A conversation on Kris Russell

Kent Wilson
February 27 2016 02:30PM

As many Calgary residents and Flames fans know, Kris Russell has been a controversial topic in town recently. Colleagues at the FAN960 have been at each other's throats owing to a disagreement between qualitative and quantitate evaluation of Kris Russell's play.

We've been clear about where we stand on the Russell divide over the last few years, but I wanted to fully explicate the dastardly "analytics" side of the debate for the purposes of clarity. What follows is how I would respond to the main talking points that tend to crop up in this ongoing argument.

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A closer look at Hunter Shinkaruk

Kent Wilson
February 23 2016 10:00AM

The Flames acquired local boy Hunter Shinkaruk yesterday, a player who was within their grasp during the 2013 entry draft. The club went with Sean Monahan (sixth) and Emile Poirier (22nd) with their first two picks instead, leaving Shinkaruk to fall to the hated Canucks at 24th overall. 

The decision set up the potential for an ongoing debate between Poirier and Shinkaruk, but that dichotomy is now moot with Calgary acquiring the 21-year-old winger for Markus Granlund. So how is it Shinkaruk came home to the Flames by such a circuitous route?

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FN Mailbag - February 22, 2016

Kent Wilson
February 22 2016 02:00PM

Mailbag

With the playoffs now a distant dream, the rest of the Flames season becomes about other priorities. Aside from trying to leverage a handful of assets at the deadline, the club has the final quarter of the season to gather some intel for next year.

The experiments have already begun with Sam Bennett being moved back to center. We already know he's a pretty good left wing, so now the decision makers will get a chunk of games to see if he can drive play as a pivot as well. Guys like Jakub Nakladal, Tyler Wotherspoon and Joni Ortio might also get some longer looks than otherwise would have been possible if the team was "going for it."

Discovering if any of the club's hopefuls have NHL upside is especially important for the Flames as they move into rough budgetary waters this offseason. 

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FN Mailbag - February 15, 2016

Kent Wilson
February 15 2016 08:00AM

Mailbag

We're two weeks away from the trade deadline. The Flames have won more than they've lost recently (despite mostly questionable performances), but the club remains eight points out of a the final wild card spot in the West. 

The players and coach will remain committed to "playoffs or bust!", but the management team should start putting its key trade assets on the auction block this week. Though Calgary has more than a few guys they could sell off, Brad Treliving's primary goal should be getting the most he possibly can for the club's two main assets: Kris Russell and Jiri Hudler. 

In Hudler's case, the Flames may face another Cammalleri situation, where the player's sub-par pre-deadline performance might undermine his perceived value. That said, the org must commit to one of two things if that's case: 1.) trade the player for the best offer available, even if it's something nominal like a third round pick, or 2.) re-sign him. Letting him walk in the off-season shouldn't be a consideration. 

As for Russell, he needs to go no matter what. The club can't afford to re-sign him and his stock will never be higher. Re-signing him shouldn't even be part of the conversation, meaning he should walk even if the club can't (or won't) move him.

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Potential Flames trade deadline partners

Kent Wilson
February 14 2016 12:00PM

As we all know, the Flames are probably going to be deadline sellers. That means almost all of their pending UFA's should be be available to the highest bidder, even if the org kind of wants to keep Kris Russell around (*spoiler* they can't really afford to).

So the question is where will these guys land? Here's an assortment of potential destinations.

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