Five things: About that presser

Ryan Lambert
May 02 2013 08:28AM

1. I don't know what I expected

So Jay Feaster held, as most general managers do at the end of the season, a nice long presser on getaway day in which he talked at length about all the stuff the Flames have planned for the offseason. I was particularly interested to hear this just to see the kind of dancing around Feaster did to explain his and the organization's state of mind, given that they actually in-real-life referred to it as a "rebuild."

And, well, I was right about one thing: It sure was interesting.

2. Amnesty buyouts

The one good thing, I think, that Feaster addressed more or less right away, was that the team seems rather certain to take advantage of the amnesty buyouts afforded it by the new collective bargaining agreement, despite the fact that the team doesn't need to do so to become cap compliant.

What this means, in essence, is that he is aware of at least one dead-weight contract on the roster that it would be best to shuffle off away from the Saddledome ice as soon as possible, and not that he actually got around to saying it but one assumes that, in evaluating the team's existing contracts and the desirability of them versus the contributions of the players carrying them, the guy who seems most likely to go has a name that rhymes with Story Barich.

This is refreshing for a couple reasons, with the foremost being that it clearly acknowledges just how bad some roster players are. Second, it gives some of the kids the chance to step into NHL roles, or at least try to, if they're not filled by a veteran signing this summer. Though I guess I should say I suppose that's very much within the realm of possibility, given the amount of cap room the team still has and the mandate from ownership to make the playoffs that will likely either preserve or cost Feaster's job.

3. Oh my god they're going for grit again

"I think we saw in free agency that there is a premium on those hard-nosed, physical guys," is a thing Jay Feaster said in response to a half-question about the team's desire for just that type of player.

He said that he didn't want to undersell how difficult it is to acquire players like this, which I guess is true, because guys that are both physical and good at hockey are obviously incredibly difficult to come by. And so it would appear, then, that the Flames have designs on once again trying to acquire straight-up tough players, which is to say bad players, which is to say they're going to lose a lot. Now, given my position as a person who believes they should lose every game for the next two seasons by six, I guess that's not necessarily a bad thing, but from a purely aesthetic point of view, it makes for a lot of ugly hockey, which isn't quite so good.

The issue, I think, is what that tells us about the organizational view of those types of players. Namely that they are in some way valuable. They typically are not. And if Feaster and Co. continue to pursue them, they will never achieve the ends they want. Making the playoffs next year when you're out looking for No. 1 centers (none are coming, plainly. "It won't be for everybody," Feaster says!) and tough guys (you can get plenty) is laughably implausible.

4. Goaltending for next year

The Flames have indeed had talks about the ways the team will approach its goaltending situation for next season, which is something you'd expect. Not too much to say about the situation except that Jonio Ortio will be the No. 1 guy at the AHL level and the fact that they have Laurent Brossoit under contract indicates he's probably going to be a professional as well.

Which doesn't answer a lot about the NHL situation. With that having been said the answers are, I think, pretty clear, even if Feaster didn't want to tip his hand too much: They're going to give Karri Ramo a shot with the big club. That much is obvious. Whether it works out is entirely another, but if not I guess there's newly re-signed Joey MacDonald to lean on. So okay, that's three spots definitely filled (NHL Nos. 2a/2b, and AHL No. 1). What does that mean for Danny Taylor, who was specifically mentioned by the reporter asking the question? It means either he or Irving is probably packing up and getting outta town, and maybe both depending on what they expect out of Brossoit. Interesting to see how that one plays out. 

5. What we learned?

Nothing.

Asked about how he felt about the job from Bob Hartley and the rest of the coaching staff, Feaster had nothing but positive things to say. The kids loved them and they really helped with development. The power play was pretty good. (Not so much the penalty kill but who's counting?)

So why did he think the team didn't succeed this year? If you guessed "The lack of training camp putting them at a disadvantage for implenting the new system, and a lack of practice time," and not "I put together a garbage roster," you are correct. This more or less ignores the success — relative though it may have been — some new coaches had in the league this year. The Capitals and Canadiens won their divisions with new bench bosses, did they not? So for that to be the excuse is pretty much a flat-out joke. Hell, Edmonton had a new coach too, in the same division even, and finished three points up on the Flames.

So if you were worried the management group had really taken anything about roster-building away from that season, don't be. They haven't. Of course they haven't.

Oh and by the way, ticket prices are going up next season. Have a good one.

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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 RexLibris
May 02 2013, 12:32PM
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@Kevin R

Okay, if we're going to get into a heated debate over the relative value of Flames players again I just want to say...you started it!

;-)

Couturier is a piece that could net the Flyers a heck of a lot more than Tanguay. I don't think he qualifies as a throw-in. Besides, Snider has more money than your average, roadside deity. If he wants the Bryzgalov issue resolved, he can pay it out in the amnesty. He'd be mighty testy about it, but it wouldn't necessarily break his piggy bank.

Put it this way, if the Oilers asked about Couturier I'd expect Holmgren to want Smid or Gagner, and Hartikainen or a 2nd round pick in exchange.

I don't know what Tanguay is worth on the open market, but age, injury and contract length don't weigh in his favour and those are significant factors for many GMs now. The best time to trade a player in Tanguay's situation would be to go back in time and send him to the Toronto Maple Leafs circa 2001. They loved the "proven veterans".

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#52 mattyc
May 02 2013, 12:32PM
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@Kurt

So does being big instantly make you gritty (if you're small can you be gritty)? How big/ how much of an SOB? Can grit be 'learned' (or unlearned?)? How do we decide who's hard to play against?

My point is that it seems very subjective to me, how can you decide who's more/less gritty? My other point of confusion is that it seems narrative driven, as a way of explaining why something happened, without any predictive ability (they won because he was gritty/ has more grit/they didn't 'want' it as much). You could say that the Oilers suck because they have no grit, but you could also argue Hall, Eberle, Horcoff, Brown, whoever are gritty.

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#53 mattyc
May 02 2013, 12:34PM
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@fretsey

"perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” - I'd say that would encompass a lot of hockey players.

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#54 RexLibris
May 02 2013, 12:34PM
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@Parallex

"Define Hard to play against" - the '72 Capitals. The opposition couldn't stop laughing - it really interfered with their game plan.

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#55 RexLibris
May 02 2013, 12:36PM
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btw, anyone have a link to this Feaster pc?

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#56 dotfras
May 02 2013, 12:53PM
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Hoping Barkov slips.

If not I think we need to take Nichushkin. Third choice is Monahan - Lindholm doesn't possess the grit that Feaster is after.

RE PHI Trade: I see something like Bryz / Couts / PHI 1st for Cammaleri or GlenX / D Prospect / STL 1st / PIT 1st MAYBE working.

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#57 acg5151
May 02 2013, 12:55PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Those teams don't win because of those players Clyde. Unles you think moving Thornton, Murray, Reaves and Clifford to the Oilers would instantly make them a contender (it wouldn't).

Those are supplementary players at best on teams who have stars and superstars who can dominate the puck. Backes, Pietrangelo, Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Bergeron, Kopitar, Brown, Doughty, etc.

Now "grit" is a component in many of the best players arsenal, but in isolation it doesn't necessarily advance the cause. The Flames and Oilers added Brian McGrattan, Mike Brown, Jarred Smithson down the stretch this season. Both teams still suck.

Grit exists, but the idea that it's a magical fairy dust that can sprinkled over a crappy roster and will markedly improve it is ignoring the fact that you can be gritty and terrible at hockey at the NHL level. The challenge is t get guys who are gritty and actually worth a damn.

Grit is something that takes the load off of those superstars if you have it. Look at the Oilers - they do not have a shutdown line they can play when their second/first lines are on the bench.

Definitely agree that you have to get good grit. The Flames already have some of it - their challenge is to build a first/second line that can score. Glencross, Stajan, Stempniak - if that was the Oilers third line I bet they could have won a few more games.

What the Flames need to do is not get rid of those, third/fourth line guys that are good over this rebuild - they are hard to find. Imagine if the Oilers had held on to players like that when they had them.

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#58 seve927
May 02 2013, 01:03PM
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@acg5151

"What the Flames need to do is not get rid of those, third/fourth line guys that are good over this rebuild - they are hard to find. Imagine if the Oilers had held on to players like that when they had them."

They probably wouldn't have had 3 first overalls. That's the problem. You can't have it all. All you can do is try to keep obtaining the best players you can and keep a good mix of veterans, youth, size and competitiveness. Then hope some of those guys emerge as difference makers.

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#59 T&A4Flames
May 02 2013, 01:11PM
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dotfras wrote:

Hoping Barkov slips.

If not I think we need to take Nichushkin. Third choice is Monahan - Lindholm doesn't possess the grit that Feaster is after.

RE PHI Trade: I see something like Bryz / Couts / PHI 1st for Cammaleri or GlenX / D Prospect / STL 1st / PIT 1st MAYBE working.

We are in far to much need for prospects that will play to take Nichushkin with our 1st pick. He scares me way too much that he will never make his way over to North America. Also, he is yet another LW, a position, the only position, that we are loaded up on.

Barkov, Monahan, Lindholm and possibly Ristolainen are the names I hope to hear with that pick on draft day.

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#60 Rockmorton65
May 02 2013, 01:17PM
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Elliot Freidman recently spoke about how the Jets biggest problem this year was they had no one to set up Kane. The Flames want to get bigger, younger, and more skilled. What about Tanguay, Pitts 1st for Wheeler and a 2nd?

Winnipeg gets a legitimate top 6 playmaking forward, leadership and a second 1st rd pick. Flames get a big body, with...wait for it...grit, he's young, can score and he addresses both our lack at RW, our glut at LW, and we have the space to lock him up long term. And we get a second. I think this can be massaged into something decent for both teams.

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#61 NHL93
May 02 2013, 01:23PM
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Rockmorton65 wrote:

Elliot Freidman recently spoke about how the Jets biggest problem this year was they had no one to set up Kane. The Flames want to get bigger, younger, and more skilled. What about Tanguay, Pitts 1st for Wheeler and a 2nd?

Winnipeg gets a legitimate top 6 playmaking forward, leadership and a second 1st rd pick. Flames get a big body, with...wait for it...grit, he's young, can score and he addresses both our lack at RW, our glut at LW, and we have the space to lock him up long term. And we get a second. I think this can be massaged into something decent for both teams.

I like this idea.

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#62 Jeff Lebowski
May 02 2013, 01:24PM
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Re:Grit. Intimidation does play a role on performance. The ability of some guys to stick up for their teammates allows the skill guys to feel more comfortable and hence maximize their skills.

I'm not advocating employing goons who add nothing else. I'd like a guy like Hendricks from the Caps. The guy can play (watch his shoot out goals to see the skill) and he can fight.

Refereeing is applied in a subjective way. Some refs let a lot of physical abuse go. Sedins v Bruins.

There is a difference between taking a hit to make a play compared to taking punches in the face (Marchand is no goon) from other 'legitimate' players looking to intimidate, making your skilled guys concerned about their well being.

Guys take liberties. A team has to address that when the rules ( or application of rules) don't.

Possession and skill are a big part of winning. Physical play - intimidation, responding to it, initiating it are as well. I think a well balanced team will compete in all aspects.

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#63 T&A4Flames
May 02 2013, 01:29PM
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Rockmorton65 wrote:

Elliot Freidman recently spoke about how the Jets biggest problem this year was they had no one to set up Kane. The Flames want to get bigger, younger, and more skilled. What about Tanguay, Pitts 1st for Wheeler and a 2nd?

Winnipeg gets a legitimate top 6 playmaking forward, leadership and a second 1st rd pick. Flames get a big body, with...wait for it...grit, he's young, can score and he addresses both our lack at RW, our glut at LW, and we have the space to lock him up long term. And we get a second. I think this can be massaged into something decent for both teams.

I like it. Although I would hate to give up a 1st in that deal. Winnipeg has a lot RFA's to deal with. I would rather see us give up another player or prospect. I'm sure something could be worked out if WNP was interested in that deal. Then you have to convince Tangs to waive his NTC.

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#64 Southern_Point
May 02 2013, 02:22PM
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How does this argument over 'grit' break out in the comments of literally every article?

I think part of it is that everyone defines 'grit' differently. Look Ryan Reeves, or Clifford wouldn't put our team over the top. In fact very few players would just magically make our team into a contender. However, Feaster could do much worse if he decided targeted David Clarkson during free agency, a guy who could be considered gritty.

Focusing on guys like that though does nothing to solve the biggest problems the Flames have and that is a lack of truly dominating players. What Feaster needs to think about is acquiring players who dominate possession either through 'grit' or skill, which will allow our young players shelter from the opposing team's best.

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#65 Kevin R
May 02 2013, 02:37PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Okay, if we're going to get into a heated debate over the relative value of Flames players again I just want to say...you started it!

;-)

Couturier is a piece that could net the Flyers a heck of a lot more than Tanguay. I don't think he qualifies as a throw-in. Besides, Snider has more money than your average, roadside deity. If he wants the Bryzgalov issue resolved, he can pay it out in the amnesty. He'd be mighty testy about it, but it wouldn't necessarily break his piggy bank.

Put it this way, if the Oilers asked about Couturier I'd expect Holmgren to want Smid or Gagner, and Hartikainen or a 2nd round pick in exchange.

I don't know what Tanguay is worth on the open market, but age, injury and contract length don't weigh in his favour and those are significant factors for many GMs now. The best time to trade a player in Tanguay's situation would be to go back in time and send him to the Toronto Maple Leafs circa 2001. They loved the "proven veterans".

OK Buddy!!! You swung back.:) I think even a guy like Schneider will think twice before stroking a cheque for 30-40 million to pay a player to go away. I make a few assumptions: 1/Bryz really hasn't been that bad in Philly, he just should quit being a comedian with the media in a goalie sensitive market like Philly.2/ If Philly could land UFA Smith, they would pay a price to unload Bryz. Not that many teams like Calgary with oodles of cap space & need for a #1 goalie.

Yeah Couts may be hard to acquire, but Bryz & the 11th overall for Tanguay makes for a pretty savvy hockey trade. I think Brossoit is a pretty high end goalie prospect that if we threw in him, Tanguay, even our Pitt or Stl 1st for Bryz/Couts & that 1st, you just never know. In your Oiler deal, I don't think Philly would want that package. Sorry but they are deep at centre with Schenn & Giroux, Gagner is not a fit, Smid is a 3-4 d man at best & they already have that, they need a 1-2 dman to replace Pronger & Timmonen. Hartkannein &a 2nd wont do it. Sorry. :)

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#66 Kevin R
May 02 2013, 02:44PM
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Purple Hazze wrote:

So many here seem to think we absolutely have to move up into the top four in the draft. Name me one year where the first four players drafted all turned into legit NHL superstars? I can't think of any, even in the deep draft of 2003, Zherdev was taken 4th. I'd say only Jones and Druin look like the legit superstars and both are players we don't need right now.

We need a centre, and out of the centers available, Mckinnon, Barkov, Monahon, and Lindholm none of the scream Crosby/Tavares/Stamkos at you. They all have question marks around them, Mckinnon was playing on the 3rd line for Canada at the world jr's. They all show the potential to become the difference maker we desperately need, so I actually like the 6th position we're in, take the best of the 4 that's available.

In 2003 Anaheim drafted Getzlaf 19th and Perry 28th, so I'd hold onto those other 2 1st round picks as well. We don't need to get into the top four to get that elite player we need.

I am thinking this way as well. If anything, use the Pitt 1st + something to acquire another pick from 7th to 13th. I think then we will get 3 pretty high end prospects in our cupboards. Don't expect any of them to play next year, so we get another few high end prospects next draft as well. The following year, we'll have the 3 1st rounders & Johnny G sliding in to challenge the roster.

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#67 Parallex
May 02 2013, 03:09PM
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@Southern_Point

"How does this argument over 'grit' break out in the comments of literally every article"

Because some people continuelly like to think that if teams add some plug with minimal hockey skills but with "grit" that they'll magically transform themselves into better hockey teams while other people think that's silly and have no issue saying that it's silly.

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#68 RexLibris
May 02 2013, 03:14PM
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@Kevin R

Ha, I think by the time July rolls around we'll be longing for these arguments.

Anyway, I think the concensus we can find between our two proposals is that the Flyers aren't likely interested in anything an Alberta team would offer for Sean Couturier.

With regards to Gagner, I think his value is on the RW. He plays above his weight class and never takes a shift off but his defensive game has developed at a snail's pace. As a winger he'd be a good 2nd line asset. Smid plays like a Flyers defenceman, that is why he comes to mind in that proposal. Hartikainen as well. And the package would be Smid or Gagner and Hartikainen or a 2nd. So they get one from package A and one (or even both!) from package B. Not Hartikainen and a 2nd, if MacTavish could swing that deal he'd get a statue at Rexall Place.

I have to wonder if the Flyers don't offer sheet Ryan McDonagh this summer. If Pietrangelo doesn't get signed quickly you have to think they'll try for him as well.

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#69 BurningSensation
May 02 2013, 03:16PM
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dotfras wrote:

Hoping Barkov slips.

If not I think we need to take Nichushkin. Third choice is Monahan - Lindholm doesn't possess the grit that Feaster is after.

RE PHI Trade: I see something like Bryz / Couts / PHI 1st for Cammaleri or GlenX / D Prospect / STL 1st / PIT 1st MAYBE working.

I like your thinking, but disagree with you on Lindholm 'lacking grit'. The first comp I read for Lindholm (prior to his showing off his considerable offensive abilities) was 'Guy Carbonneau' - not exactly a softbellied Euro type.

I have him ahead of Monahan because his offensive ceiling is higher.

RE: Pha trade

Maybe I'm just getting cynical in my old age, but I don't see Philadelphia moving Couturier for anything/anyone.

Briere will be bought out/traded, and Brayden Schenn has shown he can play on the wing, so Couturier appears to have a clear shot at taking over the #2 center spot.

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#70 clYDE
May 02 2013, 03:29PM
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BurningSensation wrote:

I like your thinking, but disagree with you on Lindholm 'lacking grit'. The first comp I read for Lindholm (prior to his showing off his considerable offensive abilities) was 'Guy Carbonneau' - not exactly a softbellied Euro type.

I have him ahead of Monahan because his offensive ceiling is higher.

RE: Pha trade

Maybe I'm just getting cynical in my old age, but I don't see Philadelphia moving Couturier for anything/anyone.

Briere will be bought out/traded, and Brayden Schenn has shown he can play on the wing, so Couturier appears to have a clear shot at taking over the #2 center spot.

Check out the World Junior Highlight package on Lindholme. He goes to the tough areas to battle, plays the body and is willing to take a hit to make a play. I would say he is quite gritty and with his skill level, a player I personally hope we get.

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#71 dotfras
May 02 2013, 04:07PM
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@clYDE

I did......I guess it's because I watched Nichushkin's WJC Hilight Reel right before Lindholm's. ;)

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#72 ClYDE
May 02 2013, 04:39PM
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dotfras wrote:

I did......I guess it's because I watched Nichushkin's WJC Hilight Reel right before Lindholm's. ;)

Would be a tough choice but I don't think the Russian is around at 6.

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#73 Kevin R
May 02 2013, 04:40PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Ha, I think by the time July rolls around we'll be longing for these arguments.

Anyway, I think the concensus we can find between our two proposals is that the Flyers aren't likely interested in anything an Alberta team would offer for Sean Couturier.

With regards to Gagner, I think his value is on the RW. He plays above his weight class and never takes a shift off but his defensive game has developed at a snail's pace. As a winger he'd be a good 2nd line asset. Smid plays like a Flyers defenceman, that is why he comes to mind in that proposal. Hartikainen as well. And the package would be Smid or Gagner and Hartikainen or a 2nd. So they get one from package A and one (or even both!) from package B. Not Hartikainen and a 2nd, if MacTavish could swing that deal he'd get a statue at Rexall Place.

I have to wonder if the Flyers don't offer sheet Ryan McDonagh this summer. If Pietrangelo doesn't get signed quickly you have to think they'll try for him as well.

I have to agree that Couts is just one big Alberta wishful thinking :)

Seriously, I think Bryz & that 11th over all for Tangs & maybe another asset, preferably not any of our 1st's is a deal worth looking at from both sides. I would have no problem seeing Bryz taking over for Kipper. So if we had the 6th, 11th, the 20th & the 29th picks this year would be fun.

Yeah I could see philly going after Mcdonagh or Pietrangelo. I was hoping Mcdonough could be a player that Feaster could offer our Stl 1st ++ for. But when Rangers got rid of Gabbi's hit, they gave themselves a little more Cap wiggle room for next year.

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#74 BurningSensation
May 02 2013, 05:47PM
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mattyc wrote:

So does being big instantly make you gritty (if you're small can you be gritty)? How big/ how much of an SOB? Can grit be 'learned' (or unlearned?)? How do we decide who's hard to play against?

My point is that it seems very subjective to me, how can you decide who's more/less gritty? My other point of confusion is that it seems narrative driven, as a way of explaining why something happened, without any predictive ability (they won because he was gritty/ has more grit/they didn't 'want' it as much). You could say that the Oilers suck because they have no grit, but you could also argue Hall, Eberle, Horcoff, Brown, whoever are gritty.

I'm in a hockey pool that rewards 'goons' (we call them 'tough guys). You get to play two of them on your roster, and count their PIM for 1/4 a point per min (4PIM=1pt) along with their goals and assists.

When we set this up (some 20+ years ago), one of my buddies asked why we were rewarding players for PIM. The response by myself and others was that grit and toughness were qualities that deserved to be rewarded and the only stat we had that could do the job was PIM.

Well we still have tough guys in our pool, but my friend was probably more right than the rest of us. A guy like Milan Lucic's stats already reflect the fact he is 'hard to play against' - no need to reward him twice.

Now that we have possession stats, RelCorsi, etc., we can see more clearly who is driving the play and who isn't, and you can subtract 'grit' from the conversation. It doesn't matter whether the player is driving possession because he has high end skill (Crosby, the Sedins), or because he is 'gritty' and 'hard to play against' (Backes, Kesler, Datsyuk). A guy like Gagner can have a boatload of skill but not drive the play, while a guy like Backlund can have less than elite offense, but because he plays a sound two-way game still have great possession stats, and a guy like Ben Eager can benchpress a small bus and eat nails for breakfast, but his 'grit' isn't driving the play in any direction but back towards his goaltender. The detail that matters isn't 'grit' for determining their value.

Feaster should be looking for guys who drive the play regardless of their style.

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#75 76swanson
May 02 2013, 05:58PM
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@Southern_Point

I couldn't agree with you more!

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#76 Devolution
May 03 2013, 03:19AM
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I know it is a tool for the teams to use, but does anyone else find it annoying that a player with two years left on a $5M contract just has to slack off and show disinterest in order to get a huge payout and sign with another team?

I wish real life were that easy.

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#77 Brett Martin
May 03 2013, 07:02PM
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Rockmorton65 wrote:

Elliot Freidman recently spoke about how the Jets biggest problem this year was they had no one to set up Kane. The Flames want to get bigger, younger, and more skilled. What about Tanguay, Pitts 1st for Wheeler and a 2nd?

Winnipeg gets a legitimate top 6 playmaking forward, leadership and a second 1st rd pick. Flames get a big body, with...wait for it...grit, he's young, can score and he addresses both our lack at RW, our glut at LW, and we have the space to lock him up long term. And we get a second. I think this can be massaged into something decent for both teams.

That's an awful trade for Winnipeg.

1) Wheeler is about to enter the prime of his career, while Tanguay is on the downside of his. 2) Tanguay is a left winger, and so is Kane, so they wouldn't even play together. Tanguay would be the 3rd best LW on the Jets behind Ladd and Kane, while Wheeler is the Jets best RW. 3)The Pitt 1st rounder will likely be in the 27-30 range, while the Jets 2nd rounder will be pick #44.

So, you're suggesting the Jets give up their top RW, who's about to enter his best years, for an aging LW who would be 3rd on the depth chart, all for the incentive of moving up something along 15 spots in the draft. Not going to happen.

I could see the Jets targeting Stempniak to play with Kane, but I can't imagine he'd be available at a reasonable cost.

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