August 09 2012 11:09AM
1. Flames lose inconsequential defenseman, still have several lying about
This is what qualifies as news in early August except when a prospect maybe or maybe not punches someone out in front of a bar.
To bastardize a quote from "Love Story:" What can you say about Clay Wilson? His jump to the KHL is more or less of no consequence except that it voids his current contract, which was a one-way deal to ensure he got paid his full $525,000 when he's still bussing it in Abbotsford.
That is good insofar as it gets the Flames one contract under 50 since he was removed from the team's reserve list, and ok sure. A little more flexibility isn't really a bad thing.
But there are still eight defensemen on NHL contracts, and doesn't that seem like a problem? At this point, you have to figure the team goes with Jay Bouwmeester, Dennis Wideman, Mark Giordano, and Chris Butler as the everyday top four. And in all honesty, all joking aside, I don't think that's a terrible top four. I mean, look, it's not, like, great or anything. But it's pretty alright. It's probably enough. But defense was never the problem for this team anyway. Okay, I'm getting off topic.
So that's your top four, right there. And then what? Cory Sarich, Anton Babchuk, Derek Smith, and TJ Brodie are all going to be in competition for two spots with only Brodie on a two-way deal. But Brodie stays because Brodie is good, and that's five spots accounted for.
Maybe Feaster has a trick up his sleeve to con someone into taking Babchuk's contract off his hands. That would be no small miracle, of course. But even if that happens, it seems as though the team is hell-bent on keeping Sarich in the mix since they just gave him that two-year contract for the most ineffable reasons imaginable. Something, as they say, has got to give.
Right now there are three guys playing for one spot and only one (the worst one) seems the likely candidate to take it. Well, there ya go.
2. A shocking realization
With respect to the above, maybe you could tell that I wrote the beginning part like "Boy how are they gonna figure this out!?!?!?" and then slowly light dawned on Marblehead, to use a Bostonian expression no one around here uses any more. The more I thought about it from their perspective, the better sense it made. At least, y'know, relatively.
The Flames have a very definitive plan for dealing with an easily avoidable situation of having too many defensemen under NHL contracts (the best way to avoid it was not re-sign Cory Sarich for two years at $2 million per!), and it probably involves doing a bad thing. Of course.
I know I'm supposed to, like, not be this hard on the team based on the comments I've seen in recent weeks but at the same time it's just too much to handle sometimes. The team steered away from the skid by signing Sarich and now has limited cap room because there are EIGHT defensemen on NHL deals. I don't know, it seemed like a pretty simple issue: Don't re-up the guy who's old and slow and not good. I complained about that contract right after it was signed, and now I'm thinking about it again and it still doesn't make any sense. Also, I forgot about the no-movement clause. Oh hell.
Know how bad that deal is? EVERYONE in the comments agreed with me on it. That never happens.
3. Something I've been wondering about
So this week it was announced that the Markham Arena would take another step forward with building applications being submitted. If approved, the rink is intended to be completed by 2015, the same year as the new Quebec arena.
Obviously there are a few teams down here in the U.S. that are struggling, chief among them being the Islanders, Devils and of course Coyotes. Apart from your exhausting and frankly embarrassing THIS IS OUR GAME stance on all matters related to relocation (no one is saying a team in Moose Jaw wouldn't draw better than the Coyotes do in Glendale, or probably ever has), do Canadian fans in general think another team in the Greater Toronto area would be welcomed nationwide?
Not that it would ever happen.
No one, from my understanding, cares for the Maple Leafs. They're generally pretty well despised, right? So would you think second GTA team, assuming it was relocated and not a terrible-idea expansion team, is more, less or equally despicable in comparison with the Leafs? Or would you simply not care about them, the way everyone does with the Sens? I'm honestly just curious.
4. Gaudreau at evaluation camp
You probably haven't heard a lot about this up in your neck of the woods, but USA Hockey is having a junior evaluation camp this week, and of course Johnny Gaudreau is an invitee. However, these scrimmages, and games against other nations, cost money to view online and I don't think I'm quite so desperate to watch hockey as all that.
So instead of commenting on the talk I've heard, I instead reached out to my fellow American patriot Chris Peters of the United States of Hockey blog. Chris is a buddy and pretty much the blogosphere authority on all things USA Hockey, and has seen many of these games. So how has Gaudreau done? Well, it's not the rosiest picture:
John Gaudreau's been kind of up and down in camp. Having been paired with Alex Galchenyuk, it seems clear that the USA Hockey folks envision that highly skilled duo to produce and be possible linemates for the WJC. They've done OK in camp, but not nearly as well as expected. I think Galchenyuk is still shaking off the rust from his lack of games last year and still is a step slow from his knee injury.
So this is all Galchenyuk's fault!!!! Well then, let's get him.
For the latter half of Wednesday's game, Gaudreau looked like you would expect him to. He's a really creative little forward that can beat guys with his hands or his smarts. He really has a lot of confidence with the puck on his stick and has good enough speed to get away from checks. After the way he closed out his freshman season at Boston College, I was expecting him to put up a bunch of points in camp, but it just hasn't happened yet.
So not great, but not bad either. Peters closes by once again noting what he calls Gaudreau's "special talent," and confirms that there's basically no way he doesn't make the team in December. So that's all good stuff.
5. And finally...
Though I feel this has gotten progressively less bitchy as it's worn on, here's Iggy just to be safe...