Flames Brass Facing Risk Management Decisions

Steve Macfarlane
January 20 2015 09:15AM

They’re not quite there yet, but the Calgary Flames are heading toward a pivotal point in this confounding season.

During a well-publicized rebuilding phase that officially started with the unloading of former captain Jarome Iginla less than two years ago, the Flames are actually in contention for a playoff spot.

They woke up Sunday morning in a wild-card spot — a position no sane person expected them to be in this season — in a tie with defending champion Los Angeles Kings but owning more wins in regulation. It appears to put the Flames in a precarious spot with their strategic direction. Do they hold onto their biggest trade chip and risk another Michael Cammalleri situation with Curtis Glencross? Do they deal him away and fill his slot with one of the many up-and-comers on the farm but face potential scrutiny for appearing to throw in the towel on the postseason?

Additionally, do they look to dump David Jones and/or Jiri Hudler, who each have one more season on their $4-million deals?

Any of those hypothetical moves could be interpreted as an indication of indifference when it comes to this year’s playoffs. But the Flames management team cares nothing of public perception. President of hockey operations Brian Burke made that perfectly clear with the Cammalleri sit-in last season.

Luckily, the team is probably in a win-win situation with what I believe is a fairly obvious answer to the questions posed above.

Get what you can for Glencross. The a pending unrestricted free agent is probably nowhere near as valuable as Cammalleri was a year ago based on his injury history (including his current absence) and declining offensive numbers.

Bid goodbye to Jones and Dennis Wideman and, really, almost any of the veteran players not named Mark Giordano who might fetch a return that gives your scouting staff the opportunity to find another Johnny Gaudreau or T.J. Brodie in the later rounds of a future draft.

The Flames need to move out players who are not part of the long-term plans regardless of what the effects may result this season. The funny thing is that a stronger finish to the season is possible with ‘the replacements’ than with the status quo.

Youth drives this engine now. There are enough veterans in town to influence the kids without worrying about losing the likes of Glencross, Hudler or Jones. There may be the desire to bring Hudler back given his skill level and production, even if it’s for just that one final year.

Glencross may be asking for too much money and term for a team that wants to afford itself the luxury of flexibility, and Jones has upped his trade stock with a recent hot streak but over the course of his time in Calgary has done little to show he is deserving of being a part of this team’s long-term future.

Michael Ferland looked ready for the NHL during his time with the Flames earlier this season and could step right into Glencross’s spot. Centre Markus Granlund could also move to a wing if needed. Emile Poirier is performing extremely well in the American Hockey League and folks are excited to see what he can do at the NHL level sooner than later.

It’s not giving up on the season, it’s giving the long-term players a chance to take advantage of an unexpected situation and continue to build the culture of a hockey team that does not consider losing acceptable or automatic.

It’s looking forward to seeing what these kids could become if given chances to grow in the most difficult competition possible.

It’s an easy call.

The hardest part might be convincing other teams that there’s decent value in a player a team in a playoff position doesn’t want to keep.

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Former Calgary Sun Flames beat writer who has covered the team for a decade. Opinionated but reasonable, except when it comes to buffets. Follow him on Twitter at @MacfarlaneHKY
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#51 Jake the Snail
January 20 2015, 03:31PM
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@Mort

"If you want the Flames to be an ELITE organization, why do you think Hudler will be part of that? Surely our elite era, if it ever comes, will be a few years (4-6?) from now."

What makes you think it will take 4-6 years if ever?? They have good building blocks to be a top 8 NHL team next year.

Sure Byron is a little speedster - how effective has he been in scoring goals and setting them up, especially against Murderer's row in California?? Size matters; Poirier will make him obsolete anyways next year if not this year.

If Wideman will be a third pairing guy in 4 years, he is better than what we have now there!

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#52 Danomitee
January 20 2015, 03:49PM
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If you trade Gio, Hudler or Wideman you can kiss our chances at the playoffs this year and next year goodbye! I think Gio and Hudler go without saying but all the Wideman bashing is getting a little ridiculous, did anyone see the game last night?? Our top 4 are great, our bottom two are terrible no matter who they are. GlenX can go kick rocks, all I ever see is him slugging his way back to the bench. I know he has offensive upside, but I don't see the argument that we need his veteran leadership as I don't want to see any of his habits repeated by our young guns. If you can get something for him and he waives his NTC then fire away, if not let him leave in free agency the price on him isn't that high anyways. The Ramo/Hiller scenario is kind of interchangeable. Ortio has proven he can play at the big level, but lets not get ahead of ourselves and say we've found our new #1. If he's to stay then its going to be in a tandem situation with one of these guys, trade the other who you can get the most for at the deadline.

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#53 BJ
January 20 2015, 05:19PM
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If you really look at our healthy roster then you can that:

Jooris has Jones spot anyway and is a decent replacement right now. Maybe Jones nets a 4th rounder if we eat some of his salary... but hey like Pike said... a 4th would be enough take a swing at another prospect like a gaudreau or a ferland.

Hudler should not be moved for picks. Id package him with a prospect for a defensemen or a young forward that fits into the future. If not then keep him and move him next season for picks.

Wideman - consider moving him if the interest and return is there. But try to avoid picks and prospects as past him at 4 we dont have much coming.

Glenx - he has a clause so some fans may get disappointed here. If he can be convinced to take a chance on another prairie town like winnipeg then maybe there is a fit and a chance to get a return. Regardless I would move one of him or Raymond for anything close to a decent return just to open up a spot. At this point in there careers they are just depth wingers with no real upside.

When I said do not trade wideman and hudler for picks there is a caveat - a concrete plan to parlay said picks into a defensemen or defense prospect over 20. I just think that for these two in particular the return in picks will not equal their value on the ice currently. I could be wrong. Maybe the interest is there.

Pike you didnt mention the Goalies. Both Hiller and Ramo could bring something back.

Overall I would be conservative at the deadline. Move out a Jones or Hiller for picks. While we have a lot prospects we still beed to acquire draft picks to replenish our system. The amount of graduates in the next two years will take a huge toll on our system and leave a lot of gaps.

That said we probably need a defensemen and a d prospect as well.. so if the return is right (im personally not seeing it) then and only then do we move Huds and Wides... we should have enough assets to acquire some picks without moving our more crucial assets.

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#54 everton fc
January 20 2015, 06:15PM
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Mort wrote:

If you want the Flames to be an ELITE organization, why do you think Hudler will be part of that? Surely our elite era, if it ever comes, will be a few years (4-6?) from now. Do you really think Hudler will still be elite in that amount of time? Do you think he's elite right now? He's a good scorer, but elite is pushing it a bit far. If he's elite right now, but not in 4 years, why not trade him now and get somebody with a brighter future?

Same goes for Wideman. That guy is definitely not elite. Good second pairing guy, but he'll be third pairing at best in 4 years from now.

Also, why the HELL would you shop Byron? He's one of the most underrated forwards we have! We should be signing him long-term at a reasonable price, not shipping him off.

I like how you'd be fine with dealing Jones/Raymond/Engelland/Smid/Diaz. Basically everybody on our team who's ineffective or underachieving. Yeah, we'd probably all be fine with shipping those guys, but do you really think we're going to get any value in return?

The Wings, in their elite years, had guys like Hudler and Wideman. We can get there in three years or less if we make the right moves.

I never said Hudler or Wideman were elite players; I said they are the type of role players elite teams have and keep, guys they find room for. Like Maltby, Draper, Cleary... Others...

I'd shop Byron because he wouldn't impact the team if he were moved, and he has value. He's peaked. That's why. Packaged w/Hiller, for example, seems a good package.

I'd not be fine dealing Jones. I like him. for now. And I never said any of Raymond/Engelland/Smid/Diaz would garner value. Which is why I didn't mention them. No one's taking Engelland unless he's packaged. Ditto Smid, unless it's for a 4th round or worse pick. Diaz is only with the big team because of prior time w/the coaching staff. He might even clear waivers, who knows. Raymond packaged has value. Just to clarify.

We don't need to make too many moves - that was my point. And as a team rebuilds towards elite status, you keep guys like Hudler and Wideman for that reason. Gio, as well. I know we are nowhere near where the Wings were at the same time, if that can even be measured. Everyone has an opinion. Mine is you don't make too many changes for the sake of change.

Guys that need to get a long look up here at some point - Baertschi, Poirier, Ferland, Wotherspoon, and maybe Wolf and Arnold. That's some nice depth t forward. Not on defence. Guys like Yandle I'd go for, but only for spare change/parts/prospects, if possible. Hiller, to me, is our most valuable asset at the moment. Glencross has played well, but isn't owed anything, and I also said the "brass" may not even want Glencross back. Just to confirm.

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#55 RKD
January 20 2015, 06:41PM
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Keep Huds for another season, you can trade him next year. Trade Glencross and Ramo, both are UFAs and will probably want more money. GlenX already said he would not take a hometown discount. Better to get something for these guys than nothing. The Flames should stick to the plan and be sellers. Any talk of spending to the cap now is nonsense. The young players Gaudreau, Monahan, Bennett, Poirier, Wotherspoon, Brodie, etc. are the future of this team.

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#56 Jeff In Lethbridge
January 20 2015, 10:48PM
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the-wolf wrote:

I agree with you in theory. However, while ideal, this is not always possible. For example, how does a guy like Poirier get a legit shot without moving a Jones? Sometimes room has to be created. Again, this isn't Detroit; Calgary is not an established 20+ years in a row playoff contender. They're rebuilding. Certain tough decisions will have to be made.

I think we are on the same page... There has to be room for guys like Poirier, and the team has shown they are willing to send vets down (Grats/Gooch) and i have confidence that Poirier and others will work their way onto the roster. Like many have said, I wouldnt be surprised to see a trade to make room up front and bring in defensive prospects.

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#57 Jake the Snail
January 21 2015, 12:00PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

I think we are on the same page... There has to be room for guys like Poirier, and the team has shown they are willing to send vets down (Grats/Gooch) and i have confidence that Poirier and others will work their way onto the roster. Like many have said, I wouldnt be surprised to see a trade to make room up front and bring in defensive prospects.

It is ADDITION by SUBTRACTION. If you dump some deadwood like Raymond, Diaz, you will have room on the roster for additions from Addy, like Poirier, WSpoon and Ferland.

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