Two Games in - Deep Breaths Flames Fans

Kent Wilson
January 22 2013 10:46AM

 

 

The Flames dropping the first two games of the shortened season at home seems to confirm all the worst fears of the management and fanbase. The own-zone play has been sloppy, Kipper has looked helpless and there already seems to be a growing chasm between the team's aspirations and their outcomes.

As always, I remain skeptical of the club's direction and ability to do anything more than run in place. That said, there's many reasons not to overly weight the first two games of the season.

Small, Non-representative Sample

Every year I remind myself (and others) that the first 10-stretch of the season is probably the least indicative of a team's true talent level. That's because coming out of the off-season most club's are acclimating to new players in the line-up and some are acclimating to new coaches. Aside from general rust after not playing for X amount of months, that also means some sort of learning curve for the new players, if not the new coaching staff.

Unfortunately, the first 10 games usually seem intuitively more important in grading a club, at least in the short term. This is because of the lack of information (first segment of the year which fans can use to judge performance) and in that vacuum fans and pundits naturally tend to assume that what they see if what they're going to get.

Pile on top of all that the natural variation one tends to get in small samples in the NHL (weird stuff can happen over a few games as a matter of chance) and you have a segemt of the schedule which needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Finally, Calgary has lacked two major new additions to the roster in Roman Cervenka and Jiri Hudler thanks to unforeseen circumstances. It's unknown just what sort of impact either guy will have on the club's performance, but it's fair to say this isn't quite the roster Feaster envisioned when he finished building it in August. 

They Haven't Been That Bad

I'll stipulate the Flames haven't been great through the first games - the defense and neutral zone puck management at certain times has been sloppy at best. Kipper looks like he's fighting vertigo and some of the higher priced vets like Mark Giordano, Jay Bouwmeester and Mike Cammalleri are obviously fighting through some rust.

That said, both games were winnable. With a few more bounces and even slightly better goaltending, the Flames could be 2-0 right now. They outchanced the Sharks 16-10 in game one and then battled the Ducks more or less to a draw by the same metric last night:

Team Period Time Comment
CGY 1 19:38 Backlund
ANA 1 18:54 Getzlaf goal
CGY 1 17:00 Horak
ANA 1 14:32 Getzlaf
ANA 1 14:01 Selanne
ANA 1 12:30 Koivu goal
ANA 1 6:46 Perry (PP)
ANA 1 4:22 Selanne tip
ANA 1 4:00 Smith-Pelley
CGY 1 3:06 Glencross goal (tip) PP
CGY 1 0:26 Tanguay goal
       
CGY 2 18:48 Glencross goal (tip) PP
CGY 2 14:32 Baertschi
CGY 2 11:25 Comeau
CGY 2 9:58 Glencross backhand
CGY 2 9:50 Iginla
ANA 2 9:37 Perry
CGY 2 6:11 Iginla
CGY 2 4:50 Backlund
CGY 2 3:22 Tanguay
CGY 2 2:44 Horak backhand
CGY 2 1:52 Stempniak break away
       
CGY 3 17:32 Comeau
ANA 3 15:59 Cogliano tip
ANA 3 15:58 Winnik goal (rebound)
ANA 3 15:40 Palmieri
ANA 3 15:35 Palmieri
ANA 3 14:35 Ryan
ANA 3 10:47 Smith-Pelley
ANA 3 8:46 Getzlaf goal
CGY 3 6:36 Brodie
CGY 3 5:57 Stempniak goal (breakaway)
ANA 3 5:34 Palmieri
ANA 3 4:29 Winnik
CGY 3 0:25 Tanguay
       
       
ANA 17    
CGY 18    

The Flames have had both very good and very bad periods in both games, but altogether they have won at least three of them and generated more chances in aggregate (34) than they have given up (27). They have also marginally outshot the opposition 57-53 so far.

Outshooting and outchancing were big issues for the Flames last year and without Kipper standing on his head for two months they would have been out of the playoff picture by the end of February.

So far, it's been the opposite story. The Flames have had enough chances to win each game but Kipper's ghastly .830 SV% (in part due to defensive break-downs, in part due to bad bounces and in part due to medicore play) would be poor on the PK,  to say nothing of an overall save rate. As commenter seve927 pointed out in the post-game article below, a lot of good goaltenders have lousy save percentages through the early going. It happens.

Even if Kiprusoff is destined to regress from his noteworthy performance last year as I suspect, he's certainly not a true .830 SV% puck stopper. The opposition has scored on 33% of their chances so far and the typical rate is about 15% - things will even out in time. 

Conclusion

It sucks to lose the first two games and the team-wide performances have been uneven at best. That said, there's been some bright spots and we have to remember not to get too agitated about such a small sample of games given the long off-season, new faces and the nature of variance for small samples.

Truth is, we don't really know how good or bad the Flames are yet.

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 NateBaldwin
January 22 2013, 11:26AM
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I'm honestly hoping for a bottom five finish, it's a shortened season, and a deep draft. This is the year to sell assets and jumpstart a nuclear rebuild. They won't... but it would be nice.

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#2 Subversive
January 22 2013, 12:02PM
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NateBaldwin wrote:

I'm honestly hoping for a bottom five finish, it's a shortened season, and a deep draft. This is the year to sell assets and jumpstart a nuclear rebuild. They won't... but it would be nice.

Yeah, if there was ever a year to do it, this is the one. Short season, so the pain of losing will be as short as possible, deep draft, and tons of money coming off the books after the season. Perfect timing.

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#3 Baalzamon
January 22 2013, 04:08PM
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TRADE SUGGESTION:

To St. Louis: Michael Cammalleri, Lee Stempniak

To Calgary: Alex Steen, 1st round 2013.

opinions?

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#4 Old Soldier
January 22 2013, 04:34PM
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Most posters here are obviously long time hockey and Flames fans, so objectively....at this stage in their careers, do you honestly see Kipper (rumours of going back to Finland with only $1.5 mil real money on contract next year), Iginla (UFA, with extremely poor showing so far), Bouwmeester (solid minute muncher who does absolutely nothing good or bad on the ice) getting you lottery picks and blue chip prospects?

Break it down, Kipper, a rental unless extended, maybe gets you a "b" regular (Bozak)and a 2nd rd pick.

Iginla, tough one, I dont see an overpayment here with him being UFA and struggling (maybe the same as Kipper) or if someone really bites, a high first rounder.

Bouwmeester will likely get a "b" roster player or a 2nd, and some contract in return.

The time for those moves was 2 years ago, then you could actually talk lottery picks because Iggy and Kipper had years left on contract and were considered relatively still in their prime.

I think you have to move them, but I am being honestly sincere when I think you dont get the return you hope for.

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#5 jeremywilhelm
January 22 2013, 10:50AM
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Optimism! I like it Kent!

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#6 dan
January 22 2013, 10:52AM
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Enjoyed your article. Also, I feel teams with new coaches are a a disadvantage to start this season without pre-season to introduce new systems. My formulas have Cgy challenging for bubble playoff spot.

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#8 T&A4Flames
January 22 2013, 10:58AM
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"the roster Feaster envisioned when he finished building it in August."

Please don't say "finished" building. I sure hope he's not done.

I'm really starting to thing that Cammi, as much as I love the guy, is a bit superfluous. Once Hudler and Cervenka draw back into the line up, I think it would be wise for Feaster to package Cammi with other assets and get a center that can legitimately play a top 2 center; closer to 1st line.

I said before the season began that if Baertschi won a spot on the roster, we would have to move some wingers, preferably LW. Of course, getting a legit center is only "if" we are "going for it." At this point, I'm still on the trade for picks train. Cammi for a 1st + would be sooooo nice. Who needs scoring from the wing?

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#9 jeremywilhelm
January 22 2013, 11:05AM
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Bouwmeester to St. Louis for Berglund and a First? Think they'd do it? It'll be a late first. Move Kipper to the wings for Franson and Reimer/Scrivens? Scrivens and Reimer look like an excellent set of young goalies.

I'm surprised Franson isn't playing more, I believe Chemmy looked at his numbers last season and he was deceptively good.

I have no idea why I'm posting trade ideas, I just had these stuck in my head.

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#10 schevvy
January 22 2013, 11:25AM
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@jeremywilhelm

No Franson, he's awful. As bad as Kipper's been, I would rather keep him over trading him for that. And Scrivens was the dude who gave up 2 in 3 seconds to Abby. Plus it's to the Leafs, so no.

J-Bo for Berglund and a 1st would be incredible, but very highly unlikely. Berglund's an extremely talented young guy and someone I doubt St. Louis would part with.

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#11 jeremywilhelm
January 22 2013, 11:30AM
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Weird, I just got a "your ip has been banned" from flamesnation.

And yet, I can now post. Weird.

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#13 Kevin R
January 22 2013, 11:36AM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

Bouwmeester to St. Louis for Berglund and a First? Think they'd do it? It'll be a late first. Move Kipper to the wings for Franson and Reimer/Scrivens? Scrivens and Reimer look like an excellent set of young goalies.

I'm surprised Franson isn't playing more, I believe Chemmy looked at his numbers last season and he was deceptively good.

I have no idea why I'm posting trade ideas, I just had these stuck in my head.

Thinking of trades myself. JBO has the skills but he so badly needs a fresh start with a new team. Personally, I think we could trade him & let Brodie take his place in the top 4 & we wouldnt be worse off by it. I was thinking Ottawa is shopping for D & send him there for a 1st, Bishop & another prospect as Ottawa has tons of them. Either that or Detroit may still be interested. I think we need to keep Kipper.If we trade him, well then, thats waving the white flag too soon. We have too many forwards once Cerevenka & Hudler are back, something has to give. I like the direction we are going but circumstances are lining up that we will have a great draft pick whether we sell off or not. We need to give Hartley a full training camp to get the flow of the game to his liking. I like where this is headed.

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#14 RexLibris
January 22 2013, 11:51AM
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@jeremywilhelm

Last I'd heard was that Berglund was on St. Louis' untouchable list. Rattie might be a piece in play.

Reimer and Scrivens would be an excellent duo for a rebuilding team. They could almost guarantee a high pick.

I don't mind Franson, but I think he needs to be slotted in to a depth position. Trying to make him a key defensive option would be a big mistake at this point in his career.

The Cammalleri trade idea is interesting (T&A4Flames). Cammalleri to a team for a 2nd line center option is intriguing. I can't think of many 2nd line centers that are readily available, but a few years back Carter and Richards appeared to be locked up for the long-term, so anything is possible.

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#15 Miami Dolphins
January 22 2013, 12:19PM
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Wow, please pass the kool-aid. This team is going to be a bottom feeder for the next couple years for sure. Is it so wrong to admit that? Columbus took Detroiot to overtime yesterday so does that means two games in that we don't know if Columbus is a good team or not?

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#16 Subversive
January 22 2013, 12:20PM
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Back to the point of the original article, I think the Flames could have won both games and felt good about it, despite the weak stretches at points. No team dominates a game for 60 minutes, it's ridiculous to expect them to, despite what coaches and Charlie Simmer say about putting in a '60 minute effort'. Kipper was the lesser goaltender each of the first two games. If he's the better goaltender in either of those games, they win it.

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#17 NateBaldwin
January 22 2013, 12:29PM
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@Miami Dolphins

I think what Kent is trying to stress is that a two game segment occurring at the beginning of a shortened season in which there was no preseason and injuries to key players isn't indicative of much of anything.

Personally i'm not really giving weight to anything that happens across the first ten games or so of any team.

Your example, in which I assume you're imply Columbus is in fact a bad team, doesn't support your assertion that Calgary will be a bottom feeder.

Columbus has been consistently bad.

Calgary has been consistently middling.

no kool-aid there.

or something like that...

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#18 clyde
January 22 2013, 12:43PM
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This team is bad and getting worse. The decline of Kipper is the final nail. But, I want a rebuild so I am ok as long as we trade the aging core and get moving forward rather than the same old thing every year. Wouldn't it be great to get a couple of good young prospects and a couple more 1st round draft choices to go with our projected top 3 pick? Mix that in with some of the youngsters we are accumulating plus another high draft next year and we are on our way back up.

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#19 suba steve
January 22 2013, 12:48PM
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NateBaldwin wrote:

I think what Kent is trying to stress is that a two game segment occurring at the beginning of a shortened season in which there was no preseason and injuries to key players isn't indicative of much of anything.

Personally i'm not really giving weight to anything that happens across the first ten games or so of any team.

Your example, in which I assume you're imply Columbus is in fact a bad team, doesn't support your assertion that Calgary will be a bottom feeder.

Columbus has been consistently bad.

Calgary has been consistently middling.

no kool-aid there.

or something like that...

Agreed that 2 games is not necessarily anything to get excited about. However, if they get to game eight and are at 2-5-1, then they are virtually a lock to miss the playoffs. Now, I think that would be a good thing and a good time to burn it to the ground. I disagree with your assertion that "i'm not really giving weight to anything that happens across the first ten games or so". Ten games is 20% of this season and if this team is in trouble after that span, they are DONE.

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#20 NateBaldwin
January 22 2013, 12:50PM
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@suba steve

I should have clarified, I mean no weight to any assessment of the quality of a team.

You are 100% correct that we could be out of the race by game 10, and I too would love it if we were....

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#21 DangleSnipeCelly
January 22 2013, 12:52PM
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Subversive wrote:

Yeah, if there was ever a year to do it, this is the one. Short season, so the pain of losing will be as short as possible, deep draft, and tons of money coming off the books after the season. Perfect timing.

I couldn't agree more... sell sell sell. Not because of the two loses, because of the last three + seasons. This is the perfect situation.

Heck if we can pickup Rattie and draft Jones - add them to SVEN and TSpoon we can have our own mini Winterhawks team!

I'm starting to feel like Kipper will not be a tradable asset... I feel retirement to Finland coming after this season.

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#22 SmellOfVictory
January 22 2013, 12:56PM
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Mini-Winterhawks or not, I'd rather avoid trading for Rattie, and draft-wise I prefer MacKinnon or Barkov to Jones.

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#23 mikeH
January 22 2013, 12:56PM
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Damn you and your logic KW. Are you out of your Vulcan mind? Those were TWO LOSSES! BLOW IT UP! FIRE SOMEONE! Launch the lifeboats already!

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#24 clyde
January 22 2013, 01:08PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

Mini-Winterhawks or not, I'd rather avoid trading for Rattie, and draft-wise I prefer MacKinnon or Barkov to Jones.

Trade Kipper to the Leafs. Maybe we end up with Jones and Barkov or Monahan??

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#25 Willi P
January 22 2013, 01:22PM
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Kent the pragmatic optimist. Who'd of thought. Can't disagree with your analysis (puts things in perspective, thanks!) However, if the Flames crash and burn and only win one game this year, I hope it is Wednesday. Love the panic setting in on the Left Coast.

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#26 Fats
January 22 2013, 01:28PM
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Any chance we can steal Nino away from the Isles? What would we have to give up? Is Snow dumb enough to take Stajan?

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#27 T&A4Flames
January 22 2013, 01:37PM
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suba steve wrote:

Agreed that 2 games is not necessarily anything to get excited about. However, if they get to game eight and are at 2-5-1, then they are virtually a lock to miss the playoffs. Now, I think that would be a good thing and a good time to burn it to the ground. I disagree with your assertion that "i'm not really giving weight to anything that happens across the first ten games or so". Ten games is 20% of this season and if this team is in trouble after that span, they are DONE.

I want to see trades that bring in futures for us but I don't think we have to burn it to the ground. If we trade 2 maybe even 3 of Iggy, Cammi, Tangs or Glenx we still have 1 or 2 of those vets/top 6'ers along with Hudler, hopefully Cervenka & Stempniak to fill out a top 9. Add a couple of decent FA and we can still be competitive. We will have also grabbed with those trades, 2 or 3 other 1st rounders and a couple of good prospects depending on returns. If we also move JBo that's even more. This year would hurt but no more than the last 3 IMO, but we are looking up after that.

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#29 suba steve
January 22 2013, 01:51PM
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@Kent Wilson

One man's pessimist, is my realist.

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#30 VK63
January 22 2013, 01:56PM
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Meh... if they chase schnieder on Wednesday. We can all regale in the sh8t show that shall be the nucks scribes heaving perfectly solid players under some very large implements.

Its gonna be great!!!!

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#31 suba steve
January 22 2013, 02:00PM
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@T&A4Flames

Sounds good to me. Really, my definition of burn it to the ground is to trade Iggy...and Kipper if he can still get a good return. Then if someone offers something stupid at the trade deadline for Stempniak etc, then I would be willing to listen. Glencross, to me should be retained, he has been great value and signed that contract to stay in Calgary. JBo can go if offers are good.

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#32 DangleSnipeCelly
January 22 2013, 02:16PM
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Fats wrote:

Any chance we can steal Nino away from the Isles? What would we have to give up? Is Snow dumb enough to take Stajan?

They just mentioned him on Team radio in Vancouver as a long shot maybe for the Nucks in a Luongo deal. Apparently he led his AHL team in scoring as a 20 year old and wasn't even invited to camp. Sounds like he's pissed and wants out. I know him and SVEN are buddies to...

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#33 T&A4Flames
January 22 2013, 02:40PM
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suba steve wrote:

Sounds good to me. Really, my definition of burn it to the ground is to trade Iggy...and Kipper if he can still get a good return. Then if someone offers something stupid at the trade deadline for Stempniak etc, then I would be willing to listen. Glencross, to me should be retained, he has been great value and signed that contract to stay in Calgary. JBo can go if offers are good.

I agree, GlenX is the guy I would like to keep. Also can't disagree that if the price is right (overpayment), trade all those guys I said.

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#34 First Name Unidentified
January 22 2013, 03:19PM
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This is a question to all the knowledgeable readers: I was just told by one of my colleagues that this year's draft will be determined by your final standing at the end of the season but rather an average of the previous 3 year's standings.

This didn't sound correct to me, but thought i would check. Anybody care to throw some light?

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#35 Emir
January 22 2013, 03:24PM
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Nobody will overpay for any of our assets unless we are in the playoff mix. Our assets have to be performing good to get good value, if they are not performing well, we will get low balled. I don't care for a 2nd round pick at all.

So as a result of this reality the only time we should trade our asset to maximize value is at the exact same point and time when the organization is not committed to selling.

So yeah... Go Flames.

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#36 NateBaldwin
January 22 2013, 03:24PM
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@First Name Unidentified

That was going to be the case in the event of a locked out season (with a few other considerations [playoff performance, number of high draft picks etc.]), but I assume it's buisiness as usual, or at least buisiness as informed by the newly minted CBA, when it comes to draft rules this year.

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#37 NateBaldwin
January 22 2013, 03:26PM
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@Emir

it is possible for an individual player to be doing well while the team isn't.

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#38 Emir
January 22 2013, 03:26PM
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@First Name Unidentified

I thought it was a lottery amongst all the non playoff teams, and after the winner of the lottery it would go according to regular season ranking.

But I'm also not sure at all, probably going to take some time as the new CBA is being dissected.

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#39 clyde
January 22 2013, 03:28PM
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Emir wrote:

Nobody will overpay for any of our assets unless we are in the playoff mix. Our assets have to be performing good to get good value, if they are not performing well, we will get low balled. I don't care for a 2nd round pick at all.

So as a result of this reality the only time we should trade our asset to maximize value is at the exact same point and time when the organization is not committed to selling.

So yeah... Go Flames.

I think more teams will believe they have a chance which will lead to a greater chance for an overpayment. Look how much the Oilers got for Dustin Penner even though everyone knew they were trying to run him out of town.

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#40 Fats
January 22 2013, 03:29PM
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DangleSnipeCelly wrote:

They just mentioned him on Team radio in Vancouver as a long shot maybe for the Nucks in a Luongo deal. Apparently he led his AHL team in scoring as a 20 year old and wasn't even invited to camp. Sounds like he's pissed and wants out. I know him and SVEN are buddies to...

Big body, likes to hit and fight in the corners... young and he can score. With him and Sven playing together and friends in Portland, I really don't see how the flames can not be kicking the tires around on this trade... seems like it's what the team needs... hopefully it happens

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#42 First Name Unidentified
January 22 2013, 03:47PM
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Thanks Kent, Emir and NateBaldwin for replying. Very helpful! I already fed my colleague sh!t...

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#43 Kurt
January 22 2013, 03:49PM
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NateBaldwin wrote:

I'm honestly hoping for a bottom five finish, it's a shortened season, and a deep draft. This is the year to sell assets and jumpstart a nuclear rebuild. They won't... but it would be nice.

^^^ THIS

short season (minimal pain) + deep draft = nuclear rebuild.

Also, remember when the national news headline out of Flames training camp was the "stunning save" Kipper made in practice. Could that have been the high point for this season?

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#44 Avalain
January 22 2013, 04:08PM
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If it helps anyone put this in perspective, we're tied in points with LA, Washington, Philly, and NYR.

That being said, we're dead last in the West.

While it's true that you really can't say anything about the season after 10 games, I'd say with the shortened season you'd probably have to look at around 6 games or so. After all, one bad luck run for any team could sink them out of the playoffs this year.

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#45 RexLibris
January 22 2013, 04:08PM
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I was wondering when the Niederreiter rumour would come up here. It would probably be a good addition, but the Flames would have to pay in picks because I can't see them having anything else of interest to Snow. The Islanders certainly wouldn't be interested in taking back a lot of salary.

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#46 the-wolf
January 22 2013, 04:12PM
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Kurt wrote:

^^^ THIS

short season (minimal pain) + deep draft = nuclear rebuild.

Also, remember when the national news headline out of Flames training camp was the "stunning save" Kipper made in practice. Could that have been the high point for this season?

I'll pile on since this has more or less been my position for 3 years plus.

In both games, it seems that once the opposition stepped it up, the Flames were outmatched. They only thrived when SJ and AD took their foot off the gas or hadn't yet stepped on it.

The common theme: our top players were no match for theirs.

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#47 Old Soldier
January 22 2013, 04:24PM
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Just tossing this in for discussion...Nino Niederreiter has formerly asked the Islanders to be traded....someone for the Flames to target?

What could they offer the Islanders? (And dont even think about dumping old assets off on the young Islanders, Snow isnt an idiot).

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#48 DangleSnipeCelly
January 22 2013, 04:24PM
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RexLibris wrote:

I was wondering when the Niederreiter rumour would come up here. It would probably be a good addition, but the Flames would have to pay in picks because I can't see them having anything else of interest to Snow. The Islanders certainly wouldn't be interested in taking back a lot of salary.

No Picks! Snow is crazy... send him Stajan, some tinfoil and a bouncy ball in exchange for Nino, he'll go for it.

We have a LOT of needs, LW isn't really one of them.

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#49 DangleSnipeCelly
January 22 2013, 04:27PM
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Old Soldier wrote:

Just tossing this in for discussion...Nino Niederreiter has formerly asked the Islanders to be traded....someone for the Flames to target?

What could they offer the Islanders? (And dont even think about dumping old assets off on the young Islanders, Snow isnt an idiot).

I beg to differ on the "Snow isn't an idiot" comment.... they don't call it Fantasy Island for nothing!

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#50 Jonathan Happy
January 22 2013, 04:28PM
Trash it!
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@Old Soldier

``Snow isnt an idiot).``

Except for that Dipietro deal.

I think it would take a first rounder at least, and potentially a roster player. As long as they don`t trade Backlund, Sven, Brodie, or Gaudreau, I don`t care who they give up.

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