Random Thoughts - More Changes on the Horizon

Kent Wilson
May 28 2013 09:58AM

 

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- pic via Justin Yamada

The Flames have already gone through a lot of fundamental change since Jarome Iginla was traded, but talking to some of the media close to the team this off-season one gets the feeling there's more to come, starting (if possible) with the draft. The primary target to get moved next seems to be Alex Tanguay - although his cap hit isn't all that bad, the feeling seems to be that he's not considered part of the solution going forward.

It's a sentiment I can understand. Tangs is a fairly one-dimensional forward at this point in his career as evidenced by continuously falling possession rates over the years. When I took a look at the Flames corsi rates adjusted for starting position and quality of competition, Tangs came out 9th amongst regular forwards. In addition, it was plain as the ugly on Mike Ricci's face that Alex more or less gave up down the stretch when the club decided to trade Jarome and kick off a rebuild. On the one hand, the reaction is an understandable one for a veteran who signed in Calgary long-term thinking the team was going to attempt to be competitive long-term. On the other hand, that bodes ill for the next few years as the organization tries to re-establish itself through a rebuild.

Skill-wise, Tanguay is good enough that he should be a trade-able asset. His contract isn't overly onerous either thanks to a low cap hit. That said, Alex has been stained by a reputation of petulance in the past. Sometimes things like that can sink a guys stock around the league to a non-trivial degree. Meaning, I expect the team to try to trade Tanguay this summer, but if there are no takers they'll be forced to use a compliance buy-out option.

- The other vet who may be looking for a way out is Mike Cammalleri. He's only got one year left on a deal that pays him $6M/year, so he should be a viable trade asset. Whether that happens at the draft or much later at the trade deadline remains to be seen. If the Flames want to move him this summer they may be aided by the rather thin UFA pool - a few clubs who miss out on adding a scoring winger may be willing to talk come August.

- In discussing the Flames goaltender options, we haven't really looked at some of the big names who may be available for various reasons in July. Ryan Miller, Ilya Bryzgalov, Roberto Luongo, Jonas Hiller, Jonathan Bernier and MA Fleury are all established puck stoppers who may find themselves on the trade market or bought out at some point in the very near future. Niklas Backstrom, now 35, may be allowed to hit the free agent market as well.

Obviously it doesn't make sense for Calgary to trade for any of the ugly, long-term deals mentioned above (Luongo, Miller, Bryzgalov). In addition, Fleury is a no better than average so I wouldn't want the team to look into him whatever the situation. Hiller and Backstrom may be decent stopgap measures (each is over 30), but there's a chance neither will be all that good by the time the team has found its way out of the woods. That's not a serious problem if they can be retained on short-term deals, of course.

That goes for any of the Luongo group who is bought out and available for pennies on the dollar. That said, I imagine they will all look for a bit more than the Flames should be willing to spend and it strikes me as unlikely that any of them would want to get involved with a rebuild as fresh and uncertain as the Flames. Related - don't expect Calgary to be a destination of choice for marquee free agents until the team starts showing a glimmer of success again.

- My preference from the list above would probably be Jonathan Bernier, price dependent. He's the least established and most likely to fail name mentioned, but he's also the highest reward acquisition given his age and resume. The Flames in their current state are more or less panning for gold, meaning it doesn't serve their long-term interests acquire the Luongo's of the world before or instead of the Bernier's. The franchises view should be the long one and they can afford to take certain gambles in the short-term since they aren't going to be contenders in the next season or two anyways.

- In the first round target series I have made a point of talking about each of the prospects birthdates so far. Usually that's not a big deal because kids are only separated by a few months, but that's not true of the Flames potential choices at 6th overall this year: Aleksandr Barkov is one of the youngest guys available and only a few weeks outside of being 2014 draft eligible instead. Sean Monahan and Elias Lingholm, on the other hand, are 1994 birthdays and almost a full year older than Barkov and some of the other available kids. 

Corey Pronman noted today on twitter that birth dates are a legitimate factor in judging prospects:

 

Corey's done his own work on this subject, but he also mentioned this article by Iaine Fyffe on the subject from a couple of years ago. Here's the relevant passage:

To illustrate the dramatic effect that a player's birth month can have on his projection, let's look at a hypothetical forward from the OHL, a prospect for the 2011 Entry Draft. He plays for an average OHL team, is of average size (6'1") and recorded the following statistics: 40 goals, 60 assists and 60 penalty minutes in 60 games. The Projectinator sees this player being worth an average of 8.1 GVT in his prime years, making him a very good prospect; however the projection ranges from 6.0 GVT to 9.9 GVT, depending on when he was born.

...

If there's a factor that can cause a swing of as much as 25% in a player's projected value, you'd better be sure to consider that factor. Birth month is a terribly important thing to consider when you're drafting a player. It can make the difference between a great prospect and a merely very good one.

This is one of the reasons guys like Barkov and MacKinnon are such exciting prospects - they at the very top of the pile despite being quite young as far as drafting goes. It's also the reason Sean Monahan is a risk to be a lesser talent in the long run than some of the other guys in the top-10.

- Of course, birth date shouldn't be overly weighted as a factor either. If a guy is clearly a superior talent at a given draft slot, then the Flames should take him. Sven Baertschi was one of the oldest guys in his draft class but he has obviously justified that selection so far.

- I've been asked more than once who I think the Flames should take at 6th and I am personally still undecided. Ideally I'd like the team to find a way to get Barkov, but that's probably a pipe dream. Nichushkin, Lindholm and Monahan are the obvious choices and likely guy still around at six and each one has factors that give me pause.

If I was asked who I think the team will take, it's Monahan. I imagine his mix of size, character and the fact he can play both ends of the ice will appeal. In addition, he sounds like a guy the Flames will be able to roll out to the fans at the NHL level more or less right away, which is common amongst teams whenever the bottom has fallen out and they are selling hope to the fan base. It's not a terribly prudent move from a cap management perspective, but sometimes GM's (not to mention the marketing department) aren't too concerned about what's going to happen three years down the road. 

- Word today came down that Anton Babchuk is returning to the KHL. No surprises there.

The Babchuk affair is a strange one to remember in retrospect for myself and likely a few regulars around here. Many probably don't recall, but a large portion of the fan base and media covering the team when he was a free agent clamoured for management to re-sign him. At the same time that summer, I found trying to convince people that Babchuk was a terrible bet a difficult task.

At the time, I had the feeling of a lone crazy man raving at an unfazed crowd, but that feeling was pretty quickly vanquished when the season rolled around.

- Finally, if you missed it this weekend, take a look at this post and start thinking of FN shirt ideas/designs. We'll gather together the best stuff in a week or so and start whittling down the alternatives till we get to one or two we think work (and people will actually buy). Slogan ideas are fine, but we'll accept actually graphic designs as well (send 'em to me - kent.wilson@gmail.com).

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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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#51 clYDE
May 28 2013, 05:01PM
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Rockmorton65 wrote:

I have a question I havent been able to find an answer to. Im hoping someone here can help.

Imagine this...

Calgary trades for Lecavalier

Calgary buys him out

Tampa resigns him to a smaller contract

Put aside compensation/willingness for a minute. Would the league/pa allow this?

If so, that might open up some trade options for the Flames.

Apparently only the team that buys out a player cannot resign him for one year. He is available to the other 29.

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#52 suba steve
May 28 2013, 05:26PM
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@Rockmorton65

The Flames took less return in the Regehr trade in order to shed Kotalik and his $3mil, one year deal. Reportedly it cost the Flames their 2nd rounder to get BUF to eat that contract. So then my question is, why do any of us think that eating Vinny's contract ($45mil over the next 7 years, so it costs the Flames some %age of that 45 million) is something this team would/could do? How many Drouin or Barkov jerseys do the Flames need to sell to recoup that kind of $$? If it were my $45,000,000....I would choose to spend it on something else. What about you?

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#53 chillout
May 28 2013, 05:34PM
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@Rockmorton65

tbay would have to give us a pretty unbelievable deal to eat that kind of money so that they could resign vinny for cheap. like absolutely mind blowing kind of deal. like their 1st, 2nd, 3rd this year and 1st next year and maybe a prospect as well. we'd maybe send back butler and that's it

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#54 Q
May 28 2013, 08:26PM
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I'm more inclined to either trade cammi on draft day or wait clear til deadline day. I'm also content with keeping cammi. He's very positive and a likeable individual. Tanguay, on the other hand will be hard to trade, and for almost no return in my eyes. He sulks when the chips are down, and I agree with the "gave up" part of Tanguays game after Iggy left. He still is one of the better naturally gifted passers but for a 6' 1" winger is soooo soft and , like you said kent...one dimensional now. He's the wrong guy in the dressing room for the youth coming up!!!! Trade or buy- out please. At least Cammi's still 30. The face of this team is now Gio, Glennx , Sven, Backs, Brodie, hudler, and Wideman. I'm content with the lean years ahead and going young with a few older faces. I'd love to go hard after Horton and Fillpula for selfish reasons but many will say its a waste with us being so young. Gotta have a few faces to make it fun.... And we do have the cap space. I'm just not convinced the owners are content with it being just young inexperienced players. They'll spend to the cap, and I'm fine with it!

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#55 T&A4Flames
May 28 2013, 10:18PM
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mattyc wrote:

and Eriksonn. What a D pair that was...

The flames still need someone to play forward next year, so if they're trading away their 2 best forwards, they'll need to find someone to fill in.

Not going to be an issue. Trade Cammi and Tanguay and we still have Hudler, GlenX, Stempniak, Backlund, Baertschi, Stajan and any combo of kids to give opportunity to in the top 9. I have no doubt that we will take on a bad contract or 2 that will help fill the holes in the line up and bring other assets as well. If Minny still had their 1st, I would say they would trade Heatley and their 1st for Cammi and the PIT pick. But, maybe a Tanguy for Heater and a 2nd but then MIN wouldn't have a top 60 pick in a deep draft. Not like they need more prospects.

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#56 T&A4Flames
May 28 2013, 10:28PM
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Chris Fairfield wrote:

Any interest in going after Mike Smith?

NO!!

Over rated and benefiting, as did Bryzgalov, from a strong defensive team. Wherever he goes next, he'll likely suck, IMO.

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#57 T&A4Flames
May 28 2013, 10:38PM
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suba steve wrote:

How bout we have a look at what we have in net before we go looking for more? Ramo, if they get him signed, may be just fine. After him at very least McBackup is in place, and Berra is also available.

2013-14 is not likely to be a banner year for the Flames on the ice and we may be looking at another top 10 draft pick next year (hopefully top 5) so lets just ride this out and see what the guys we already have are capable of. Last thing we need is to bring in a goalie who gets super hot, and raises us up to 9th place in the conference (like Kipper tended to do).

That's my position, anyway.

I agree. We shouldn't be expecting a PO calibre team next year so going out and signing an expensive UFA goalie would be silly without giving a full year to our current crop of 'tenders.

The only exception I would make would be Bernier if he could be had for reasonably cheap. Maybe LAK would like more scoring in Cammi.

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#58 T&A4Flames
May 28 2013, 10:52PM
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Rockmorton65 wrote:

I have a question I havent been able to find an answer to. Im hoping someone here can help.

Imagine this...

Calgary trades for Lecavalier

Calgary buys him out

Tampa resigns him to a smaller contract

Put aside compensation/willingness for a minute. Would the league/pa allow this?

If so, that might open up some trade options for the Flames.

I asked about this several write ups ago. Various trade scenarios have developed since but I have yet to hear any definitive answers on this.

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#59 seve927
May 29 2013, 07:17AM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

I agree. We shouldn't be expecting a PO calibre team next year so going out and signing an expensive UFA goalie would be silly without giving a full year to our current crop of 'tenders.

The only exception I would make would be Bernier if he could be had for reasonably cheap. Maybe LAK would like more scoring in Cammi.

Still, if you can get a good asset for Cammy, I'd prefer it not to be a goalie. Out of the 5 we've got under 27, I think it's likely one of them is better than Bernier. That just seems like wasting Cammy's trade value to me.

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#60 Rockmorton65
May 29 2013, 08:24AM
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I wasn't suggesting it was a good idea or not. I'm just curious if the league or nhlpa would allow it.

For the record, I think there are a couple ways it could work, provided Flames ownership was willing to spend a bit o cash.

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#62 seve927
May 29 2013, 09:10AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

You can't re-sign a player you've recently bought out. That loophole wasn't even in the last CBA, so I imagine this one doesn't allow it either.

But this would be a Flames buy-out that Tampa resigns. It would still seem like cap circumvention, but Tampa isn't buying out and resigning.

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#63 T&A4Flames
May 29 2013, 09:33AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

You can't re-sign a player you've recently bought out. That loophole wasn't even in the last CBA, so I imagine this one doesn't allow it either.

Hence the need to trade, CGY buy out and then TBL can resign. Yes?

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#64 Rockmorton65
May 29 2013, 11:55AM
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...I wonder what a 45 million dollar favor would get you?

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#65 icedawg_42
May 29 2013, 01:46PM
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I remember the first time I saw Babchuck skate - said to myself "That's no NHL'er"...

I totally agree with you re: Bernier as well, he should definitely be high on the Flames wish list.

Thats one of the things I like most about you Kent. You're usually in agreement with me, which means you're usually right. (except Monahan vs Lindholm, but I'll let it slide this time)

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#66 icedawg_42
May 29 2013, 01:47PM
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also - I thought both Cammi's and Tang's attitudes sucked after the Iginla trade (body language on the ice wise). I've liked them both, but it's clear they'd rather not be here now. Shop 'em both.

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