Five things: A shocking amount of Flames items

Ryan Lambert
June 20 2013 01:51PM

1. Busy busy busy

At this point in the year, it seems logical that most teams would try to keep things pretty quiet, not too intent to tip their hands with relation to trades, front-office shakeups, or really anything else. There's the odd exception, of course: New York signing Alain Vigneault as coach, Colorado talking to anyone and everyone about exactly what they're going to do with the No. 1 overall pick, a few big contracts for Russian players out of Los Angeles and Detroit.

And yet Calgary has been a topic of conversation for about a week now, for various reasons, and it's nice to some extent to see the extents to which the team is now willing to go to make sure they are at the very least not boring. So without much more ado, I guess let's get right down to the thing I think will probably be most important for this organization going forward. 

2. Shanahan or Campbell coming aboard

That's the rumor right now: One of them is going to be leaving the NHL's head offices and likely heading to Calgary, which tells you how nice it must be for both of them at the NHL's head office these days.

Getting Ken King out of his job seems like a good idea at this point simply because he's — if nothing else — a symbol of all the years of frustration the organization has gone through in the last several years. Getting an actual hockey guy into the role, meanwhile, seems like a great idea. Someone to say to Jay Feaster, who is himself not necessarily a hockey guy, "I don't think that's a good idea and here's why," would be a welcome addition to the front office.

Now, as for the fact that it's Shanahan, who has never held a front office job in hockey, and Campbell, who was more or less forced out of his job because of some very embarrassing emails and has been skulking in the shadows ever since, well, the optics aren't necessarily great. That's they're the last two guys to take on the rather thankless task of telling players and teams who's getting suspended and for long and why will probably make the hire a little more mockable, as will the fact that Campbell's last job with an actual team came at a time when you still had to call a phone number to connect to the internet.

Again, this is a change that needs to be made. I think it's a positive. It'll be mocked to some extent, mostly because it's incredibly easy and fun to mock the Flames, but getting more hockey people in an organization oddly devoid of them can't be a bad thing. Well, okay, it might be. But I'm all for the gamble at this point.

3. Trying to trade all the picks

Here's another thing that I think people laughed at a little bit, and which I thought was a great idea. The Flames need a top-end player. They miiiiiiight get one at No. 6, but it seems a little unlikely to be one that would help right when the puck drops on 2013-14.

Colorado was also right to tell Jay Feaster to take his three picks back to the bus station and get lost, because it wouldn't have been an especially good look for the team picking first overall to dump that pick without something significant (say, a good roster player) coming back the other way. With that having been said, Calgary might have been able to sweeten the deal a little more, but that they didn't is also fine.

The idea of a Nathan MacKinnon or Seth Jones in Calgary is obviously an enticing one, but the same could be said of their being in Colorado. Another good gamble by Feaster in my book.

4. No buyouts?

Okay this is less of a good gamble but I guess the team doesn't care because they won't be anywhere near the salary cap and will need all the warm bodies they can get next season, but nonetheless I was a little surprised by this revelation from Feaster last week.

I figured someone on the roster, an older defenseman who sucks and is on the last year of his deal JUST TO PICK SOMEONE AT RANDOM, might be a candidate, but again, I see the need to just keep guys on the roster and maybe take the value in "having someone to show them what it takes to be a pro" or whatever. That's all fine. There will be plenty of rookies on the team.

5. Corban Knight will probably make this team next year

I love love love this trade, and it's a really great thing for Calgary to pull off just to take advantage of Florida being in rather a precarious situation. Obviously I'm not one to give Feaster any credit, and I don't think he's any good at trading (or much of anything, really) in general, but this was great stuff.

Knight is an very, very good two-way center for North Dakota. He excels at the faceoff dot and logged heavy minutes. Here's a real stat I dug up on him ahead of the NCAA tournament when I was writing my EXCELLENT PREVIEW for Puck Daddy: He took 1,024 draws in just 40 games, and won 591 (57.7 percent). That was more wins than the next-closest guy on his team even took total. That's how much he was relied upon by a very good college hockey team this year.

Obviously, quality centers are a bit of a rarity with this team, and honestly, I wouldn't be shocked if this kid gets an extended run-out with the big club this year. He's going to be 23 when the season starts and now seems as good a time as any to see what he's got. We're none of us getting any younger.

686dfac3780611cb7acad6ce5166c6c1
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!
Avatar
#51 If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin
June 20 2013, 11:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Given this uncertainty, it makes me uneasy when Andy Strickland reports that the Flames have taken a very big interest in Nichushkin.

Avatar
#52 aloudoun
June 20 2013, 11:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

The Flames need a for sure home run with this 6th overall pick and I think Nichushkin is not a sure thing... and plus I would rather see them take a center. For me this is my dream

Mackinnon Barkov Lindholm Droiun

(excuse the spelling)

Avatar
#53 If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin
June 21 2013, 12:51AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I also found this analysis of Nichushkin to be very informative: http://www.coppernblue.com/2013/6/5/4397856/valeri-nichushkin-comparables

Avatar
#54 RexLibris
June 21 2013, 09:04AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@BurningSensation

While I have some misgivings over some of Tambellini's moves, or lack thereof, I think his generally conservative demeanor was best for the team during the initial building stage. It prevented moving any of the picks or young players for veteran help.

The downside of that though was that it also prevented him from moving any of the veterans for better bottom six help.

Some have criticized the Oilers' drafting for them not selecting a defenseman with a 1st overall, while others have suggested that they ought to have traded away one of those picks for an immediate NHL-ready player.

My opinion on that is that there was never a defenseman who was as good as any of the forward prospects. And trading a 1st overall for an NHL player is highly unlikely to return equal value.

As for comparing situations between the Oilers and Flames, they are at different stages in their respective life-cycles. The Flames have a decent supporting cast, though I don't think it is as strong now as it has been in years previous. What they lack is elite level talent, arguably the hardest thing to acquire. They have some prospects who may yet prove to be second-line top-six in Gaudreau and Baertschi. With luck they will be able to find a first-line forward in this draft and add one or two potential depth players.

If I take off my fan-hat for a moment and try to judge which of the two teams is in the stronger position right now I think it has to go to the Oilers simply because they have a core. The Flames have all the complimentary pieces but nothing solid around which to build, and as Kent has noted on several occasions, that is the most difficult task for a GM.

Here is a caveat though, neither team is in a particularly strong position right now. The Oilers have some major roster issues facing them and there is a tonne of talk about them trading one of Smid or Petry as well as Horcoff and Hemsky in addition to letting go of Whitney, Fistric, Petrell, Jones and Khabibulin. I'm not suggesting those latter names should be kept, but those are a lot of bodies to lose over one off-season.

If we online armchair GMs are right in that the Oilers plan on trading the 7th overall for Jake Gardiner and then acquire a center like Johansen for Hemsky, prospects or more picks, then the roster has taken a step forward. But there are significant challenges ahead and it is difficult even for our online community to imagine that all this can be accomplished in one summer by a rookie GM.

I'm not overly concerned about ELCs right now as I sincerely believe the cap is going to quickly rise back to $70 million. Also, Eberle is very likely to be the first of the core to be traded, if it comes to it.

As for the Flames, the best way to acquire the top talent they need is by drafting, however the time involved in pursuing that route means that any bottom six depth they have today is likely to be irrelevant once those prospects are ready. This coming season will go a long way to determining the viability of the Flames' rebuild. I know this will make me unpopular here, but I would suggest that should they finish the season drafting outside of the top five it would not be in their best long-term interests.

There aren't any real trade options that I can see available to bring in top talent unless it involves trading away multiple 1st round picks and as you mentioned, they have a good collection of support players although their likely market value is not equivalent to the young talented players the team requires (like B. Schenn, Couturier, etc).

All this said, I also believe that Feaster will try and avoid this route and attempt to rebuild the team along lines similar to Burke, avoiding a bottom finish and looking for talent through trade and free-agency while targeting younger players in both cases.

Either way, I suspect that Alberta will be providing plenty of storylines for hockey fans over the next few years. At long last, it will be exciting to be a fan of either team if for no other reason than it will be a change from the past few years.

Avatar
#55 Jeff Lebowski
June 21 2013, 11:14AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
beloch wrote:

Stajan has been playing like Stajan ever since he came to the Flames. i.e. Thoroughly mediocre. When he first came to the Flames his ice-time was slashed in half, his sh% (i.e. luck) tanked, and he looked correspondingly awful. Last season his ice-time was upped, his sh% normalized, and he looked a lot better. His underlying stats have remained more or less constant (and mediocre). I'm willing to give him some kudos for coming through that "whipping boy" phase without turning into a basket-case, be he's no #1C.

Backlund's ceiling is probably a mediocre #1C, but he shouldn't be relied upon to be available for the entire season. Sufficient redundancy to replace him appears crucial at this point. He appears to be a lot like Moss in that respect.

The Flames still need centers, especially an elite one. Backlund looks a lot better on the 2nd line. Matt Stajan is 29 and probably isn't going to be a very productive player in 3-4 years once the Flames rookies come into their own. He might be a useful piece for the next couple of seasons, but trading him sooner rather than later will maximize his value. If, later next season, the Flames' top-6 looks like it can survive without Stajan he should be moved.

Spot on.

Avatar
#56 Kurt
June 21 2013, 04:30PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
BurningSensation wrote:

@Rex Libris

This conversation brings to mind something I've been meaning to ask an articulate Oilers fan, are you happy with how the Oilers are constructed?

I ask because I look at the team and see precisely 6 pieces (Hall, Eberle, RNH, Yakupov, Schultz-the-good, and Klefbom) that I think are good fits. The rest looks like a total mess.

For example, as bad as I think Calgary is, I see them as being in a much better situation with their rebuild than Edmonton. The Flames currently lack the centerpieces of their rebuild (in particular, a #1 C, a #1 W, and a #1 D), but otherwise have nice secondary pieces already in place (Gio, Brodie, Baertschi, Backlund, Glen-X, Cammalleri) or on the way (Gaudreau, Gillies, Wotherspoon, Brossoit, Jankowski, Arnold, Reinhart, Knight, etc).

Getting an 'A' grade talent this year, and hopefully a couple of B+ guys later in the draft will go a long way towards setting up the future of the roster.

But for Edmonton, there are holes at #2 C, an entire 3rd line (though PRV may be one of them), a #1 D, 3-4 D, and G.

Compounding the problem is that Hall and Nuge are rapidly burning through their ELCs, Eberle has likely reached his ceiling (I am not one who sees him as a perpetual PPG guy), and overall the roster is on the smurfy side and lacking in guys who can do heavy lifting.

How would you assess where the Oiler rebuild is currently at?

This seems a bit much... I typically enjoy your comments, but really? we are better off right now than Edmonton???!? I'd trade teams teams straight up 1000 times out of 1000 and I believe 30 GMs would as well. Sort of sums up that argument... Not saying Edmonton has done ,uh well beyond sucking, and I know we can do better. But saying all they have is Hall, Eberle, RHN, Yakupov and Schultz but the rest is a mess is a good laugh. Is that it?? Poor Edmonton, they must sure wish hey had some depth players and Tim Jackan like us..

Avatar
#57 BurningSensation
June 21 2013, 04:54PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Kurt wrote:

This seems a bit much... I typically enjoy your comments, but really? we are better off right now than Edmonton???!? I'd trade teams teams straight up 1000 times out of 1000 and I believe 30 GMs would as well. Sort of sums up that argument... Not saying Edmonton has done ,uh well beyond sucking, and I know we can do better. But saying all they have is Hall, Eberle, RHN, Yakupov and Schultz but the rest is a mess is a good laugh. Is that it?? Poor Edmonton, they must sure wish hey had some depth players and Tim Jackan like us..

It's a matter of how you judge the way the rebuild is going.

I definitely prefer the EDM top 6 players to ours, but outside of those six guys, I think the Oilers are in a bad way. Not only that but the six players they have aren't good compliments to each other, and the pieces don't fit.

By contrast, Calgary could make the playoffs with almost the same roster from last year plus some league average goaltending.

A rebuild is about more than just; finish last, draft 1st, wash, rinse, repeat, Win Cup!

In Calgary's case, I don't put the date of the rebuild on Feaster finally announcing one, I put it on the day they dealt Regehr. Since then the team has gotten younger, added draft picks, rebuilt the AHL team, hired advanced stats guys, a draft guru, etc.

If you took three excellent prospects (say; Barkov, Nichushkin and Nurse) and added them to Calgary's current situation they would be competitive much faster and longer than Edmonton adding a similar number of players.

Avatar
#58 please cancel acct
June 22 2013, 11:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
BurningSensation wrote:

It's a matter of how you judge the way the rebuild is going.

I definitely prefer the EDM top 6 players to ours, but outside of those six guys, I think the Oilers are in a bad way. Not only that but the six players they have aren't good compliments to each other, and the pieces don't fit.

By contrast, Calgary could make the playoffs with almost the same roster from last year plus some league average goaltending.

A rebuild is about more than just; finish last, draft 1st, wash, rinse, repeat, Win Cup!

In Calgary's case, I don't put the date of the rebuild on Feaster finally announcing one, I put it on the day they dealt Regehr. Since then the team has gotten younger, added draft picks, rebuilt the AHL team, hired advanced stats guys, a draft guru, etc.

If you took three excellent prospects (say; Barkov, Nichushkin and Nurse) and added them to Calgary's current situation they would be competitive much faster and longer than Edmonton adding a similar number of players.

Wondering who the draft guru guy is?

Avatar
#59 McRib
June 23 2013, 10:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@please cancel acct

That would be John Weisbrod the Assistant GM formerly the Boston Bruins' Director of Collegiate Scouting from 2006 to 2011.

Avatar
#60 RexLibris
June 24 2013, 11:00AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Weisbrod's name has come up a few times in relation to the Bruins' success these past few seasons in relation to his work at the draft.

I decided to take a look at the Bruins draft history to ascribe to Weisbrod the prospects chosen from within his geographic focus (keeping in mind that scouting groups tend to work collectively, but it is usually up to the local guy to do the leg work and rank a preliminary list).

So from 2006 to 2011 the picks, and rankings taken from a variety of sources, are as follows:

2006: Phill Kessel, 5th overall from U. of Minn. Concensus ranking before the draft had him in the top five. Not likely a draft position wherein one could say that Weisbrod "discovered" him, more likely a broad choice made by the majority of scouts with the backing of management.

2007: Tommy Cross, 35th overall, Westminster H.S. Conn. Listed 5th in Boston's blueline depth chart at Hockey's Future, a 6.5 C grade. *I tend to be very skeptical of this source for rankings, but the depth charts are generally fair.

2008: Mark Goggin, 197th overall, Choate Rosemary Hall, Conn. Last on their C depth chart and ranked 6.0 D. NCAA career to date: 35 gp, 12pts.

2009: None directly attributable.

2010: Justin Florek, 135th overall, North Mich. U. 3rd on LW depth chart, 6.0 C, wore the "C" in his last NCAA year.79 AHL gp, 31 pts. Projects as a depth LW with size.

2011: Brian Ferlin, 121st overall, Indiana Ice USHL. 7.0 C, second on RW depth chart. NCAA, 60gp, 45 pts. Projects well as depth RW with size. Rob O'Gara, 151st overall, Milton Academy, Mass. 6th on D depth chart, 6.5 D. One year in NCAA, 37 gp, 7 pts, -5, 32 PIMs. Large defender, projects as bottom pairing, with possible 2nd pairing shutdown ceiling.

Weisbrod has done some decent work, but his work with the Flames is only beginning and we'll have to wait until he builds up a body of work to determine whether he is capable of handling the duties of being a Head Scout (his role, for all intents and purposes).

Comments are closed for this article.