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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#51 Hank Williams
July 08 2013, 04:19PM
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How about Blazing Saddles?!

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#52 If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin
July 08 2013, 04:20PM
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Klimchuk reminds me a lot of Cammaleri.

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#53 If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin
July 08 2013, 04:29PM
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Plus, I don't see how we really compete for a bottom-five finish. This team does not suck that bad, unless the goalies can't stop a beach ball (like last year).

Plus, I think this can be a constructive transition year if we give the kids a chance. Certain scouting reports, including that of Pronman, suggest Knight has second-line center or RW potential. Monahan, of course, projects as an elite 1st or, at the very worst, second-line center.

So why not give them a chance to strut their stuff on the 2nd and 3rd lines, as they are physically mature for NHL duty already. They would need be sheltered, but that is possible as Backlund, Glencross, Galiardi, and Jones are used to being buried anyways.

Plus, if Baertchi and Brodie can take another step in their development in the upcoming year, the Flames may actually be a decent team (8-12 position).

I

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#54 Justin Azevedo
July 08 2013, 04:34PM
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@BurningSensation

haha, I said the last draft was good you butt

the top-end guys are all feaster guys, but that's probably more darryl's lack of success rather than feaster being great.

at this point, I believe the flames are above average in terms of drafting. if they left out the kanzig-type picks they'd be good in my books.

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#55 Justin Azevedo
July 08 2013, 04:37PM
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@If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin

yeah, this year isn't going to be as bad as people think. the flames still have legit nhlers at every position and the goaltending has to be better than it was last season.

honestly, the only holes on the flames roster are 1c and 3d. they're going to have to jettison a lot of nhl talent over the course of the season to fall into top-3 territory.

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#56 BurningSensation
July 08 2013, 04:39PM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

haha, I said the last draft was good you butt

the top-end guys are all feaster guys, but that's probably more darryl's lack of success rather than feaster being great.

at this point, I believe the flames are above average in terms of drafting. if they left out the kanzig-type picks they'd be good in my books.

Fair enough Justin, but I'm fairly certain I read a recent remark from you that you only liked two or three guys from our prospects (Johnny G, Sven and one or two others) and weren't sold on any of the rest, or that the Flames drafting had actually improved under Feaster.

If I'm wrong, I stand corrected.

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#57 RKD
July 08 2013, 04:49PM
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@Parallex

I don't have any problems with Backs but what good is a player if he keeps getting injured? I don't doubt that Backs is a valuable player. The Flames might be asking themselves is Backs an injury prone player or a guy who's had bad luck with injuries?

If it's the former than that could be a conditioning issue, I think his injuries have been somewhat unlucky and bad but the Flames can ill afford to keep paying a guy who can't be regularly in the lineup. He hasn't played a full season yet in his career but has come close in two different seasons.

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#58 McRib
July 08 2013, 04:51PM
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Interesting Q&A with Klimchuk, even though he has the offensive talents, seems to take areas where he needs to improve very seriously, like gaining nessasary leg strength last offseason. If I'm not mistaken he trains with Jordan Eberle in the summer. Eberle also had very similar numbers his draft year.

"...of the 24 WHLers to crack 30 goals so far this season, only two players have scored a greater % of goals than Klimchuk.

Adam Lowry has accounted for a whopping 23.1 percent of Swift Current’s goals (40 of 173), while Klimchuk currently ranks third among the 30-goal club having scored 19.5 percent of Regina’s 159 goals. Pats’ teammate Lane Scheidl is second at 20.7 percent (33 of 159)."

Wonder how many of Lane Scheidl's goals Klimchuk was a first assist on? As Scheidl never put up points anywhere close to this seasons totals and people were keying on Klimchuk all year seemed to open up ice for Scheidl. Good totals on weak club like Sean Monahan and Emile Poirier.

http://www.mckeenshockey.com/draft-blog/morgan-klimchuk-regina-pats/

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#59 Justin Azevedo
July 08 2013, 05:06PM
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@BurningSensation

hmm... i dont know. in terms of guys having the potential to be elite players i think there are only three guys: gaudreau, baertschi, monahan.

in terms of guys who will play consistentish games at the nhl level, i think i have 20 players, maybe 21.

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#60 Justin Azevedo
July 08 2013, 05:15PM
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@McRib

klimchuk was pa on 12 of scheidl's goals

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#61 Tony
July 08 2013, 05:33PM
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Development camp rosters released:

http://flames.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=677255

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#62 Baalzamon
July 08 2013, 05:37PM
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@Tony

Granlund and Gaudreau are both #60!! this is an unmitigated disaster!

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#63 If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin
July 08 2013, 05:39PM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

klimchuk was pa on 12 of scheidl's goals

Where do you get those stats, Justin? PA and such?

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#64 Tony
July 08 2013, 05:43PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Granlund and Gaudreau are both #60!! this is an unmitigated disaster!

I didn't even notice that... I think you'll be able to tell the difference.

Nemisz and Cundari not considered prospects this year?

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#65 Justin Azevedo
July 08 2013, 05:43PM
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@If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin

you actually have to go to the whl.ca site, find the player and then open up the game sheet for each individual game that contains the stat you're looking for. it's a nightmare

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#66 McRib
July 08 2013, 05:45PM
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@Justin Azevedo

Looking at the stats myself it looks like of Klimchuk's 40 assists, 25 (62.5%) were Primary Assists... Is that good or bad for you hockey numbers guys?!?! Hahah.

Seems good to me, I have a hard time believing that at least one of Poirier, Klimchuk or Jankowski doesn't end up becoming elite. That's the rub though as it stands even if they all look to be on the verge of breaking out, they still need to do it. Not elite as of yet.

On the plus side if the Corey Pronman’s of the world have us in the Top. 10 Organizational Prospect Rankings, I can only imagine where some of the other Private Scouting firms have us that actually liked Poirier, Jankowski. I have heard Red Line had us as a Top. 3 draft performer this year, as they love Poirier. As for Emile Poirier I have the feeling anyone who doesn't like him is going to be sorely disappointed. Haha.

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#67 Justin Azevedo
July 08 2013, 05:47PM
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@Tony

over 120 pro games played. same with bouma.

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#68 Justin Azevedo
July 08 2013, 05:57PM
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@McRib

anything above 55% is good. I think poirier has the best chance of the three.

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#69 Tony
July 08 2013, 06:07PM
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@Justin Azevedo

I didn't realize Nemisz played that many, he's had such minimal impact on the organization.

Only 2013 draft pick not attending is Rafikov. At least we get to see what they see in Harrison and Kanzig.

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#70 BurningSensation
July 08 2013, 06:09PM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

hmm... i dont know. in terms of guys having the potential to be elite players i think there are only three guys: gaudreau, baertschi, monahan.

in terms of guys who will play consistentish games at the nhl level, i think i have 20 players, maybe 21.

I'm holding out hope that the 'elite' list might also include a few more guys; Gillies, Jankowski, Poirier and Klimchuk.

Jankowski for me is the 'win the game card', if he pans out as a high-skill pivot with size, the team could be set at the most difficult position to fill for a very long time (Janko-Monahan), with a nice cadre of 2nd tier pivots to round everything out (Backlund-Knight-Reinhart-Horak).

I think of all the underwhelming pivots we've auditioned as '#1s' over the last decade plus (Langkow, Conroy, Jokinen twice, etc.) and I am genuinely excited that our drought might finally be ending.

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#71 SmellOfVictory
July 08 2013, 07:50PM
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I get a Brad Marchand kind of feel from Poirier. Not because I've watched him extensively, but the PIMs, speed, and scoring acumen definitely fit.

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#72 everton fc
July 08 2013, 07:56PM
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Hoping Austin Carroll impresses and gets assigned to Abby. He's a tough kid.

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#73 Baalzamon
July 08 2013, 08:00PM
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In other pointless number complaining news, why does Poirier get to wear Bouma's #57?

Also, is it a bad sign that Kulak is wearing Negrin's old #61??

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#74 McRib
July 08 2013, 08:07PM
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@Justin Azevedo

That would actually be a Great Poll!!!! What Prospect do you think (outside of Sean Monahan) of the last two drafts is the most likely to become an "elite NHLer"?!?! A) Mark Jankowski B) John Gillies C) Emile Poirier D) Morgan Klimchuk E) Other. Emile Poirier would get my vote!

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#75 Ryan Pike
July 08 2013, 08:33PM
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The guys that aren't at dev camp aren't on ELCs anymore. That's the major thing.

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#76 If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin
July 08 2013, 08:43PM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

you actually have to go to the whl.ca site, find the player and then open up the game sheet for each individual game that contains the stat you're looking for. it's a nightmare

Well in that case, you have my sincerest respect and thank-you!

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#77 sathome
July 08 2013, 09:42PM
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I notice they have Poirier listed as a RW. We're kinda weak on that side, so it would be nice to have him playing either wing.

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#78 T&A4Flames
July 08 2013, 09:50PM
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McRib wrote:

"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.

We were 20th, I believe, last year with Hockeys Future. I'm very interested to see where we are with them this year.

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#79 T&A4Flames
July 08 2013, 09:51PM
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Maimster wrote:

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.

Until you realize you gave up a top 3 pick.

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#80 T&A4Flames
July 08 2013, 09:55PM
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Parallex wrote:

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.

Draft site.com actually has Draisaitl higher than Ekblad (5th vs. 6th). McKeown is ranked 12th at the moment.

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#81 Jeff Lebowski
July 08 2013, 09:57PM
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If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin wrote:

Klimchuk reminds me a lot of Cammaleri.

Reminds me of Eberle. Shifty, quick hands.

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#82 T&A4Flames
July 08 2013, 10:20PM
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Anyone else out there thinking we should be trying to sign Jonathon Blum?

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#83 Parallex
July 08 2013, 10:31PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

Anyone else out there thinking we should be trying to sign Jonathon Blum?

Yes, several people. He's one of the three guys that I would really like the Flames to take a stab at (Along with Grabovski and Mueller).

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#84 mk
July 08 2013, 10:34PM
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@T&A4Flames

I think it would be nice to grab another young Dman with some potential, but we'd have to hope its just a change of scenery he needs. He hasn't really made a name for himself at the NHL level.

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#85 Parallex
July 08 2013, 10:40PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

Draft site.com actually has Draisaitl higher than Ekblad (5th vs. 6th). McKeown is ranked 12th at the moment.

Draisaitl is a very good draft prospect... just not quite at the level of William Nylander or Sam Reinhart. Fun fact if either of the pre-season top two draftable forwards end up in Calgary they'll be second generation Flames (With Nylander actually having been born in Calgary). but as of right now the Flames ending up with Draisaitl it would not be a bad thing.

I don't think I'd take Draisaitl if Ekblad is on the board though (assuming neither takes a step back).

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#86 BurningSensation
July 08 2013, 11:43PM
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Parallex wrote:

Yes, several people. He's one of the three guys that I would really like the Flames to take a stab at (Along with Grabovski and Mueller).

This!

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#87 Kurt
July 09 2013, 10:35AM
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BurningSensation wrote:

I'm holding out hope that the 'elite' list might also include a few more guys; Gillies, Jankowski, Poirier and Klimchuk.

Jankowski for me is the 'win the game card', if he pans out as a high-skill pivot with size, the team could be set at the most difficult position to fill for a very long time (Janko-Monahan), with a nice cadre of 2nd tier pivots to round everything out (Backlund-Knight-Reinhart-Horak).

I think of all the underwhelming pivots we've auditioned as '#1s' over the last decade plus (Langkow, Conroy, Jokinen twice, etc.) and I am genuinely excited that our drought might finally be ending.

I think your definition of "elite" is VERY loose. If we had 6-7 "elite" players we'd win the cup. Dynasty. While I'm really happy with what has happened the past 3-4 months I still think we need to go lower. I liked trading the vets, I liked the 3 1st rounders, and I LOVE that we haven't done anything stupid by signing UFAs.

But I'd argue we still don't have 1 single elite player. We have a few who could MAYBE get there if the stars align and they hit their ceiling. MAYBE. But its really unlikely any of our prospects ever reach elite status. My definition of elite is a superstar. 1st or 2nd line all-star.

Taking a look at our brothers down the road... Even with their ridiculous amount of 1st overall picks I'd argue they only have 1 elite player in Taylor Hall. RNH, Yakupov, Eberle are projecting to be good players with elite potential. But only Hall is truly elite. If their 4 players reach elite status (3 of them 1st overalls) they will be a powerhouse.

But some of us think we have 5-6 or 7 "elite" prospects. Its just a whole lot of wishful thinking... I realize we have had absolutely zero prospects to cheer about for so long we forgot what it feels like to have some potential in the pipe. But lets be realistic here..... We have some good, possibly great prospects. But they all could fail, and its highly unlikely any are elite. Which is why I think we need to go for a top 5 pick next year again. I think Feaster by not signing any UFAs or making trades is thinking the same. I hope so.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but keep up the good work Feaster. I hope he stays the course and doesn't get impatient this year.

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#88 piscera.infada
July 09 2013, 11:46AM
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@Kurt

While I agree with you in principle; that we don't have 5-6 elite prospects, I think you're definition of "elite" is too narrow. If you're looking at only the "Crosby's, the Malkin's, the Ovechkin's, the Toews'(s?), et cetera. I think you're going to be looking for too long. Those guys (maybe with the exception of Toews) are generational talents, and I'm not holding out hope for one of those guys.

Would you classify Bergeron, Krejci, et al. on Boston "elite"? I would, especially Bergeron. However, I'm sure many people wouldn't. I just think the whole "elite" thing is a little over-played.

I think in terms of "elite" I think Monahan would be an "elite" prospect. Not a 50 goal scorer "elite", but elite nonetheless.

In all honesty, I also like what the Flames are doing here - but for different reasons. I actually see a plan here. I see the draft picks and young guys they've picked up actually filling in necessary roles. A couple more drafts like that (Kanzig aside) and I think we'll have a pretty damn good team in 3, or 4, or 5 years. I'm real excited about this. But I'm not going to sweat the "elite" tag, as I think the number one goal is to pick up "great" players, not tank so we can get "elite" players (that may or may not pan out). If this team can Land McDavid in 2015, then right on - but that only means we were either brutally horrible (a la Edmonton, recently) or extremely lucky (a la Pittsburgh).

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#89 Kurt
July 09 2013, 11:57AM
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piscera.infada wrote:

While I agree with you in principle; that we don't have 5-6 elite prospects, I think you're definition of "elite" is too narrow. If you're looking at only the "Crosby's, the Malkin's, the Ovechkin's, the Toews'(s?), et cetera. I think you're going to be looking for too long. Those guys (maybe with the exception of Toews) are generational talents, and I'm not holding out hope for one of those guys.

Would you classify Bergeron, Krejci, et al. on Boston "elite"? I would, especially Bergeron. However, I'm sure many people wouldn't. I just think the whole "elite" thing is a little over-played.

I think in terms of "elite" I think Monahan would be an "elite" prospect. Not a 50 goal scorer "elite", but elite nonetheless.

In all honesty, I also like what the Flames are doing here - but for different reasons. I actually see a plan here. I see the draft picks and young guys they've picked up actually filling in necessary roles. A couple more drafts like that (Kanzig aside) and I think we'll have a pretty damn good team in 3, or 4, or 5 years. I'm real excited about this. But I'm not going to sweat the "elite" tag, as I think the number one goal is to pick up "great" players, not tank so we can get "elite" players (that may or may not pan out). If this team can Land McDavid in 2015, then right on - but that only means we were either brutally horrible (a la Edmonton, recently) or extremely lucky (a la Pittsburgh).

I agree with everything you said... I didn't meant our prospects aren't great, and my definition of "elite" perhaps is too strict, but I don't really back down that we don't have any true "elite" prospects. Potentially great, but not elite. Thats not to say they can't turn elite. I would consider Bergeron elite. Or a guy like Corey Perry, taken late it he 1st round. He wasn't considered elite at first, but turned into it. But I don't think anyone can realistically call a prospect "elite" until they get there. And none of ours are there yet IMO.

For me the first signs of hope I see are summed up by your statement "I actually see a plan here". For years I felt the team was floundering, reacting, and trying to chase the next quick fix. A plan is the most encouraging thing, even it if means a period of darkness before emerging out the other side....

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#90 piscera.infada
July 09 2013, 01:43PM
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@Kurt

"I don't think anyone can realistically call a prospect "elite" until they get there. And none of ours are there yet IMO."

Totally agree. I guess that would be an "elite prospect" vs. an "elite player". But, I guess we're just splitting hairs here.

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#91 piscera.infada
July 09 2013, 01:52PM
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@Kurt

"For me the first signs of hope I see are summed up by your statement "I actually see a plan here". For years I felt the team was floundering, reacting, and trying to chase the next quick fix. A plan is the most encouraging thing, even it if means a period of darkness before emerging out the other side...."

Sorry about the double reply.

I couldn't agree more with the changing of the guard in terms of a perceived plan from Feaster, Weisbrod, et al. This is the very reason I like the Poirier pick - it was the first clear sign this team is actually thinking about what their doing. Drafting the perceived best player available (by outside sources) and drafting the best player available from an organizational stand point are two completely different things. The latter shows that the team has foresight enough to notice the type of players they want to build the team with in the future. I don't think it's a mistake that every time you hear a former coach or scout talk about Monahan, Poirier, Klimchuk, and yes, even Kanzig, they mention character.

I know some may disagree, saying character is secondary, or even tertiary to statistics, but I feel like the teams that are truly powerhouses in the league today not only have skill, but they have that character and swagger (neither should be confused with gritchart).

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#93 piscera.infada
July 09 2013, 02:42PM
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@Kent Wilson

I agree with you - and that was what I was trying to get at with my gritchart comment (as contrived as it was).

When I said character I moreso meant the way these players have fit in on their teams in the past. Whether that be captaincy ability, leadership, or more generally the way they deal with adversity.

I am obviously this isn't the only criteria for picking a player - skill SHOULD ALWAYS be paramount - yet I also think that when rebuilding a team, you should at least put some thought in to the work ethic, maturity, etc. of the players you're picking.

Of course this isn't something that's easily quantifiable in terms of goals, wins, assists, corsi, or anything else. But it is an important part of building a team - and I'm not so sure anyone can argue that.

To get back to your argument. I agree with you on falling into the "I like the cut of your jib" crowd. This is probably what happened with Kanzig - amazing interviews with him and his coaches. But in a pick like Poirier (over Shinkaruk) where skill seems to be relatively on par (a bit greater on the side of Shinkaruk), I have no problem with going with the guy you feel will become the better teammate and professional. Of course I have no idea if this is what they liked about the kid, it's but fleeting fodder for my inane ramblings.

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