Flames 2011-12 Player Grades: Support Forwards

Kent Wilson
April 23 2012 11:42AM

 

 

This weekend we started off by looking at the Flames top-6 type forwards - Jarome Iginla, Mike Cammalleri, Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross. We'll continue the report card today by grading the remainder of the forward corps.

The bottom-end was difficult to fairly assess. In aggregate, the group was plagued by either injury (limiting their sample size), bad luck (rotten percentages) or both. As a team, the Flames were rather average when it came to SH% and SV% this year, but that's because the club had two extremes which seemed to cancel each other out - for example, Curtis Glencross 23.7% shooting percentage vs Backlund's 4.7% (!).

As with the big guns, my grades are a subjective weighting of output, underlying numbers and expectations based on age, role and pay-grade.

Report Card - Support Forwards

Mikael Backlund

41gp, 4g-7a-11pts

Grade: B-

It was a pretty disappointing season for the young center for a number of reasons. Not only did he appear in just 41-games due to separate finger and shoulder injuries, but his scoring rate took a significant step back despite improved ice time with better players.

As has been mentioned before, Backlund's poor counting numbers have a lot to do with bad percentages which tend to be heavily influenced by variance. That said, it's becoming pretty evident that the kid probably isn't a goal scorer at the pro level. He has had a single digit SH% since he became a pro (going back to the AHL), so while I doubt his true talent level is 4.7%, it wouldn't surprise me if he settles into the 8% range, which tends to be the bottom-end for forward in the NHL.

The good news is, Backlund's underlying possession numbers were some of the best on the team even though his circumstances were drastically more difficult this year relative to his rookie season. Backlund was the only regular skater outside of the big guns to regularly face top-6 opposition and he did so with a 44.6% zone start - the lowest on the team outside of Blair Jones. Despite that, his relative corsi was a team best +11.7/60. That means, the Flames managed 11.7 more shots at the opposing net with Backlund on the ice versus when he was on the bench. 

That is an extremely encouraging sign even in light of the poor output and suggests the kid can become a useful NHL pivot even if his scoring never attains the level most fans had hoped for.

When He's Good: A slick puck handler, and smooth skater, Backlund can stickhandle in traffic and has above average vision. He made tremendous strides this year in terms of controlling the puck in tough areas along the boards and in his own zone which were areas of concern when he boke into the league. Backlund's positioning and defensive awareness continue to creep upwards and he's likely the best forward under the age of 25 on the Flames in terms of these qualities.

When He's Bad: Backlund seemed to lack offensive assertiveness at times this past season and often failed to bear down on shots in scoring positions. The kid missed a lot of nets and hit a lot of crests in prime areas of the ice this year. He also tended to cheat for defense a lot, staying high in the offensive zone, choosing to begin the backcheck early rather than engage the attack. Like all young players, he was prone to the rare but spectacular gaffe and still needs to work on winning face-offs (45.4%).

Lee Stempniak

61gp, 14g-14a-28pts

Grade: B

Acquired for Daymond Langkow last year, Lee Stempniak pretty much came as advertised: a streaky, 40-point type winger who can score 20-goals. He managed 14 in 61 games, some of them of the highlight reel variety, but also disappeared for long stretches of time.

Like Backlund, Stempniak was one of the few Flames who finished in the black in terms of possession. His relative corsi rate was second only to Mikael (+10.5/60), although he played against lesser lights and started about 50% of his shifts in the offensive zone versus the defensive end. Stempniak also had the highest point production rate of any forward outside the top-end at even strength (1.72 points/60).

That's all pretty good value for a middle rotation guy making less than $2M per year. I would have no complaints if the organization decided to bring him back on a similar ticket.

When He's Good: A fast, clever player Stempniak can make even first pairing defenders look foolish on occasion (see video above). Stempniak has a quick release and an eagerness around the net that is similar to Mike Cammalleri. When he's on, Stempniak can carry the puck through the neutral zone and into scoring areas of the ice, forcing defenders to scramble which creates gaps in coverage.

When He Struggles: If the dangles don't work or if the opposing team is limiting his time and space, Stempniak can disappear from the game completely. He has some issues fighting off bigger players in tougher areas and isn't the best puck distributor in the world. Stempniak has never been able to stick in any team's top-6 rotation since he struggles to excel against other team's big guns, so while he can play as a second line winger in a pinch, his ceiling is probably that as a 40-point third liner.

Blake Comeau

74gp, 5g-10a-15pts

Grade: B-

After scoring 24-goals and 46-points the prior season, Blake Comeau landed a new contract in the proceeding summer and then laid an egg to start off the year. When the Flames plucked the 26-year old off of waivers in November, he had managed precisely 0 points in 16 games for NYI and was -11 to boot.

Things didn't get too much better for him in Flames colors in terms of output. He managed 15-points for Calgary in the next 58 games, although he fired 117 shots on net in that time and it was a ghastly 4.3% SH% that suppressed his output. During his 20+ goal season, Comeau shot at 13.2%. At that rate, he would have scored 15 for the Flames, which would have been a nice number from a third-line, waiver wire pick-up. His career average is above to 10% so it's safe to expect a rebound from Comeau going forward.

The erstwhile Islander drew ire from a lot of fans down the stretch because, like Backlund, he made a habit of squandering a lot of high-end scoring chances. The frustration in response is natural, although I tend to give high marks for creating the chances in the first place, even if they don't end up in the back of the net. When the line-up was in total flux due to all the injuries, I thought Comeau was a strong, steady presence at the bottom-end and consistently brought both speed and physical element to his game. He finished third amongst forwards in terms of relative corsi (+10.3), so the puck definitely traveled the right direction when he was on the ice.

Comeau is a pending RFA and his qualifying offer will have to be slightly north of the 2.5M he earned this year. That's probably about $1M too much given his performance last season, so the best route to take would be not to qualify Comeau, but attempt to re-sign him as an UFA at about $1.5M. He's a useful third liner who, at 26, may improve and fills a big gap in terms of players at the age range on the roster, but the team shouldn't pay any more than it has to in order to retain him.

When He's Good: Comeau is an impressively swift skater who can potentially beat defenders wide on the rush. He's tenacious on the forecheck and isn't afraid to lay the body. When he first arrived in Calgary he surprised me with more than one bone-jarring hit, which wasn't something I previously associated with the player. He also seems like a guy who could develop into a useful penalty killer. 

When He Struggles: To be blunt, Comeau can be dumb. His most annoying habit as a Flame was breaking into the offensive zone with the puck, circling the net and then swooping wide back towards the blueline rather than doing anything useful. Sometimes he would succeed in bringing the puck back deep into the zone, sometimes he'd take a prayer of a shot and sometimes he'd just lose it to a defender.

Comeau doesn't have the puck skills nor the vision that would cause the opposition to respect him when he goes on such journeys, so the typical outcome was a give-away or Comeau essentially playing keep away with himself on the periphery.

Matt Stajan

61gp, 8g-10-18pts

Grade: D

Another disaster year for Matty Franchise. It's been a tough go for Stajan since he arrived in Calgary, in part because he was miscast in the role of "new guy to center Jarome!" and in part because he was re-signed to a bad deal due to those expectations. As soon as his big brother was pushed out of the picture, Brent Sutter consistently and openly displayed his disdain for Stajan by burying him as far down on the depth chart as possible. So although he made 4.5M in real salary this year (more than any other Flames forward besides Iginla and Cammalleri), Stajan averaged just 13-minutes of ice time per game. That's in a season where the Flames lost well over 300-man games to injury keep in mind.

Not that Stajan has ever made a compelling case to be moved up the rotation. His possession and scoring rates were both mediocre this year even though he routinely played against nobodies. His scoring chance ratio was spot on at 50% - not bad, but uninspiring for a guy taking home a giant dollar figure and mostly playing against grinders and goons.

Like Moss or Backlund the year before, Stajan should have dominated other 3rd and 4th liners during his tour of duty at the bottom-end, but he simply didn't. Which is why both Moss and Backlund moved ahead of him - permanently - in the batting order. 

So even though Stajan had a nice little redemptive run near the end of the year (almost all percentages based), his season was still completely underwhelming. If the next CBA indeed carries a one-time, no penalty buy-out clause, the Flames should certainly consider using it to get rid of the last of Darryl's lingering errors.

When He's Good: There's no question Stajan has some offensive gifts. He can handle the puck relatively well and is a decent passer with good vision. Stajan can find guys in the crease and in traffic at high speeds and can sometimes pull a move in the neutral zone or at the opposing blueline that creates odd-man rushes.

When He Struggles: Few players on the Flames are weaker on the puck or more prone to giving it up along the boards or in the neutral zone during puck battles. Stajan also tends to get caught in vulnerable positions with his head down by opposing defenders a lot - he's taken Chuck Kobasew's long abandoned role as the token guy who gets absolutely run over at least once a week.

Stajan also can't shoot worth a damn. Both his wrist and slap shots are complete muffins, so as a result he doesn't tend to shoot very often. That's why Stajan also has one of the lowest shot volumes amongst regular skaters on the team - this year he garnered just 77 shots on net, for example. To put that in context, Mikael Backlund had 85 shots in 20 less games.

David Moss

32gp, 2g-7a-9pts

Grade: C

When he was healthy, Moss routinely skated with Jokinen and Glencross, a trio that was deployed as a shut-down line against other top units. He nevertheless finished with a team best raw corsi rate of +6.85/60, making it the 4th straight Moss has finished in the Flames top-3 in terms of possession metrics.

That said, the points weren't there for David. Even though he fired 82 shots in just 32 games, he finished with a SH% of 2.4.  He also struggled to stay healthy for the third season in a row, which is rapidly becoming a very real issue for the 30-year old. Moss has had endless problems staying off of IR and it may be those fears that lead the team to not re-sign the pending UFA this summer.

He's a useful, no-frills forward who can play up and down the roster and make whatever line he's on better. Problem is, he's 30, not a great bet to remain healthy and his scoring is a question mark.

When He's Good: There's nothing fancy about David Moss. All he does is drive play. Neither overly big nor fast, Moss is nevertheless a committed, hard working winger who can win his share of board battles and very rarely finds himself out of position or on the wrong end of a bad decision. Moss is adept at battling for position in front of the net and is very quietly the type of guy who can play 15 minutes in a game but end leading the team in shots on goal. Moss' biggest assets are his decision making, the fact that he never tries to play outside himself and his strength on the puck.

When He Struggles: Again, there's nothing fancy about David Moss. He doesn't have blazing speed, a notable shot or fancy moves. Moss moves north-south efficiently, but doesn't have the skill or creativity to do much beyond that. He's the type of guy who might make you groan if you see him on a break-away or if he is the skater with the puck during a two-on-one. Also, the aforementioned health troubles are probably now his biggest Achilles heel.

Tim Jackman

75gp, 1g-6a-7pts

Grade: C

Re-signing Tim Jackman was Jay Feaster's lone move at the trade deadline. The rugged fourth liner won his new contract despite a season where he fell to seven points after scoring 23 the year before. The terrible numbers were mostly due to some really rotten luck - Jackman had a PDO (on-ice SV%+SH%) of 93.4 this year, the 8th lowest of any forward who appeared in 30 or more games (related - Backlund was 11th at 94.8). So the low scoring totals and terrible -21 plus/minus can be somewhat excused as bad fortune.

That said, Jackman also didn't drive possession like he did last year either. That's probably due to his change in circumstances: in 2010-11, he spent a lot more time with Moss and Backlund rather kids like Horak and Bouma. In addition, Sutter actively sheltered the 4th line in 2010-11, giving them some of the easier zone start ratios on the team. Not so much this year with both Kostopolous and Jackman sitting below the 50% ratio.

The good news with Tim is he plays the role of enforcer while being better than your average goon. His relative possession rate was still on the positive side (+5.3/60), so although he's not a good bet to beat anyone into submission, he at least fills a the perceived need of a tough guy without being completely terrible at actually playing hockey. 

When He's Good: A tireless worker who will throw his body around and drop the gloves with anyone, Jackman is good enough to pin other fourth lines in their own end for entire shifts. He also isn't shy about driving the puck to the net, can skate pretty well for a big man and is hard to knock off the puck down low.

When He Struggles: Jackman doesn't have the hands or the puck handling skills to rise above the station of fourth liner, so he can be exposed if he gets stuck on the ice with top-9 type guys. He's also not a feared heavyweight, so even though he's game to fight against anybody, ackman mostly tries to just hang on against the league's true bruisers.

Tom Kostopolous

81gp, 4g-8a-12pts

Grade: C

Not much to say about Kostopolous. He is what he is: a consummate, professional, 4th line player. Kostoplous is tough enough to compete for the puck, drop the gloves on occasion and works hard enough to keep his place in the line-up. He remains a few strides ahead of kids trying to break into the league owing to his strength and veteran savvy, but at 33-years old is rapidly approaching a point where he will have to endlessly fight off usurpers from the minor leagues in order to keep his place on an NHL roster.

I assume the team will let Kostopolous walk this summer and will allow guys like Lance Bouma a shot at replacing him.

When He's Good: Kostopolous is big and a decent skater, so like Jackman he can play other 4th liners to even (at least) most nights. He can also moved up the depth chart when injuries demand it and kill penalties.

When He Struggles: Tom doesn't have the hands or the offensive acumen to be much more than replacement level in the NHL. His career high in points is 22 and that came in 2008-09.

Roman Horak

61gp, 3g-8a-11pts

Grade: B-

Horak surprised everyone by making the team out of training camp. Brent Sutter seemed to favor the kid's mix of speed, stick skills and defensive awareness which allowed him to beat out so many others for a spot on the roster.

As the season progressed, however, it was clear Horak was in over his head at the NHL level. Like so many other youngsters, he started losing puck battles all over the ice and was mostly detrimental in the defensive zone, even against 4th players. By March, Horak was seeing between 5-7 minutes a night before finally being sent back down to the Abbotsford for good.

When He's Good: Horak seems comfortable with the puck on his stick and isn't afraid to try to deke defenders or try to find teammates through traffic. He is also pretty quick and capable of skating the puck out of trouble areas.

When He Struggles: Horak's skills aren't high-end enough at this point to make up for his lack of experience or strength relative to established pros. At 20-years old, he is bound to lose more board battles than he wins and things tended to get very ugly in the Flames defensive end if the opposition managed to sustain pressure and get Horak running around. In the offensive end, more patience and a better shot will help him score a few more points down the road.

Others:

Lance Bouma (C+) - Fast skating and hard hitting, Bouma looks like a prototypical "energy player" who could develop into a checker/PK specialist with experience and an improvement in hockey IQ. Probably no real offensive upside however.

Paul Byron (C) - Agile and with decent puck skills, Byron is also pretty tough to knock down even though he's one of the smallest guys on the ice. He didn't make much of an impact in many of his contests in the show, however, and his scoring totals in the AHL weren't terribly impressive either.

Blair Jones (B-) - The former Lightning center became a favorite of Brent Sutter's right away. He was deployed heavily on the PK and started to take on tough, checking-line center type responsibilities before being injured in February. A decent skater who has a heavy shot, Jones makes for an effective forechecker. He's never going to be a scorer, however, and needs to greatly improve his face-off abilities (42.4%) if he's to be much more than a 4th liner.

Krys Kolanos (B-) - The Abbotsford Heat's MVP had a tough time translating his scoring at the NHL level. In 13-games, Kolanos only managed one point, although he drove both possession and scoring numbers at a better than average rate. Kolanos managed to generate at least one 10-bell chance per game, but could never seem to finish them off. 

He's over 30 years old and isn't the best skater, so Kolanos probably won't rise above "13th forward" at best in the NHL. That said, he's probably as good or better than some guys regularly drawing pay checks in the league.

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 Robert Vollman
April 23 2012, 12:11PM
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Tom Kostopoulos won the 3rd fight of his career this year. He still has the worst won-loss record of any NHL pugilist (minimum 20 fights), but at least he's working his way towards the pack.

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#2 Gange
April 23 2012, 12:18PM
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Seems like a fair assessment.

Man if a great team could be made out of only 3rd and 4th liners, the flames would have another cup to celebrate.

I say we're looking at a 3 year refresh. Next year doesn't look like it will be appreciably better but there's enough to keep me positive for now.

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#3 Rain Dogs
April 23 2012, 01:01PM
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These marks are not realistic. Backlund the same "B-" as Jokinen?

Not. Even. Close.

Just to add. Jokinen last year was a "B" and Backlund a "C+". Backlund was better? Jokinen was worse?

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#4 backburner
April 23 2012, 01:11PM
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If Feaster is seriously looking to make changes... Stajan has got to go!! Enough is enough... Buy him out, Demote him to the minors, or trade him if you can... but DO something!

I do hope TK comes back... watching him this last season I did appreciate his ability to try to stir things up or to try to get the team going... no complaints about his work ethic.. good fourth liner!

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#5 backburner
April 23 2012, 01:13PM
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@Rain Dogs

Why would say Joker deserves a better grade?

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#6 backburner
April 23 2012, 01:22PM
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I do think the Flames have done well with Backlunds developement, but it's time he starts putting up some points. I think Sutter really drilled it into him to be defense-first kind of forward.. but I hope the next coach will encourage him to drive to the net a little more.

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#7 Rain Dogs
April 23 2012, 01:29PM
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@backburner

Well, what are we grading on?.. maybe that's the important question.

Solely, Corsi and Zone start and nothing else?

What would Backlund have to do to get an "A"? Score 7 goals and play 60 games?

I agree that if we want to look at summarizing the enitrety of a player in one "grade" metric it's got to be more than goals and assists, but it's also got to be more than corsi and zone start.

What would Stajan have to do to get a "C-"? Score 20 goals and get 60 pts? or just have a 45% zone start?

Lee Stempniak had the softest zone start of ANY regular player... 53.2%. He was 8th of forwards in Qual comp -0.037. 9th in Corsi REL QualComp (.437) according to behindthenet.ca. He got 28 pts and was a "B". Better than Jokinen who faced the toughest comp of any player .113, had the second best CORSI Rel QoC 2.056 and got 61 pts?

Maybe I'm looking at better/different/wrong numbers? Who knows?

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#8 SmellOfVictory
April 23 2012, 02:27PM
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I can see the argument for Jokinen getting a better (or more likely, equivalent) grade. Backlund, however, has absolutely been better this season.

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#9 BigJ
April 23 2012, 02:44PM
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@Rain Dogs Kent stated in the first of these player grade articles that "Top 6" forwards and bottom 6 forwards would be graded differently, because on a team each group serves a different purpose.

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#10 RexLibris
April 23 2012, 02:56PM
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So mediocrity in the top six and mediocrity in the bottom six. I'm going to hazard a guess and say that the same overall theme will carry into the evaluation of the defensive corps and goaltending (except perhaps for Irving as his expecations may have been lower and his performance, Boston aside, was encouraging).

I don't want to pre-empt Kent here, but should fans draw the conclusion that mediocre play from all four forward lines, as well as league-average goaltending from Kiprusoff, is a contributing factor in the Flames essentially ending up just shy of the exact middle of the league?

I have a question for Flames fans, somewhat unrelated to this article: If Doug Wilson were to start taking apart the Sharks, do you believe that Feaster (and by extension King and Edwards) would be interested in acquiring Joe Thornton if the price were something like this year's first round pick, Micheal Ferland, and Laurent Brossoit? I know there are circumstances (NMCs) that would come into play, and I'm not asking if Flames fans want the trade, but rather if any here believe it is something which Feaster would pursue.

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#11 Bean-counting cowboy
April 23 2012, 02:57PM
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We should trade two of our three 3rd lines for two top line players, or even one of our 3 3rd lines for one top line player!

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#12 Rain Dogs
April 23 2012, 03:01PM
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BigJ wrote:

@Rain Dogs Kent stated in the first of these player grade articles that "Top 6" forwards and bottom 6 forwards would be graded differently, because on a team each group serves a different purpose.

"As with the big guns, my grades are a subjective weighting of output, underlying numbers and expectations based on age, role and pay-grade."

Are we not allowed to scrutinize? Can't we discuss vs our own opinions? If it's such a subjective one way conversation that it's meaningless... then it's meaningless. I don't think Kent wants that.

I, personally, could say:

"the players I like and want on next years team are all A's and the ones I don't like are all D's"

It wouldn't mean anything to anyone but me, but at least it'd be clear what I'm telling you. I'm not sure why there would ever be resistance to critical analysis. I'm trying to understand against my analysis of expectations and performance. So, I'm thinking... why am I so far off base?

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#13 SmellOfVictory
April 23 2012, 03:09PM
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Rex: The main killer for the Flames this season has been a combination of a weak top 6 F and top 4 D. Despite these depth rankings, the Flames depth is significantly better than a lot of other teams. And Kiprusoff, this season, has been much better than league average.

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#14 nolan moore
April 23 2012, 03:12PM
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Don't bring back stemp, comeau or kostopolos. Find younger guys who want to play. Stemp is like bouquet with less upside. Comeau is a flash in the pan. Kost, already have lots of 4th liners. Plus his actions when a fan threw jersey on ice was unacceptable.

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#15 Gange
April 23 2012, 03:15PM
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@RexLibris

Actually The bottom two lines were pretty effective. The second was good at times. The first line was generally mediocre.

I don't see that Calgary has what it would take to trade for Thornton, short of emptying the cupboards for a player that is probably coming onto the downward side of his career.

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#16 loudogYYC
April 23 2012, 03:22PM
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@RexLibris

Giving up that much for a 33 year old Thornton would be a terrible idea. Considering it's gonna take the Flames a solid 3 years to put some talent together and the fact he's a UFA after next season. Not to mention paying more for him now than they paid Boston 7 years ago.

If anything, I think the Sharks would dangle Marleau first, and it's pretty clear he's washed up. The only guy out of San Jose I'd go after is Torrey Mitchell as a UFA.

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#17 Graham
April 23 2012, 04:29PM
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You have to rate the players against the league as a whole, not against the teams statistical database.

Bryon was at best a fourth line player, so he should be evaluated against other fourth line players. Bryon would rank below average as fourth line talent, so his rating should be in 'D' to 'D-' range. The rating for an average player being C / C+.

Backlund shouldn't rank a B-, much more like a 'C' and so on.

The grades appear far to generous...

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#18 Chri$
April 23 2012, 04:30PM
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loudogYYC wrote:

Giving up that much for a 33 year old Thornton would be a terrible idea. Considering it's gonna take the Flames a solid 3 years to put some talent together and the fact he's a UFA after next season. Not to mention paying more for him now than they paid Boston 7 years ago.

If anything, I think the Sharks would dangle Marleau first, and it's pretty clear he's washed up. The only guy out of San Jose I'd go after is Torrey Mitchell as a UFA.

But isn't what Rex proposed more or less the same of what we all expect for Iggy? Don't get me wrong, I don't want the FLames to mortgage the furute any longer. However, Most people think it'd be fair to get a 1st round pick, a roster player, and a prospect for Iggy. To be fair, what Rex said would be more of a bargain for the Flames in acquiring Thornton than what another team would be giving up to acquire Iggy.

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#19 RexLibris
April 23 2012, 05:14PM
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Thornton has two years remaining on his contract at a $7 million cap hit. Acquiring Thornton would allow Feaster, King and Edwards to essentially say that they are going to spend the next two years "going for it". Kiprusoff has two more years, Iginla would have to sign an extension, but a trade for Thornton would probably convince him to do that. They would be able then to have Cammalleri centre for Baertschi on the second line and could attempt to re-sign Jokinen as a 3rd line centre for two more years (yes, I know about Jokinen wanting a longer term for financial security, but for the sake of the argument...).

I'm not advocating this idea, because at this point Wilson hasn't even broached the idea publicly of a rebuild in San Jose, but I think it is a question that Flames fans have to ask themselves. If only because of the franchise's stated goal of taking this group and pursuing a championship for as long as possible.

Thanks for bringing up the trade value, Chri$. In suggesting a price I purposely avoided the easy names (Stajan, Baertschi, Bouwmeester, etc) because those are either unavailable or unmoveable.

As for Marleau, I don't doubt that he is offered up for trade, but I suspect it would be to a team looking to slot him in as a depth scoring winger, not a centrepiece. He has shown, repeatedly now, that he cannot shoulder that load.

@Gange, my impression is that the bottom two lines were entirely that: effective, but not good enough to complement the inadequecies of the top six players for the duration of the season. Mediocrity, in this case, means exactly what I think the Flames have become. A team that can beat any other team if they play a very controlled and disciplined game to the coach's instructions. They can't shirk on responsibilities because they don't have the talent to get by, and too often their work ethic isn't uniform in the roster and they fall to harder working teams.

@SOV, Kiprusoff's save % this past season was .921 which was right in the range for average goaltenders with his number of games, from what I can tell. He did more to keep Calgary close to the playoff hunt than any other team member, but it was still, in the end, an average result. Don't misunderstand what I say to mean that I feel he had a particularly bad year or is a run-of-the-mill goalie. He gives the Flames a better chance to win on any given night, than any other player on that team in my recent memory (Iginla included).

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#20 Kevin R
April 23 2012, 06:35PM
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@Chris: Difference is, we are talking about trading Iggy & Kipper to contenders who have good talent who hasnt even had a whiff of the NHL but are ready & a 1st rounder. Calgary in under any stretch of any kind of imagination is a Joe Thornton away from being a contender. So the trade is a non starter, even for the likes of Feaster, King or Ownership.

Buddy & I were debating where Iggy would fit & he made some real valid points for Iggy to the Oilers for the 1st over all(Yapukov). Before Rex & other Oiler posters trash it, here is the rationale: 1/ Iggy would be home & near his ailing Grandmother 2/Oilers have Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Gagner but they need that veterean leader who will stick up for these kids. For them to see a future HOF drop gloves & get pissed & defend them is a huge character builder 3/Yes, Yapukov is the best player coming out of this draft, he is Russian & we have seen how that goes, he has had injuries & he is still unproven at the NHL level. The risk is all Calgary's. The Oilers get a top sniper to lead the kids to their peak. Oilers with a few other moves could put a few defensive pieces together & may very well threaten for the playoffs. The lottery they won literally gets them Iggy. I had to admit there was logic to deal like that that would be beneficial. What seems like an overpayment by the oilers, really is it? Maybe 3 years from now Yapukov could be phenomenal, then maybe not. Maybe next Oilers challenge for playoffs with Iggy instead of continuing with their long rebuild. Just an interesting take.

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#21 RexLibris
April 23 2012, 07:59PM
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@KevinR

I'm not going to trash your trade idea. It is the same as what I suggested in the Thornton idea. Its an idea, a starting point for discussion and debate.

I get your point on Iginla providing veteran leadership and being a role model. Those points are certainly valid within the context of some of Iginla's time in Calgary.

Conversely, those same two topics are often brought up in terms of Iginla's potential shortcomings. The veracity of either of those qualities being either a strength or weakness of his is something best left to those both with and against whom he plays. I don't think there is a stat that can measure it and a fan's perspective is inevitably skewed to their own experience.

However, I will make this point about Yakupov's value and risk. Yakupov's value is in his potential, that which he may yet accomplish and the performance that he may yet contribute. There is some degree of Iginla's value that is in the past tense. This means that one has a better idea of what to expect from Iginla in the short term than Yakupov in that same time span.

However, the expectations for Yakupov over the next five years are more likely to offer a far better return than Iginla. Beyond that point is almost immaterial to the argument as it is unlikely (but never impossible) that Iginla plays past 40 years old. I say almost immaterial because one cannot compare a player who is playing to one who is retired when discussing their value as a playing asset. It does, however, weigh in to the position of the team that employs the two players.

At this time there is more value, in the Oilers' situation, in keeping the pick that could become Yakupov than in trading it for a 35 year old perennial 30 goal right winger with playoff experience. For another team, whose position is one of being closer to a championship (as in, that very season) then their valuation of Iginla relative to a prospect who may be two or three years from achieving real success may differ greatly.

No team is likely to exchange Iginla for a star player whose performance vastly outstrips their financial cost, though. That has become apparent under the new economic realities of the current (and likely new) CBA.

In many ways, the discussion and the logic that you and Mr. Buddy (I use that same term all the time, so no offense) were using speaks volumes about the difference in perspectives and philosophies between the fan base of the Oilers and that of the Flames.

This isn't meant to be derogatory.

I mean that Flames fans value consistency, predictability and "a sure thing" whereas Oiler fans have become accustomed to embracing a riskier style, of late. Put it this way, Would Flames fans move Iginla to a team for a 1st round pick in 2013, knowing that that pick could be anywhere from 1st to 30th overall? Probably not. Oiler fans might be willing to entertain the idea if it meant getting a return for an expiring UFA. The fans in Edmonton have had to adopt this strategy because since the team entered the NHL they have routinely been forced to sell off star player after star player for prospects, picks, and sometimes flat-out cash. Through all of this the fans have come to look forward to the influx of talent, though not always without some healthy cynicism. Flames fans have had a remarkably consistent roster core over the last decade and longer and as such may be risk-averse in trading away the final remaining pieces of that core. More so, I would think, given their more recent returns on those trades (Phaneuf especially, and Regehr to a lesser extent).

This in not meant to be an opinion on political ideology or civic temperament, just an observation of the predilections of variant fan bases who have had very different recent experiences.

Anyway, what I'm ultimately trying to say is that it's a case of apples and oranges. Flames fans are totally justified in looking at that trade and seeing the merit of it. It puts the greater risk/reward on the part of the Flames while providing the Oilers with what Flames fans perceive as some of the more pressing needs of a young roster (probably along the lines of a Guerin/Recchi/Andreychuk influence).

Oiler fans will look at it and tear it to pieces saying that the Oilers will have, in three years, a player who could be every bit as good as Iginla and provide enough scoring depth to be the envy of the league while Iginla will be finishing his career as a complementary scorer or powerplay specialist (I'm paraphrasing fan response here).

I don't think either side will necessarily be able to fully appreciate the arguments of the other.

That being said, it does add to the conversation: is Iginla worth a first overall pick when the concensus prospect at that position has the portfolio of Yakupov?

My opinion is that Iginla is not, and in this case, and almost regardless of which team held that pick, of equal value.

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#22 RexLibris
April 23 2012, 08:00PM
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Wow, was that long.

I wonder how many cups of coffee that'll take VF to get through? If I keep posting here Kent is going to have to start paying him in Tim Hortons rechargeable gift cards.

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#23 Kevin R
April 23 2012, 10:26PM
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I realize that on the long term & if Yapukov turned into the player many hope & expect, Flames win that all day long. As much as you dont feel Iggy is worth that number 1 overall to anyone, there will be fans that would be furious if Feaster were to trade Iggy to the Oilers for potential. I for one never thought Iggy would garner that kind of pick just because any team with that number 1 pick are just starting the rebuild. Oilers, already have 3, & I clarify that by saying Eberle has turned out as good as any 1st overall pick & I would take him over Yapukov all day long. How many teams can say that in the last decade. I guess it comes down to expectation & I know Rex, you are a very logical well thought hockey mind. You dont let being partial to your team let you think from the heart. But are you an Oiler season ticket holder? If you were or better put, how many season ticket holders & even the owner for that matter think losing for another 2-3 years so you can ooze in early picks and prospects? At some point, I would say stick your potential where the sun dont shine, I want a winning team. You see things more logically & subsequently more patiently. I dont think that can be said for all Oiler fans. 2-3 more pieces with the youth core you have & you should be playoff bound & making some noise like Ottawa are this year. The Dallas stars did basically the very same thing with trading Iggy for Nieuy & so did Colorado trade Regehr for Fleury. That piece to win a cup. Sometimes I think some of you have suffered so long that you are now waiting for the perfect team with all the same aged young guys peaking & dominating the game & winning cup after cup. Not sure that can ever happen. 2 reasons, the cap creates parity & everything equal, you can only afford so many top line forwards & expect to compensate & keep them all happy with role & ice time, kind of the Jordon Staal syndrome. How long do you think he wants to ride in Crosby & Malkins shadow & be the best 3rd line centre in the game? 2/ dont you think if a player in the next 3 years could be instrumental in getting this youthful core one cup not be considered successful & worth the gamble. I just agreed with buddy that the Oilers time should be focused now especially if I was dishing out the dollars I pay for my season tickets. I also wonder how much longer Katz wants to get ribbed for owning the worst team in the league. There is a lot of pride amongst the owners.

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#24 slats
April 23 2012, 11:22PM
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Graham wrote:

You have to rate the players against the league as a whole, not against the teams statistical database.

Bryon was at best a fourth line player, so he should be evaluated against other fourth line players. Bryon would rank below average as fourth line talent, so his rating should be in 'D' to 'D-' range. The rating for an average player being C / C+.

Backlund shouldn't rank a B-, much more like a 'C' and so on.

The grades appear far to generous...

I agree only 5 players with a failing grade? Have another glass of the Feaster koolaid Ken or maybe it's time to tweak the "spreadsheet"!

These are grades are a joke.

Ask the players and I bet another 5 failing grades would be added.

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#25 Rain Dogs
April 24 2012, 09:18AM
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@RexLibris

"Kiprusoff's save % this past season was .921 which was right in the range for average goaltenders with his number of games, from what I can tell."

Did you even look up the numbers? That's a serious question. Kipper's raw sv% .921% is 9th for goalies who played over 30games, and 5th for goalies playing over 60.

It was better than Tim Thomas, Tomas Vokoun and Roberto Luongo... the three highest sv% goalies since the lockout.

This "average" goalie sv% business that is floated around here is about the stupidest, least grounded in reality comment that I consistently read.

It'd be like saying... the average top player scored 35 goals this year. So Iginla with 32 is a below average goal scorer. We're playing 7 million for below average goal scoring! (Nevermind the dude has scored 516 career goals... he's obviously worse than average!)

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#26 Drewski
April 24 2012, 10:31AM
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@RexLibris , love your two cents...living in Shelbyville myself, you hear a lot of unrealistic garbage about the Oiler's future (Not unlike what comes out of Calgary in regards to our present, although that seems to finally be changing). You seem to have a solid grasp of reality, which is commendable for an Oil fan. That being said, your posts are about as concise as a English Lit. textbook. Chop it down! (But keep up the good work).

I like your idea about Thornton, but it would have been a great move three years ago. You know SJ would need some solid/young pieces in return in order to move Big Joe. We just don't have the organizational depth to even consider a trade like that. In the end, I dont think the return justifies what we would have to give up (given our current state of affairs).

MY two cents? We need SPEED, and forwards who will work as hard in our zone as they do on the rush. If anything, watching the first round of the playoffs has made me realize just how far the flames have fallen. Kipper would have had to stand on his end for us to even have a sniff at a series win.

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#27 RexLibris
April 24 2012, 10:49AM
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@Kevin R

Okay, so for Drewski, I'm going to try and make this one a little more concise.

I don't see the Oilers finishing in the bottom five next season (barring outrageous injuries) and so this year is likely the last time they'll have a first overall or perhaps (and this is a leap of faith) even a lottery pick for a while. My expectation is that the team probably ends up drafting somewhere around 8th to 10th overall next June, perhaps lower.

To that end I think that the Oilers feel they need to capitalize on this pick and then find their remaining needed pieces through a combination of free agency and the development of their drafted prospects.

No, I'm not a season-ticket holder, but that argument came up this season when a fan who is called in to 630 CHED and said that because of his financial commitment to the team, his voice ought to carry more weight than "those patient fans who don't spend a cent".

I think fans, and the team, feel that there are more holes than can be filled by just adding two or three star players. This team needed improvement in every category. You're observation about some fans waiting for the perfect team are good, but I'm not sure if its perfectionism or just cynicism that not all of these players will actually end up being as good as some people think.

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#28 RexLibris
April 24 2012, 10:58AM
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@Rain Dogs

Fair statement. I see where you are coming from and I've read some of your other comments about the statistical analyses being offered on the Nations.

I did look up the numbers, but I have to place them in the context of the other information that I have on save %'s in the league today and work off of the opinion and analysis offered up by those who are better at it than I.

This is probably the source of our disagreement.

From my personal point of view, I would suggest that had Kiprusoff been playing the last five years in an Eastern market he would be as popular and well-regarded as any of the Leafs' backup goaltenders (which is to say, he'd be a superstar with his own fashion line). While I think that his career is in the proverbial gloaming, were I picking a goaltender for a playoff game today, I'd much rather have him than Luongo or Vokoun. Perhaps even Thomas.

That being said, when I scanned the save %s of veteran goalies around the league, his number was in the middle range of the numbers I saw. So perhaps his save% is the mode or median rather than the mean.

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#29 RexLibris
April 24 2012, 11:06AM
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@Drewski

Thanks, I'll try and keep this one short.

Some people in Edmonton were saying that the Oilers could get into the playoffs last year, but those were the same people who said Horcoff was the best 5-3 centre in the league. They are fans who, as Kent is fond of saying, can't see the forest for the trees. Most Oiler fans were not that delusional.

Next season, most fans expect a finish around the 20s, around the Colorado, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay range. Anyone who says higher is likely high themselves or writes for a hockey rumour blog.

Re: Thornton, I wasn't advocating the idea. It just seemed that, if he were made available, it seemed like the kind of thing Feaster may have pursued. Acquiring Thornton would fit into all of King and Feaster's talking points about "the now" and "a big centre" and "making a splash", etc etc.

I do think the Flames have enough to offer (the assets I proposed) and while it would re-exhaust their system, I was only asking if this is something Flames fans would either like, or even agree that they could expect, to see.

The Flames need speed, but not just Cogliano-speed. They'll need some speedy guys who can actually do something with the puck.

So, Gaunce or Collberg then at the Flames draft? Speed, skill, size in Gaunce.

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#30 loudogYYC
April 24 2012, 04:14PM
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@RexLibris

I agree, Flames need speed. I don't really think the issue is individual speed, but team speed. The right mix of athleticism, skill and HOCKEY IQ while employing an offensive, possession-first system would accomplish that IMO.

Thornton coming to Calgary would be sweet to watch. I'm sure he'd make Cammalleri a 35 + goal scorer and that would be awesome but that would just push the Flames further from the bottom of the standings, where they probably belong until they finally clean up the Darryl Sutter mess.

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