Flames and the Long Summer

Kent Wilson
July 08 2013 11:34AM

 

 

It appears the Flames are finished window shopping for UFA's. Word is the club hasn't even bothered contacting Mason Raymond and probably the only other worthwhile player on the market given Calgary's needs is Mikhail Grabovski. Naturally, there hasn't been even a whisper that the team has any interest at all. So, absent any left field trades, what you see is likely what you get when it comes to the roster.

The Flames uninvolved free agency - whether by choice or because their overtures were re-buffed - is probably a good thing. I have a piece at the Sporting News today explaining the "winners curse" and why every summer features grotesquely expensive contracts to players who probably anre't worth it. Like the Feaster pursuit of Brad Richards last summer, sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't (or in this case, fail to) make.

Calgary isn't in a position to meaningfully compete next year anyways. The only reason for them to sign name brand players at this point would be to add potentially undervalued assets at a good price: ie; guys who could rejuvenate their stock here and either become a meaningful long-term piece for the rebuild or, alternatively, an asset the club could flip in the short-term. Buy low, sell high.

Of course, those sorts of guys are hard to find as UFA's. The best you can do in the off-season is usually not to overpay a guy too much, which is why it doesn't make much sense for the Flames to get involved in a bidding war. And besides, Calgary isn't going to be at the top of the list for most anyone at this point. Which is likely why their only NHL acquisitions have been through trade so far (Kris Russel, David Jones, Shane O'Brien).

So yeah, all that's left of the off-season is a couple of months, a prospect camp and a rookie tournament in BC. Settle in and enjoy the nice weather everyone.

Other Stuff

- Backlund and Brodie still aren't signed. Todd Cordell reached out to Feaster recently and discovered the team has started to make in-roads. Feaster says Backlund is the priority because he has arbitration rights, which is a process the team would like to avoid for a couple of reasons.

1.) It's very unpleasant. To make a case before an arbitrator, the team is obliged to sling as much mud as possible in order to keep the price low.

2.) The club must abide by the contract awarded to the player in the process. They have the option to walk away if the dollar amount is over $3.5M (doubtful in Backlund's case), but otherwise what is decided by the arbitrator is locked in. In addition, the contract is always short-term (one or two seasons max), meaning they'd risk having to pay him more very soon if his results improve.

Both Backlund and Brodie are cases where the team can potentially underpay for either guy by handing over some term and security. In my Sporting News article above I note that not all long-term contracts are bad deals - that a club can actually reduce risk in some cases by capturing younger guys' peak years and a few UFA seasons.

There's always a chance that a younger player doesn't quite live up to expectations, but if you get him cheap enough on a long-term contract it usually means the only risk is paying him at market value. The upside is securing a player who improves, meaningthe team underpays him relative to his actual value during his best seasons.

Because the NHL under the salary cap is an efficiency contest, great teams almost always have a few deals like this on their roster. The Flames have an opportunity to make two good value bets on Brodie and Backs this summer, so it will be interesting to see what washes out. Of course, the players and their agents have to be on board too, although I can't imagine Brodie in particular balking at a Roman Josi type deal from the team.

- Corey Pronman released his organizational prospect rankings and actually had the Flames in the top-10 (10th in fact), which is kind of amazing given where the club has typically landed (bottom third at best). Of course, ranking-type articles are made to generate argument more than answers, but Pronman usually has his thumb firmly on the pulse of these things so I'm satisfied enough with his expertise to take his word for it.

The addition of Monahan, Klimchuk, Poirier, Cundari, Agostino, Hanowski recently as well as the maturation of Baertschi, Gaudreau, Horak, Reinhart and Arnold (etc) gives the Flames a much wider field of potential NHLers than they've had in recent memory. Of course, keep in mind Pronman's considerations are limited to players who have not yet made the NHL full time, so young guys like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Joanthan Huberdeau and so on are exempted.

So while the cupboards certainly aren't bare anymore, there's still work to be done in terms of gathering truly high-end talent that can compete with some of the younger stars in the league.

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
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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#1 Parallex
July 08 2013, 12:08PM
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Blah, so much for the teams cap space being an asset that they could use to accelerate the rebuild. Disappointed that it's looking like Calgary is going to be a floor team. I guess Edwards and Co. took back the cheque book.

Eh, maybe they'll be some deals later when the guys still left looking for dollars AND term start accepting that they'll get one but not both.

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#3 aloudoun
July 08 2013, 12:12PM
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Let the young take over. I like it. I hope sports net does a documentary on the rebuild like they did the Oilers with "Oil Change" and Senators with "Senate Reform".

What will the Flames one be called? "Re-fueling the Flames"?

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#4 BurningSensation
July 08 2013, 12:12PM
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The Pronman team ranking is very interesting. If I'm not mistaken the Flames were bottom 1/3rd of the rankings FOREVER, with the only positive being that we had a plethora of checkers and bottom pairing D-men. Now that some top line talent has entered the pipe the whole situation flips on it's head.

At some point even Justin and Lambert are going to have to recognize that the org is doing a much better job at the draft and in development. All the top-end guys in our system are Feaster pickups.

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#5 piscera.infada
July 08 2013, 12:16PM
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@aloudoun

"Fanning the Flames".

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#6 BurningSensation
July 08 2013, 12:16PM
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aloudoun wrote:

Let the young take over. I like it. I hope sports net does a documentary on the rebuild like they did the Oilers with "Oil Change" and Senators with "Senate Reform".

What will the Flames one be called? "Re-fueling the Flames"?

As long as it is not 'Young Guns 2', I'm ok with it.

How about; 'Firestarter'?

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#7 piscera.infada
July 08 2013, 12:20PM
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@Kent Wilson

Thanks Kent! I feel like I've been beating a dead horse with this whenever someone asks why the Flames didn't do anything in FA. We were no one's first choice, unless they are young guys looking for an opportunity (or new role on a new team) - which I think is the draw we need to use to "quicken the rebuild".

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#8 aloudoun
July 08 2013, 12:22PM
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I like "Firestarter" and "Fanning the Flames" better than my suggestion... haha

The one thing about the Flames in 2013-14 will be the fact it (hopefully) wont be boring to watch. I was tired of seeing the same guys on the powerplay and on the top lines, and being beaten game in and game out. The last part of the season after Iggy and Jay-Bo were traded was interesting, and dare say, exciting to watch. I liked seeing young guys get opportunities.

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#9 Colin.S
July 08 2013, 12:32PM
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I'm still surprised at the not even casually looking at Raymond, I know he's a LW and we seem to have those, but couldn't we see if he wants to play RW? We have Jones and Stempniak at RW, or we can move another LW to RW and have Ryamond at LW. I know our biggest need is center, but other than signing Grabbo, what other centers should we even bother with?

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#10 Jeff Lebowski
July 08 2013, 12:35PM
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aloudoun wrote:

Let the young take over. I like it. I hope sports net does a documentary on the rebuild like they did the Oilers with "Oil Change" and Senators with "Senate Reform".

What will the Flames one be called? "Re-fueling the Flames"?

Re ignition. I like it too. I want to see the kids play.

Stajan/Glencross/Stempniak Backlund/Cammy/Galiardi Monahan/Baertschi/Jones Knight/Bouma/Jackman *McGrattan Hudler???!!!! - Calgary needs to trade an undersized scoring winger!

Brodie/Wideman Gio/Russell Butler/O'Brien *Breen

Ramo Berra

I'd like to see Horak and Reinhart in AHL until spots open on the third line or higher. I don't want kids with talent on the 4th line (with the thinking a 4th line is meant to bang and crash - generally wear down the opposition physically - I wouldn't mind 4 skilled lines

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#11 piscera.infada
July 08 2013, 12:37PM
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@Colin.S

I know this is an unpopular belief amongst commentors here. I'm really glad we aren't looking at Raymond. Living in Victoria for the last 5 years - where all you can watch are Canucks games - I was sick of the way he plays, and I'm not even a fan of that team (at all). I actually think he's horrible - bad turnovers, no scoring acumen, little passing ability, low offensive and defensive IQ, and very easily muscled off the puck. But hell, he's fast, relatively young, and from Calgary. So for some reason he makes sense? Spare me.

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#12 Kevin R
July 08 2013, 12:42PM
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How about "Spontaneous Combustion"?

The one deal I was thinking could be a chance to use the cap space together with rebuild is maybe with Minny. Would it be realistic to consider a deal where we take Heatley(1 year left at 7.5Mill) & are rewarded with Nino(I really want to see this kid play with Sven) for a package of Granlund/Butler & Ortio/Berra or a 2015 2nd? Heatley could maybe even be flipped at the TDL.

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#13 RKD
July 08 2013, 12:43PM
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I think the Flames have to be careful with Brodie, if he's 23 now and they give him a 4 year deal he'll be a UFA at 27. I know that's something they want to avoid having a guy like that being able to walk away while still in his prime. Hopefully Brodie isn't looking for crazy money.

Backs is a valuable player but again I think term might be an issue, Backs probably wants longer than one year and the Flames don't want to risk it.

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#14 piscera.infada
July 08 2013, 12:55PM
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@Kevin R

If they were to trade for Nino and sign Brunner, we could have "The Swiss Guard" on our team - Brunner, Nino, Baertschi, Berra.

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#15 Tony
July 08 2013, 01:01PM
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aloudoun wrote:

Let the young take over. I like it. I hope sports net does a documentary on the rebuild like they did the Oilers with "Oil Change" and Senators with "Senate Reform".

What will the Flames one be called? "Re-fueling the Flames"?

Yeah, a fan asked that question at the STH meeting in May and Ken King said they sent out a pilot to the networks and they're waiting to hear back.

Do we have the show Flames This Week still? Canceled or didn't bother because of the shortened season?

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#16 Jeff Lebowski
July 08 2013, 01:01PM
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RKD wrote:

I think the Flames have to be careful with Brodie, if he's 23 now and they give him a 4 year deal he'll be a UFA at 27. I know that's something they want to avoid having a guy like that being able to walk away while still in his prime. Hopefully Brodie isn't looking for crazy money.

Backs is a valuable player but again I think term might be an issue, Backs probably wants longer than one year and the Flames don't want to risk it.

I want them for 5+ year deals. I see only upwards progression from these two. Get them relatively cheap.

They won't be elite stars but the kind of like the Dustin Byfugliens and Andrew Ladds from the 2010 Chicago team - real good complimentary players.

Now I go off the deep end and dream:

Aaron Ekblad for 2014! Connor McDavid 2015!

McDavid/Gaudreau/Poirier - Monahan/Kimchuck/Backlund- Jankowski/?/? - Knight/Buoma/?

Ekblad - Brodie - Wotherspoon - Seiloff -?-?

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#17 Parallex
July 08 2013, 01:01PM
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@RKD

A risk? What risk, I highly doubt that he's asking for a ton of money (and contracts are insured anyways). Backlund is exactely the type of guy (one that's shown steady improvement) that you lock down now (when he's basically set to get top line icetime)and eat up a few UFA years. He'll be an absolute bargain in a few years. I think he's only going to get more and more expensive if they don't act now.

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#18 Baalzamon
July 08 2013, 01:02PM
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@piscera.infada

Yeah, Raymond wouldn't really be a great addition. He's been very mediocre ever since that back injury.

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#19 McRib
July 08 2013, 01:06PM
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"Corey Pronman released his organizational prospect rankings and actually had the Flames in the top-10 (10th in fact)"

Considering Corey Pronman was not nearly as high on Emile Poirier & Mark Jankowski as others (Red Line/McKeens), I think its safe to say if one of the Flames harshest critics has us in the Top. 10 everyone does!!! Its actually probably the first time in two decades we have made it out of the 25-30 range, let alone been Top. 10 for organizational depth.

IMO, The Flames are closer to the Top. 5 where only NYI, Buffalo, Florida, Detroit, (maybe) Edmonton's systems really stand out as being better than ours at the moment. No surprise Tampa Bay is No. 1 considering Pronman's love for Russians and St. Louis is not the worst (No mention of William Carrier?!?!), but other than that solid list.

Lets not forget Philadelphia Flyers drafted Tyrell Goulbourne in the third round, a player who wasn't even on anyones radar. People think Kanzig was a reach?!?! For Jesse Lees to go undrafted and Goulbourne to go that early is why the draft is such a crap shoot after the second round. Anyway no question what team has the worst System.

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#20 Maimster
July 08 2013, 01:06PM
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One thing I wish the flames would dabble in is offer sheets. I understand they are risky (especially when you have your own unsigned RFAs and especially when they are apparently taboo league wide). However, indications re this will be the only year with such a low cap so this is the only year the Flames will be able to take advantage of their cap room. They were smart enough not to blow it on UFAs but getting a good young RFA would be a good coup.

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#21 McRib
July 08 2013, 01:08PM
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Can anyone explain to me why St. Louis hasn't signed Alex Pietrangelo... Are they crazy maybe sign him before picking up Derek Roy?!?!?!

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#22 Parallex
July 08 2013, 01:09PM
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@Jeff Lebowski

I know it's the popular opinion (that the Flames are somehow locks for top tier draft picks the next two years) but with the worst goaltending in the NHL the Flames still managed to not draft top 5. I'd temper your 2014 expectations more to the Leon Draisaitl & Roland McKeown level instead of the Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad level.

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#23 McRib
July 08 2013, 01:18PM
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@Parallex

Not to mention we had to sit 5-6 veterans the last three games, because the young guys kept on winning hockey games at the end of the season.... No chance do I think we make the playoffs, but I also don't see us as locks to pick 1st.

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#24 Casey
July 08 2013, 01:19PM
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Parallex wrote:

Blah, so much for the teams cap space being an asset that they could use to accelerate the rebuild. Disappointed that it's looking like Calgary is going to be a floor team. I guess Edwards and Co. took back the cheque book.

Eh, maybe they'll be some deals later when the guys still left looking for dollars AND term start accepting that they'll get one but not both.

For all we know, the team took a run at a bunch of UFA players, and none of them were interested in coming here. We are now the girl in high school with the "good personality". The days of Iggy and Kipper drawing UFAs to Calgary are over.

There is not much point in hunting for whales right now anyway. None of the high priced free agents in the summer of 2013 were going to put this team in the playoffs. Just settle back and "enjoy" the rebuild. We'll be more attractive to free agents in a couple of years when we have a competitive young core.

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#25 Parallex
July 08 2013, 01:22PM
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McRib wrote:

Can anyone explain to me why St. Louis hasn't signed Alex Pietrangelo... Are they crazy maybe sign him before picking up Derek Roy?!?!?!

There's no rush with RFA's. They havn't signed him yet because they don't have to sign him yet so they're prioritizing the more immediate concerns.

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#26 Baalzamon
July 08 2013, 01:25PM
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@Parallex

Yes, but we also have a full season of a defense corps that reads like a defense corpse. TJ Brodie, Dennis Wideman, Mark Giordano, Mark Cundari, Kris Russell, Chris Butler, Shane O'Brien, Derek Smith. Yeesh.

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#27 McRib
July 08 2013, 01:31PM
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@Parallex

I know, but of all the appealing RFAs this off season Alex Pietrangelo is at the top of the list to sign to an offer sheet. At least we don't need to worry about TJ Brodie if bigger names Pietrangelo or Nazim Kadri are still RFAs.

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#28 DieHard
July 08 2013, 01:44PM
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"Flames Burn"

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#29 Parallex
July 08 2013, 01:51PM
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McRib wrote:

Not to mention we had to sit 5-6 veterans the last three games, because the young guys kept on winning hockey games at the end of the season.... No chance do I think we make the playoffs, but I also don't see us as locks to pick 1st.

I'm fairly certain that we won't make the playoffs... but I wouldn't put money down on the Flames drafting 1-3.

I mean the principle difference between last years Flames and this upcoming year is the absense of Iginla, Bouwmeester, and Kiprusoff (let's assume for a moment that the Col. trade was essentually a wash in terms of win probability added). Kiprusoff was the worst goalie in the NHL last year (sad but true by any metric)... as unproven as he is I wouldn't wager money on Ramo being the worst goalie in the NHL. So if we can likely expect better value added through the goaltending position we will have had to have lost significant value in all other areas.

So then does losing Iginla & Bouwmeester do that? Much hay has been made about Jarome's decline to non-difference maker over the last few years... I'm not sure how much value we lose by an elevating chain of Cammy, Glencross, and Sven (with Galiardi assuming the lowest spot on the totem poll) I mean you have assume that with an increase in icetime/PP time at least some of Iginla's scoring slack will be assumed by other players. And if TJ Brodie's step forward was a true talent demonstation then I'm not sure how much we lose by having him eat the extra minutes we lose via Bouwmeester.

Long story short... I wouldn't go off and dream about Ekblad and Reinhart just yet.

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#31 the-wolf
July 08 2013, 01:58PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Meh. There really wasn't much for the team to spend their money this summer. I also suspect players weren't even taking serious offers from Calgary; most agents no doubt see that the Flames are entering the desert and who knows how long they'll be wandering in there. A good situation is probably as important as the money.

Which is why I don't get why the team didn't eat some salary on the JBo and/or Iginla deals. Mostly JBo.

Feaster stated he'd take advantage of teams this summer, but as you've noted, there's not much to take advantage of.

I don't get it.

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#32 Jeff Lebowski
July 08 2013, 02:10PM
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McRib wrote:

Not to mention we had to sit 5-6 veterans the last three games, because the young guys kept on winning hockey games at the end of the season.... No chance do I think we make the playoffs, but I also don't see us as locks to pick 1st.

I do. Shortened season, that youthful exuberance won't carry 82 games. I'm hoping for an exciting style of play. I'm not cheering for a ank year but I think that's in the cards.

No offense to Stajan but he is 1C in Hartley's eyes (even though Backlund is the best Calgary has).

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#33 McRib
July 08 2013, 02:13PM
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If our goaltending is below average then the Flames are going to have a Top. 3 pick next season, but with both Karri Ramo & Reto Berra competing for a job makes me think that might not be the case. I know "best player not in the NHL" is thrown around far too often, but read an article that listed Reto Berra as the second best European FA (before we signed him) and he seems to be very highly regarded overseas, liked his game in WC.

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#34 Rockmorton65
July 08 2013, 02:34PM
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@aloudoun

The Rising Fire

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#35 Parallex
July 08 2013, 02:38PM
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@Kent Wilson

Sure, sure... but I'm not presuming that they'll be good. I assume they'll be bad. I just wouldn't assume bottom three bad. I mean sure their percentages spiked at the end of the year adding some undeserved wins but it's not also like they weren't trying to tank what with the healthy scratching of what vets remained on top of the legitimatesly injured. I would presume that a Flames squad that isn't deliberately dressing Akim Aliu and Carter Bancks doesn't do as bad.

I just think that increased ice-time for Backlund, Sven & TJ are all likely (which is a good thing as far as winning goes) as is a better performance out of the goaltending position (which isn't to say a good performance as it is to say a less bad one). So where are the extra loses needed to drag the team from 25th down to 28-30th going to come from? I suppose they could just try to tank again after the deadline this year and maybe the percentages don't spike (although if they're not banking terrible goalie performances early in the year that might just take them from 8th down to 6th).

Don't get me wrong I think we'll be bad... I just have some doubts about how bad.

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#36 piscera.infada
July 08 2013, 02:43PM
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@Parallex

Exactly. Typically those performances that result in a last place finish are epically bad. Again, that's not to say this team is good (by any stretch of the imagination), I just have a hard time thinking they are so bad that they're all but guaranteed an epically bad season.

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#37 seve927
July 08 2013, 02:44PM
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Just looking at team scoring pct and pp scoring for Poirier and Klimchuk. Klimchuk was in on about 40% of the Pats' goals, but over 50% of his points were on the PP. Poirier was in on about 1/3 of the Gatineau goals, but less than 1/4 of his points were on the PP. I've got a very good feeling about Poirier; I'm glad they didn't take a chance on letting him slip to 28.

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#38 TheBear64
July 08 2013, 03:01PM
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Waiting is good. With the salary cap going down, the amount of teams buying will be very limited, and there are lots of guys that will be waiting a long time for a contract. Already, after the first day, the "feeding frenzy" has dropped off and it's very quiet now. The longer the buying teams wait, the more desperate guys will be to get a contract and the better deal you will get.

I'm convinced there will still be good players waiting for a contract even when next season starts. Those who panicked and signed overpriced contracts will find out that they made a big mistake.

I would like to see a guy like Grabovski join the Flames, but not if the cost is too high. Interesting that there's no rumors around him as to other teams expressing an interest. He may very well wind up being one of those guys that winds up waiting longer than he expected to.

There's still lots of quality players waiting to get an offer. Guys like Simon Gagne, Damien Brunner, Dustin Penner, Milan Hedjuk, Vinny Prospal, Nathan Gerbe, Peter Mueller. Lots more than that too. There's a lot of possibilities, and waiting a while to make offers on any of those guys could pay off big-time in the end.

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#41 Baalzamon
July 08 2013, 03:08PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Beat me to it. Nice work.

If you have that in spreadsheet form send it over and I'll publish.

didn't Justin do it like a week ago?

http://flamesnation.ca/2013/7/2/flames-2013-draft-scoring-analysis

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#42 loudogYYC
July 08 2013, 03:09PM
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the-wolf wrote:

Which is why I don't get why the team didn't eat some salary on the JBo and/or Iginla deals. Mostly JBo.

Feaster stated he'd take advantage of teams this summer, but as you've noted, there's not much to take advantage of.

I don't get it.

Summer just started man, teams aren't feeling the cap crunch yet. I wouldn't be surprised if some lopsided deals go down in August as the regular season approaches.

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#43 Baalzamon
July 08 2013, 03:10PM
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@Parallex

You're forgetting two things. First, that we have a full season of our horror show defense to look forward to. Second, the realignment. I have a hard time imagining any situation where the Flames don't get massacred being in the same division as Vancouver, San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Edmonton.

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#44 SmellOfVictory
July 08 2013, 03:12PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Yeah, fair enough. I'd say whereas the Flames range was 7-10 previously, it's probably more in the 10-15 range now, depending on luck and injuries.

NEVER MIND

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#46 Kevin R
July 08 2013, 03:43PM
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loudogYYC wrote:

Summer just started man, teams aren't feeling the cap crunch yet. I wouldn't be surprised if some lopsided deals go down in August as the regular season approaches.

I don't know, starting to look like a bunch of hoopla when in reality Edwards wants to run well under the Cap during this rebuild. Teams we thought had their balls against the cap all have compliance buyouts available to get them on side. Nice that we didn't have any but it just seems that absorbing one or eating salary to help accelerate the quality of this rebuild is not an option for Feaster. Too bad, we missed some pretty good opportunity to Edwards short sighted bottom line. I expect zero moves by Calgary besides resigning some of our RFA's.

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#47 McRib
July 08 2013, 03:45PM
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@seve927

I've posted it before so I'll try to be brief.... Quote from Red Line Report: "Hear that? It’s the sound of fervent praying as the Habs try to subconsciously will the rest of the league into staying away from this hometown Montreal stud. If they land him at #25, it will be the biggest steal of the draft”.

http://www.redlinereport.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/RLR-Mock-Draft-June-2013.pdf

Honestly no way in hell Poirier was making it to 28, some people liked him a lot more than others but he was never making it passed Montreal at 25, let alone past two or three teams above them. People that like Poirier say he could be the biggest steal of the draft.

I have a hard time believing as of right now that Mark Jankowski is going to be the best player of the 2012 draft, but without question would put money on it that Poirier is going to be one of the ten best players from this years draft. Whether you look at his stats or watch videos of him everything just screams sleeper.

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#48 seve927
July 08 2013, 03:51PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Geez, yes he did. And I that edited that piece.

Time for a break, clearly.

Pretty sure I read it too, now that I see it. But I was hauling about 3 tons of @$(@# soaked items out of my basement at the time.

At any rate I like Poirier's numbers a lot.

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#49 McRib
July 08 2013, 03:56PM
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@seve927

As for Morgan Klimchuk's PP totals... Is that not why we drafted him?!?!? Potential as an elite finisher... Hahah.

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#50 seve927
July 08 2013, 04:06PM
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McRib wrote:

As for Morgan Klimchuk's PP totals... Is that not why we drafted him?!?!? Potential as an elite finisher... Hahah.

Let's hope so.

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