Five things: Jay Feaster's just screwing with me at this point

Ryan Lambert
July 04 2012 09:07AM

1. Let's start at the very beginning

A secret of the trade: I usually write this column, for Wednesday mornings, on Tuesday afternoons or nights (and, full disclosure, I'm writing this on Monday night because I've got my own stuff going on). I therefore did not know about Jay Feaster's plans to trade for the rights to Dennis Wideman, and then sign the defenseman to a contract before he hit the open market.

On a perfectly sensible level, I honestly feel as though Dennis Wideman takes a lot of undue crap and is a perfectly fine defenseman. Perfectly fine. With that having been said, you do not give a perfectly fine defenseman — undeserving All-Star nod not withstanding — $5.25 million a year through 2017. It's a legitimately bad contract, even if it's for a position of significant need for this team (right-shot defensemen).

Without vitriol, it's a completely puzzling signing. Doesn't $5.25 million a season strike anyone in the Flames organization as being too much money, especially when the only person you're bidding against is yourself? There was not a feeding frenzy of interest in Wideman because the CBA didn't allow there to be one. You might look at a $5.25 million cap hit for a defenseman coming off what was almost a career year — note: almost — because he was largely a power play specialist and didn't play especially tough minutes. He was also a third-pairing defenseman on the Capitals in the playoffs. You know, when they played ultra-defensive anti-hockey. So that's an issue.

Those who would laud the deal point out that the Flames power play last year was painfully average, and boy are they ever right about that. But apart from holding his stick in a way that most defensemen do not, I don't see where Wideman improves your power play to the tune of earning that deal. Unless he magically makes it jump to about 25 percent. So to summarize: Decent second-pairing defenseman earning better-than-decent first-pairing defenseman money.

Oh, and he has a no-movement clause. Welcome to Calgary.

2. Shall we move on to another bad deal?

Cory Sarich. He is back. Where Wideman is more or less one-dimensional in that he is not a particularly good defender, Sarich is zero-dimensional. He's slow, he provides no offense whatsoever, he doesn't defend well against even mediocre competition. He was a often healthy scratch last season. And he's going to be 34 years old in August.

So why wouldn't you give him a two-year deal?

There are reasons that a person could reasonably defend extending Dennis Wideman a contract — maybe not THAT contract, but certainly a contract. Could someone please defend this Sarich contract? Jay Feaster, expert that he is, determined that Calgary needed sand paper on its blue line, and apparently Sarich fits that bill better than any other options available.

I don't see it. And that's period. One year, two years, doesn't matter. It's a bad contract to a player I was shocked to learn was only 34. He looks significantly slower than that. One can't begin to imagine how bad this deal is going to look when Sarich is 35.

I just don't get it apart from the whole "We have to be hard to play against" angle. Know what's hard to play against? Defensemen who can actually do their job.

3. And then there's Hudler

Frankly, I'm not even mad about the contract Jay Feaster gave Jiri Hudler on Monday. I'm really not. I just don't get it any more.

The defense is, I think, pretty obvious. He's a two-time 50-point guy who scored 25 goals last season. That is, on paper, the very definition of a second-line forward, which Feaster has repeatedly stated as a desired target. So, ostensibly, he got that, and with a contract that carries reasonable term for a 28-year-old and — wait for it — a standard deal that allows for movement of the player.

But the bad news is this: There's no indication that Jiri Hudler can produce on his own, and perhaps the Flames didn't get the player they thought they were getting. The team release called Hudler a center, which he is decidedly not. Scott Cruickshank pointed out on Twitter that Hudler took a whopping SEVEN draws this year. He lost five of them.

More to the point, though, I'm not sure Jiri Hudler is going to be relied upon to score 25 goals this coming season, or even 20. The reason is that his shooting percentage — in a contract year, mind — was 19.7 percent. Just about one in every five of his 127 shots found the back of the net. Among players who played more than 30 games, that number was fifth in the league, and higher than his career average of 13.6 by nearly half. In a year of typical shooting, Hudler would have had just 16 goals, and Jay Feaster just gave him $4 million a season for the next four years.

This isn't advanced stat geek stuff. This is "listed in the NHL's front-page stats line" stuff. It doesn't even take an understanding of advanced statistics. It takes, in the simplest terms, elite goalscorers to maintain shooting percentages of north of 15 percent over the course of a career. A guy who just set a career high of 25 goals is decidedly not that.

And did I mention Hudler did that playing with Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula? He did. I just took a look at a random sampling of the goals he scored, thanks to NHL.com, which, if you're looking to find goal highlights, is the first place you should go every time. First goal up was, you guessed it, a tap-in on a Zetterberg centering pass. The second was a shot on a wide-open net on a dish from Filppula on the power play. The third was a quick rebound on a Brad Stuart point shot. The fourth was the exact same play on a Zetterberg shot from the slot. The fifth was on a quick rebound on his own shot thanks to a nice dish from behind the net by Filppula.

This is, of course, by no means scientific and indeed, the Flames could probably use a guy with a little bit of jam around the net. Ryan Smyth and Tomas Holmstrom made their entire moderately-noteworthy careers doing exactly that. But who on this roster fits a Zetterberg or Filppula role? Alex Tanguay, who likely won't get much time with him, maybe?

It's a deal that I don't fully get for a guy who Red Wings fans were glad to see leave and at some point, you have to wonder what, exactly, this team's plan is.

4. So an someone explain any of this?

Feaster is, I've been told, building this team for two or three years down the line, or at least so that its potential core players — in order of increasingly speculative: Sven Baertschi, Mikael Backlund?, Chris Butler??, TJ Brodie???, Max Reinhart???? — are coming into their primes.

But that does little to explain why Feaster is giving out long-term contracts to guys who seem fit to make minimal impacts for maximum payouts. I've heard it said that the Flames are better today than they were on July 4 last year, and that's probably true. Whether it's good enough to make the playoffs, which is the team's ridiculous goal right now, seems less certain. Unless Roman Cervenka and Jiri Hudler perform at high levels, and Mike Cammalleri starts playing like the Mike Cammalleri that Flames fans remember, I don't know where the goals come from next season. I certainly don't know who prevents them from going past Miikka Kiprusoff, particularly if Jay Bouwmeester is dealt for scrap, which it seems as though he almost certainly will be.

The Calgary Flames now have the second-highest payroll against the cap in the National Hockey League, and we're sitting here wondering if maybe they squeak into the playoffs. In what universe is that acceptable for a team that hasn't appeared in the postseason for three years?

5. Here's Iggy

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Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#1 Sincity1976
July 04 2012, 10:31AM
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You acquire players by giving up assets in trade, overpaying in free agency, or by drafting and developing.

The Flames are rebuilding through the draft. Feaster is putting a strong emphasis on prospect acquisition and development.

But (right or wrong) Feaster isn't giving the rebuild effort the booster shot he could by trading his prime assets. Rather he is trying to maintain a level of competitiveness while we wait for development to pay dividends.

Wideman and Hudler were getting that contract. The Flames options were to give them those contracts or sit on their hands. Inactivity is a horrible option for the Flames. So is trading future assets.

Its easy to crtisize. But without offering practical alternatives its just a whinefest. There is no good option for the Flames. Meaning those that want to bitch will always be able to. There are warts behind every door.

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#2 BurningSensation
July 04 2012, 10:41AM
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I'll take a run at explaining this to you;

Ryan:" There was not a feeding frenzy of interest in Wideman because the CBA didn't allow there to be one. You might look at a $5.25 million cap hit for a defenseman coming off what was almost a career year — note: almost — because he was largely a power play specialist and didn't play especially tough minutes. He was also a third-pairing defenseman on the Capitals in the playoffs. You know, when they played ultra-defensive anti-hockey. So that's an issue"

- Free agents cost more in both money and term. This is the price you pay for acquiring an asset without giving anything else up. Is Wideman a bad value for his deal? I'd argue 'no', if he has similar stats to last season. He was the top TOI guy for Wsh last year, and we can worry about what he's like in the playoffs when we make them. He addresses a gaping hole in the roster #3 D, PP QB), who will bump JBo off the PP giving him more time to do what JBo does well. Unlike last year, the Flames d-corps is pretty legit, especially at the top end, and is well above average if Brodie/Butler take another step forward.

2. I confess even an optimist like myself can't make sense of the Sarich signing. Perhaps he has pictures of Feaster doing his 'Marcellus Wallace in the basement' impression. I don't like the Sarich contract for one year, let alone two.

3. Ryan:"But the bad news is this: There's no indication that Jiri Hudler can produce on his own, and perhaps the Flames didn't get the player they thought they were getting"

Pretty weak tea. His advanced numbers look good no matter how you parse them out, with the only scary part being the likely unsustainable shooting %. that said, Hudler is a 'young' 28, not having the hard miles or minutes on him other players his age would. He's going to get a lot more TOI in Calgary, especially on the PP where he was almost absent in Detroit. He comes from a winning organization, wants to be in Cgy and his contract is very reasonable despite it being a FA signing. He also addressed a gaping hole in the roster (2nd RW), all of which makes your headscratching about him perplexing.

4. Ryan:"But that does little to explain why Feaster is giving out long-term contracts to guys who seem fit to make minimal impacts for maximum payouts."

Please. Hudler was hardly a 'maximum payout/minimum return' signing. Wideman got a contract less in term than one hit winder Jason Garrison, and wll produce roughly 600% more offense than the stupidly overpaid Bryan Allen will. He cost what the market would bear - and with the cap likely to go up yet again, the % of our payroll he represents will decline as he ages.

Ryan:"Whether it's good enough to make the playoffs, which is the team's ridiculous goal right now, seems less certain"

Perhaps you think we should be striving to miss the playoffs? Are you an Oilers fan? The Flames have barely missed the playoffs the last three years, sometimes for reasons of injuries, ice-cold starts, or just bad puck luck, but in none of the three years we missed was it ever 'obvious' we weren't a playoff team. Even modest improvements to our PP and defensive depth should be enough to get us in - oh look, that's what Feaster just did!

5. Ryan:" Unless Roman Cervenka and Jiri Hudler perform at high levels, and Mike Cammalleri starts playing like the Mike Cammalleri that Flames fans remember, I don't know where the goals come from next season"

Sven! Seriously though, the Flames are rolling out a brand new 2nd line next year - all guys with offensive pedigrees for where they were playing. Also, our offense from the blue line was terrible last year, and Wideman + improvements from Brodie will improve hat as well. Lastly, I hated how Sutter coached offense, and if Hartley brings a more attacking style the goals will be more plentiful.

Ryan:" I certainly don't know who prevents them from going past Miikka Kiprusoff, particularly if Jay Bouwmeester is dealt for scrap, which it seems as though he almost certainly will be."

Wow, JBo hasn't even been traded and you already are spitting on the return! There is every reason to have skepticism about the direction of the team, we havn't made the playoffs in three seasons so this I'd natural. But bashing mgt for things hey havn't done yet is like complaining about your meal and bill before you have picked the restaurant.

Ryan:"and we're sitting here wondering if maybe they squeak into the playoffs. In what universe is that acceptable for a team that hasn't appeared in the postseason for three years?"

Ours. I'd rather be thinking about making the playoffs than wondering if our owners can make payroll, or if the team is going to be in Quebec City. Of course we want to make the playoffs, and until we do we will be wondering if we are good enough. That isn't something you hang on Feaster's offseson moves, that's a reflection of how the last 3 years have been.

Get off the ledge already, there are Oiler fans who are going to be neding it whn Ryan Whitney fractures his foot in preseason making Schultz their top Dman.

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#3 Colin.S
July 04 2012, 10:03AM
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@Everton

I really don't get this obsession with size, especially the bottom 6, we don't need McGratton and Goddard mitt chuckers. Having a little more skill in the bottom six isn't a bad thing, especially if they can beat up on other teams still employing bottom pairings of goons and mitt chuckers.

And if you are not drafting it for the top 6 then trying to acquire it vye trade or UFA is going to cost HUGE.

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#4 Parallex
July 04 2012, 10:10AM
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"So to summarize: Decent second-pairing defenseman earning better-than-decent first-pairing defenseman money."

Is it though? I don't think it is. The cap is 70.2M, Wideman makes 5.25M. Quick and easy primary grade school math says that's 7.5% of the cap... 7.5% seems pretty reasonable (albeit not exceptional) for a 2nd pairing defenseman and not at all better-then-decent for a 1st pairing d-man.

Especially since his addition has a positive effect on the rest of the defense core (allowing Butler to play on the 2nd pairing where he plays up more then on the first, allows Sarich to play on the 3rd pairing where he'll play up as opposed to the 2nd pairing).

His addition improves the team, hell the only defenseman "freely" available that would improve the team more would be Suter (and maybe Carle) and Suter (if he were even a possibility, which is itself a doubtful proposition) will cost you an arm a leg and your first born child (in real dollars + term if not cap hit).

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#5 T&A4Flames
July 04 2012, 10:17AM
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@ everton fc

I think you forgot a couple of people; GlenX plays with some grit and has decent size as does Jones. If he become a regular, Bouma certainly has those qualities in spades as well. However, I do agree we could use some size in the top 6. Hudler, Cammi, Tangs, Cervenka, Backs... not exactly an intimidating force.

I will also reserve judgement on what Feaster has done so far until the season begins. I think there are still moves coming. I think, so far, he has done the right thing in trying to aquire skill. It is the most sought after quality in the NHL and therefore the easiest to trade for other assets.

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#6 MC Hockey
July 04 2012, 01:15PM
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@ Burning Sensation. Thanks for the positive and more sensible explanations and rebuttals of Ryan Lambert.

@ Ryan Lambert It's fine to be critical and speculate on motives or mistakes and pull out bad statistics to support your ideas, but other than the Sarich move (perhaps), most moves are quite defensible and reasonable under the circumstances. And by circumstances I mean that all UFAs don't want to come here and we don't want to overdo either the dollars or the term (See Parise, Zach and Suter, Ryan) so getting Wideman and Hudler on reasonable deals under 6 years and re-signing Sarich (for hitting and toughness) are doing the best you can with the circumstances, like we all do daily in our jobs, lives, etc.

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#7 Michael
July 04 2012, 10:07AM
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1. Wideman - I'm not really sure what the Flames have in Wideman. He does add some offense to a 'offensively' challenged blue line, but he doesnt seem that great in his own end. Overpaid for sure, the fourth and fifth years of this contract are going to kill us.

2. Sarich, The Flames are flush with bottom end d men. Yes, Sarich can hit, but their must be better options for $2 million.

3. Hudler, Not a terrible 'free agent' deal on paper, we added a second line forward without giving up assets. But, see #4, not sure that we needed another small forward.

4. Look at the top 9 forwards (Cammy, Tanquay, Iggy, Glencross, Cervenka, Hudler, Comeau, Backlund and Stempniak). More skill, yes, but these guys are going to play 50+ minutes per night, who exactly is going to hard to play against? Most teams know to leave Iggy alone (if you hit him he wakes up physically), Glencross adds some grit, but the rest of them are small, soft and don't naturally hit. A repeat of the Montreal experiment (small skilled forwards), this team will get crushed against bigger opposition. Didn't Montreal just add grit and then more grit.

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#8 xis10ce
July 04 2012, 10:09AM
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One thing about Hudler I don't think I've read anyone comment about is his history and how it'll help Cervenka adjust to the NHL.

This is just a theory but Hudler was probably brought in not only to be a solid top6'er but also help Roman given he is also Czech, has played in the KHL and made the transition to the NHL.

Or you know we could have paid 4.55mil for Jagr to help Cervenka out...

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#9 cLyde
July 04 2012, 11:19AM
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First Name Unidentified wrote:

WOW. Both Parise and Suter signed with the Wild for 13 yrs and $98 million.

Here go the Flames chances of even finishing 9th.

Suter, Parise, Heatly, Setoguchi, Koivu, Backstrom.... this is a heavy team.

Add Granlund and Coyle to that forward mix too. All they need to put them over the top would be the veteran guile of Stajan and the booming point shot of Babchuk for the low, low price of Granlund who hasn't proven a thing yet.

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#10 RexLibris
July 04 2012, 12:22PM
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The Northwest division just got a whole lot more interesting.

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#11 Baalzamon
July 04 2012, 12:40PM
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@Michael

"Glencross adds some grit, but the rest of them are small, soft and don't naturally hit"

you do realize you put Comeau in that "the rest of them" category right? As in, the guy who finished 2nd on the team in hits last season?

@everton fc

Everyone everywhere wants big, skilled, fast, smart players. We love them. But how exactly are the Flames supposed to get those players? They just arguably drafted one in Jankowski (if he's something) and Pat Sieloff, while not big, can destroy anybody, and is a good skater with good hockey sense.

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#12 beloch
July 04 2012, 12:52PM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

parise and suter signing with the wild longterm makes feasters activities look rather novel. feaster had a chance to move assets at the deadline to address needs, they walked and the replacements are well replacements.

Those two are signed at $7.5M/year until 2025. 2025! At that point, Suter will be 39 and Parise will be 40. The Wild got two great players, but at the expense of having two contracts that are virtually guaranteed to become millstones before they're up. It's a ballsy win-now, pay later move.

In all honesty, I'm glad it wasn't Feaster who inked this deal. If he had, those two players' primes would likely have been wasted while the rest of the team slowly climbs back into respectability.

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#13 everton fc
July 04 2012, 09:25AM
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When I write "negative" commentary like this above, I get blasted here. Well, sometimes. Well done, Ryan! You have at least one ally here...

I'd add we have zero size and grit outside Jackman, which doesn't help matters... And I mean size and grit of the Paul Gaustad/David Clarkson calibre. I know, "it's hard to find these types of players..." But other teams are. Via draft, or trade...

This is being overlooked or dismissed by many here. Read this yesterday in the National Post. I agree with the synopsis.

http://sports.nationalpost.com/2012/07/03/flames-coming-up-short-with-jiri-hudler/

Love these lines:

"Right now, the Flames look as soft as a baby’s bum up front. As is, they might have to hire a cut man, a la Angelo Dundee, to work poor Tim Jackman’s corner."

Check out some of Feaster's responses to the criticisms in this article. I found them scary.

I agree with you, Ryan; "What is the plan here?". Even the Red Wings play-by-play announcer doubts Hudler will duplicate his third line production, with the Flames. And he's not a good skater, though he is known to have some "grit" in his 5'10"/180lb frame. Another NMC for Wideman, who played third-line minutes for the Caps in the playoffs (good point, Ryan; and overlooked by many)

Feaster did the same thing in Tampa - ridiculous contracts that hamstrung the organization. We should have seen this coming, with what was offered to Richards...

Still, for some oddball reason, I feel a bit optimistic, but only because of Hartley. I think he will light a fire under some bums here, and in a far more relevant, tactical way than, say, Mr. Keenan.

That's my hope...My only hope, really.

Phoenix makes the playoffs every year, well under cap, with no superstars... So if Hartley's a good coach, he should be able to do something with this second addition of Feaster's "Also-Rans".

Time will tell. Trying to be positive.

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#14 bookofloob
July 04 2012, 09:27AM
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RE: Sarich. The scariest thing about his contract, to me, is that it suggests he's going to play. If you look at the depth chart on defense for Calgary, I think we can all agree Sarich slots in at anywhere between 7-9. 7-9! But you give the guy 2 years at 2 million, you're almost obliged to play him.

And that's brutal.

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#15 Kent Wilson
July 04 2012, 09:32AM
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The org has at least been consistent in it's message - we're going to continue to go for it, we're not rebuilding, etc. So at least they aren't hypocrites.

That said, the "it" continues to shrink in stature. At this point, the goal seems to be to run in place as much as possible.

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#16 the forgotten man
July 04 2012, 09:38AM
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Ryan, shame on you...I was just starting to sip the Feaster Kool-Aid and then you had to write this column.

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#17 Kent Wilson
July 04 2012, 09:39AM
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Phoenix makes the playoffs every year, well under cap, with no superstars...

They do this for a number of reasons. One is Tippett of course. Two is they have received above average goaltending the last few seasons. But number three is the also-rans they collect are almost always at least good at even strength. By which I mean at possession.

Martin Hanzel doesn't score a lot, but he moves the puck in the right direction. That's sort of the hallmark of the club the last couple years. Because the team can't afford offense (which is so expensive to obtain on the open market) they pick up the Langkows and Mosses of the world so the puck spends more time at the good end of the ice.

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#18 Tenbrucelees
July 04 2012, 09:48AM
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Given that Feaster is almost certainly under instruction to try everything to get into the playoffs, I would be interested in knowing what you think Feaster should have done differently? (I'll give you probably not signing Sarich ....which is a head scratcher)

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#19 everton fc
July 04 2012, 09:53AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Phoenix makes the playoffs every year, well under cap, with no superstars...

They do this for a number of reasons. One is Tippett of course. Two is they have received above average goaltending the last few seasons. But number three is the also-rans they collect are almost always at least good at even strength. By which I mean at possession.

Martin Hanzel doesn't score a lot, but he moves the puck in the right direction. That's sort of the hallmark of the club the last couple years. Because the team can't afford offense (which is so expensive to obtain on the open market) they pick up the Langkows and Mosses of the world so the puck spends more time at the good end of the ice.

Yep. Agreed. They also have some grit.

Brett MacLean could use some prayers, by the way. Cardiac arrest.

http://coyotes.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=637175&navid=DL|PHX|home

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#20 vowswithin
July 04 2012, 09:53AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Phoenix makes the playoffs every year, well under cap, with no superstars...

They do this for a number of reasons. One is Tippett of course. Two is they have received above average goaltending the last few seasons. But number three is the also-rans they collect are almost always at least good at even strength. By which I mean at possession.

Martin Hanzel doesn't score a lot, but he moves the puck in the right direction. That's sort of the hallmark of the club the last couple years. Because the team can't afford offense (which is so expensive to obtain on the open market) they pick up the Langkows and Mosses of the world so the puck spends more time at the good end of the ice.

That makes a lot on sense, if you could pair two guys that can drive possession with 1 that can score at very least you have a chance.

how long do you honestly believe Feaster will last in Calgary at this rate Kent?

With that question being asked Feaster may have done the only two things that the club is interested in, keeping it interesting and making sure there are same "Names" on the team to keep the tickets a flowing.

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#21 Tach
July 04 2012, 09:54AM
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Le sigh. Like so much of the Flames, it isn't that these mistakes are gargantuan Wade Redden-esque monstrosities. It is just a series of mediocre miscalculations that results in 9th place finishes year after year.

While the big deals are easier to focus on, I look at the Jones, Comeau, Stempniak re-signings, assume a Backlund signing is coming and then look at what should be our near NHL ready group of Horak, Byron, Nemisz, Bouma. These guys should at least be stepping into the 3rd or 4th lines at this point, saving cap space by providing useful minutes on ELC deals. Instead, we have Comeau, Jones and human punch line Matt Stajan filling those roles at a higher price.

When looking at the spending situation, I think it is also worthwhile to realize that from an internal budgeting situation, the Flames will likely be spending no more than $70.2 million on actual salary. They continue to have a host of sub-cap actual salaries on the books. I think that explains some of the spending we are seeing. I have the Flames with a total cap-hit above salary of about $5 million. So even though they will be capped out, they will not be spending as much as they have in prior years.

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#22 Ravage
July 04 2012, 10:16AM
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@ Kent

The org has at least been consistent in it's message - we're going to continue to go for it, we're not rebuilding, etc. So at least they aren't hypocrites

Sorry kent, I have to disagree with you as it pertains to Feaster. Was he not the one of the infamous, "Fool me once" speech and yet has kept the majority of this team intact? At the end of the season Jay was preaching about change...so far Jokinen and Moss out, Cervenka, Wideman & Hudler in. Everyone else has stayed the same.

I mostly support Ryan's comments...especially how can anyone validate Sarich being given another contract. The scouting report on Cory is well known. If in your own end just chip the puck past Sarich and then race past him for the puck. Possible break away.

And obviously something has to give as at this moment we are carrying a full load and we're only on July 4th. So unless they plan to have Stajan and his $3.5 mil and Sarich $2 mil sitting in the press box all season, I expect to see some people moved out...but maybe that's not Feaster's plan!

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#23 loudogYYC
July 04 2012, 10:42AM
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The Sarich signing is the worst of em all. I really thought he'd make it to August unsigned and he gets $4M over 2 years with a partial NTC.

I agree with Lambert that it's surprising that he's only 34, he plays like he's 38.

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#24 negrilcowboy
July 04 2012, 10:54AM
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parise and suter signing with the wild longterm makes feasters activities look rather novel. feaster had a chance to move assets at the deadline to address needs, they walked and the replacements are well replacements.

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#25 T&A4Flames
July 04 2012, 10:54AM
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Ok, so Suter and PArise both sign with the Wild at 13yrs & 98mil (7.53mil per) a piece. The division just got a whole lot tougher.

So, what pieces will the Wild look to move as they have (according to Capgeek) 24 players signed with a little over $500,000k available in cap space. Their D still looks terrible, even with Suter. We seem to have a surplus.

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#26 Parallex
July 04 2012, 11:00AM
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@Sincity1976

Yeah that's pretty much it. Short of tanking (which is just a shameful way to go about things, it's disrespectful to your customers and lacks in self-respect) which doesn't guarentee anything, your only method is to draft based on upside even if the ETA is more on the longterm end of the scale (which they're doing. See: Jankowski/Gaudreau) and do your best in the interim.

The Flames want to rebuild while still remaining competative. While I'd prefer to see them taking a more scientific approach to doing it... loading up on short-medium term depth while waiting for your internal development to bear fruit isn't a terribad approach.

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#27 Brent G.
July 04 2012, 11:00AM
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Well, Feaster made a couple of questionable moves. Wideman I think will be okay, Sarich wont. That being said, I am happy we are here b*tching about Sarich 2 years @ 2 mill per rather than how big of an albatross the contracts for Parise and Suter are. Sure they got better but there is no way those contracts will look like smart moves even a couple months into next season. Parise was a good acquisition for the wild, I cant see Suter living up to anything close to that money.

Instead of focusing on the relatively small mistakes Feaster made, why not give credit for not being so stupid to touch anything like that?

Also, someone said Sarich will play because he was just signed. Just like Babchuk played all of last year after being recently signed? He will be a healthy scratch for large portions of the season, losing his position to Smith. Its not your money spent to keep him in the press box so quit your b*tching

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#28 RexLibris
July 04 2012, 11:03AM
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I think Ryan and I might find a lot to agree on here...in spite of my "other loyalties".

1. Whenever I re-read the details of Wideman's contract, the circumstances in which he comes to Calgary, and his skill set, I can only come back to the Souray contract with the Oilers. He was a PP specialist who had one decent season, was poor in his own end and came to an organization whose expectations of the player greatly exceeded his ability to produce.

2. Feaster re-signs Sarich. In other news, it is raining on the West Coast. (sorry, but I was more surprised that he didn't get a NMC than that he was re-signed).

3. Hudler would be a good complementary signing, if the Flames had the talent available to complement. And how is it that the one free agent who comes to Calgary with the most skill is the only one who doesn't have a NTC? Wideman is more deserving of one than Hudler? It will probably serve the team better in the long run to be able to move him, but still...

Not really sure how well Hudler is going to play under Hartley, but we shall see.

4. I think that the Flames are better today than they were at the end of the season, but there aren't many teams who are worse and given the Flames season that still leaves a great deal of room for improvement.

I would disagree with Kent about the Flames management being consistent in their message and actions. While I wouldn't necessarily call them hypocrites, I would say that "intellectual honesty" is about as foreign to them right now as a playoff berth. If they feel they are being honest with themselves then it means they are likely just delusional. Not a happy thought for a fan.

5. If Iginla re-signs is the picture going to be updated? And if he leaves, who is his understudy? In other years I would have said Jokinen. Baertschi maybe?

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#29 First Name Unidentified
July 04 2012, 11:04AM
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WOW. Both Parise and Suter signed with the Wild for 13 yrs and $98 million.

Here go the Flames chances of even finishing 9th.

Suter, Parise, Heatly, Setoguchi, Koivu, Backstrom.... this is a heavy team.

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#30 Dr. Nick
July 04 2012, 11:24AM
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After the Parise and Suter signings I am kinda hoping for the realignment the NHL has been toying with. Regardless of whether the contracts they signed will cripple the Wild, it definitely is gonna suck to face the Wild 6 times a year.

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#31 Michael
July 04 2012, 11:41AM
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I have problems with teams signing 5 year contracts, but 13 years at $98 million each....WOW! Maybe these guys were lucky to turn UFA under the current CBA...

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#32 mcculb
July 04 2012, 11:43AM
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Ken King and Ownership clearly fear bottom feeding and what that will do to profits. They are avoiding the truth, that the team has needed a rebuild for 3 4 years now. They run the show, not Jay and not Daryl before him. They should be the subject most every post.

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#33 Ravage
July 04 2012, 12:01PM
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@ mcculb

Darryl ran the show, make no mistake about it. Whenver ownership got antsy with some of his decisions or attitude, King ran interference for him. Feaster doesn't have the same latitude. You are correct about Jay...even if it's a move he wants to make, Ken and ownership have to grant him approval before it happens. How else can you explain re-signing Sarich for $2 mil???

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#34 CLyde
July 04 2012, 12:06PM
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Flyers, Pens and Blues all believe they are strong contenders but need a top 2 dman who can play top shutdown minutes. J-Bo fills all the criteria plus only has 2 years left at a lot less than 2 of these teams were offering Suter. Feaster better get a haul, not scraps for this guy.

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#35 MC Hockey
July 04 2012, 12:17PM
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NEWS - Minnesota gets Parise and Suter - BOTH is amazing...but I hear they are friends and give both of them same $ makes sense!!

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#36 JF
July 04 2012, 12:33PM
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@First Name Unidentified

Blah, minus Heatley from that list please... he ain't "heavy" not anymore at any rate.

Good for Minnesota (at least for now) makes them better now... can't help but feel like at least one of those deals is going to turn out ugly. But that's a worry for another day.

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#37 Derzie
July 04 2012, 01:17PM
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Two words: Nathan McKinnon. In Feaster we trust. I like Wideman and Hudler but it's not enough of a change. Still shuffling deck chairs.

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#38 flamesburn89
July 04 2012, 01:33PM
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@BurningSensation

So you are saying that it's okay for the Flames to overpay players to come here? That's like seeing a 3rd line winger and giving him top 6 kind of money, just to ensure that he'll come here. If the Flames are that desperate to lure in Free Agents that they have to overpay, overextend term, and throw in NMC's they're in a whole pile of trouble.

Also, Jason Garrison is a much more effective player at even strength than Dennis Wideman. The contract the Canucks signed him to seems like a steal to me. I know people will say that he's a one year wonder, but he drives possession well. The year before last in FLA, Garrison played against the other teams' top guys alongside Mike Weaver. Wideman is not going to allow Butler to step back into just top 4 minutes, because he himself can't handle top players. I'm not even sure the Flames would burden him as they have with JBOUW because they know that Wideman would get killed. Wideman's addition is strictly offensive, so if he goes cold don;t expect his defensive capabilities to be stellar. If the biggest thing Dennis Wideman can add to the Flames is a big right hand shot on the PP, they may as well have just used Babchuk, because Babchuk sucks everywhere else.

And the comment that Hudler's possession numbers are good is not really true. His RelCorsi this year was 0.8, so he's not exactly killing things. He was playing against decent competition, so I suppose it's not like he was having trouble driving play against 4th line guys. But still, for a guy being paid 4 million bucks per year, he's got to push the puck north more, because the odds of his 102.1 PDO being sustained are slim.

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#39 T&A4Flames
July 04 2012, 01:42PM
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@ flamesburn89

The difference with the Garrisson signing is that he is from Van. and wanted to play there and took less money to do so. Also, they are 2 different types of players. CGY wanted what Wideman brings to the table. We'll see what signing works out best. Both could be a bust.

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#40 flamesburn89
July 04 2012, 01:45PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

@ flamesburn89

The difference with the Garrisson signing is that he is from Van. and wanted to play there and took less money to do so. Also, they are 2 different types of players. CGY wanted what Wideman brings to the table. We'll see what signing works out best. Both could be a bust.

Right, he did take that hometown discount to play in VAN. I dislike him already :)

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#41 Kevin R
July 04 2012, 02:03PM
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You know, its easy to criticize everything some does, heck you can complain about how someone wipes their butt & how much toilet paper they use. No one is going to give us an up & coming star for nothing, you either have to draft them & be patient while they develop or you have to give something up to get that type of future player. Have we actually traded anything worthy of such returns? What do we have & are prepared to trade for a future star NHL player at any position? Feaster technically has been officially GM for 14 months. The only thing the poor bastard could do last summer was draft & salary dump & small trades. Forget the Brad Richards posturing, that was nothing more than a Flutie hail mary we're all glad went incomplete. With any core, you need skilled complimentary players. I'm sure Feaster knows the core needs to be rehauled as well & its just going to take time to see what we have now that can be future core, ie Baerschte, Brodie, Cerevenka. It takes time, no ones giving us future core players unless we give up some thing significant, hence the real trades of JBO or Iggy or Kipper. Still have to put a team on the ice. There just isnt any quick fix here & any decisions or direction anyone would make in Feasters position is going to be scrutinized & questioned. How he handles Iggy/Kipper & JBO will be defining moments of his performance. Think we have it bad, how do you feel if you were Luo or Poile & you just lost young franchise players for absolutely nothing. Lessons to be learned here. Wonder if Nashville are in the market for JBO as a way to keep Weber?

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#42 JF
July 04 2012, 02:10PM
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"Wideman is not going to allow Butler to step back into just top 4 minutes, because he himself can't handle top players."

Maybe not (he ate lot's of minutes in the reg season though so he must have spent some of them against top players... how effectively I don't precisely know) but I feel confident that Wideman can eat middle pairing minutes effectively thus allowing Giordano to play with Bouwmeester and have Wideman with Butler.

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#43 kittensandcookies
July 04 2012, 02:21PM
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Flames are hoping that Hudler replaces Jokinen's 60 points, I guess.

It's been a while since we've had a Phil Housley type player here. Actually, we might as well have kept Phaneufostein since Wideman's game seems to be about the same.

Sarich signing seems to be useless. Maybe Hartley will play him more. Yikes.

I think these moves are more an admission that the young talent isn't ready to move up. OTOH, I think even Flames' brass were surprised at the play of the rookies last year.

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#44 RexLibris
July 04 2012, 02:24PM
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I for one appreciate Lambert's take on things, in part because I became so sick of being spoon fed the company line by some MSM outlets in Edmonton and have a naturally skeptical outlook.

I would like to pose one question to Flames fans, though. Could you list for me the five core members of the Flames roster? That is five key players who provide a foundation around which one can build a team. I ask because I want to know for which players fans have the highest expectations.

I'll spot you Iginla and Kiprusoff, which means I need only three more names. We could even throw Baertschi into the mix, although he hasn't played more than five NHL games as yet. Your call.

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#45 Fireinthehole
July 04 2012, 02:25PM
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Hats off to Kent and all the Nation contributors. As a die hard Flames fan living over seas I have really appreciated the site. Most of the content is well thought out informative. I don't imagine any team blog could ever be without the ignorant commenter who is obviously so much smarter, they should be the GM. Anyone can be a critic...

As for this article, I would have to agree with Burningsensation. Wideman addresses a glaring need, without giving anything up. I'll wait and see what Carle signs for before I pass judgement on the contract.

'Who could like the Sarich contract. he can hit, and he's won a cup....maybe he's more important to the room then we know. At least Babchuck proves that you're never too expensive to man the press box.

I like the Hudler signing. We needed RW scoring support and there's no debating the fact the guy is skilled. I think he brings a lot of intangibles. He should help Cervenka transition, he has ample opportunity to excel with increased TOI and PP responsibility. A much better move then Jagr for 1 year at 4.55, in my opinion.

I'm not sold on moving Jbow unless the return is excellent. If Boston wants to give up Seguin, that's worth pulling the trigger on. Sending him to St. Louis for Alex Steen doesn't excite me at all though. If he is moved I hope Feaster can package Stajan or Babchuck. Similar to the Regher \Kotalik trade. We need to get out from under one or both of those contracts. After Carle signs things should heat up significantly.

I don't think there is any debate that we are better today then 12 months ago. How much remains to be seen. I am encouraged by the direction the club is moving in. At least we arn't only drafting 'meat and potatoes' grinders or trading away 1st round picks for sub-par 2nd line centers past their prime(sorry Oli, I did like you just not at 4.5 million).

Anyone else happy that both Suter and Parise signed in Minny? Much better then both of them signing in Pitt, Chi or Det. I agree with cLyde, Minny NEEDS Stajan and Babchuck!

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#46 MC Hockey
July 04 2012, 02:42PM
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@ clyde...hilariously good idea of Stajan and Babchuk for Minny's Granlund...can you hypnotize the GM for Minny to believe that?

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#47 Baalzamon
July 04 2012, 02:49PM
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@MC Hockey

I'm amazed Fletcher was able to get both those guys to somehow come to Minny (they must have wanted to play together). So, he must have used ALL of his smarts for that move. He's due to do something moronic (remember, this is the guy who traded Havlat for Heatley. straight up. then proceeded to trade away ALL his top 4 dmen and bring in... Tom Gilbert).

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#48 MC Hockey
July 04 2012, 02:54PM
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A more serious trade idea for Flames with Minny could see JayBo for Gilbert plus in some sort of package...hoping perhaps if Minny needs to even out salary cap hits, we also get Clutterbuck for 3rd line grit + scoring.

I also like Torrey (Do everything Well) Mitchell and Zenon (Just Win Faceoffs and Fight) Konopka but they are newly signed there so doubtful to be traded.

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#49 BurningSensation
July 04 2012, 02:58PM
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Flamesburn89:"So you are saying that it's okay for the Flames to overpay players to come here? That's like seeing a 3rd line winger and giving him top 6 kind of money, just to ensure that he'll come here. If the Flames are that desperate to lure in Free Agents that they have to overpay, overextend term, and throw in NMC's they're in a whole pile of trouble."

I'M not arguing that the Flames overpaid for anyone, just the opposite. Hudler's contract is imminently reasonable, and Wideman's might have half s million a year more than I'd like to go with a year more term than I'd prefer (so hardly a gross 'overpay'), that simply is the nature if free agency. High value contracts aren't found in free agency (though Comeau's might be one if he nets 25), as the contracts with best value are rookie deals (which are capped), and RFA deals where the team has leverage. Wideman's deal is what it is because he would have had the leverage in an open competitive market.

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#50 BurningSensation
July 04 2012, 03:02PM
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Rex Libris:"I would like to pose one question to Flames fans, though. Could you list for me the five core members of the Flames roster? That is five key players who provide a foundation around which one can build a team. I ask because I want to know for which players fans have the highest expectations."

Iggy, Kipper, JBow, Baertschi, Gio

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