Five things: Moving on

Ryan Lambert
May 16 2013 12:13PM

 

1. Here's something I've been thinking about

It's kind of hard to believe how close the end of the season is. A little more than a month away at this point. The draft is being held June 30, for god's sake. And while Flames fans' focus has understandably been on who will go No. 6 overall, or indeed if the Flames should move up — and, as discussed by Kent earlier this week, there's a lot of contention as to that point — I've been wondering a lot about what Jay Feaster is going to do about those vague threats to spend money this offseason.

What could that possibly mean? After all, we all can generally agree that loading up on high-priced free agents this summer is likely counterproductive to what this team needs to do going forward, but then there is that mandate from management about making the playoffs next year. While that might be hollow, and an attempt to placate a disquieted fanbase, it might also be legitimate.

And that's scary.

That means that Feaster might approach this summer much as Don Waddel did after he promised the Thrashers would make the playoffs: trying like hell to make it by selling off all kinds of parts. Braydon Coburn for Alex Zhitnik. Keith Tkachuk for Glen Metropolit, a first, second, and third. Bad stuff, and the kind of thing I wouldn't put past Feaster, even if the qualitative difference is that he has a whole summer to deal with it, whereas Waddel had a few months, all of them in-season.

He's basically trying to put together a team that will play for his job, if the bloviation from management is to be believed, and as such, it's not outside the realm of possibility that he tries to run this down by spending wildly.

2. Let's look at it this way

The Flames' current situation is something of a mess, insofar as they need help at all positions simultaneously. The Flames have 19 guys signed for next season, including Miikka Kiprusoff, who's not coming back, with a total cap committment of $46.7 million or so. Swap Kiprusoff ($5.83 million) out for Karri Ramo ($2-3 million, you figure?) and that's about $43.5 million, give or take.

That's about $20 million to sign roughly five or six guys (given that some of the people Capgeek is counting as signed, like Ben Hanowski, Max Reinhart, and Ben Street probably won't be up with the big club next season.) That's a lot of money to spend on not a whole lot of guys, and you have to imagine the idea of being a cap-ceiling team is one that Flames will try to chase again. They're certainly not hurting.

So I don't know about you, but I've been looking at Capgeek and NHLNumbers pretty diligently the last few days and figuring out who Feaster will probably target. And it's making my brain hurt. Please don't mistake my discussion of these guys as me supporting their being signed. Reality is in fact quite the opposite.

3. Forward options

I think we can all agree that the guy the Flames should target is David Clarkson, but the fact of the matter is that this is a thing which is definitely not happening, unless they give him league max or something. And I don't think even Jay Feaster is that bad at his job, or that desperate.

So that leaves you with other options. Mike Ribeiro, for example, was a point-a-game player last season (mostly through smoke and mirrors, but I digress) and an option I hadn't considered until the other day when he said he'd take less money for more years because he's 33 at this point. Boy, does that sound like a Feaster guy or what? Decent enough center right now, coming off a successful season, looking for term and not money (probably a no-move clause as well.)

If they don't sign him, I'll be legitimately shocked. The same is true of Michael Ryder, who's also 33 and allegedly a power forward who can use his big body, and all that. Will he make the Flames a Harder Team To Play Against? Probably not, but that's something I can see happening as well.

The biggest fear, though, is that Feaster will take Tyler Bozak up on that big-money deal he's reportedly seeking. That would be the Feasterest move of all.

4. Defense

There are relatively fewer actually-terrifying options on the blue line, and many of them would be Flames retreads (Robyn Regehr, Roman Hamrlik, Andrew Ference, Jordan Leopold, Toni Lydman, Ian White) with limited value. It's interesting to note, I guess, just how many mediocre NHL defensemen have come through the Flames in the last several years, though.

Other options I can see them throwing too much money at include Mark Streit, Marek Zidlicky, and Douglas Murray. But my absolute deepest fear, and one that I can see coming to the most horrifying of fruition, is that he will sign Ryan Whitney. An offensive defenseman! Wow! Never mind that he wasn't even good enough to cut it on the Oilers last season, I think there's at least some chance.

5. What about goal?

Thankfully this shouldn't be too much of a problem considering the number of mediocre goalies Calgary has already signed. There is that, at the very least.

Anyhow, I'm curious what you guys also think about who the Flames will sign this summer versus who they should. If you were to draw a Venn diagram of the two, I can't imagine there would be a large amount of overlap.

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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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#51 suba steve
May 17 2013, 01:13PM
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JayD54 wrote:

This will be the third season that Jay Feaster has totally 'unfettered' control of the Flames roster. Arguably, its the first one where he will not be fighting the uphill battle of the suite of awkward (i.e. no movements) contracts he inherited.

So, how, when can he his tenure be measured and judged? In my opinion, this year will be the first of three seasons that we need give this management team (including Weisbrod, Conroy and, yes, Tod Button!).

In season one, we need look to whether or not the first first rounder is one who can make, or come close to making the roster as an 18 year old. As well, who can/will the management group bring in as free agents will be an indicator as to how the player pool views this organization. My expectation would be for a playoff miss next season, especially in the new bracketing format.

In season two, Flames fans will expect to see at least two of this years first rounders on the roster. A couple more high level contracts (i.e. Cammalleri) will be off the books and provide some additional free agent chasing fuel ($). Trades made during year one and the second summer should supplement voids on the roster. Johnny Gaudreau should make his pro debut late in the year after winning the Hobey Baker and leading Boston College to the Frozen Four. The Flames should be in the playoff mix late into the season with a good indicator being whether they make it, which would be a bonus. Would not be too high or too low if they don't.

Year three is where it needs to all come together. All three of this years first rounders need make the roster to indicate success. Gaudreau challenges for the Calder by converting those soft passes from Max Reinhart and Baertschi breaks the 30 goal mark, Brodie nets 40+ assists. The goaltending combo of Ramo and Berra are the beneficiaries of a solid defensive scheme instituted by Hartley. The team makes the playoffs and wins one round.

The fans are happy and Feaster is the Stampede parade marshal.

That, folks, is my expectation and how I, for one Flames season ticket holder, will gauge Mr. Feaster.

Reasonable expectations. I would concentrate initially on eating other teams bad short term contracts and getting youth/draft choices as compensation, rather then pursue and good UFAs this summer. Would be best if we lose more then we win for at least one more year and get a nice draft position next summer. After that, judge if enough pieces are in place to make a run for the playoffs and then jump into the UFA pool if all is going well.

I agree with others, this is an exciting time in Flameland.

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#52 dotfras
May 17 2013, 01:20PM
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@suba steve

I agree! Would rather see us hit two birds with one stone (bad contracts WHILE obtaining prospects/picks) as opposed to just signing a bunch of UFA's that will play for us and bring us up to the cap floor. We aren't making the playoffs next year, so might as well get some value out of the inevitable.

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#53 SeanCharles
May 17 2013, 05:53PM
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@FireOnIce

If you want to buy into speculation on the Flames going hard after Smyth thats fine. I've heard that he was only in on that to drive up the price for the Oilers to reaquire him. There was no way he would have come here, everyone knows it.

He loves the Oilers to death, not many players you can say truely love and are devoted to a team, but he was. He would never betray the Oilers by playing for thier biggest rivals.

Regher was moved because he was on the downslide and we needed money for Tanguay, as u stated, but not so we could get Smyth.

You cant blame Feaster for decisions made when he was AGM, he didnt have the final say so its a moot point.

Im tired of people being so choaked about the Modin thing, a 7th rounder practically never makes the NHL, and even so they are so easy to reaquire if its so important to have. Minor leaguers can get you a 7th.

At the end of the year he said he wasnt honest with himself and the owners because the owners did not want to trade Iggy and wanted to win with him, cant blame him for not wanting to trade one of the most prolific Flames ever.

Do you want a GM that wants to lose to get good picks? I dont.

I dunno if I'd go as far to say only those prospects have done good. Almost every pick Feaster has made has improved since draft day. Sven, Guadreau, Gillies, Kulak, Broissot, Sieloff, Wotherspoon, and even Jankowski (he was recently ranked in the 1st round in THN redraft) have increased their value since being drafted.

We havent always had the top picks, or numerous picks to get the top tier players, when that happens you need to get value picks and Feaster has managed to do this.

All i'm saying is he has yet to make a significantly bad move that has set us back. He is using the draft to build a strong prospect pool and he wants us to be competative every year without forfiting youth.

What more can you ask for?

If he goes into this draft and offseason and doesnt utilize this immense opportunity he has then maybe we can start questioning his reign.

But he has yet to make a Phaneuf type deal, or even a Jokinen for Kotalik ect deal, only to resign him...?

His mistakes have been minor in the grand sceme, and his successes have yet to be reaped as most of them are developing.

Give him a chance before all this unjust hate.

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#54 T&A4Flames
May 17 2013, 06:56PM
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@SeanCharles

I have to agree with this. Feaster may not be the best GM but he hasn't done anything that has really hurt this team. We are definitely on a better path than we were.

I'm very impressed by the drafting Feaster and his team have done. I would even go back to the year prior when he got Sven, Wotherspoon, Granlund, Gaudreau and Brossoit. Not to mention he got 2 of those by saving the potential disaster that was little Timmy Eriksson.

I have faith in what they will do at this draft and am very excited. Every GM makes mistakes you just hear of all of zfeasters and they are magnified because of the very large focus on this team in this city.

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#55 suba steve
May 18 2013, 09:35AM
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@SeanCharles

"He loves the Oilers to death, not many players you can say truely love and are devoted to a team, but he was. He would never betray the Oilers by playing for thier biggest rivals."

I have been a Flame fan since they arrived in Calgary. I lived in Edmonton thru the later part of the '80s and early '90s, and cheered for the Flames the whole time. But, if MacT called in October and wanted me to lace up the Bauer Custom 1000's one more time, I'd be there just as fast as the XTi can get me there (and that's pretty fast). Would Smyth have had some mixed feelings about wearing red?...Probably. But I have no doubt that he would have done it. Look how quickly Iggy has taken to his new team, and sold his Calgary home. This is their business. Having said that, I have no idea how seriously Feaster pursued Smyth, and at this point I really don't care.

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#56 Kevin R
May 18 2013, 12:19PM
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suba steve wrote:

"He loves the Oilers to death, not many players you can say truely love and are devoted to a team, but he was. He would never betray the Oilers by playing for thier biggest rivals."

I have been a Flame fan since they arrived in Calgary. I lived in Edmonton thru the later part of the '80s and early '90s, and cheered for the Flames the whole time. But, if MacT called in October and wanted me to lace up the Bauer Custom 1000's one more time, I'd be there just as fast as the XTi can get me there (and that's pretty fast). Would Smyth have had some mixed feelings about wearing red?...Probably. But I have no doubt that he would have done it. Look how quickly Iggy has taken to his new team, and sold his Calgary home. This is their business. Having said that, I have no idea how seriously Feaster pursued Smyth, and at this point I really don't care.

Seriously, Smyth wanted back to Alberta for family reasons, Edmonton in particular. Lombardi probably got Jay involved just to put some credibility in the return back from the Oilers as we are the only other Alberta NHL team. God only knows if Feaster offered anything. We basically endured the same syndrome with Iggy. You want conspiracy theories, LA & Chicago had little interest in getting into a bidding war for Iggy & could care less if he went to Pitt for dirt cheap. However, the Bruins had more at stake to ensure that at the very least Pitt coughed up at least a reasonable type of return for Iggy. I hope someone writes a tell all on what really went down there & Iggy was going to Pitt & no where else. Same as Smyth, he was going to Edmonton & no where else.

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#57 EugeneV
May 19 2013, 06:30PM
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Sincity1976 wrote:

I don't mind overpaying players if on a 3 year or less contract. I also don't mind Bozak. Bozak, Clarkson, and Horton are great targets. Possibly try to get one of the D out of Philly.

A lineup like below would be fine imo.

Cammalleri - Backlund - Horton

Glencross - Bozak - Clarkson

Baertschi - Monahan - Horak

Begin - Bouma - Jackman

Giordano - Wideman

Brodie - Schenn

Butler - Breen

MacDonald

Ramo

Big, young, fast, and room to grow. Probably not a playoff team. But on the way.

Why would we want to be "probably not a playoff team". That will get us NOWHERE. AGAIN.

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#58 Captain Ron
May 20 2013, 01:35PM
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Brent G. wrote:

I agree for the most part. This site is becoming brutally predictable. Everyone needs to get in their 2 cents about how they hate Feaster and he will screw it up. I can't remember who it was who kept claiming he would trade our firsts for miller and screw everything. F*cking get over yourself. It wasn't funny or witty the first f*cking time you said it and definitely wasn't amusing the 10th time.

I appreciate Feaster has made some mistakes but really what GM hasn't. What gets me is the real mistakes are way too soon to judge (I.e. jankowski,) something completely out of his control (I.e. Iggy trade), completely irrelevant in the grand scheme (I.e. babchuks signing) or something that didn't actually happen (I.e. ROR).

The majority of you people need to f*cking get over yourselves. This blind hate is getting really redundant.

I gave you props for this. I have wanted to say what you said here on numerous occasions but never did. Whenever I start reading a comment from someone here that starts turning into a meaningless hate fest for the GM I just skip over it and go to the next one. Blind hate = usually irrational thinking that renders the comment meaningless.

When I take all the facts into consideration I give Feaster and Co. a passing grade up to this point. I do have expectations of improvement over the next three years with a berth in the playoffs in year two or three.

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