Flames Trade Deadline - Final Thoughts

Kent Wilson
April 04 2013 10:52AM

 

It's been a long, frustrating road leading to this low point. Some saw the iceberg ahead, miles out, and hollered warnings with increasingly hoarse voices. To no avail.

In some ways, the franchise's determination to stay competitive and relevant indefinitely was a noble one, but the execution lacked the same clarity and conviction of the objective. While the Flames haven't been shy about spending money or furiously shuffling various pieces around each season and off-season, they consistently shied away from making the difficult decisions until time and circumstance forced their hands.

So the rebuild is here. It should have begun earlier, much earlier, and unfolded more gradually, but instead the ship is felled and we have been thrust into icey, dark waters. Be ready for some long nights, cold nights Flames fans.

- Obviously my fearless prediction that the Flames would finish above the Oilers isn't going to come to pass. My guiding assumption was that Calgary's terrible goaltending up to that point would improve before the end of the season, but it has actually somehow gotten worse in the interim (with no help from the skaters of course). I also underestimated at the time the degree to which management would commit to the rebuild and, also, how utterly Miikka Kiprusoff would throw in the towel on the season. 

- Pragmatically speaking, that's all a good thing of course. Most of the time, below replacement level puck-stopping is a disaster, but the Flames are in such a position that it can only hope to improve their future chances of success. All that's left for the team right now is to pile up the losses and then decide on who amongst the top-5 they are going to draft in June. The last thing they need to close out the season is for someone in net to go on a hot streak.

- My anger at the conclusion of the Kipper saga yesterday was genuine, although it wasn't directed at the player. There have been indications for going on five years now that Kipper was no longer the elite goalie of yore and that trading him and his declining abilities/giant cap hit was the right move to make.

But, because of the way the team was managed and the way asset was perceived, there was literally no other way for his time in Calgary to end but the way it has. For years the Flames seemed utterly determined to run Kiprusoff into the ground. Well, they have. And yet another formerly elite, previous cornerstone player is rendered worthless.

The management team had one last, best chance to move Kiprusoff this past summer. His NTC was gone, he was coming off an a-typically good season he wasn't likely to replicate and his contract was nearing its end.

They didn't.

In fact, they didn't even bother to acquire a meaningful insurance policy should their 36 year old goalie fall off a cliff. It was a gross oversight from whatever angle you look at it and furthermore it was predictable.

It sucks that Kipper's time in Calgary has to end in such a fashion. As I suggested, though, it seems the management of the team was determined to hand onto Kiprusoff until he either broke or retired.

- I would grade the Flames activities this past week or so rather poorly. There's a sort of resigned relief that the management group didn't do something outrageously stupid like trade Backlund for magic beans or acquire "veteran leadership to push this group over the edge" or some such nonsense, but the returns on what they did move were completely underwhelming.

Particularly in light of some of the other swaps made yesterday. Minnesota and Washington both traded significant prospects for players like Jason Pominville and Martin Erat (!). In fact, the Pominville package alone (Matt Hackett, Johan Larsson, a first round pick in 2013 and a second round pick in 2014) almost completely outclasses what Feaster garnered for both Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester combined. It's also baffling to me that a prospect of Filip Forsberg's caliber was available and moved for middling scorer like Erat amidst the Flames taking bids on just about every guy on the roster, including former core skaters.

- Another area where Feaster came up short was pruning some of the dead wood. In this he suffers by comparison as well, this time to the Sharks Doug Wilson. Somehow the San Jose GM converted lackluster assets like Doug Murray (slow, third pairing defender), Michal Handzus (barely replacement level 4th line center) and Ryane Clowe (declining top-6 winger without a single goal this season until last night) into a bevvy of futures: four second round picks (two conditional), a third round pick and a fourth round pick. The Flames, with a number of similar guys on the books, moved Comeau for a 5th. That's it.

One has to admire Wilson's efforts. The Sharks are battling for a playoff spot and are committed to competing, but he cut against convention and sold off marginal depth players anyways, rather that desperately running around trying to add them down the stretch (when, in fact, their impact is going to be minimal at best). When I noted in my intro that the Flames have lacked the clarity to effectively follow through on their professed goal of staying competitive over the last few years, it's this type of management and decision making I'm referring to - how many trade deadlines have come and gone where Calgary has needlessly hung onto (or needlessly acquired) bit pieces because they were "going for it"?

- On a more general note, it was a fascinating deadline to watch unfold. We often talk about "the trade market" as it was a single cohesive (and open) exchange of information and bartering, but clearly it can actually fragment into a series of individual negotiations in various virtual antechambers across the league. It seems these then develop into temporary "micro-markets", like maelstroms in the ocean, that really don't bear much resemblance to the prevailing winds.

High-end prospects weren't available in general - until they were. Big contracts with remaining years were hard to move because of the dropping cap, until they weren't. Jay Bouwmeester wasn't even worth a firm first round pick in 2013. Jason Pomminville scored two picks, including a firm first rounder, and two quality prospects to boot. 

Obviously factors were are blind to exerted some degree of influence on the resultant deals yesterday (pro scouting of each team, their weighting of future value, risks, the to-and-fro of talks, etc.) but it goes to show that trying to pinpoint and determine "the market" for a given player heading into time and pressure compressed events like the deadline can be a fools errand.  

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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#101 suba steve
April 04 2013, 07:48PM
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@Kurt

Economics says you are wrong. Flames will have $ on hip, BOS, PITT, LA, etc. have already spent theirs. Players like to go to a winner, but they also wanna get paid.

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#102 backburner
April 04 2013, 07:52PM
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suba steve wrote:

Economics says you are wrong. Flames will have $ on hip, BOS, PITT, LA, etc. have already spent theirs. Players like to go to a winner, but they also wanna get paid.

Totally agree.. Flames organization is one of the richest in the NHL and have proved that they are willing to throw down the money. I don't see any reason why they can't land any of the top UFA's on July 1st, and they probably will..

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#103 dotfras
April 04 2013, 09:20PM
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Blues with a 3rd period comeback - about to defeat the Hawks!

Edit: May have posted that too soon.

Double Edit: Nope, we're good. Now cheering for the Canucks.

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#104 Kypreos
April 04 2013, 10:14PM
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Trade the first round pick they picked up for either JBO or IGGY plus Gio to Colorado for their first.

Two picks in the top 5.

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#105 Derzie
April 04 2013, 11:31PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

One of the guys who talks like "FIST! I HATE THE FLAMERS! LOL! TOLDJA SO! PLAYOFFS! HURK HURK" is the same guy who created all these sites. The great Wanye.

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again. :-)

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#106 suba steve
April 05 2013, 07:37AM
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Kypreos wrote:

Trade the first round pick they picked up for either JBO or IGGY plus Gio to Colorado for their first.

Two picks in the top 5.

That would be great for CGY, but why would you do it if you were COL? Makes absolutly no sense at all. Would they do it for both those picks plus Gio? Don't think I would.

Last year CGY moved down from #14 to get #21 plus #42, that makes sense as the player you get at #14 is not likely to be a whole lot better then the one you can get at #21. Moving into the top 5 however, that is when you have high hopes/likelyhood of choosing a star (especially this year), and for that you have to PAY a premium. A 29 yr old 2nd pairing D-man, who just had a poor year playing as a 1st pairing D-man, does not qualify.

Besides, COL hates us now (ROR)!

Now for my plan to parlay Blake Comeau into the 1st overall pick.

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#107 mattyc
April 05 2013, 09:43AM
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@suba steve

Blake Comeau: the calgary flames' version of the 'red paperclip'.

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#108 dotfras
April 05 2013, 09:48AM
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@suba steve

Can anyone remember a time when a team HAS traded into the top 5?

What did that deal look like?

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#109 Scott Lemieux
April 05 2013, 10:09AM
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@Tach

Bouwmeester (as I understand it) had a full no-trade. Pominville's (again, as I understand it) was somewhat more restricted in that he could only list 8 teams he could not be traded to.

And even more importantly, Pominville is a better player and much cheaper. I really don't understand how this trade proves anything about the potential Bouwmeester return.

To complain about the Bouwmeester trade you have to assume that a mid-first rounder was the floor for what you could receive for him. I don't buy that at all. Three months ago, it would have been enormously difficult to unload his contract for nothing. Had he not played well down the stretch, had we waited until draft day teams might have figured out that with the cap crunch coming there were going to be better ways to spend $6.7 million. Holding him until draft day would have been a major risk -- you could have gotten marginally more, but there's a good chance of walking away with neither a first rounder nor an A prospect. As for the conditional pick, well, before the trades for Bouwmeester and Leopold the Blues had a 70% chance of making the playoffs. If you believe that there's a good chance -- rather than a remote possibility -- that the Blues miss the playoffs you're pretty much conceding that Bouwmeester isn't an impact player. So why should a team empty their farm system to take upwards of $7M of cap hit?

I agree entirely with Kent that the rebuild was horribly botched overall, and Iginla and Kiprusoff were handled badly. But with Bouwmesster, I just don't see it at all. He was worth more on April 1 than he was on February 1, and it's very likely that we would have been worth less in June. I'm not sure how it could have been handled better; if the return was underwhelming blame Sutter for signing him to a contact that was about $2.5 million a year more than he was worth.

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#110 the-wolf
April 05 2013, 11:04AM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

Are you certain he was aware of Forsberg? Many posters here make these massive assumptions about what players were available, what kind of returns THEY could have gotten etc etc. It's all innuendo and hearsay.

Us arm chair GM's think we have perfect information. The reality is we don't.

We evaluate things in a vaccuum and point out that certain GM's are morons. People complain about our return for Regher vs LA's. Well our trade happened in the summer when draft picks are less likely to be moved as teams are focused on the draft and not gaining pieces for a run like at the deadline (I think that is fair assessment). These details matter. It's fine to be critical but at least be fair, unbiased wrt perceived notions about a gm and then evaluate.

This is the thing that makes me laugh at people who think they know, when really they don't. The massive assumptions they make and take as fact.

I find it difficult to believe that people in their spare time have a better grasp of all the information available than the paid professionals (who had to rise to the tops of their professions).

I know someone who works at the highest level operationally of a major professional sports team. I'm talking about one of the biggest, richest leagues. The amount of info they have access to, devour and analyze is lightyears more than the blogosphere. Not saying people are dumb, they just don't have access to all the information.

When I read people's posts on here, I'm struck by how quickly they make assumptions and don't even recognize it.

Anyway, I could be wrong as well and Feaster could be an idiot for not getting in on Forsberg. However, no GM's called me to ask about Glencross or Iggy or JBo so how can I have an HONEST opinion on what the return should've been (not to mention having to deal with NTC clauses with each of those guys-HELLO)?

What happens moving forward (draft, signings) will obviously be very telling to Feaster's ability.

I like very much what he's done in his drafts here so far. I expect it to continue.

As a GM, it's your job to know.

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#111 the-wolf
April 05 2013, 11:15AM
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the-wolf wrote:

As a GM, it's your job to know.

Also, it ignores everything that we do know. for example:

- Feaster didn't wait until deadline day.

- Feaster's trades obviously reveal cap space was the biggest thing he was after.

- Feaster's own words in interviews reveal the strategy. "First round picks are assets that can be moved. Other teams will be up against the cap and can't retain all their players." Paraphrased, of course, but accurately.

It's the strategy that's being attacked. Obviously he wasn't after high end prospects or they would've eaten cap space. You can make all the excuse you want. "Our trade happened in the summer, etc."

Fact is, when you look at what other GMs get in returns and what Feaster gets, it's pathetic.

By your words, no one is allowed to mock Mike Milbury either.

There's ample evidence that feaster is a poor trader and his strategy is crap.

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#112 suba steve
April 05 2013, 11:39AM
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dotfras wrote:

Can anyone remember a time when a team HAS traded into the top 5?

What did that deal look like?

In 2004 Carolina traded #8 (A. Picard) & #59 (K. Wharton) to move up to #4 (A. Ladd). In 2008 TML traded #7 (C. Wilson) & #68 & 2009 2nd rounder to NYI for #5 pick (L. Schenn). That type of trade only moves you up 2 to 4 spots, and it doesn't happen often. In 2013, I'm thinking it would probably cost more.

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#113 Todd
April 05 2013, 12:17PM
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suba steve wrote:

Economics says you are wrong. Flames will have $ on hip, BOS, PITT, LA, etc. have already spent theirs. Players like to go to a winner, but they also wanna get paid.

You'll learn my friend... You'll learn. Oilers thought the same thing. Money only buys you 2nd tier UFAs not the superstars. They want to win, not rebuild.

Give me one example of a star UFA going to a rebuilding team with zero prospects or other stars. If you give me one Ill change my tune.

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#114 Todd
April 05 2013, 12:21PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

That's a whale hunt UFA, though. The key is to find the good, underrated support guys who aren't going to be sought after by every team in the league. Guys like Stempniak, Steckel, pre-Calgary Glencross, etc.

The big players you'll generally have to draft yourself, but you can build 50% of a strong team by picking up the right support players. The other half is the goaltender and the fancy skaters.

Completely Agree. You can get middling UFAs. But without superstars you will never be a great team. If the goal is to get back to 8th place, clawing and scratching to get in perpetually, then that'll work great.

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