Random Thoughts - Jarome Revealed and picking Zach Fucale

Kent Wilson
June 10 2013 10:41AM

 

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- pic via seventwentysk

 

Jarome Iginla's attempt to pull a Ray Bourque was put to rest by the Boston Bruins recently, a grimly ironic result after the whole "Iginla to the Bruins" kerfuffle. Some are no doubt pointing to karmic retribution, but, really, the post-season is where dreams get crushed without mercy all the time.

I don't wish Jarome any ill will and sincerely hope he manages to cap off his great career with a cup win at some point. What's more interesting from a Flames perspective is how Iginla fared in his new digs. Not as any sort of enduring indictment of the captain, you understad, but just because one of the most useful analytic gauges of a team and a player are when a guy switches clubs. This allows you to compare his pre-and-post outcomes in order to determine to what degree his failures or successes were team/circumstance based.

Meaning, if Iginla had gone to Pittsburgh and suddenly started to drive possession again, then we'd know something had gone very wrong in Calgary - be it in terms of strategy, coaching or quality of linemates.

Instead, the opposite was true - the erstwhile captain's struggles continued in Pittsburgh, despite a vastly superior team. Iginla finished the playoffs with a -7.2/60 relative corsi, despite a very favorable 58.3% zone start. He also spent a lot of time with Malkin and Crosby through the first two series before Dan Bylsma eventually gave up and dropped him down the rotation.

Those are surprisingly abysmal underlying numbers, even granting the fact that Iggy has had trouble moving the puck north for the last few years here. They suggest Jarome has devolved to the kind of guy who can't really be effectively sheltered at this point in his career; that he will be a liability at 5on5 in just about any top-9 rotation. I'm guessing those numbers are somewhat overstated by a few of factors, including playing on his off-wing, some uncertainty about joining a new team after nearly two decades in Calgary and the much stronger level of competition in the playoffs relative to the regular season.

Still, it's fairly clear that Jarome's downturn as an effective top gun in Calgary wasn't caused by environmental factors. There was always a chance something in the local water had turned down the dial for Iggy, but he got a couple months to play on the wing of two of the most dominant centers in the league (starting in the o-zone more often than most to boot) and he still spent more time in the defensive zone than the opposition. 

- It will be interesting to see what Iginla chooses to do in the off-season. He's made a ton of money in his career and all that's really left is to win the cup. Most of the legit contenders outside of St. Louis won't have much cap space left to invest in a player like Jarome, particularly after his turn in Pittsburgh reveled him as a supporting piece (at best) on a quality team these days. For the record, I don't think there's any chance he comes back to Calgary.

- There's lot of talk about "big changes" coming in PIT after the sweep, which is pretty silly in my estimation. The Pens still boast some of the best players on the planet. Also, as well as Boston played in the third round, there's no question Pittsburgh simply hit a string bad luck as well.

What Ray Shero should be worried about is the bottom-end of his roster. Without Jordan Staal anchoring the third line that portion of their club has taken a huge hit, to the degree that the top-end isn't quite able to float them possession-wise against good teams as much, which is problematic given how often Crosby/Malkin tend to get injured. The later rotation should be relatively easy to fix, assuming the team asks the right questions this summer though.

What they shouldn't do is fire Dan Bylsma, trade key pieces or keep MA Fleury. Find some competent guys to patrol the bottom-six, firm up the blueline somewhat and get rid of the needlessly expensive mediocre goaltender and things should all be well.

- Switching gears, a lot of arrows are pointing to the Flames being interested in probable first round pick Zach Fucale, who is the highest ranked goalie in the upcoming draft. Both Bob Hartley and John Weisbrod have publicly praised the Halifax Moosehead's starter recently.

We've gone over this before in this space, but I'll re-iterate that taking a goalie in the first round is a generally a terrible bet. Unless you are sure a guy is more or less a generational talent, it's always prudent to a pick a skater.

I came to this conclusion a long time ago at my personal blog, and subsequent investigations by smarter men than me have all pretty much confirmed my suspicions: that forecasting the future of 18 year puckstoppers is the toughest gig an NHL scout has. There are all sorts of systemic and market reasons why picking goalies high in the draft is a bad idea, but I want to focus and expand on why goalies are so difficult to project and develop.

The path to starter-dom for a goalie is incredibly narrow relative to skaters. There are 12 forward positions and 6 defender positions on any given team - and one starting goalie. Skaters can be gradually developed in lower ends of the rotation and work their way up until they hit a ceiling. Skaters can also be developed into a variety of roles ranging from shut-down defender to the powerplay specialist. You can stick a slow guy with a faster guy to help cover up his mobility issues. You can play a rookie with a veteran to help him with the defensive side of the game. You can protect a defensively suspect sniper by starting him in the offensive zone way more often than the defensive zone.

So when picking skaters in the draft, you can essentially pick them for a multiplicity of end-points. Maybe the kid pegged as a future power forward becomes a checking winger instead. Maybe that defender who scored a bunch of points actually becomes a second pairing, two-way guy. Skaters are easier to protect, easier to develop and they can be groomed to take on more than a single role. Essentially, for a rookie skater to make the team, he just has to be better than the one or two of the worst options ahead of him on the depth chart. Then you can groom him and move him up from there, depending on his abilities and progression.

There's no such opportunity or flexibility with goalies. They simply have to stop the puck at a higher rate than the next guy. A goaltender's mistakes are the highest impact errors on the ice, so there's no sheltering him on the 4th line or on the powerplay. As a result, there are no multiple roles or fall back positions for drafted goaltenders - in contrast to skaters they have to be better than the best available option for the organization at every given point in order to garner playing time. Meaning there are far greater obstacles standing in the way of every prospective goalie's development path.

Let's put it another way - if you were to target centers in the draft but only one center could play for each team every year, that means you more or less have to hit a homerun with that pick - if the chosen center isn't a future number one center (that is, one of the best 30 in the league), then he's more or less worthless.

And that's how it is with goalies. Either you choose a guy who will be a high-end puckstopper in the show a few years down the road, or you have more or less flushed a pick down the toilet.

Goaltenders are the higest impact single players on any given team, so it's incredibly beneficial to land a quality puckstopper in the draft. The problem is, projecting goalies is hard and developing goalies is hard. Much harder than skaters. Goaltending is also often cheaper to purchase in the UFA and trade market as well. So, for example, trading a first round pick for an established NHL goalie usually makes a lot more sense than drafting one with that same first rounder.

So, in short - please don't take Zach Fucale Jay.

- In case you missed it, all of the Flames first round picks have been solidified now that the Pens are done: 6, 22, and 28. One of the reasons I envision the Flames targeting Fucale is they get two skaters they really like at 6 and 22 and then decide to take chance on him with that 28th overall pick (assuming he's still available). That is, of course, if the club doesn't trade it for something.

Around the Nations

 

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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 Rockmorton65
June 10 2013, 04:20PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I'm not a Luke Schenn fan, frankly.

What about Gio, Butler & 22 for Brayden and Couts?

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#52 the-wolf
June 10 2013, 04:27PM
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Rockmorton65 wrote:

What about Gio, Butler & 22 for Brayden and Couts?

I think Philly is more inclined to move Couturier than Schenn based on their order in the roster last season and bringing in Luke.

Sorry, but I don't think Philly moves both. It would cut into their center depth too much and both of those players were pciked a lot higher than 22. Butler doesn't balance anything out either IMO.

I am also in favor of those sugegsting Gio straight up for Couts.

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#53 Avalain
June 10 2013, 04:30PM
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Case in point on the drafting of goaltenders: the three finalists for the Vezina this year are 2 undrafted goalies (Niemi and Bobrovski) and one 7th rounder (Lundqvist).

I was looking at a bunch of top goalies in the league and their draft positions are all over the board (literally!).

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#54 negrilcowboy
June 10 2013, 04:31PM
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Rockmorton65 wrote:

What about Gio, Butler & 22 for Brayden and Couts?

do it now, brayden schenn not luke schenn and couts. brayden and sean do that in a heart beat.

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#55 the-wolf
June 10 2013, 04:34PM
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A lot of talk on FN about moving up in to the top 4, but I can't see it happening for any number of reasons - cost, other team's unwillingness, etc.

Instead, I think the Flames should try and move into the top 15. I think that's more feasible and I think Philly picking at 11(?) may make a great target for a potenial trade along those lines as well.

Moving into the top 15 may not be as sexy as moving into the top 4, but it would allow Calgary to grab another prospect like a Domi or Wennberg and that in itself would be huge IMO.

Would Gio be too much for the #11 pick?

What about #11 and Couturier? Does Calgary have the assests to even pull that off?

Gio, their 1st round picks from StL & Pitts + ???

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#56 Kevin R
June 10 2013, 04:46PM
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the-wolf wrote:

A lot of talk on FN about moving up in to the top 4, but I can't see it happening for any number of reasons - cost, other team's unwillingness, etc.

Instead, I think the Flames should try and move into the top 15. I think that's more feasible and I think Philly picking at 11(?) may make a great target for a potenial trade along those lines as well.

Moving into the top 15 may not be as sexy as moving into the top 4, but it would allow Calgary to grab another prospect like a Domi or Wennberg and that in itself would be huge IMO.

Would Gio be too much for the #11 pick?

What about #11 and Couturier? Does Calgary have the assests to even pull that off?

Gio, their 1st round picks from StL & Pitts + ???

I like your thinking about moving into that top 15 as well. Ideally, with a vet & eating a bad contract back. I deep deep down was hoping to use Gio or Wideman & a later 1st to score Carolina's 5th overall. They have more of a win now mindset with the Staals, Semin & Ward window being open & bad need for a top 4 dman. Gio is well priced too, so maybe that late Iggy pick & Gio could do it.

I guess if we were to take Briere, who does have a NMC, he can be assured of a buyout in order to waive that clause. But Philly doesn't really need to save the money, they are the type of team that would buyout themselves before giving up any asset value for that privilege. But who knows, if they buy out Bryz as well, maybe that becomes a little too much, but I doubt it.

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#57 Rockmorton65
June 10 2013, 05:30PM
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the-wolf wrote:

I think Philly is more inclined to move Couturier than Schenn based on their order in the roster last season and bringing in Luke.

Sorry, but I don't think Philly moves both. It would cut into their center depth too much and both of those players were pciked a lot higher than 22. Butler doesn't balance anything out either IMO.

I am also in favor of those sugegsting Gio straight up for Couts.

On second thought, I cant see Philly giving up both. Some here are suggesting we try to get into the top 15 (without moving our 6th, of course). What if we tweak my earlier proposal...

Gio, Butler & 22 for Brayden Schenn and 11?

We get a young center, a second pick in the top 15

Philly gets TWO NHL dmen, one top 4, and all they do is drop 11 spots in the draft to do it.

Take on Briere's contract to make it happen.

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#58 john peart
June 10 2013, 07:24PM
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Parallex wrote:

If the 6th is used on Fucale I'll bring the pitchforks if someone else will bring the torches.

I loved this comment .... had a good laugh .... not sure how Fucale at #6 ever even came up as a discussion point.

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#59 Chris Fairfield
June 10 2013, 07:36PM
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Scott Nichol wrote:

Who are you thinking goes the other way? Gio or Brodie?

Better be Gio.

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#60 44stampede
June 10 2013, 08:00PM
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I think we may be underestimating the value of Couturier. I don't know much about him but other team's fans I read seem to like him a lot. I don't know if Philly does too and is sheltering him or knows something that we don't.

I would say it could be worth a shot if the price is right.

How are his underlying numbers Kent?

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#61 44stampede
June 10 2013, 08:01PM
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btw, really enjoying the discussion guys and gals.

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#62 Tommynotsohuge
June 10 2013, 08:24PM
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The thing is, Philly won't be in that much trouble to make themselves cap compliant. If they buy out Bryz and Brier, and have Pronger in LTIR, they will have around $13 million in cap space. I absolutely love the conversation about us going after Coutorier, but I dont think it is going to happen. You never know though, they did trade Carter and Richards. I'd say Gio and our 28th for Coutorier if anything

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#63 Franko J
June 10 2013, 08:27PM
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No goalies.

Fucale maybe a top prospect, but if the Flames draft him with any of three first round picks, then they really haven't done their due diligence.

There are several holes in the Flames lineup which need to be addressed through the draft and selecting a goalie is not one of them. I think they already have built some depth at the goaltending position and the dire need for this organization is to build depth at center, RW, and along the blue line.

Giordano maybe the best player on the current roster for trade bait, but if there was a clear indication at the trade deadline is that what the Flames have to offer the other 29 GM's have a different perception. The level of interest from other GM's may not be as high as what fans expect. Trades such as Gio for Couturier would be ideal, but I don't think Holmgren is willing to trade a good young player for another average defenseman. I think he has seen what the VRD trade from last year.

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#64 Franko J
June 10 2013, 08:27PM
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As for Iginla it seems he has lost his zip and zest for the game. Age has definitely caught up to him. He just doesn't have the legs to out skate the younger players. He might be in great shape and fit, still poses a great shot, but if you can't skate then you will be exposed as a player. In the first series against the Islanders he just couldn't keep up with the Oposko and Tavares, against Boston he was exposed for his defensive liabilities. I wish Iggy all the best in his pursuit of the Stanley Cup, but I hope the Flames don't resign him.

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#65 EugeneV
June 11 2013, 02:34AM
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TheRealPoc wrote:

And what kind of "behaviour" is that? This is exactly what I mean - it's getting ridiculous.

BTW, he wasn't just a great Flame, he was the greatest Flame. Inarguable.

MacInnis, then Fleury. Inarguable

and the 70's called. It wants its hair back.

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#66 the-wolf
June 11 2013, 06:22AM
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Tommynotsohuge wrote:

The thing is, Philly won't be in that much trouble to make themselves cap compliant. If they buy out Bryz and Brier, and have Pronger in LTIR, they will have around $13 million in cap space. I absolutely love the conversation about us going after Coutorier, but I dont think it is going to happen. You never know though, they did trade Carter and Richards. I'd say Gio and our 28th for Coutorier if anything

Yeah, the pot may well have to be sweetened beyond Gio.

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#67 T&A4Flames
June 11 2013, 07:33AM
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Rockmorton65 wrote:

On second thought, I cant see Philly giving up both. Some here are suggesting we try to get into the top 15 (without moving our 6th, of course). What if we tweak my earlier proposal...

Gio, Butler & 22 for Brayden Schenn and 11?

We get a young center, a second pick in the top 15

Philly gets TWO NHL dmen, one top 4, and all they do is drop 11 spots in the draft to do it.

Take on Briere's contract to make it happen.

All this talk re: Briere sounds a lot like the Lecavalier talk that was happening for a while.

Bottom line, Briere wants to stay in PHI. Does PHI want him still? If he is bought out so that PHI can re up at a discounted price, that is a valuable trade chip.

I have to say, one of the most interesting things I'm anticipating this summer is if Edwards gives the ok to Feaster to"buy" young assets and picks. How far is he willing to go?

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#68 EugeneV
June 12 2013, 01:15AM
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@suba steve

Of course it's Geddy Lee.

Hey guys; Take off!

LOL

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