January 29 2016 10:00AM
At the start of the new year we really couldn't be sure if the Flames would be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. We head into the All-Star Break a month later with much more clarity: Calgary sits eight points out of playoff spot but only two points out of last place in the league.
It's not over. But it's over. Absent a miracle, the Flames are going to miss the dance this year.
So sellers it is. The good news is the club has a few UFA's they can put up for auction (and maybe a few RFAs too). The bad news is we can't really be sure what the possible return will be on any of these guys. Or if there will be a return at all.
In the spirit of this recent JW article at OilersNation, I took a look at who the Flames have available and whether or not the club should look to put them up on the trade block this year.
January 25 2016 10:00AM
Jiri Hudler has suddenly become an important topic amongst Flames fans. After scoring the most 5on5 points in the league last year he has completely fallen off a cliff this year, to the degree that the coach doesn't seem to know where to put him in the lineup.
Heading into the season the question surrounding Hulder was whether the club could afford to re-sign him or if they'd move him for a sizeable return at the deadline. Now, the question is whether they can get anything for him at all.
The situation is reminiscent of Mike Cammalleri's final days as a Calgary Flame. With the organization staring a full tear down and rebuild in the face, Mike Cammalleri seemed like the last, best veteran asset in the cupboard in the wake of the Iginla and Bouwmeester selloffs.
Unfortunately, Cammalleri struggled through a concussion and was completely ineffective in the weeks leading up to the deadline. As a result, Burke only received lowball offers for the winger (third rounder or below) and the taciturn interim GM decided he'd rather keep the player than give him up for a nominal return (a decision I disagreed with).
Ironically, Cammalleri's game completely turned around after the deadline. He scored 13 goals and 24 points in the final 20 games, meaning he likely would have been one of the best deadline rentals of the season had the Flames traded him.
There's no saying whether that's what will happen with Hudler this year. All we know is he still has time to turn the ship around. Here's hoping he does before the deadline.
January 18 2016 08:00AM
It's the middle of January and the Flames are currently 13th in the Western Conference, just two points up on basement dwelling Edmonton Oilers. The enduring low quality of the Pacific Division means Calgary still has a chance at the post-season, but hope dims a little after each divisional loss.
We're just over a month away from the trade deadline when Treliving and company will likely have to make a decision about whether the team will make a play for the stretch drive or sell assets and hope for a high draft pick.
For what it's worth, Sport Club Stats currently puts the Flames playoff probability at around 27%. So, absent another multi-game winning streak very soon, Calgary is probably going to be a seller at the deadline. Today's mailbag looks at what will happen to their three pending free agents, as well as Bennett's ceiling and Monahan's next deal.
January 17 2016 02:00PM
We originally had these notes on the original Random Thoughts article, but felt the topic was too important to shoehorn in it with general hockey stuff. My more through overview of the the CalgaryNEXT proposal can be found here.
The Flames' ill-conceived arena project/megaplex is back in the news again after Gary Bettman's recent visit to the city.
The NHL commissioner's shill job for the org's proposal borrowed heavily from the professional sports public subsidy playbook, but he didn't seem to find a very receptive audience. Calgary's city council (and citizenry in general) have been appropriately skeptical since the team released the details of their $1 billion project, but the oil induced economic slump has no doubt further eroded most folk's patience for corporate welfare.
January 16 2016 10:00AM
It was a rough start to the season for the Flames, and not just because expectations were heightened after last year's turn as Cinderella or because Brad Treliving improved the roster considerably in the off-season. The Flames were objectively, abjectly bad at the onset. The defense was porous, the offense punchless, the goaltending sievelike.
It seemed like the club was going to run in place or even take a big step back. Everything that had worked for them previously was gone, but their weaknesses were still as glaring as ever. More disconcerting, the coaching staff had seemingly failed to adjust in the offseason, instead choosing to stick with staid strategies that were in desperate need of updating.
Auston Matthews seemed like a real possibility after October. And he still might be. But the truth is the team has improved since those first few dark weeks. In fact, they have taken a real step forward over last year.