Tax time! Evaluating the Flames Assets

RexLibris
April 26 2013 09:02AM

 

 

The Flames are going to rebuild. They are also going to focus on the draft, developing talent, attracting free-agents, making the playoffs next season, painting the house, learning Tagalog, and restarting the Middle East peace process. All while providing internet fan forums with wonderful management pop-psych phrases like "post-apex".

When embarking on any constructive venture the two key elements are to first define one’s end-goal, ideally one that is measurable in some fashion. The second is to identify the assets available to achieve that goal.

The goal we know: challenge for the playoffs in the 2013-2014 season.

The assets? Let’s take an objective look at what the Flames have that can be used to help them achieve that goal.

A quick note: some readers may disagree with my generalized ranking or grouping of some players listed. Fair enough, and I won’t argue too much about the relative value of player x or prospect y. We never know until that value is cashed in, but as a guideline I have tried to include factors such as contract length and value, age, performance, position and external league issues such as a declining salary cap and potential glut of free-agents following a period of amnesty buyouts.

I’m not suggesting that Jay Feaster trade all or even any of these items listed. Instead, look at it from the perspective of “this is how much of each thing the organization has, what might that be worth in addressing roster needs in order to achieve the end-goal of a playoff position”.

So let’s begin with the Flames’ NHL roster players, then prospects, picks and finally an asset that I refer to as a convergence of void.

 

The NHL Roster

To begin with, there are approximately three tiers of NHL player-assets.

The top tier, in my estimation, consists of Curtis Glencross, Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Mikael Backlund and Sven Baertschi. These are either established players who can provide an immediate benefit for another team or promising prospects who are going through the early growing pains of development. I honestly doubt Feaster moves any of these players as they ultimately serve the purpose the Flames are said to be pursuing.

The second tier would be veteran players such as Michael Cammalleri, Lee Stempniak, Jiri Hudler, Matt Stajan and Tim Jackman. These players either have a lower talent ceiling or have contracts that make their acquisition more than simply a playoff rental. There is a commitment owing here to the acquiring team that may reduce the return offered.

This is a more mixed-bag where some players have intrinsic value to a team looking to compete (Jackman and Stempniak) while the other, (Cammalleri) represents a sizable contract and a movement clause that can prove unwieldy when negotiating a trade. Hudler has significant value as a depth scorer, but his contract term may cause reservations amongst a few teams.

The third tier is largely made up of players who would likely be the most difficult to move in a trade while still addressing immediate needs. This group would include Dennis Wideman, Alex Tanguay, Blair Jones, Cory Sarich, Derek Smith, Chris Butler, Paul Byron and Roman Horak. Be it contract, talent, or age, these players represent the least attractive of the Flames’ roster assets. Some of these players may be buyout options.

I have left Kirpusoff off the list based on the undetermined nature of his contract next season. Similarly, I have omitted Karri Ramo as I don’t feel he is a player/prospect that the Flames would move right now. There are also several players who are either RFAs or AHL level talents and would not represent an NHL asset of any appreciable value.

 

The New Kids on the Block

The prospects the Flames have are likely to rank in order of interest or potential value: Sven Baertschi, John Gaudreau, Laurent Brossoit, Jon Gillies, Tyler Wotherspoon, Max Reinhart, Mark Jankowski, Pat Sieloff and Markus Granlund. With the exception of Sven Baertschi, none of the above is close to making an impact on the Flames roster next season.

The newly-acquired Hanowski, Agostino, and company are interesting in that they are NCAA players on the cusp of turning pro, but I think it would be unwise to describe any of them at this time as impact NHL players.

There is not a sufficient pool of talent or depth to afford the Flames the ability to deal away prospects without further endangering their future. It doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be done, but I strongly doubt that Jay Feaster reverses a trend of valuing prospects by trading them away at this point.

 

The Future Awaits

The Flames have a number of draft assets this year (nine in total) and a full complement of selections in the coming two seasons that could be leveraged to improve the hockey club. While I believe that their own 1st round pick this year is more or less untouchable, Feaster's willingness to submit an offer sheet for Ryan O'Reilly implies that this is not always set in stone and based on team expectations next year’s 1st rounder may well be in play. It should also be noted that the further down the draft order the Flames pick falls, the more open they may become to dealing it for an NHL-ready player.

I believe that the two later 1st round picks received in trade this season are almost certainly up for bid. That being said, the symbolic value of those picks because of their connection to Bouwmeester and Iginla isn’t going to translate to another GM’s point of view. Management may feel that fans have an expectation of something significant to show for the prized pieces of those two trades, yet in this draft year, and with teams prioritizing the disposal of highly-priced veterans over young, affordable talent, the Flames genealogical line that began with Kent Nilsson may end ignominiously this spring.

The Flames' own first round pick this year will likely fall somewhere between 4th and 7th overall and may or may not be of the caliber whereby one could expect a significant impact, or even necessarily an appearance, on the NHL team next season. The roster holes on the team are such that hopes of resurgence cannot be pinned entirely on one rookie. This isn’t to say that the player selected couldn’t make the Flames roster for opening day, just that one cannot say with certainty that it will be the case or that it would necessarily be in the best interests of either party.

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

The final asset the Flames enjoy at this time, and the one most likely to be fully exploited by management, is actually a mixture of two voids that complement one another: cap space and roster openings. The Flames have a significant amount of available cap space coming this summer (currently projected to be around $18.5 million, according to capgeek) and roster holes at virtually every single position, be it forward, defense or goal.

Here we may see a disparity between opportunity and ability to fulfill. Cap space and roster room does not automatically translate to elite free-agents. The Flames have had a gaping hole at center for years now and two summers ago were flush with cap space, yet Brad Richards famously refused to sign there out of preference for New York. Where one player may look at a roster and see playing opportunities, another may only see a weak team with few chances to win. Feaster does not have a strong track record on contract negotiations and is perhaps mediocre at best on signing free agents so we will have to wait to see if opportunity begets success.

To draw on a familiar geographic metaphor, the Flames roster is something like the wild west, where money can be made by anyone bold enough to step in and earn it. That void allows for significant change and the team has the financial ability to exercise that option. Whether it will be used wisely and that the money and opportunity will attract the proverbial best and brightest remains to be seen.

When all is said and done, this is perhaps the strongest asset the organization has going into the summer.

 

Room For Change 

Based on a review of the team's total assets, the options for Jay Feaster are likely going to veer towards free-agency, a pool that may yet add some depth this off-season once the compliance buyouts have taken place. As well, he could decide in favour of trading current and future draft picks for NHL players deemed expendable due to salary cap concerns from teams that would choose not to exercise a compliance buyout.

As Kent noted in a recent article, there are also opportunities to take advantage of mismanaged teams. While this is sound management advice, I believe the Flames to be one of those mismanaged teams and only time will tell if they can exploit another franchise while occupying a position of perceived weakness.

The last option, and one that I am hesitant to mention here, is to submit an offer sheet to an RFA this summer. The RFA list is somewhat underwhelming, but if Feaster felt that his roster had improved enough following the draft and free-agency period, he may choose to target some specific players to complement that roster and rebuild by raiding other teams’ talent pools.

The list of RFAs at the time of this writing include Tukka Rask, Sam Gagner, Blake Wheeler, Alex Pietrangelo, Zach Bogosian, and Patrick Berglund, to name a few. Pietrangelo is almost a guarantee to come off that list by the time the summer rolls around. Rask as well. But there are some options remaining that could prove very interesting for the Flames, if they were to pursue this strategy. Not a single one of these players alone (outside of perhaps Pietrangelo) is enough to make a significant difference, but if added to a rebuilt roster with appropriate support, it could be a move that would pay potential dividends.

 

Rolling the Hard Six

It is not outside the realm of possibility that Jay Feaster hits the phonelines heavily this off-season, beginning at the draft, and cobbles together a roster capable of competing against Nashville, Chicago, Vancouver, Dallas, San Jose, Anaheim, Minnesota, Columbus, Edmonton, Phoenix and the rest of the teams in the two Western divisions. They will need to outpace a number of teams next season to secure a playoff position and the race for those wildcard spots is likely to be intense, forcing some managers to make rash or impulsive decisions. The Flames don’t need to be the best team in the West to make the playoffs, they just need to be better than the crowd that follows the elite few.

I should make it clear here that I would not advise the team to pursue many of the options mentioned above. Ownership has made its intentions clear about next season and one has to surmise that Feaster and the rest of his team will wager heavily to try and meet those expectations.

The danger in this is that a large wager usually comes with a great cost and high risk.

Given the playoff uncertainty for most teams on more sound organizational footing, risking a windfall of draft picks, future picks and prospects, or leveraging the team’s ongoing financial flexibility in a salary cap landscape are all significant risks to take on. They would also represent something of a magnification of the worst traits of Darryl Sutter’s last few seasons as GM. In short, if they screw this up, the recovery could take the better part of this decade to sort through.

The Flames are facing a crossroads of sorts and, to paraphrase Robert Frost, it would appear they are choosing the path less taken. The odds are stacked against them, the situation is grim, and most of the outside world is waiting for them to fail. That sounds like something most Flames fans I know would welcome with a determined grin.

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#1 dotfras
April 26 2013, 09:41AM
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I'd love Berglund.

He'd fit right in with his last name & all.

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#2 Kent Wilson
April 26 2013, 09:46AM
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A lot of people seem to be putting Tanguay in or near the "toxic asset" bin, but I disagree - even though his two-way game is now lousy, he's still a high-end puck distributor and although his deal is long, it's certainly no onerous at $3.5M a year.

I'd be surprised if the Flames couldn't get an asset or two in return for Tangs should they choose to move him.

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#3 suba steve
April 26 2013, 09:51AM
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At a recent press conference, Feaster made a statement about being tasked (by ownership) with making the playoffs next season. It is my belief that that statement should not be taken seriously, and that the future actions of management will demonstrate that.

If I am wrong, then the Flames are in big trouble.

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#4 Subz
April 26 2013, 10:01AM
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"Brad Richards famously refused to sign there out of preference for New York"

I thought that’s how free agency works, players are free to choose were they sign? It is hardly a Dany Heatley refusing type situation. I agree though we won’t be a top choice of NHL free agents, but that is blessing for now we have way too many holes to be filled by free agency. All that would accomplish is another middling team.

I believe weisbrod is the guy making most of the hockey calls, and will be free to do what he and Jay see fit. Previous years I think decision making was severely hindered by managements mandate to go for it.

It’s a clean slate for me, here’s hoping we catch lighting in a bottle with our draft choices, and NCAA players.

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#5 suba steve
April 26 2013, 10:02AM
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@Kent Wilson

"I'd be surprised if the Flames couldn't get an asset or two in return for Tangs should they choose to move him."

I'd be surprised to see them get much in return for Tanguay without eating significant salary in return. Especially not THIS offseason. His pay rate and his recent seasons away from CGY would scare me if I was a GM.

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#6 Subz
April 26 2013, 10:04AM
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@suba steve

I completly agree, what can he say were looking to tank ? Though in Feasters case probably saying less is more.

I will be looking to see direction, and signs of a plan and progress next season.

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#11 ChinookArch
April 26 2013, 10:24AM
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Subz wrote:

"Brad Richards famously refused to sign there out of preference for New York"

I thought that’s how free agency works, players are free to choose were they sign? It is hardly a Dany Heatley refusing type situation. I agree though we won’t be a top choice of NHL free agents, but that is blessing for now we have way too many holes to be filled by free agency. All that would accomplish is another middling team.

I believe weisbrod is the guy making most of the hockey calls, and will be free to do what he and Jay see fit. Previous years I think decision making was severely hindered by managements mandate to go for it.

It’s a clean slate for me, here’s hoping we catch lighting in a bottle with our draft choices, and NCAA players.

Not Heatly, or Hossa, or Peca or Pronger and on and on.

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#12 marty
April 26 2013, 10:28AM
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the return doesn't have to be high for tangs. if they can get a pick or prospect i'd say move him even if they eat a mill of salary. Berglund is a player i've hoped the flames somehow aquire for a couple years now. i hope feaster stays away from the offersheets. Also the flames have 2 months til the draft. They could promote king or do whatever they plan to do with him and get in a new president and possibly gm. feaster could be a vp because he like to spout the company line and i do enjoy the edmonton bashing. lets just all hope that this off season some inroads are made to heading up the standings the next few years. we can't go much further down.

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#13 suba steve
April 26 2013, 10:29AM
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@RexLibris

"However, there is also a time and a place for honesty and sincerity."

The man has a LAW degree. I think expecting honesty (in future business matters at least) is expecting a bit much.

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#14 hamburgler
April 26 2013, 10:34AM
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just a stab in the dark, but do you think Feaster and co go after Bobby Ryan? Lets say St Louis 1st plus middle tier roster player? He has long rumoured to be on the outs, and Ducks may be facing some cap troubles...

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#15 ChinookArch
April 26 2013, 10:38AM
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In fairness Rex, I believe you have missed an entire Teir of Palyers. Useful players (for the Flames) with a low percieved value to other teams. While, Tanguay, Wideman, Cammaleri and Hjudler are overpaid and/or have contracts that are too long. They are none the less useful players. The Flames will likely retain all ofthem, for no other reason that they are not easily replaced for a higher price than the Flames are currently paying them. Also, you should not underestimate that fact that each of these players are Feaster signings.

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#16 Avalain
April 26 2013, 10:38AM
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suba steve wrote:

At a recent press conference, Feaster made a statement about being tasked (by ownership) with making the playoffs next season. It is my belief that that statement should not be taken seriously, and that the future actions of management will demonstrate that.

If I am wrong, then the Flames are in big trouble.

I agree with you. The task of making the playoffs next year seems to be something that they tell the average fans who are considering if they want to keep their season tickets next year.

I'm hoping that Feaster tries to "make" the playoffs with short term ufa deals and maybe by trading vets away for younger players and good prospects...

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#17 Parallex
April 26 2013, 10:39AM
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Team Goals at the Draft/Free Agency (Apart from the actual drafting) should be:

1: Trade Tanguay, Smith, and Butler 2: Sign Nathan Horton 3: Acquire a top 4 defenseman (either through 1 or through free agency)

I figure after RFA's are settled and terms are met with Ramo that they'll have $12,000,000.00 to accomplish the above.

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#18 everton fc
April 26 2013, 10:40AM
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Just curious, but how did Bancks look vs. the Avs? Missed that...

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#19 Parallex
April 26 2013, 10:46AM
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Also I disagree about Tanguay being a toxic asset his term is long yes but he doesn't have a full NMC... he has a modified NTC and at 3.5M per his cap hit is decent. I could easily see a team wanting him. In fact the only reason I think that they should try really hard to trade him is because I want a spot for Sven and I want Horton.

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#20 Parallex
April 26 2013, 10:47AM
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everton fc wrote:

Just curious, but how did Bancks look vs. the Avs? Missed that...

To be honest I didn't notice him at all. He left no impression whatsoever... take that for what you will.

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#21 ChinookArch
April 26 2013, 10:50AM
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I've been thinking that the Flames may be in the position to utilize another asset not discuss in Rex's post. The Flames may be one of the few teamas with both deep pockets and the ability to buyout someone's problem. Montreal for example is still ove pr next year's cap with 24 committed contacts and 1/2 a dozen RFA's to sign. They have also used up their one buyout option for next year. Maybe the Flames can buyout one more of their players for an RFA and a pick. Montreal gets the cap space they desparately need and at a reasonable cost.

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#22 Subz
April 26 2013, 11:00AM
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@ChinookArch

Certainly the team is capable of taking advantage of their financial situation, will they is another question, going from track record there was reluctance to burry kotalik's contract in the ahl.

It’s an interesting thought no past rebuilds due to previous CBA (I think), have used cap space as an asset that I can remember. It’s a real opportunity, and the flames biggest chip to speed up the process to acquire talent.

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#23 seve927
April 26 2013, 11:03AM
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I think the UFA target should be Clarkson. Outstanding player and perfect fit here, the only problem being his age. Still, I would expect him to be an excellent player for the next 3 to 5 years.

It seems that St. Louis can't find room for all of their excellent D to play. I can't understand why Ian Cole hasn't stayed up. By the looks of his numbers, when he's been playing he's gotten the toughest minutes and handled them extremely well. Since he's an AHL defenceman to them at age 24 I can't imagine the price would be too high, and see him as a very good shutdown option.

Those two moves are all I'd like to see before next season. By the trade deadline I don't think there's any problem moving Cammalleri,Tanguay and/or Sarich. I'd be looking for 2015 draft picks to replace the ones used when Feaster takes another run at O'Reilly a year from this July.

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#24 mattyc
April 26 2013, 11:15AM
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I think Tanguay is a really useful top 6 player, and will be for a couple more years. He also has a very reasonable cap-hit. I'm not sure Wideman or Tanguay will be shopped, but i disagree with them put in the same category as Paul Byron. There'd almost certainly be interest if Wideman or Tanguay were being shopped.

I also disagree with your premise. I think folks (in general) have been too fixated with Feaster's "make the playoffs next year" mandate. Perhaps that's the short term goal, but its almost certainly a secondary goal. The 'end-goal' as you call it, Rex, is something more along the lines of "become a western powerhouse" or "be in a position to challenge for the stanley cup every year".

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#25 Kevin R
April 26 2013, 11:36AM
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Well written Rex! Enjoyed the read. I do disagree with your 3rd tier. I dont believe Tanguay or Wideman are buyouts & should be in the no value asset category. Wideman has been actually what I expected this year & I'm happy with him in our top 4 D. That is exactly what he is on many teams in the league. Him & Gio will be veterans on a defence that will look at a lot of young guys & support Brodie as he continues to grow his game. Tanguay will depend on attitude, either he wants to be here for the rebuild or not. Him & Cammi can be valuable trade pieces at next years trade deadline & yes there will be value there.

As for Horak & Jones, they are functional replacement players that can play in the AHL but are very functional when called up. They are straddling the line of AHL/NHL. You need these kind of players because they are basically at league minimums for cap hits.

I also dont agree with your conclusion of Feasters disregard for the 1st pick because of what happened with the Ryan Oreilly offer sheet. At the time, we were still thinking playoffs & JBO & Iggy were Flames. The thought that our 2013 first would be anywhere close to a lotto pick did not even hit the radar or that offer sheet would never have happened.

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#26 FireOnIce
April 26 2013, 11:49AM
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Ryan Miller and Vinny Lecavalier. That's who Feaster will try to target.

It's going to be a fun summer.

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#27 everton fc
April 26 2013, 11:50AM
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We need a guy like Clarkson. And more like him. This is the type of player you draft. On both sides of the ice, if you can find them.

I still have slim hopes Ferland can turn into this type of player. Probably won't, but one must dream a little, being a fan of this franchise. I don't even think Clarkson was drafted. You never know. And I think taking a stab at Bobby Ryan would be wise, as well.

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#28 FireOnIce
April 26 2013, 11:52AM
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Also, neither Nathan Horton nor Chris Stewart will be coming to Calgary (for the people suggesting we sign them). Horton has said he loves Boston and they love him - I don't think he'll be cast off anytime soon. Stewart has had a resurgence in St Louis and I doubt they let him go (although he's more likely than Horton to do so).

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#29 dotfras
April 26 2013, 12:09PM
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Some RFA/UFA's I hope we can target:

RFA Grant Clitsome WPG - Puck moving Defenseman / Slots in as a 4/5 D.

UFA Matt Gilroy NYR - Offensive Defenseman / A bit of a reach cause he hasn't done well lately.

Would be nice to continue to add solid skating, offensive minded D to our team.....We have a ton of 2 way forwards, how about 2 way D!?

RFA Mason Raymond VAN - Great skating LW / Born in Calgary. Could we swing a deal to get him here? We'd probably have to eat cap space, but maybe in taking on additional salary, we could get rid of one of the guys we don't want.

RFA Bryan Bickel CHI - Another LW (but he shoots Right) / Solid, hard working depth guy who can put points on the board.

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#30 kittensandcookies
April 26 2013, 12:10PM
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We should be seeing Kipper with a new contract here soon.

I have a feeling we're going to get a bunch of "post-apex" free agent signings, and then Feaster will vehemently deny that the players are, in fact, "post-apex".

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#31 Dank
April 26 2013, 12:30PM
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Any chance TJ Brodie goes to the Worlds for Canada?

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#32 FireOnIce
April 26 2013, 12:32PM
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Dank wrote:

Any chance TJ Brodie goes to the Worlds for Canada?

There don't appear to be many Canadian D that could go, so I would hope so. Gio/GlenX and some others already turned them down.

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#33 Baalzamon
April 26 2013, 12:41PM
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"To draw on a familiar geographic metaphor, the Flames roster is something like the wild west..."

That's actually a simile. :)

--------------------------------------------------

Why do people (Parallex) think Horton would even consider signing in Calgary? He left Florida because they weren't a playoff team. Why would he willfully sign with a team he's never had any ties with whatsoever that doesn't look like it'll challenge for a playoff spot any time soon?

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#34 Baalzamon
April 26 2013, 12:51PM
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has anyone taken a gander at the latest mockdrafts put up on NHL.com? Funny stuff.

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#35 Parallex
April 26 2013, 12:53PM
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@FireOnIce

Where is Boston going to find the money to sign him? They have 5M in cap space for next season right now and in addition to Horton have to sign Rask, a back-up goalie, and depth d-man... and if they love him so much why no extension yet? He might well stay in Boston but I don't think it's at all a sure thing.

@Baalzamon

$$$

Horton didn't leave the Panthers they traded him, he probably would have left but it's not like he left in free agency. The Flames have the cap space and financial means to be players for just about anyone. I don't think that the Flames will for sure be able to get Horton... but I think they should try to get him.

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#36 dotfras
April 26 2013, 01:09PM
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I don't like Horton. For the money he'll be wanting, he doesn't produce enough & is an injury risk.

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#37 T&A4Flames
April 26 2013, 01:11PM
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Ok, I've just read through the opening 3 paragraphs. I'm hoping that the rest of this blog follows with the understanding that Feaster clarified his comments about making the PO next year. Not that they "have to" make them, but that it is the challenge to the players; to not accept a losing attitude.

Back to the blog......

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#43 piscera.infada
April 26 2013, 02:24PM
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If we do somehow manage to acquire Horton, I'm done. That would be a horrible FA pick up with the current state of the franchise.

I'm with Suba. I'm not sure Feaster's mandate is "all that and a bag of potato chips." The way I see the statement is just a confirmation that the team will try to remain competitive.

However, I also thought they (management) saw the writing on the wall regarding the rebuild two years ago. So I have been wrong before.

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#44 T&A4Flames
April 26 2013, 02:40PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

A lot of people seem to be putting Tanguay in or near the "toxic asset" bin, but I disagree - even though his two-way game is now lousy, he's still a high-end puck distributor and although his deal is long, it's certainly no onerous at $3.5M a year.

I'd be surprised if the Flames couldn't get an asset or two in return for Tangs should they choose to move him.

I absolutely agree. I was going to say he should be in Rex' 2nd tier pile.

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#45 T&A4Flames
April 26 2013, 02:43PM
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@suba steve

"I'd be surprised to see them get much in return for Tanguay without eating significant salary in return."

Eat significant salary? 3.5 is nothing. The thing that hurts Tangs is his length of term, not his $ figure.

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#46 T&A4Flames
April 26 2013, 02:48PM
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@RexLibris

"I always try to flip the scenario when trying to determine value for a player: how much would the Flames be willing to give up to acquire Tanguay in his current state and cap hit? A 2nd round pick? An AHL-level prosepct with NHL potential like Horak or Reinhart?"

It's irrelevant. CGY, in it's current form, would not trade for a player like Tanguay. The real question is what would a team that needs a top 6 play maker for a run over the next 3 years pay? Likely not a good propect, but a low 1st wouldn't be out of the question.

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#47 T&A4Flames
April 26 2013, 02:52PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

I've been thinking that the Flames may be in the position to utilize another asset not discuss in Rex's post. The Flames may be one of the few teamas with both deep pockets and the ability to buyout someone's problem. Montreal for example is still ove pr next year's cap with 24 committed contacts and 1/2 a dozen RFA's to sign. They have also used up their one buyout option for next year. Maybe the Flames can buyout one more of their players for an RFA and a pick. Montreal gets the cap space they desparately need and at a reasonable cost.

Maybe they'll give our 2nd back.

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#49 Kevin R
April 26 2013, 03:43PM
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Well, last years draft I dont think rebuild was on the agenda & without debating whether Seiloff & Jankowski was worth Tervanian or Ceci or Maata, I think at 14th spot, maybe 2 was better than 1 prospect. This year is a whole different ball of wax & quite frankly, I have no idea what to expect. The big 3 (Kipper, Iggy, JBO) will be gone, man that is a real mindset changer. I know how many hope for things to go but I have no idea how this 1st round at the draft is going to go. Rest assured, I will be glued to the TV watching.

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#50 Parallex
April 26 2013, 04:12PM
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RexLibris wrote:

What would you hope to get back for Smith or Butler and how might you suggest replacing those bodies on the blueline?

Horton is interesting, but I would be very wary of committing too much money or term (both traditional Flames' contract weaknesses) to a player with his concussion history.

The top 4 defenseman issue is a tough nut to crack because there are varying degrees of players who would qualify and a lot of teams looking for a similar option (Oilers and Red Wings, to name two).

For Smith and Butler? I would hope to get back anything at all... 5th or later round picks/prospects most likely. Anything you get for them is "found money" as far as I'm concerned. And I replace one of them internally (Cundari/Breen) the other I'd replace with a UFA/Trade. I'd probably go hunting for for a short-term deal (Compliance buyout candidate on another team for example that could be had for cheap in terms of assets back) on a vet. Nothing long-term for the D-man.

Not concerned with money... flames have lot's of cap space and owners willing to spend and we're looking up at having cost efficient ELC to lean on as well. I figure that the Cap will continue to escalate as it did under the prior CBA so any money you commit now will as a percentage of cap be a better deal going forward. Concussion history is troubling but something I'd be willing to take a gamble on.

We're looking to effectively replace Iginla so what we should be looking for is a sizeable guy who can score 20-30 goals a year but who also has a better two-way game. The only guy I see on the UFA market who fits that description and isn't on the wrong side of 30 is Horton.

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