Defending Jay Feaster

Christian Roatis
August 06 2013 08:30AM

When Jay Feaster officially replaced Darryl Sutter as the General Manager of the Calgary Flames in the December of 2010, a collective sigh of relief echoed through Calgary. After all, Sutter's dubious moves were jeopardizing the already down ward spiralling and aging Flames team - one no trade clause at a time.

That feeling of relief, was then quickly substituted by a (possibly pre-mature) sense of optimism. After all, Feaster was at the helm of the Tampa Bay Lightning when they beat out the Flames for the Stanley Cup in '04. What many people didn't know is that Feaster inherited most of the cup winning core. Richards, Lecavalier, Khabibulin, St. Louis and many others were already there when Feaster assumed the commanding role. Yes, he augmented the key pieces with a few additions (namely Daryl Sydor and Ruslan Fedotenko) that were imperative in the Lightning's run to the Stanley Cup Final, but the point is most of the heavy lifting had been done prior to his arrival.

So all the praise and hoopla he earned following the Cup win wasn't all that warranted.

One word I used to describe him when he was named the Interim GM here in Calgary: overrated. Besides his minimal involvement in crafting that one championship team in Tampa, he also carried with him an abysmal drafting record with the Bolts. Excluding the Steven Stamkos pick for obvious reasons, only 4 players drafted under Feaster went on to play over 150 NHL games - none of them becoming more than role/replacement players once reaching the NHL. He did draft Karri Ramo though, so let's hope he hit that one out of the park.

Nonetheless, optimism ran high in Calgary that Jay Feaster would be the man to right the ship and take the Flames to the promised land.

House on Fire

Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. When Feaster was promoted to the GM role, he was faced with two problems: An unreasonable pressure o win and an aging, sub par, over paid roster. He had a truck load of no-trade clauses to deal and barely any cap space to operate with.

If Feater tried to look to the prospect system for help, he'd be met by only Greg Nemisz, Tim Erixon and Leland Irving. Everything was pretty bleak. He slowly began to cleanse the organization of these trouble spots and mend the tears that Darryl Sutter's madness had created. He also had to do this with the intention of staying competitive and making the playoffs - which has proved to be an impossible task.

Slowly, the prospect system has been rebuilt and cap flexibility has been restored. Yet, a portion of the fan base is still unhappy. Patience has seemingly run out and people want a change. But why? What has Feaster done to merit a pink slip? As my colleague here at FlamesNation Ryan Pike once wisely said, "Feaster inherited a house on fire, put it out and is now taking heat because the house is slightly charred." I couldn't agree more.

All Feaster has done in Calgary is clean up the mess that Sutter left behind and only now is beginning to put his own stamp on the club. My opinion is probably in the minority when I say this but I think Feaster has done an admirable job considering the circumstances.

The Feaster Resume

You may not agree with me, but when you look at the facts, most of what Feaster as done during his time in Calgary has benefited the club. Have a look for yourself:


Trades:

Note: The players acquired by the Flames will be first and both bolded and italicized

Trade:

Date:

Verdict:

Freddy Modin for 2011 7th round pick (#193-Colin Blackwell)

February 28, 2011

Not the best trade as Modin was plagued by injury and only ended up playing 4 games for Calgary. But considering what they gave up, not a big deal.

Roman Horak,

2011 2nd round pick (#45-Markus Granlund),

2011 2nd round pick (#57-Tyler Wotherspoon) for Tim Erixon,

2011 5th round pick (#133-Shane McColgan)

June 1, 2011

After being handcuffed by Erixon's refusal to sign with Calgary, Feaster managed to get excellent value from the New York Rangers. While Erixon still has the potential to be a stud defensemen, Calgary got 3 (very good) prospects in return. Considering neither Erixon nor McColgan are with the Rangers anymore, I'd say Calgary wins this trade.

Chris Butler and

 Paul Byron for Ales Kotalik

 Robyn Regehr

2012 2nd round pick (#44 - Jake McCabe)

June 25, 2011

I don't really want to talk about this. Feaster got fleeced, plain and simple.

Jordan Henry for Keith Seabrook

July 9, 2011

AHLer for AHLer. No real winner or loser here, although Henry did put in good minutes for the Heat during his time there.

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond for a 2012 5th round draft pick (#135 - Graham Black)

 

Stupid move and Black has put up back to back 50 point seasons in the WHL. This could come back and bite Calgary in the butt. We'll see.

Lee Stempniak for Daymond Langkow

August 29, 2011

Langkow was coming off that gruesome neck injury and was in the twilight of his career anyway. Stempniak is a big part of this Flames team right now and has turned in good value for the Flames. Win for Calgary.

Blair Jones for Brendan Mikkelson

January 6, 2012

Low upside prospect for low upside prospect. I actually thought Jones was filling in that 4th line center role well this year, but the coaching staff seem to agree. Mikkelson also got some NHL games under his bet with the Lightning but has since moved on. I'd call this deal a draw.

Michael Cammalleri,

 Karri Ramo,

2012 5th round pick (Brett Kulak) for Rene Bourque,

 Patrick Holland,

2013 2nd round pick (#36 - Zach Fucale)

January 12, 2012

The winner of this deal will ultimately be decided by the prospects involved. Cammalleri and Bourque have brought relatively the same value to their respective teams, it all lies on what Holland/Fucale and Kulak/Ramo do. At this point, I'd call it a draw but Ramo's performance this season will likely decide it.

Brian Connelly for Brendan Morrison

January 27, 2012

Another low key move, the Flames traded Morrison who no longer had a spot on the team to Chicago for Connelly who helped out the farm team. No winners. No losers. If anything it was a favour to Morrison - finding him a home.

Akim Aliu for John Negrin

January 30, 2012

This deal looked a lot better for Calgary at the end of the 2011/12 season with the way Aliu played those final two games, but now this is just another AHLer for AHLer deal.

2012 1st round pick (#21-Mark Jankowski)

2012 2nd round pick (#42-Patrick Sieloff) for 2012 1st round pick (#14-Zemgus Girgensons)

June 22, 2012

The infamous Jankowski deal that made some Flames fan cringe - when the trade was announced as well as when the 21st pick was made. After all, Finnish dynamo Tuevo Teravainen (projected to go Top 5) was still on the board and Jankowski was projected to go mid 2nd. But now when looking at this deal - Jankowski and Sieloff for Girgensons - it's a win for the Flames. Girgensons doesn't project to be anything above a fringe second line guy while Jankowski could be a Top 6 center and Sieloff a Top 4 defenseman.

Dennis Wideman for Jordan Henry and a 2013 5th round pick

June 27, 2012

That's about market value for the rights of a good NHLer like Wideman so nothing to complain about. Henry's an AHL level guy and the 5th rounder was dealt.

7th Round Pick (#198 - John Gilmour) for Henrik Karlsson

January 21, 2013

Karlsson had no future in Calgary (he had just lost the back up job to Leland Irving) so turning him into a decent prospect was a job well done by Feaster and the scouting staff.

Mike Testwuide for Mitch Wahl

February 25, 2013

AHLer for AHLer. Nothing to see here folks.

Brian McGrattan for Joe Piskula

February 28, 2013

Well not only did fan favourite Brian McGrattan add needed grit to the team, he also turned into a scoring machine, sniping 3 silky geno's - matching his previous career total (LOL). Ryane Clowe had the same amount of goals as MacGrattan last year and the Rangers paid way more than an AHL defensemen to get him. Yeah, I'd rather have MacGrattan too. Who needs skating anyway? Career defining win for Feaster ;-)

Ben Hanowski, Kenny Agostino and a 2013 1st Round Pick (#28 - Morgan Klimchuck) for Jarome Iginla

March 27, 2013

We're now wading into "wait and see" territory as these latest trades can't be fairly judged for another few years. On the surface though, 2 solid prospects and Hanowski is pretty good return acknowledging the circumstances Iginla was traded in. Getting good return on an average 35 year old NHLer who will only go to ONE team is no easy task. Even if that guy is Jarome Iginla. Iginla is also no longer a member of the Penguins so those 3 pieces for 28 "eh" games of Iggy seems like good, bordering on great value for Calgary. For the record, I would've preferred Boston's deal.

Mark Cundari, Reto Berra and a

2013 1st round pick (#22 - Emile Porier) for Jay Bouwmeester

April 1, 2013

Wasn't a fan of this deal when it happened and frankly, I'm still not one. Bouwmeester is still a premier NHL defensemen and albiet a little over paid, he's worth more than what was acquired. It seemed like Feaster felt like he needed to tear it all down at once and may have rushed this deal a little. Best case scenario is that Berra is a starting goaltender, Cundari a Top 4 D and Porier a Top 6 forward but to me it looks more likely to turn into 3 average guys for Bouwmeester. Many media outlets however reported this was the only deal that included a 1st rounder - which would've been a must - so providing that be true, Feaster did ok. Again though, we can't judge this trade fairly until we see what the three guys turn into.

2013 5th Round Pick (#135 - Eric Roy) for Blake Comeau

April 3, 2013

The fact that Feaster actually got something - let alone a solid prospect - out of a deal for Blake Comeau is magic. Tip of the hat to you sir.

Corban Knight for a 2013 4th Round Pick (#97 - Michael Downing)

June 18, 2013

As of right now, Corban Knight is one of the top prospects in the organization, he fills a massive need at center and most importantly, is better than Michael Downing. Things can however, change. Today, it's a steal for Calgary, but for all we know Knight will bust and Downing will be the next Bobby Orr (he won't but for argument sake go with it).

 David Jones and Shane O`Brien for Cory Sarich and Alex Tanguay

June 27, 2013

We'll have to see how these guys do with their respective teams in 2013/14 but on the surface, Calgary gets younger, faster and harder to play against (Sarich doesn't add toughness from the press box) which are all things they identified as goals. Looks good to me.

 T.J. Galiardi for a 2015 4th Round Pick

July 2, 2013

We won't know the verdict of this one until long down the road but Galiardi is a serviceable NHLer with a little upside still remaining which more than can be said for most 4th Rounders. Still, this one is long from decided.

Kris Russell for a 2014 5th Round Pick

July 5, 2013

Same as Galiardi, Russell is a better player than most 5th rounders will become, but we'll have to wait and see how it plays out.

So of the 22 trades Feaster completed as GM of the Flames, I would say he only got ruined once - on the Reghr deal, although the PL3 trade was a loser the moment it was consummated. Everything else is either fair (in the case of the AHLer for AHLer), good value or to be determined. I joked about MacGrattan being his career defining trade but in reality the Iginla and Bouwmeester moves will be the ones that will define his stay as GM of the Flames. Both look decent at the moment but only time will tell how good the return for the Flames really was.

So the trade record isn't too shabby thus far.

Maybe it's his signings or drafting? Let's take a look.


Signings

During his 3 summers at the helm of the Flames, I'd say Feaster's Free Agent Frenzy activity has been defined more by deals he didn't make than the deals he did. 'Twas just 2 summers ago - in 2011, that Feaster moved heaven and earth to try and sign Brad Richards and rekindle the relationship they had in TampaBay. His failure to do so is currently being praised by every Flames fan on the planet. Having that monster deal attached to that player right now would be disastrous to the rebuild. In fact, if Richards was here there might not even have been a rebuild initiated.

Then there was the curious case of Ryan O'Reilly. What a rollercoaster that was. It went from pure elation "omg we're gonna get a franchise centerman for only a 1st and a 3rd and we're gonna make the playoffs with him" to disappointment "damn they matched" to a mix of horror and relief "we could have given Colorado our 1st and 3rd and then lost the player on waivers?!?! Thank god they matched!".  

Either of those two deals happening would probably result in Feaster losing his job. Imagine if both signings had happened, the franchise would've been in the worst spot of any NHL team in recent memory.

Feaster's actual signings however aren't too bad. Aside from a couple of uncomfortable term and money combinations handed to Alex Tanguay ($3.5M cap hit for 5 years) and Dennis Wideman ($5.25M cap hit for 5 years) it's been mostly recruiting college kids and signing/re-signing guys in the organization, although the Anton Babchuk and Brendan Morrison re-signs were bad bets, albeit not terribly damaging ones.

Feaster also managed to sign Curtis Glencross to incredible hometown discount with a cap hit of $2.55 million for another 2 years which currently seems too good to be true. He took a swing at Roman Cervenka and has taken heat for KHL sniper's flop in Calgary, but it was a decent low risk, medium reward gambit for the Flames. In fact, I'd like to see more of these type of ventures - eventually one of these home run swings will connect.

Juri Hudler's 4 years at 4 million per is another deal that could be a source for criticism because he's now one of the highest paid players on the team and not really the sort of talent that is going to turn the ship around. Hudler performed well last year, though he may not last in town over the long term.

A few notable re-signings include Lee Stempniak, Mikael Backlund (twice) and TJ Brodie to good term, fair money deals. A couple of head scratchers in the form of Anton Babchuck (2 years, $7M) and Cory Sarich (2 years, $4M) but neither did anything more than fill the press box and slightly lighten Murray Edwards' pockets.

Everything else has been relatively low risk and low profile. No real Glen Sather bombs on Feasters resume in Calgary to this point. Yeah, he almost bit the bullet twice with Richards and O'Reilly, but he didn't and in my opinion that's all that matters.

Draft

So his drafting record is the only tangible thing (short of the team's performance) left to judge Feaster's time in Calgary and we all now that there's little here that speaks against Feaster and his management team. He's done a masterful job of turning the prospect base into one of the best in the league. Nonetheless, let's take a quick look:

 

#, Year

Name

Status/Potential

13, 2011

F Sven Baertschi

Top 6 NHLer with upside

21, 2012

F Mark Jankowski

Top 10 team prospect with Top 6 upside

6, 2013

F Sean Monahan

Top 2 team prospect with top line potential

21, 2013

F Emile Poirier

Top 10 team prospect with Top 6 potential

28, 2013

F Morgan Klimchuck

Top 10 team prospect with Top 6 potential

45, 2011

F Markus Granlund

Top 15 prospect with Top 6 potential

57, 2011

D Tyler Wotherspoon

Top 15 prospect with Top 4 potential

42, 2012

D Pat Sieloff

Top 15 prospect with Top 4 potential

75, 2012

G Jon Gillies

Top 10 prospect with starting potential

67, 2013

D Keegan Kanzig

Prospect with potential

104, 2011

F Johnny Gaudreau

Top 5 prospect with top line potential

105, 2012

D Brett Kulak

Top 20 prospect with Top 6 potential

124, 2012

D Ryan Culkin

Top 15 prospect with Top 4 potential

135, 2013

D Eric Roy

Top 15 prospect with Top 4 potential

164, 2011

G Laurent Brossoit

Top 15 prospect with starting potential

165, 2012

F Coda Gordan

Top 25 prospect with Top 9 potential

157, 2013

F Tim Harrison

Top 20 prospect with Top 9 potential

186, 2012

F Matt DeBlouw

Top 25 prospect with NHL potential

187, 2013

D Rushan Rafikov

Top 15 prospect with Top 4 potential

198, 2013

D John Gilmour

Top 25 prospect with NHL potential

Overall, it's a very solid group. A gecent mix of talent and depth. Looks like a number of these guys will actually be NHLers one day. Quite the change from the Sutter era.

Conclusion

So why are so many Flames faithful calling for it? My answer is: the way he sometimes handles his business and puts the fans in a crappy spot. Nothing concrete or official, rather little declarations and bold speeches that sometimes put the Flames and their faithful in the cross hairs of critics and trolls league wide. The guarantee that Calgary will make the playoffs? That ridicule lasted right up until Feaster told the world that 21st overall, off the board selection Mark Jonkowski will be the best player to come out of the 2012 Draft. Combine that with the crappy records and underachieving, aging group in Calgary, Flames fans were constant targets for jokes and tease from the rest of the league.

Feaster's rhetoric aside, his tenure in Calgary began on the wrong foot, mostly because the prior regime bungled things so badly. Only now that he's been allowed to clear everything out and start fresh will we really get to see what kind of mark he can make on the organization.

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Christian Roatis is a European by birth, Calgarian by heart. Other than writing at FlamesNation, he writes about and scouts NHL Draft Prospects at Future Considerations. Follow him on Twitter @CRoatis!
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#101 BurningSensation
August 07 2013, 09:35AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

undersized skill centers? Shinkaruk is 100% a winger-- I have absolutely no idea where the belief that he's a center game from (not to mention all the sites that bafflingly have him listed at that position for no apparent reason), since he's spent his entire WHL career on LW.

As for Teravainen, he was billed as a scoring RW in his draft year... it was only after the draft that the Blackhawks revealed they intended to convert him to center ice... and I still think he plays wing in the NHL.

As somebody who saw him play live, I can tell you he was definitely playing center.

That said, I think that both Tervainen and Shinkaruk will make or break it in the NHL as wingers.

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#102 RexLibris
August 07 2013, 10:24AM
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Carlos Danger wrote:

Feaster does have more Stanley Cups than the Canucks. That's good right?

That's what I like to hear - some positive perspective. ;-)

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#103 TheRealPoc
August 07 2013, 10:32AM
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Subtract Sieloff, Jankowski and Poirier from that list, and replace them just with Shinkaruk and Teravainen/Hertl. 3 for 2.

I'd argue we'd have the best prospect pipeline in the entire league if that were the case.

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#104 Jeff Lebowski
August 07 2013, 11:19AM
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TheRealPoc wrote:

Subtract Sieloff, Jankowski and Poirier from that list, and replace them just with Shinkaruk and Teravainen/Hertl. 3 for 2.

I'd argue we'd have the best prospect pipeline in the entire league if that were the case.

At the end if the day, who cares what the ranking or industry opinion is (except the situation of a trade of a prospect) of the prospect pool?

What matters is how many players develop and PLAY in the NHL. Sure, it's nice to see prospects tracking well but if they hit the skids before becoming legit 'players' the 'sexiness' factor means nothing.

Perhaps those other guys do make it compared to Calgary's kids but until that happens the rhetoric is just that. With those other guys, if they make it at all it's going to have to be as top 6. Small, slight guys who don't produce (and don't do anything else like agitate) don't play.

The point is, nothing can be concluded yet. Time will tell.

I have faith in Feaster. He has made mistakes but he seems to be a guy who reflects on them in order to improve. So for me, it's the next move I look at not what happened in the past.

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#105 Justin Azevedo
August 07 2013, 01:47PM
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why does everyone consider 5'10 and 5'11 to be "undersized"? there were more than 250 players last year that were under 6'0, including the best in the game

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#106 BurningSensation
August 07 2013, 04:14PM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

why does everyone consider 5'10 and 5'11 to be "undersized"? there were more than 250 players last year that were under 6'0, including the best in the game

I was merely asking the question about whether or not Tervainen and Shikaruk fall in Flames scouts eyes because they have the wrong size/build by some metric the scouts are using.

It could just be a coincidence that both got passed over, and that they have similar builds/ skillsets.

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#107 MC Hockey
August 07 2013, 09:32PM
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Clay wrote:

I'm on board with Christian.

My feelings reside mostly with the fact that Feaster, while we hate his rants, remains a man of action. We aren't kickstarting this rebuild with Tambo at the helm.

His drafting record in Calgary speaks for itself. Before you criticize individual selections like Jankowski remember that every pick is more likely to not be a serviceable NHLer than will be. The proof is in the average. We have gone from a bottom 5 system to a top 10 as per Pronman, with a couple of mid round picks having homerun potential. Personally, I'd rather see the team select Jankowski and Poirier when they have conviction on the player, than walk up and take Teravainen and Shinkaruk because that is where Bobby Mac's phone calls say he's the best player available. Having conviction shows homework was being done, and the Flames arent just picking a guy because he's the next Western Leaguer on the list.

Agree with this very much! How do you judge Jankowski on that one season in college where he was playing behind older guys? I like the conviction of the moves assumng they did their research, and you must NOT forget they got Seiloff too!

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#108 MC Hockey
August 07 2013, 09:37PM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

I have this dog, he's a really great dog, super friendly, obedient, does everything you'd ever want a dog to do.

Except like, two or three times in the last couple years, he's tried to attack a small child. But I happened to have a muzzle so he hasn't actually able to maul any toddlers. Except that one time in Buffalo. And possibly last trade deadline (I don't know how the kid turned out yet, they might be OK).

And the fact that he has tried as hard as he could to do something incredibly stupid, but was stopped by forces beyond his control, means that we should pretend it didn't happen.

I mean, sure, there are some people who say "Judging your dog based on what he *did*, it's clear that he *did* try to attack people. So that's the kind of thing we should expect him to *do* in the future. And while he did happen to have a muzzle two of the three times he's done catastrophically stupid things, he doesn't usually have a muzzle on, so maybe he isn't as good of a dog as you think."

But screw that. If someone tries their hardest to do something really, really stupid, but fails, it doesn't count. We should still consider them competent and continue to rely on their judgement.

Dumb analogy, not comparable to Feaster's situation, dramatic but useless comparison!

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#109 the-wolf
August 08 2013, 05:56AM
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MC Hockey wrote:

Agree with this very much! How do you judge Jankowski on that one season in college where he was playing behind older guys? I like the conviction of the moves assumng they did their research, and you must NOT forget they got Seiloff too!

I haven't written him off yet at all, but in answeer to your question: the way Kent did in his analysis. Seiloff is no lock to play in teh NHL either.

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#110 the-wolf
August 08 2013, 05:59AM
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@MC Hockey

It got his point across, so I found it effective. Feaster should not be given a free pass for trying his damndest to do something stupid and then failing at it.

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#111 Parallex
August 08 2013, 11:30AM
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@the-wolf

But nor should he be given condemnation for trying to do something that only appears stupid with the benefit of hindsight (unless Psychic Poweres is one of your expectations for GMs) or for making the kind of moves that the people who sign his paycheque wanted him to make.

I always find it kind of silly that the people who think Jay Feaster should be fired think that he should be fired essentually for doing what his bosses wanted him to do (try to win and not rebuild).

Hockey still exists within the confines of the real world here people... you try to do what your boss wants you to try to do, if you refuse they'll just find someone else who will.

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