The Flames general ineptitude in the new year caused Darryl Sutter to pre-empt the March deadline and make the bulk of his moves a month ago. As such, Wednesday holds about as much intrigue and anticipation as a second honeymoon for Flames fans.
That said, things might still happen. Calgary is fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot and their schedule is a doozy. In addition, the club has 16 NHL forwards on the roster (assuming Mikael Backlund gets recalled and Rene Bourque is able to return from the infirmary). That’s about three forwards too many. That signals to me the possibility that Sutter may be gearing up for a quantity for quality trade to further upgrade the troops and/or dealing a superfluous skater or two for draft picks (or maybe he’ll just demote a couple of guys to the AHL…). Anyways, while it’s probable the deadline will be a quiet one in Calgary, there remains the outside possibility of further action.
With that in mind, I cooked up some questions I had bubbling in the back of my mind and sent them out to Rosscreek and Jean Lefebvre. They were gracious enough provide the following answers:
Calgary has already made unprecedented changes to the roster with the Phaneuf and Jokinen Trades. Will this be a quiet deadline as a result?
RC: I tend to think it will be quiet in terms of ‘impactful players’, but I could see some minor tweaking. It’s also my belief that the Flames need to address their backup ‘tender.
Lefebvre: Jamie Lundmark has been gone two weeks now and it’s high time Darryl Sutter reacquire him. It’s believed that acquiring Lundmark one more time will give Sutter the sticker he needs to fill his card and get a free Italian BMT as participating Subway locations in Moose Jaw. Realistically, about the only move that makes sense is moving one of the extra forwards for a draft choice. Sutter has already made his big moves.
Whether Sutter is active on March 3rd or not, what do you see as a weakness that should be addressed?
RC: As I stated, I think an improvement behind Kipper is something I’d be looking for. Curtis McElhinney has not solidified his position and likely won’t see the light of day in the NHL again (IMO). Chances are, if Kipper goes down to injury, the Flames are toast anyways, but I’d feel a lot more comfortable
watching drowning my sorrows while Biron/Ellis/Conklin/Clemmensen or whomever tended twine rather than CuMac. I’d like to think of having a good backup as ‘having good insurance’. As for other weaknesses, I think they’ll have to wait and see how things play out. Is Matt Stajan a fit with Iginla? Can him and Langkow form a good enough 1-2 punch moving forward? We probably won’t no until the offseason. Adding another 3rd liner for a combination of 4th line leftovers would be nice.
Lefebvre: If we’re containing ourselves to 2009-10 concerns, there are no weaknesses that can or should be rectified with a deadline deal. Sutter pushed in all his chips with the Toronto and New York deals and at this point, a re-deal is not an option. As for a backup goalie, it’s better to forget it. An injury to Miikka Kiprusoff would be a disaster and an upgrade to the backup falls into the category of being trapped in a burning house and choosing between sitting on a desk chair or a barcalounger while waiting to expire. Looking longer term, replenishing the high-end draft-pick cupboard would not be a bad move but that would almost certainly necessitate the Flames becoming a seller and that seems highly unlikely.
Ray Whitney is rumoured to be available, but he’s apparently demanding a commitment to a 2 year + contract with the new team as a stipulation for waiving his no trade clause. Worth it?
RC: I like Whitney and I think he’ll make for a good pickup for somebody, just not the Flames. Given that he’s likely one of the top skill guys available, the demand (in trade value) will be too high. Giving a guy a a 2 year extension at ages 38 & 39 – not such a great idea for the Flames, IMO.
Lefebvre: Looking at this scenario in a vacuum, the risk might be worth taking. Whitney has aged incredibly gracefully, so this isn’t just any 37-year-old seeking a long-term commitment. But the Flames already have lots of future loonies sunk into 30-something forwards and adding one more to the list might be asking for trouble. Getting Whitney and giving him a two-year deal would mean that for the 2011-12 season, the Flames would be paying approximately $26M for Whitney (39 years old), Daymond Langkow (35), Jarome Iginla (34), Ales Kotalik (33), Niklas Hagman (32), Rene Bourque (30) and David Moss (30).
The Florida Panthers have publicly declared they will be “sellers” at the deadline. Who would you target from their roster?
RC: I like Nathan Horton. The sane part of my brain cannot see any way Darryl lands a guy like him (or even Weiss or Booth for that matter). Keith Ballard is another, although I can’t see that either. Perhaps Bryan Allen if you can dump Corey Sarich?
Lefebvre: There can only be one guy — Gregory Campbell. He’s a decent role player but more importantly, his presence would allow a Flames team that has run afoul of the league many times in the past decade to curry favour with the NHL’s disciplinarian. Seriously, there’s a lot to like about Horton, but as Tyler suggests, what the hell do the Flames have to offer Florida?
Pick one player you consider to be prime “trade bait” on the Flames roster.
RC: I really don’t see there being one “prime trade bait” player, at least not of substance. Dustin Boyd & David Moss are a couple of guys I could see on the move, while Corey Sarich’s contract would be one I’d like to see disappear. Is Greg Nemisz a chip they’d be willing to part with? An attractive name to other teams, IMO – Curtis Glencross. If some combination of Glencross, Boyd, Moss, Nemisz can get you a Horton/Wiess, then sure, but good luck with that. Tuomo Ruutu & Colby Armstrong are a couple other names on my radar.
Lefebvre: I’m taking trade bait to mean a player with whom the Flames would be willing to part but also someone who would be enticing to other clubs. Bluntly, the Flames don’t have much left. David Moss is having a down year, nobody is going to want Cory Sarich’s contract and few of the kids on the farm would fetch much in return unless you believe there’s a league-wide unhealthy fascination with Colin Stuart. Mikael Backlund’s game has recently come around to the point that scouts are sure to have taken notice, but he could and should be on the no-touch list.
The Flames lack first and second round drafts pick this summer. They also face the possibility of either missing the playoffs or being swept aside in the first round by either San Jose or Chicago if they do qualify. While it’s unlikely Sutter is willing (or able) to “sell” at the deadline, would you? Who would you look to move?
RC: I wouldn’t sell. With Iginla, Langkow, Regher, Kiprussof, et al, this team needs to try to win now and for the next 3 years. Once you’re in the playoffs, who knows what happens. Maybe they draw San Jose and Nabokov gets hurt, or perhaps they suffer the same types of injuries that the Flames had heading into the playoffs last year. You never know. To give up now and re-tool doesn’t quite jive with me. Some additional draft picks, however, would be nice.
Lefebvre: From a pure hockey standpoint, the Flames should absolutely be sellers, especially since yet another first-round loss by Calgary would be viewed as preferable to a playoff miss only by the guys who collect the revenue for post-season gates. Advancing through the Western playoffs likely means beating both San Jose and Chicago and then maybe Vancouver. Stranger things can and have happened, but it’s an exceedingly poor bet.
PS – Make sure to tune in tomorrow for Jean Lefebvre’s DEADLINE LIVEBLOG.