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Five reasons why I think the next trade deadline is the most likely, and most profitable time to trade Iggy.

1.Iggy gets the balance of next season to see if the Flames can successfully rearrange the deck chairs

2. Iggy's cap hit is prorated for the team acquiring him. They can add Iggy for the balance of the season for a relatively small cap hit.

3. Iggy goes to a legit contender, and gets a run at the cup.

4. Iggy can resign with the Flames as a UFA if he wants to retire in a Flames jersey.

5. Selling Iggy into the trade deadline 'madness' is likely to produce the best return. I doubt the return would be huge, but if players like Gaustad rate a late first rounder, theirs hope!

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#8 RexLibris
April 11 2012, 04:00PM
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@Kent Wilson

Yeah, I don't think the Flames are so hard up that Hugh Jessiman has entered the conversation as a viable alternative. Kolanos was a stretch, Jessiman would be an act of Jiri Dopita-esque folly.

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#9 everton fc
April 11 2012, 04:04PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Yeah, I don't think the Flames are so hard up that Hugh Jessiman has entered the conversation as a viable alternative. Kolanos was a stretch, Jessiman would be an act of Jiri Dopita-esque folly.

I thought you'd have my back, Rex!

:)

Hey, one can dream....

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#10 RexLibris
April 11 2012, 04:05PM
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@Graham

I agree that the trade deadline "madness" would potentially work in their favour.

However, even though the salary is prorated the cap still exists regardless of the date. While the ownership might not have to shell out as much cash the team still has to make it look like they have room for a $7 million dollar cap hit. The plus side of that is that, if there is a low-cap team that is having an extraordinary year they may be willing to part with prospects of a better draft pedigree in order to try and capitalize on their current success. ie: If Minnesota really takes off maybe they move a former top-ten pick for Iginla because they feel this might be the year they make some playoff inroads and the reward outweighs the risk in their mind.

Finally, if Iginla has said that he doesn't want to endure a rebuild, and given that the average rebuild, at least the one that the Flames are likely in need of, would take at minimum three years, then he would have to re-sign in Calgary when he was 39 or 40 years old. I'm not sure that's how Flames fans would want to remember their beloved captain.

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#11 RexLibris
April 11 2012, 04:08PM
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everton fc wrote:

I thought you'd have my back, Rex!

:)

Hey, one can dream....

Well, I am an Oilers fan, so if the Flames trade away their first round pick for 2013 then go right ahead and dress Jessiman for opening day. Come on, what's the worst that could happen.

;-)

I agree with Kent somewhat. The bottom lines aren't really the biggest area of need, although I do think they are below league average and need upgrading. The franchise needs to find a way to land a franchise centre. If they don't start there they are just wasting everyone's time. It doesn't have to be the first thing they do, but it has to be among the first three things they do in acquiring new talent over the next few years.

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#12 everton fc
April 11 2012, 04:10PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Well, I am an Oilers fan, so if the Flames trade away their first round pick for 2013 then go right ahead and dress Jessiman for opening day. Come on, what's the worst that could happen.

;-)

I agree with Kent somewhat. The bottom lines aren't really the biggest area of need, although I do think they are below league average and need upgrading. The franchise needs to find a way to land a franchise centre. If they don't start there they are just wasting everyone's time. It doesn't have to be the first thing they do, but it has to be among the first three things they do in acquiring new talent over the next few years.

I agree w/Kent, as well. I was thinking strictly 4th line/miracle.

As for a solid centre... Absolutely in agreement. I would take Statsny, if available.

But Statsny's certainly nto a "franchise centre".

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#13 Jeff Lebowski
April 11 2012, 05:21PM
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@Graham

If it was me, I would have been putting in feelers directly to GMs in face to face meetings (at annual meetings or before games).

To the effect of, "Listen, I'm not shopping Jarome around because that would be a CLM but between you and me but what's your interest ie don't even tell your AGM about this".

Maybe he could get a feel for an offseason return compared to an inseason return.

The specific circumstances may change but if you do that with a few trusted GMs you might sense the trend.

You might be able to know how to optimize any potential trade.

I'm a fan of Iginla. However I'd do that kind of thing constantly with all my players just as a way to get a sense how I'm evaluating my talent.

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#14 Kent Wilson
April 11 2012, 05:42PM
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Unrelated to the discussion, but still noteworthy - John Gaudreau wins rookie of the year.

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#15 loudogYYC
April 11 2012, 11:52PM
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Maximizing the return at the deadline makes tons of sense. In theory.

Lets consider that the deadline comes roughly 60 games into the season. That's plenty of time for the Flames to suck, Iggy to coast and lose interest or even worse, get injured.

The Flames will likely have a player or 3 to dangle at next years deadline, take a risk with those players, not Iginla.

Every team that will be in on Rick Nash, will be in on Jarome Iginla. Some will probably be more in favor of an Iginla trade simply because he's a UFA in 2013.

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#16 wawful
April 12 2012, 10:51AM
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There are some nice free agents on the block this summer. There's also the likely possibility that the cap will jump up by more than usual ammount due to the next CBA, possibly resulting in an all-out bidfest. That could make acquiring decent talent on sane contracts very difficult. Only time will tell, but Calgary needs to pick up some talent without inking any egregiously terrible contracts if they want to improve next season.

I seriously doubt Iginla or Kipper will be traded until the free-agent frenzy is over and the Flames know where they stand.

If the Flames fail to pick up quality FA's then we're looking at a real rebuild (and likely a terrible season). In that case, trade Iginla. Trade Kipper. Trade spare parts for short-term poison contracts bundled with picks and prospects. This last thing might be particularly wise to do if there is a cap-increase fueled FA bidfest. It would let the Flames pick up some rookies while deferring some spending until next summer when the FA market is less insane.

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#17 Jay Feaster
April 12 2012, 02:18PM
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Hello everyone, this is Jay Feaster here.

Just thought I'd give you an update on our plans going forward.

We are keeping Iginla for the next year, however, that means we cannot rebuilt. We'll keep the team as it is in order to risk having people stop coming to the games. With a 41 game sell out we are teetering on breaking even (www.forbes.com - look at each NHL team's income). Therefore, we cannot afford to lose a significant amount of income and chance a bottom finish.

We all see how the Oilers have turned out - they will continue to be bottom feeders for the next 10 years to come.

We just need that one key piece to compliment Iginla and we'll be a major contendor again.

Sorry I made a promise I couldn't keep. I don't expect to be held accountable for it at all... however, I will make the same promise to all your loyal fans again this year at the expense of your average $64 per ticket.

Good luck and see you all with Sven in the fall.

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