Random Thoughts - Free Agent Days and What's Left For the Flames

Kent Wilson
July 09 2014 11:30AM

random-thoughts


It only took three signings for Brad Treliving to accomplish his primary goal this summer - get over the NHL's salary floor. That seems like an entirely trivial and underwhelming objective to celebrate, but it's one that had the possibility of causing all sorts of self inflicted wounds. Take, for example, Dale Tallon's orgy of spending from a few summers ago when he signed half of the league's mediocre UFA's to long, bloated contracts. The Flames, conversely, escaped relatively intact. None of the deals were longer than three years and or for a dollar amount that may hamper them in the future. Mission accomplished.

So is there anything left for the club to do this summer?

- Before we move on, let's just establish that the Deryk Engelland deal is, in fact, a bad contract. It is forgivable, however, given the three year term and the fact the Flames have buckets of cap room. If things go wrong a la Shane O'Brien, it's also not so large a deal that it can't be moved, bought out or buried. So as far as July 1 missteps go, it's extremely minor.

- People have asked me what the chances are that Engelland actually finishes that contract as a member of the Flames. I'd say they're fairly slim - at the very least, he's likely to be a 7th defender and frequent healthy scratch by the time 2016-17 rolls around. Either because the Flames have improved and he's been usurped or because his skills have eroded to the point he's no longer an everyday NHLer (or both). The post-32 years don't tend to be kind to big, slow guys with minimal puck skills.

- The Mason Raymond and Jonas Hiller deals, on the other hand, are wholly defensible. Neither is probable to be a true difference maker, but they will make capable placeholders while the team finds its footing at the very least.

- Treliving and Burke might be finished for the summer. Aside from tying up some loose ends like the Joe Colborne arbitration case, the Flames brass can ice an NHL squad come October. That said, if they want to get creative, there are a few more options they want to pursue...

- A few of the NHL's better teams are still in cap trouble. The Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals in particular are rubbing up against the cap ceiling. Calgary has already done a deal with Chicago for Bollig, but it's possible they may be able to wrangle a Johhny Boychuk, Chris Kelly or Mike Green from the Bruins or Capitals, depending on price and interest on the other end.

Green is the most interesting target - he's 28 and has just one more season at $6.25M. The native Calgarian has struggled to stay healthy since his back-to-back 70+ point seasons a few years ago. On top of that, his last year was his worst in the league statistically since his rookie campaign in 2006-07 (9 goals, 38 points in 70 games). It's possible his club may be looking to sell him for pennies on the dollar, particularly since they backed up the brinks truck for Matt NIskanen and Brooks Orpik this summer.

The situation is a potentially ideal one for the Flames. It gives the team a one-year audition with Green to see if he's on the steep decline or just experienced a hiccup. If he falls on his face, the team can walk away. If he rebounds, they can choose to re-sign him.

- Another name constantly surfacing in the rumor mill is the Winnipeg Jets Evander Kane. The 22-year old sniper suffered through a 7.6% personal shooting percentage and ended up with a relatively disappointing 19 goals and 41 points in 60 games ;ast season, but there's no denying he is a legit talent.

The problem with a Kane deal is the Jets will be looking for hefty return, even if they have soured on the player for whatever reason. The demanded return may be heavy in assets the Flames either don't have (established impact offensive forwards) or don't want to give up (2015 first rounder, Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Mikael Backlund, Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett or Sean Monahan).

At the very least it would be worth inquiring about the player given his ceiling, age and potential offensive impact. At 22, he'd slide right in the gap between Calgary's young-ish core players (Backlund, Brodie) and their up-and-comers (Monahan, Gaudreau, Baertschi, Granlund, Bennett, etc). 

- Speaking of which, the Flames decision makers will need to start identifying which veterans they want to either keep or acquire for this Flames roster a few years down the road. If guys like Hudler, Glencross and Wideman aren't in the plans, then it's time to start laying the groundwork for deals to ship them out of town and garner some sort of return.

In addition, the club will need to start planning on how they can start supplementing this roster with useful 27-30 year olds if everything goes to plan and the kids start making some noise in a couple years time. It's possible for the Flames to avoid the decade long ditch the Oilers find themselves in and get this thing turned around relatively quickly, but they'll need to be able to leverage their youth with quality NHL veterans when the time comes. And no, Brandon Bollig and Dereyk Engelland don't qualify.

- The other bit of optional business for Treliving this off-season is Mikael Backlund and TJ Brodie extensions. The Feaster bridge deals for both guys end in 2015 and as of July 1, the Flames have the ability to begin negotiating their new contracts in earnest.

It's the right move. Both players had a coming out party last year.The counting numbers weren't big enough to catch the attention of the general NHL fanbase, but each guy put up stunning underlying results in a very difficult situation. As noted recently - the Flames with Brodie and Backlund on the ice together put up elite level possession and goal differentials. Without them (and Giordano), the club was bottom-5 territory. These are core players and, as such, are likely only to get more expensive if they play another season and lead the Flames in various categories. They're probably only going to get more expensive past October 8th.

If either guy has a decent agent then they likely know this and may well wait the Flames out to ensure a higher pay day. That said, I hope the team is looking into the possibility anyways.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#52 Baalzamon
July 10 2014, 09:20AM
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@the-wolf

I'd like to see something like this:

  1. Glencross - Stajan - Hudler
  2. Baertschi - Backlund - Raymond
  3. Gaudreau - Monahan - Colborne
  4. Bouma - Reinhart - Bollig
  5. McGrattan, Jones

Won't win too many games, but... well they won't be winning too many games anyway, so you know.

Of course, probably only one of Baertschi and Gaudreau makes the team (at least initially), and I think everyone agrees that David Jones is probably a lock no matter what he looks like in training camp because... reasons.

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#53 Baalzamon
July 10 2014, 09:21AM
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@Baalzamon

Also I forgot Byron. yeesh.

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#54 FeyWest
July 10 2014, 09:34AM
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@Baalzamon

I like the fact we have so much depth, potential for 2nd and 3rd line callups, majority of guys I've seen and heard about during dev camp and earlier seem exciting and have that NHL potential.

Daresay, I don't think there's ever been this kind of prospect pool for us.... EVER. Now to be fair I never knew much about this until the late 90's as I'm just a youngin but I think last and this season have been the 2 I've been most excited about!

Those lines look great to me it's been awhile since we've had decent 4-line structure, Defence is a bit more limited but should be interesting.

1. Brodie - Giordano (Brodano!)

2. Russell - Wideman

3. Smid - Engellund

Wotherspoon/Culkin/Kulak (Callups)

I think when McGrattan is ready to retire I'd love for him to join management sort of like Conny did, he works so well with everyone, he knows what hard work is and I love listening to his interviews!

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#55 Stubblejumper
July 10 2014, 09:52AM
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the-wolf wrote:

Not sure I believe that at least as far as the forward propsect pool goes. Flames players and prospects 25 and under:

Monahan Bennett Backlund Reinhart Granlund Knight Gaudreau Colborne Baertschi Poirier Klimchuk Wolf Smith Agostino Hanowski Bouma Arnold

Trying my hardest to put fan bias aside, I have a really difficult time not seeing how 12 of these 17 can't form a future roster here. Especially since 5 from that group are essentially already NHL'ers. I'm truly excited about our forward prospect depth.

I'm also fairly happy with the goalie situation; it's the D pool that needs work, but even then there's still assets in Stajan, Hudler and Glencorss to be moved and another almost-for-sure top 5 pick next June.

I too believe many of our prospects have NHL-level potential.

The real message is whether:
- we're content with our current prospect pool, believing them to be sufficient to achieve our goals;
- our goal is either wanting to develop a competitive Playoff-level team...or a Cup-contending team;
- whether we should continue to emphasize prospect development as a core strength of the organization (given our currently flush prospect pool)

While we can all be fairly happy right now..is this prospect group so good we can envision them contending with LA, CHI, STL & ANA in a Cup final?

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#56 Purple Hazze
July 10 2014, 11:44AM
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@Stubblejumper

I don't think we need to envision them contending with LA, CHI, STL & ANA in a cup final. If this group progress's I think we'll be a playoff team in hopefully 3 years, and a solid cup contender in another 3 years after that, when guys like Monahan will be entering their prime years. In 6 years out LA, CHI, STL & ANA will be completely different teams; Toews, Kane, Backes, Kopitar, Carter, Getzlaf, Perry will all be well into their 30's and past their prime... Keith and Seabrook may not even be playing by then.

If those teams continue to draft well they may still be competitive, but they'll look completely different than they do today and will not necessarily be the powerhouses they are now.

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#57 stubblejumper
July 10 2014, 02:07PM
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Purple Hazze wrote:

I don't think we need to envision them contending with LA, CHI, STL & ANA in a cup final. If this group progress's I think we'll be a playoff team in hopefully 3 years, and a solid cup contender in another 3 years after that, when guys like Monahan will be entering their prime years. In 6 years out LA, CHI, STL & ANA will be completely different teams; Toews, Kane, Backes, Kopitar, Carter, Getzlaf, Perry will all be well into their 30's and past their prime... Keith and Seabrook may not even be playing by then.

If those teams continue to draft well they may still be competitive, but they'll look completely different than they do today and will not necessarily be the powerhouses they are now.

So looking on a broader basis...essentially you are saying you are confident that the CURRENT Flames prospect pool has equivalent talent (after maturing in 3-6 years time) to the CURRENT Cup contenders?

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#58 Purple Hazze
July 10 2014, 04:30PM
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@stubblejumper

I wouldn't say confident, more like hopeful :) I think with our current crop of prospects + our 2015 pick the Flames team of 2020 could be as good as the hawks/kings/bruins are today. But that's IF these guys live up to the potential they're showing today ... so far all the arrows continue to point in the right direction.

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#59 Stubblejumper
July 10 2014, 08:06PM
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Purple Hazze wrote:

I wouldn't say confident, more like hopeful :) I think with our current crop of prospects + our 2015 pick the Flames team of 2020 could be as good as the hawks/kings/bruins are today. But that's IF these guys live up to the potential they're showing today ... so far all the arrows continue to point in the right direction.

This discussion string began with Rex Libris words when he stated:

"This prospect group is still very young though, with some just entering the professional ranks this season. Factoring in the usual rate of attrition at this stage, they will need to add more skilled prospects"

I agree with Rex in believing we have a nice group of prospects..but they're not all going to pan out with above average to elite potential.

Rather than being satisfied with what we've got, the premise of my posts has been we need to keep our focus on drafting and developing premier prospects, and continually upgrading the talent at each position.

So in summary:
- Being satisfied and content will kill our aspirations of reaching the goal of winning a Cup!
- Being happy with being good will lead us to a crappy ending. And
- What we have now is not good enough to achieve what we aspire to!

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#60 coachedpotatoe
July 11 2014, 07:15AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

I'd like to see something like this:

  1. Glencross - Stajan - Hudler
  2. Baertschi - Backlund - Raymond
  3. Gaudreau - Monahan - Colborne
  4. Bouma - Reinhart - Bollig
  5. McGrattan, Jones

Won't win too many games, but... well they won't be winning too many games anyway, so you know.

Of course, probably only one of Baertschi and Gaudreau makes the team (at least initially), and I think everyone agrees that David Jones is probably a lock no matter what he looks like in training camp because... reasons.

While I agree with the idea of rolling 4 lines one should take into consideration that Rhino played the wing almost all of last season and that both Granlund and Knight had better season in the AHl at the center ice position than did Rhino. I would likely want either Bouma or Bollig playing on the Backs line; so how about Raymond-Granlund-Bollig and Sven-Backs-Bouma.

However that leaves, McG,Djones, and Byron out and based upon the trend to want truculence and vets this line up will not likely materialize.

As for not winning games this year, I'm not sure many of us expect the Flames to be in the playoffs or even in the hunt. I am a firm believer that rolling 4 lines will be more successful in the short run than playing a line of of the likes of what we saw last year with McG, westgarth and whoever the poor center was and seeing them play 3-6 minutes a game and their poor center iceman getting no development time. I also see that in the long term that this is the way to develop and evaluate a teams prospects.

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#61 Baalzamon
July 11 2014, 07:40AM
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@coachedpotatoe

Didn't Reinhart set a club record for points in a season? You could argue (maybe) that Granlund had a better season than he did, but Knight? Not even close (especially considering that Corban is 2 years older than Max).

I'd like Knight to show more in the AHL before he makes the team. Reinhart, to my mind, is NHL ready, and far better suited to centering the "4th" line than Granlund is (to me, Granlund is a winger in the NHL, and probably on a scoring line, whereas Reinhart could easily be a center on a defensive line).

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