Flames 2012 Free Agency Primer

Kent Wilson
June 30 2012 10:49AM

 

 

With only about 24 hours before the bidding begins in earnest, the Flames have rendered a lot of our earlier speculation moot with all of their pre-frenzy wheeling and dealing. The addition of Cevenka and Wideman plus the re-signings of Sarich, Jones and Stempniak has plugged most of the existing holes on the roster and whittled the club's cap space down to just over $8 million. Once Mikael Backlund's deal is done, the Flames will have 12 forwards, 8 defenders (at least) and about $6.5M to work with. If you want to pencil Sven Baertschi on the big club (and I think most do), that means Calgary has 13 forwards in place, and about $5M in cap space.

Meaning, absent some kind of swap, this is more or less the team is going to battle with this upcoming season.

There is perhaps flexibility and money to add one more forward. Lance Bouma is still on his two-way, ELC so he could easily be bumped if Calgary lands another top-six type forward. I previously made a case for Alex Semin, but it's unlilely the Flames will take a chance on him. They also clearly don't have enough money to afford Zach Parise, so he's out of the mix as well.

Here is a list of guys who the Flames mught give a call to tomorrow.

UFA Forward Options

PA Parenteau: A late bloomer who scored for years in the AHL, Parenteau is 29 and only caught on with the Islandersfull time in 2010-11. He scored as many points as Jarome Iginla last season (67) playing with John Tavares and Matt Moulson for the Islanders.

Parenteau's numbers are good across the board, but there's a very real danger they are completely circumstance dependent. Tavares has become a heavy hitter, Moulson is no slouch and they were given a very favorable situation in terms of zone starts (and because Frans Neilsen takes on the big guns on the Island). 

Parenteau has some offensive talent for sure, but it's an open question whether he would be able to replicate his results here in Calgary without Tavares and Friesen.

Daniel Winnik: Not a top-six scorer or PP guy at all, what Winnik would be for the Flames is more a David Moss replacement. He's quietly played the toughs for years and moved the puck in the right direction, so Winnik could form part of a high-end shut down line if he was added. Fast, strong, tough to move off the puck, Winnik plays and simple, mean-and-potatoes game. He won't up his line-mates scoring, but he'll make life easier for them and everyone else on the roster if he's used properly.

Jiri Hudler: He looked lost for awhile after returning from the KHL, but regained some of his form last year in Detroit scoring 25 goals and 50 points. Of course, playing in Detroit with guys like Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Franzen and Datsyuk moving mountains, one can probably shave 25% off his scoring and effectiveness in less pleasant environs like Calgary. He's mostly a middle rottion scorer who will get exposed if things get tough.

Brad Boyes: Remember when Brad Boyes scored 43 goals? I don't even think he does at this point. Boyes is an object lesson in the fact that goal scoring can be fleeting in the NHL. He had two bumper years in St. Louis but has since become an okay, 40-point forward. He was more or less and third line option for Buffalo last season and his results were...well not bad in that role. But not great either.

Jaromir Jagr: Cevenka's buddy has been a popular rumor for awhile. Jagr is still as strong as an ox and difficult to knock off the puck in the offensive zone. He scored 19-goals and 54-points for the stacked Philadelphia Flyers and his coach made sure to use him almost exclusively in the offensive zone with a zone start of 59.9% and only middling competition.

Jagr would be a splashy move, but at 41 years old is probably only a soft minutes/PP guy at this point. In short, he and Jarome would be fighting for the same minutes on the club. 

Brandon Prust: Third times a charm? The twice over former Flame developed into a bit more than a pugilist in the Big Apple. He started just 33% of his shifts in the offensive zone last year and was looked upon for other defensive duties like penalty killing. Prust will still drop the gloves, but he's also a functional 3rd or 4th liner.

Kyle Wellwood: After years of jokes about his lackluster physique and commitment to the game, Wellwood has turned out to be a surprisingly effective depth player. Last year, he had the second highest relative possession rate on the Jets and the second highest even strength points rate. Of course, he also started every other shift at the good end of the ice and faced nobodies, but I did make sure to say "depth player".

Shane Doan: The Coyotes long time Captain is finally going to escape the desert. He's 36 years old, but has been a steady 50-60 point option for years now. The risk being a sudden drop-off in performance thanks to his age, plus the whole "over 35" contract clause (where the cap number sticks to the team like glue) if he sholuld ask for any sort of term.

Doan is decent, but with his age and risk factors it would make a lot more sense for him to sig a one or two year deal in a market where the chances are winning in the short-term are much higer.

Other players of interest: Dustin Penner, Jordan Tootoo, Andrei Kostitsyn, Ryan Smyth.

Conclusion

As you can see, the options up front are almost all middle-tier forwards of varying quality. They are the kinds of players who can add a few goals to a club's differential if deployed properly, but aren't going to single-handedly right any ships. There isn't a guy on the list I would personally choose to commit any kind of major term or dollars to.

We'll keep an eye on the proceedings this weekend and update you on any Flames moves ASAP. We can also run a UFA live chat tomorrow afternoon if enough folks are interested.

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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#51 Baalzamon
June 30 2012, 08:35PM
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@MC Hockey

"Possible need 2: Top 4 Stay-at-home Defenseman: They try to trade JayBo for someone like a Barrett Jackman in St Louis. Prediction: Does not happen and either Derek Smith or Corey Sarich (ouch!) get top 4 minutes playing with Bouwmeester on 2nd pairing while Wideman and Gio is first pairing."

forgetting about Butler bro. No way does Smith or Sarich move ahead of him on the depth chart (especially since it DIDN'T HAPPEN last season).

second, moving Bouwmeester down to 2nd pair in favour of Giordano makes NO sense. The only way Gio plays #1 pair is if he's on Bouwmeester's left side. Personally, I think Gio should get offensive starts with Wideman while Bouw and Butler get roasted by the heavies again. Or, Wideman can play 2nd pair with Butler. Either way. But NO WAY Bouwmeester moves down from the #1 D spot.

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#52 Baalzamon
June 30 2012, 08:36PM
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the forgotten man wrote:

Inconsequential...

HOT: Quebec High School Circuit

NOT: Major Junior

LOL!!!!

well, Barkov plays in Finland, so maybe they'll like that...

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#53 Franko J
June 30 2012, 08:47PM
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@ Brent G

To further your point, I would like to know statistically since the lockout how many free agents {big named} have contributed to winning a Stanley Cup. Look at LA their two biggest free agent from past few seasons pickups were Scuderi and Mitchell. I firmly believe with free agency a team tends to severely overpay for value. Ironically most of the available free agents starting tomorrow are not considered top 6 forward or top 4 Dmen. Most are pluggers and bottom 6 and second tier Dmen which Calgary has already.

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#54 JayD54
June 30 2012, 09:59PM
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While I agree with the premise that the acquisition of Wideman and the re-signing of Sarich, Stempniak, Comeau and Jones pretty much fill out a similar looking line up to that which we saw last year, I disagree that what we see is what will start the new season.

According to Capgeek, the Flames have 21 roster players signed with some $62 million committed to them. But that does NOT include RFAs Backlund, Irving, Byron and Aliu nor "non-roster" players Carson or Wilson who will have one way NHL contracts for '12-'13. In addition, it would not include Baertschi or Nemisz or Kolanos or any others who may earn promotion from Abbotsford. So, I believe that the capspace available to Feaster et al is dramatically less than $8.2 million, if anything at all.

I do believe that the Feaster/Hartley combination will see a meritocracy team to start the year. Feaster showed last year that he isn't afraid to bury a non-performer on a one way deal in the minors.

What this does, of course, is point to cap clearing transaction(s). Feaster has been quick to refer to the accumulation of 'assets'. With the above outline of NHL and near NHL guys, he now has them in quantity, although perhaps not quality.

I, for one, am curious as to how he manages them. I do think Feaster and Company acknowledge the status quo is unacceptable and, as a result, do expect a number of transactions to raise the quality of the roster for next season.

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#55 JayD54
June 30 2012, 10:04PM
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Oh, and I will add that I would not be in favor of re-visiting Prust or adding Winnik.

Jay McClement, ex of Colorado, would be my choice for a hard-nosed, more talented addition to the bottom 6.

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#56 clyde
June 30 2012, 10:05PM
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@RexLibris

This roster will not make the playoffs. We will pick 10-12 in the draft. Check that. 22 in the draft as well as 47 but will get a great prospect playing in the WaWa Commercial league who is the next Gary Roberts and who wouldn't have lasted any longer.

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#57 MC Hockey
June 30 2012, 11:03PM
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Hey Baalzamon,

Nope, I am not forgetting about Butler and no need for capital letters please. Smith played better than Butler before getting injured thus....

After about Nov 1, I see Butler in bottom pairing actually as Flames either want more mobility (Smith) or more toughness (Sarich) in the top 4 than the "just OK at everything" that Butler brings.

Obviously if Flames keep JayBo, Gio, and Wideman (which they will), those are three of the top 4 guys. But...the last of the Top 4 is open for competition. I see Smith and regrettably Sarich ahead of Butler over time because of their more obvious skills sets. We already have 2 generally proficient players in the Top 4 which is Gio and JayBo.

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#58 clyde
June 30 2012, 11:14PM
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@MC Hockey

As a Flame fan, I shudder at the thought of Sarich in our top 6 let alone 4. As someone who would like to see a top 5 draft, I say, put him on the pp and play him 25 min a night. What a mess this organization is. Sorry for the negativity but this is 4 years of this crap. Who is calling the shots? Will it take Edmonton coming in here and kicking the crap out of us a couple of times to force changes? If so, changes are coming soon.

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#59 everton fc
June 30 2012, 11:19PM
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@JayD54:

Didn't think of McClement. Except he's a centre who shoots left. Where would he fit?

I am not a JBO fan, but I think of we want to be competitive next season, we keep him. Bouwmeester-Giordano-Wideman-Butler-Brodie-Smith/Sarich/??... "On paper", not a bad top 7...

Where we remain weak is in size and grit. The Kings won the Cup with size and grit. A lot of people think it doesn't matter - they got on a role.

I think it matters...

We need a 2nd line RW. Obviously. Of the UFA's, Semin is the best choice. But that 2nd line would look "soft". On Paper.

We are small down the middle. I see Backlund's days numbered. We could use a gritty centre on that 3rd line and if at all possible, a big, gritty, skilled 2nd line RW, which will only happend via the trade route.

Our 4th line could be built to both score and add grit. Jones is in place. I like Bouma, but he's not proven. Who doesn't like Jackman - except he can't score. Again, Comeau seems the better fit on the right-sdie of the 4th line...

Unless Comeau centres the 3rd line, and both Stajan and Backlund are moved.

Or, if the team plans to place Stempniak on the right-side of the 2nd line, which wouldn't surprise me, and which wouldn't help us make the playoffs.

Who knows, hey?! It's fun to guess. Play armchair GM.

It's why we're all fans.

@Rex - I think your Oilers are very close to breaking into the top 6. I really do. One more d-man, and some depth. I think they should re-sign Smyth somehow, and make him an assistant coach in the next year or two.

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#60 Baalzamon
June 30 2012, 11:27PM
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@MC Hockey

Smith better than Butler? ha. no. talk to me when Smith plays against top line forwards with defensive starts.

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#61 Parallex
July 01 2012, 12:07AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Smith better than Butler? ha. no. talk to me when Smith plays against top line forwards with defensive starts.

Yeah, Echo that... Smith did better then I thought he would (which as a career AHL guy to that point wasn't high) but he did playing initially mostly against scrubs. Have him take on the kind of workload that Butler had to take on and he'd likely just get smeared.

Not to say that Butler is a legit top pairing guy (he's not) but he's better then Smith. That's one of the reasons that I'm happy about the Wideman signing... Butler can (and should) move down a level with Gio or Wideman taking his spot... and against slightly less worldbeating oppo he'll do much better.

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#62 RexLibris
July 01 2012, 12:34AM
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clyde wrote:

This roster will not make the playoffs. We will pick 10-12 in the draft. Check that. 22 in the draft as well as 47 but will get a great prospect playing in the WaWa Commercial league who is the next Gary Roberts and who wouldn't have lasted any longer.

HAPPY CANADA DAY!

Sorry, I just thought you needed some cheering up.

;-)

I understand your frustration and don't think that I'm trying to blow smoke here, either.

The Flames are a funny team. They try like heck and it seems sometimes they get where they want to go when they stop wanting to get there. Kind of zen, almost, if it wasn't so hard on their fans.

So do you have less faith in the scouting team this year than last? It seems so, and I'm guessing this is fed partially by a frustration with Weisbrod and Feaster and a belief that they have squandered opportunities (last summer's Iginla-to-LA trade talk, the trade deadline this year, the most recent draft).

I get the impression you aren't happy with the Flames draft this year, so let me tell you what I think about the Oilers draft and it may make you feel a little better. This year probably sucked.

The Oilers took a reach pick with Moroz, and while I'm glad we have him, Frk and Thrower would've been perhaps wiser long-term choices. In fact, this year could see the Oilers only find one NHL player in the entire crop. The draft year was so bad they were taking 20-year-olds who'd been passed over. That isn't necessarily a good sign.

For the record, I don't see the Flames finishing in the 22nd overall spot. It'll either be up or down, I believe, but not a holding pattern. Things will either improve and give management a false sense of accomplishment, or the bottom will fall out and Flames fans will start throwing their jerseys on the ice en masse.

Personally I would hope for the latter because I believe it needs to happen and the sooner the better for fans of the team. Not to mention, it'll give Kent no end of content and readership.

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#63 RexLibris
July 01 2012, 12:43AM
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@everton fc

@evertonfc

"@Rex - I think your Oilers are very close to breaking into the top 6. I really do. One more d-man, and some depth. I think they should re-sign Smyth somehow, and make him an assistant coach in the next year or two."

Thanks for the faith. We'll see. The depth is coming. Pitlick, Hamilton, Hartikainen, Pelss, Reider, Gernat, Marincin, Klefbom, Musil, Simpson, and Paajarvi all need time.

I think the Oilers are going to move a body for a defenseman. Probably targeting Columbus. The common refrain is Hemsky for Methot or Tyutin. Not sure about that.

As for Smyth, I'd rather sign Doan and ask him to swing between 2nd and 3rd line LW. Smyth might be a good coach, maybe. But he'd have to do a lot of work to earn that spot. There are already enough cries about the Oilers being an Old Boys Club.

Just as an aside, history works in strange ways: six years after being forced to trade a defenceman to Anaheim the Oilers recoup one, the same one that was selected with the 2nd round pick that was forfeit because of the Dustin Penner signing. What goes around...

Which makes me wonder, when is Toronto going to pay you guys back for Leeman, Stajan, Hagman and the rest of those guys? (sorry, I couldn't resist).

Happy Canada Day. I hope the Flames do some good hunting.

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#64 Austin
July 01 2012, 08:46AM
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@MCHockey

You're out of your mind if you think Smith played better than Butler. Butler was paired with Bouwmeester for a reason, because he was playing consistently against the other team's top guys. I'm sure he won't be guaranteed the spot alongside JBo, but I'm pretty sure it won't be Smith beating him out of the job. Definately not Sarich.

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#65 Cowtown1989
July 01 2012, 09:23AM
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I went to bed last night feeling good for the Oilers in light of the Schultz signing and their recent draft luck. I awake this morning with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. This was compounded after reading Scott Cruickshanks's article (with salary summary) in the Herald. Cervenka and Wideman may prove to be worthy additions but in reviewing the roster and cap dollars spent, Baertschi is the only one who might get us out of our seats. Flames ownership has treated this city very well, but it might be time to swallow a tougher pill. I believe we need to bury Stajans contract and trade JBo. Daryl put us in a tough spot by relying on older sunset type players and bad trades. Fine, he is gone, let's get over it. The only action plan has to be the integration of younger players. Here is hoping the St. Louis rumors are real and we can parlay JBo into Rattie or one of their many young forwards. Stajan and Karlsson could be offered to offset Ramo's signing. Babchuk's NMC/NTC expires this year or changes to a limited NMC/NTC some time this year doesn't it? If not, can he be waived? We need to get some young blood into the lineup NOW. We will be watching the Oilers youthful enthusiasm for the next few years (until their second contracts come up and players need to be moved).We need to create some of our own. Here's hoping today is a good luck day for the Flames.

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#66 RexLibris
July 01 2012, 10:18AM
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@Cowtown1989

Speaking of the Flames and their nearly capped-out team, does anyone here remember this: http://flamesnation.ca/2012/6/4/roger-millions-flames-not-to-be-a-cap-team-next-year

Just curious. I suppose that Feaster will try to shed some of those contracts after free agency, by trading them to the Suter Suitors. I just wonder if that is the wisest long-term use of assets.

He might pick up an extra draft pick here or there, but if you were a recently signed UFA who chose Calgary only to find that you'd been traded to another team a month later, how would you feel about the Flames after that? If he begins trading away those players it may seriously harm the Flames ability to sign more UFAs in the future barring a NTC inclusion.

I don't think that the Flames should start injecting youth into the organization for the sake of it being youth. That will only end up in a greater disappointment. The only thing that Feaster is doing in adding all of these contracts that I agree with is that he is buying time for their draft picks to develop.

Adding Reinhart or Ferland at this point would only create unrealistic expectations and stunt their growth.

Even if he trades Bouwmeester, he would be moving a relatively young defenseman and if he gets back Rattie, for example, he wouldn't be able to put him into the lineup for quite awhile.

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#67 Baalzamon
July 01 2012, 01:16PM
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@Parallex

oh yes. I definitely like Butler as a 2nd pair guy. Now that the Flames actually have another 2nd pair (Wideman) perhaps it's time for Gio to take another step by riding shotgun with Bouwmeester. If it works out, that could be a great pair.

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#68 Baalzamon
July 01 2012, 01:19PM
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@RexLibris

indeed. I've never really been in favour of trading Bouwmeester myself. It might (MIGHT) work, though, if they somehow find a way to bring a Matt Carle in first.

I don't think it'll be the UFA's moved out if Feaster does end up moving bodies out.

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