A look at the Flames roster heading into August

Ryan Pike
July 25 2012 11:31AM

Image by Resolute via Wikimedia Commons

As we tumble head-long towards the month of August, there are a handful of moving parts to bear in mind as training camp gradually approaches. Here's a brief look at them, sorted by position.

GOALIES
 

The Flames have three goaltenders under contract, although even that number is a bit misleading. Really, all that's for-sure is that Miikka Kiprusoff is Calgary's goaltender. Beyond that, many expect the club to be exploring European options for Henrik Karlsson after he was out-played by Leland Irving last season. Joni Ortio, the third goalie “under contract,” is expected to spend next season on loan to HIFK Helsinki in SM-Liiga.

 That leaves two rather large question marks: Leland Irving and Danny Taylor. Irving and the Flames are reportedly negotiating, but it's what's happened elsewhere that may signal some progress. Austria's EC Red Bull Salzburg was reportedly courting Irving last summer and may have maintained interest in the netminder. However, they signed Alex Auld this week, which either signals that they liked Auld more or that Irving came off the market. Or a third, less interesting thing.

Danny Taylor likely impressed Flames brass with his play during the AHL playoffs, but he's not likely to be given more than an AHL deal, considering the Flames are at 47 contracts right now, excluding Irving.

DEFENSEMEN

Well, let's presume that the Flames carry 23 NHL bodies all year and the Heat do similarly. That's 14 spots on the blueline. Between NHL and AHL deals, they have 17 guys signed.

On one-way NHL deals are Brett Carson, Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano, Cory Sarich, Clay Wilson, Dennis Sideman, Derek Smith, Anton Babchuk and Chris Butler. T.J. Brodie has a two-way deal, but was mentioned by Jay Feaster as a guy he considers to have made the NHL roster. Right there, that's 10 bodies for seven NHL spots.

Again, presuming seven NHL spots, that means that three of the aforementioned guys are joining Joe Piskula, Chris Breen, James Martin, Brady Lamb and AHL signees Nick Tuzzolino, Zach McKelvie and Joe Callahan in Abbotsford. This likely means that some one-way contracts are getting buried in the AHL, some defenders are going to spend time in the ECHL, and/or the Flames are probably making more roster moves involving defenders. Possibly all three.

FORWARDS 

Looking at NHL and AHL contracts, there are 30 forwards slated to play in the Flames organization next season. Again, looking at things, let's assume the Flames carry 14 forwards among their roster all season.

Well, they better, because that's what they have. There are 11 forwards on one-way contracts: Jarome Iginla, Mike Cammalleri, Jiri Hudler, Alex Tanguay, Matt Stajan, Curtis Glencross, Lee Stempniak, Blake Comeau, Mikael Backlund, Blair Jones and Tim Jackman. In addition, newcomers Sven Baertschi and Roman Cervenka have two-way contracts but will most likely be in Calgary. Oh, and Lance Bouma is a member of the same club as T.J. Brodie, in terms of being singled out by the Flames GM as being guys who've made the Flames roster. That's 14 guys right there.

And that leaves 16 forwards fighting for a dozen (or so) regular spots in Abbotsford. And presuming that the above roster log-jam happens in Calgary, that means that the Heat will have a bunch of pretty good forwards. Heck, there's a significant chance that competent hockey players will be shuffled to the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies due to there being too many good players in Abbotsford.

Examples? Paul Byron, Ben Walter, Greg Nemisz and Roman Horak will return and see regular duty. Add to them newcomers David Eddy, Max Reinhart, Turner Elson, Ben Street and Michael Ferland, all of whom could add to the Heat's offensive punch. That's nine guys right there, leaving out interesting projects like Carter Bancks, Dustin Sylvester and Ryan Howse. I wouldn't expect Mitch Wahl to displace anyone in Abbotsford, so there's a chance the Flames may try to find another AHL option for him. Similar things could be in the cards for Bryan Cameron and Gaelan Patterson, as could stints for them with the Utah Grizzlies.

CONCLUSION

 

It's nearly August and the Flames have 47 players under NHL contract, not including restricted free agent Leland Irving. Despite having so many guys locked down, don't expect things to be quiet between now and training camp, whenever that turns out to be.

There's still a lot of work left for Flames management.

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Now in his fourth season covering the Calgary Flames and the NHL, Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's trying to keep his head up, his stick on the ice and is giving it 110% every shift. You can also find his work at The Hockey Writers and the Wrestling Observer.
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#1 backburner
July 25 2012, 12:07PM
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Looks like J Bo's stalk is rising, flames could get a decent return for him...

Flames also need to add some size up front...

Wonder what the asking price for Bernier must be?

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#2 Artax
July 25 2012, 12:36PM
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We don't need to give up picks for Bernier. Why do people insist we need yet another goalie in our system.

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#3 FireOnIce
July 25 2012, 12:37PM
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@backburner

That would be JBo's "stock" that is rising. And yes, it would appear that with so many damned defenders in our system, perhaps we can finally offload his albatross of a contract and get something useful.

JBo, Wahl, and a throw away for a top 6 forward. Spread the defensive responsibility out over a few defenders, maybe play Gio a bit more than the others (wouldn't want the future captain being left out, now would we?). If Irving thinks he deserves to be top bean, let him go elsewhere. Trade him for picks if anything. I heard these Columbus guys have a few of them and may need a goalie...

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#4 FireOnIce
July 25 2012, 12:41PM
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Also, Ortio looks intense in that picture. He's been taking lessons from Kipper on how to take drags of his smoke during TV timeouts, hiding juniper brandy in his water bottle, and generally being a Finnish hell raiser. I like it.

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#5 loudogYYC
July 25 2012, 12:53PM
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The Flames have to make moves, even if they're minor. I think they'll be NHL moves, I get the impression that Feaster wants to keep Ward happy down in Abbotsford so he probably won't mess with his team much. If Feaster can find a way of offloading Babchuk and Stajan then he's worth his weight in gold. No pun intended.

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#6 SmellOfVictory
July 25 2012, 01:37PM
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@FireOnIce: That's Irving - he's not quite as Finnish as the other two.

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#7 the-wolf
July 25 2012, 01:53PM
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I think moving JBo creates a much bigger whole on the team than most people want to acknowledge. He's overpaid, but he's also our best defender and eats minutes like crazy. If Kipper returns to normal this season and JBo is moved we're going to have huge issues with keeping the puck out of our own net.

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#8 DangleSnipeCelly
July 25 2012, 02:14PM
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If Feaster's worth his weight in gold then we're loaded...

Anyway I'm all for trading Jbo regardless of the hole it creates. I'm firmly on the "rebuild train" and moving him is a step in the right direction... JBO and Reinhart for Couturier and a stay at home d-man. Great if we could sneak Babchuck in there somehow to... wishful thinking.

I know everyone says that the Flyers wouldn't part with Couturier in a potential Weber deal but they lost out on Weber didn't they so they didn't offer enough. Flyers have lost out on everyone so far and will probably lose out on Doan to. Come on Holmgren, let's dance!

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#9 Bean-counting cowboy
July 25 2012, 02:27PM
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@ dangle snipe

If you're on the rebuild train, why throw in Reinhart to get back a stay at home defender? Why not just JBo for couturier straight up?

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#10 the-wolf
July 25 2012, 02:27PM
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@DangleSnipeCelly - Weber could still be moved to Philly, who knows? But Poile wanted Couturier and Schenn, plus some other stuff. Moving Couturier would be foolish anyways. Way too much potential there. CBJ were stupid to make that trade for Carter in the first place. On the other hand, they probably would've drafted someone else at that spot who flopped, which their usual M/O.

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#11 Danger
July 25 2012, 02:45PM
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@the-wolf

According to the CBA rules, now that Nashville has matched Philly's offer sheet, they cannot trade Weber for a full calendar year. So if he goes to Philly (or anywhere else for that matter), it won't be until next summer at the earliest. Even then, I don't see the Preds trading him, they have him locked up for life now and will have already paid him $26M in the first 12 months of the deal, so he gets cheaper in real dollars after that.

I totally agree with you re: JBo though. Trading him and being competitive this year are not compatible. I think we're not quite bad enough to be a lottery team even if we do trade him, so what would be the point?

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#12 DangleSnipeCelly
July 25 2012, 02:54PM
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@cowboy

Fair enough if a deal straight up is there then for sure do it.. I just assume Philly might want a bit more and putting a young centre back in their system might help. I also assume they might want to move some salary back...

I don't care about Cgy being competitive this year to be honest - i want them to get back on track long term and start addressing some needs. Of which we have many. Losing Jbo cuts the legs out from under us this season I agree but long term goals should be the focus...

Keeping him gets us what? Back in 9th spot again? Feaster needs to break the cycle. We need to be either very good or very bad this year... mediocrity is not an option IMO.

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#13 the-wolf
July 25 2012, 02:55PM
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@Danger - you are correct. My bad. And I agree - with the contract so heavily front-loaded he's now a Pred for life. Thanks.

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#14 Baalzamon
July 25 2012, 02:58PM
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it does raise a question, though. Who can be moved?

most of the usual suspects were just resigned. Players are rarely moved right after signing new contracts.

Cammalleri and Glencross are the most movable, and that's applying the term loosely in Cammy's case with that contract of his. And the Flames would likely need a center back for him.

if the Flames could find a way to get Jamie Benn's RFA rights while moving a few contracts to the Stars, I'd be pretty happy. Wishful thinking, I know.

As for the blueline, Bouwmeester is by far the most moveable defenseman on the team (Giordano and peoples' complete reluctance to even consider the possibility of him maybe being moved notwithstanding), though Chris Butler might create some interest with the potential he showed last season, his relative youth, and his cap-friendly contract. But moving neither would be prudent.

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#15 the-wolf
July 25 2012, 02:59PM
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@Dangle - I agree withyou, but than we may as well move Iginla as well. Followed by Tangs and Cammi. But since it seems a virtual certainty now that Iginla won't be moved,and with adding Hudle and Cverenka, what's the point in moving JBo? As pointed out, we'd suck more, but not enough to really cash in.

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#16 the-wolf
July 25 2012, 03:36PM
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On a cool, weird and unrelated note, check this out:

http://www.iihf.com/nc/home-of-hockey/news/news-singleview/recap/7053.html

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#17 backburner
July 25 2012, 04:16PM
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@FireOnIce

Thanks for pointing that out... Nobody wants to hear anything about JBo's "Stalk" rising.. lol

@theWolf

completely agree on JBo's importance to our club.. just thinking now might be a good time to get the most for him if we want to get better for the future...

I would add it might be worth going for a tandem of Bernier and Irving and trading Kipper..

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#18 the-wolf
July 25 2012, 04:55PM
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@backburner - Exactly. That's my entire problem with the team and why I want it nuked and rebuilt from scratch. Because it really doesn't matter what they do at this point, it just all seems like so many band-aids. I get why Detroit would do it, but just to tread water in 10th place is beyond my understanding.

In other words, why has the team brought in Hudler and Cammi and Tangs and not moved Iginla if they want to rebuild? So where does moving JBo get us?

It's like nothing will work at this point. It's too late. The age gap between the 30-somethings and the young guys is too great. One could even argue that by the time the young guys really hit their stride, that even GlenX and Hudler will be too old to be part of the mix.

I rambling and not sure any of this makes sense. I guess what I'm saying is that if we're keeping the other old guys we might as well keep JBo too.

On the other hand, maybe even 1 more future piece is better than no more future pieces and maybe finishing 12th or 13th is better than 10th.

In which case you're right.

I don't know anymore. The Flames are an exercise in perpetual frustration.

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#19 cLyde
July 25 2012, 06:07PM
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We are 1 trade request away from a much bigger rebuild and perhaps if Iggy sees his buddy Doan go elsewhere he may be inclined to ask for a move. I am a huge Iginla and Kipper fan but this organization has allowed the name on the back of the jersey become bigger than the crest on the front in my opinion.

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#20 cLyde
July 25 2012, 06:08PM
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We are 1 trade request away from a much bigger rebuild and perhaps if Iggy sees his buddy Doan go elsewhere he may be inclined to ask for a move. I am a huge Iginla and Kipper fan but this organization has allowed the name on the back of the jersey become bigger than the crest on the front in my opinion.

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#21 RexLibris
July 25 2012, 07:18PM
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So then what I am taking away from this roster discussion is that there are a number of Flames fans for whom the issues run a little deeper than who plays 2nd line LW.

@cLyde

Do you mind if I quote your comment in my Flames article?

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#22 cLyde
July 25 2012, 08:09PM
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RexLibris wrote:

So then what I am taking away from this roster discussion is that there are a number of Flames fans for whom the issues run a little deeper than who plays 2nd line LW.

@cLyde

Do you mind if I quote your comment in my Flames article?

Feel free Rex. I feel if Feaster was being honest, he would approach Iginla and say that due to Sutter's destruction of the team, there is no way he can build a contender before 2020 without trading the core. If he would be willing to waive and liked the new direction in a year's time, he could resign at a fair price.

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#23 RexLibris
July 25 2012, 09:55PM
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@cLyde

Well now, hang on there. Feaster has had some fancy book learning to make him a lawyer, so when you go tossing around words like "honesty" I think we need to parse that down a little.

Are we talking Honesty honesty? Intellectual Honesty? Bill Clinton I-Did-Not-Have-Sexual-Relations honesty? or Gary Bettman-esque GM double-speak honesty?

Also, perhaps you have misunderstood the situation as I believe it to be. Feaster doesn't go approach Iginla with the state of the franchise. No. Iginla tells Feaster what the team is going to do. (sarcasm definitely intended there)

On a more serious note, while Sutter did mess with the team, did he really destroy it or merely send an already declining group to the siderails prematurely? What's your opinion?

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#24 cLyde
July 25 2012, 10:15PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Well now, hang on there. Feaster has had some fancy book learning to make him a lawyer, so when you go tossing around words like "honesty" I think we need to parse that down a little.

Are we talking Honesty honesty? Intellectual Honesty? Bill Clinton I-Did-Not-Have-Sexual-Relations honesty? or Gary Bettman-esque GM double-speak honesty?

Also, perhaps you have misunderstood the situation as I believe it to be. Feaster doesn't go approach Iginla with the state of the franchise. No. Iginla tells Feaster what the team is going to do. (sarcasm definitely intended there)

On a more serious note, while Sutter did mess with the team, did he really destroy it or merely send an already declining group to the siderails prematurely? What's your opinion?

Very funny and very good lawyer doublespeak. Feaster may hire you. The Sutter question is a good one. If he did screw the team up, he didn't do it on purpose. He wants to win as bad as anyone. I still say he is a good player, great coach and terrible gm. Better than me at all 3 though.

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#25 the-wolf
July 26 2012, 10:01AM
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@Clyde and Rex

1) Iginla has become bigger than the team, no doubt.

2) Iginla doesn't tell Feaster what to do. Rather, he suggests it to Murray Edwards who tells Ken King who tells Feaster what to do.

3) Sutter is in the same boat as every GM since Fletcher. "WIN NOW!" Different styles and approaches, same philosophical working mandate for every GM.

Even in the YG era, when the team was 'forced' to sell off its stars, they wouldn't commit to a proper rebuild and tried to remain as competitive as possible. Oh, what could've been if the selling off of assets back then had been embraced by the team. All eyes on the future, proper resources out into scouting and development, etc.

It's these reasons why Calgary is where it is.

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#26 RexLibris
July 26 2012, 04:37PM
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@the-wolf

1. I can't comment too much on that. I try to be objective about the team and while there is ample evidence to suggest that the Flames are being guided by the principle that he is larger than the whole, I don't have any concrete evidence to add to the discussion.

2. Ah, very well. I see you managed to see the org chart then.

3. Interesting. I wouldn't have said that the Flames were "win now" in the 90s. I would categorize them as operating under the "for the love of pete just keep bailing and pray we reach shore soon" business strategy.

Had the team committed to a rebuild (a proper one, as you put it) in 1995 what would that have resulted in? Another sell-off of assets they couldn't afford by 2002. The Oilers did rebuild and they managed to do so with some modest success during that same period only to see Guering, Weight, Grier, Marchant, Richardson, Joseph and countless others leave because the team simply did not have the money.

The optimal time to tank it was pretty much when the Capitals and Penguins did. Around 2001 to 2002. By the time the products of that draft period had graduated to the NHL the new economic landscape had taken shape and they were in a position to retain said players.

I'm currently looking into why Calgary is where it is. These comments aside, any specific areas you think deserve particular attention?

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#27 the-wolf
July 26 2012, 05:46PM
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@Rex - you make a good point about the timing being ideal in 2001. I'm just trying to get across that, even then, when they were forced to sell, the ownership still seemed to dictate an approach to be as competitive as possible.

It's impossible to know, but had the team gone 'all in' and acquired a few more picks and prospects, picked a few spots a higher a couple of times and spent a little more on scouting and development they could still be reaping those benefits.

Think of it this way, is they had managed to grab just 1 star player every 5 years since they got Iginla, that would be another 3 1st line/top pairing assets still on the team to this day.

Maybe they couldn't have kept them all, but that's where asset management and knowing when to sell high so that you can continue to be successful comes in. A difficult task, certainly, but my point is that Flames ownership simply will not back away from trying to be as successful as possible every season. But sports are cyclical and rebuilds to some degree need to occur every so often. '94 was the time to go 'all in.'

And, at least they would have had those 7 years. Instead, Iginla has gone his entire career with little help and basically with no help that was developed from within the system.

Calgary's biggest fault outside of a refusal to build from the ground up is definately with their scouting and development. They boast of things now that other teams have done for years.

Great scouting and drafting can keep teams at the top for a long time, even when picking late. Which then allows for the luxury of moving star players at the team's own pace. So, in that way, that's definately the bigger issue. The whole "refuse to rebuild" thing applies for the last several years because of poor scouting and development. Too late now is what I'm saying. You need that base first.

Somewhat incoherent, I know.

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#28 RexLibris
July 26 2012, 07:46PM
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@the-wolf

Very good comments. I just finished the Oilers rebuild article and while I didn't include much before the lockout, if you ever want to try and sympathize with an Oiler fan (crazy idea, I know) just look over the draft years from 1992 to 2002.

Barry Fraser, the same guy that picked Mark Messier in the 2nd round and collected in two draft years the bare bones of the Oiler's dynasty, also drafted the Oiler's 1990 prospects. In that group of players, eleven in total, not a single player managed to play even one game in the NHL. They were such draft busts that they couldn't even crack the lineup of the Oilers in 1992 or 1993.

There is a long list of missed opportunities and disastrous draft calls. Jason Bonsignore 4th overall. Jesse Niinimaki (not a Finnish Sushi roll). Jani Rita (aka the Swiss Miss).

You might find some bone-chilling similarities between the Oilers history during the EIG period to the Katz era and the Flames current situation. They to, categorically denied rebuilding as an option. Part of that was financial, but when the cap came in they wouldn't budge. Lowe asked to tear the team down after the Cup run (basically acknowledging what was happening anyway) but ownership said no and told him to make it work. That year the Oilers finished 25th and drafted 6th overall. The next season do you know what ownership said? Go make the playoffs. They came closer but kept sitting in the bottom third of the standings. Sound familiar?

As for your argument about scouting - one of my very first arguments here on FN was that the Flames needed to improve their amateur scouting department. If they didn't do that first then any talk of a rebuild was a waste of time.

I'm not convinced their scouting staff has turned the corner. This draft year will take a long time to evaluate. I think Feaster and Weisbrod need another two years with the same scouting staff before anyone can declare if it an improvement over Sutter's tenure.

That is something else Flames fans know all too well, drafting in the top ten and royally screwing it up.

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#29 Danger
July 26 2012, 08:23PM
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@ RexLibris

Looking forward with great interest to reading your Oilers rebuild article. I know you've said before that it will be a long one, but then so is the Oilers rebuild ;)

As for the Flames admittedly woeful draft record, it's actually been a long time since they drafted in the top ten AND royally screwed it up, though they did it three times in four years during the late 90s. Who could forget... er, remember such legendary players as Daniel Tkaczuk (6th overall), Rico Fata (6th overall), and Brent Krahn (9th overall)?

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#30 Jeff In Lethbridge
July 27 2012, 01:23PM
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on some other dumb site Colin Dambrauskas presents the argument for trading J-BO for Paul Statsny...

I think there is some value to this trade idea in that PS is not only a good center with high hockey IQ, but manages to hit about 55+% on face-offs...

something that needs to be addressed as much or more then scoring...

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