Is There a Fit?

CALGARY, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 15: Matt Pelech #56 of the Calgary Flames battles with Jean-Francois Jacques #22 of the Edmonton Oilers in the third period of the pre-season NHL game on September 15, 2009 at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Mike Ridewood/Getty Images)

Kent wrote a great piece last week analyzing Calgary’s strength and depth on the blueline, asserting that decisions will need to be made ahead of opening night in October.  Well, another wrinkle was added on Sunday afternoon when the Flames announced the signing of Matt Pelech to a one year contract.  Now my question is…how does the guy fit?

On the official stuff, while not being officially official, the strong indication from everyone I’ve talked to is that, yes, Pelech’s deal is a two-way contract.  The other interesting thing to note on Pelech is that, from how I understand it, he WILL be waiver eligible this season.  Pelech’s first pro contract, and first pro season, was his 20 year old season, meaning he had three seasons of waiver exemption, which has now passed.  How much will that affect things isn’t quite clear…on the one hand, you’ve got a young blueliner who some in the Flames organization have been high on for a while.  On the other hand, Pelech has suffered with injuries and has only played one full pro season (his OHL career was also marred with injuries).  I encourage you to check out FlamesNation’s prospect profile on Pelech, as well.

My waiver understanding, as I’ve been pouring over the CBA the last two days since the Pelech signing, has certainly been upped a little.  Now, if someone is reading and understands the waiver and re-entry waiver procedure better than I do, please feel free to correct me, because by NO means am I saying this is 100% accurate and beyond reproach.  However, from reading, my understanding has it that Pelech, while being subject to the regular waiver process, would not be required to go through re-entry waivers.  As well, the waiver process isn’t enforced until September 25th of this year, meaning Pelech could start the season in the minors prior to that date without the worry of being claimed.  The wording also gets hairy because Pelech did not play an NHL game last season.

Going back to our FlamesNation roundtable following the season, Kent asked the question as to whether we’d like to see Pelech take a crack at the team for this upcoming year.  I answered yes, I’d like to see it happen, but as the offseason has rolled on, the prospects of it actually happening, pending movement, are less and less viable. 

First off, there are sheer logistics…seven d-men are locked up on one-way NHL deals.  Add in a likely contract of some length to Ian White, and you’re up to eight.  Now, to clarify, one or two-way contracts have nothing to do with waivers; all it means is a player is payed differently in the American Hockey League as opposed to the NHL.  The financial convenience is usually why players on two-way contracts are returned to the minors first.  So, assuming a White deal is done, here’s what the Flames blueline looks like currently:


Kronwall spent most of last season in the minors while Pardy was largely used as a seventh defenceman down the stretch.  At this point, if Pelech has a shot to make the big roster, it’s going to have to be over Pardy and Kronwall, unless the Flames decide to make a trade or bury a blueliner in the minors.

So is Pelech a good fit on this team for this season?  The more I think about it, the more I lean towards saying no.  Not to say he isn’t a viable blueline prospect, but maybe this year isn’t the year.  He signed a one year deal, and I wonder how much of that short term is to see whether or not Pelech can play a full pro schedule (something he hasn’t done since 2007-08).

I know there are some who will say "he’s been down there for three seasons, it’s time to either make the jump or cut your losses and go in a new direction."  But, being that the team still has high hopes for him, another year in the AHL may not be the worst thing in the world.  If it ends up being another shortened, sub-50 game season, then all of a sudden red flags start to pop up.  If he plays 70+ games and continues to show the things the Flames like, then you’ve got something to build on for the following season (when Staios, for one, is no longer a factor).

So, in short, is it possible for Pelech to blow the socks off the Flames management and coaching staff this September and make the team straight out?  Yeah, I guess.  But, with the way things look right now for the team AND the player, I think I might favour another year in BC before any talk of full time NHL duty is discussed.  But then again, this Flames blueline could still look a whole lot different come September and October.

  • Y’know, you mention it at the beginning but then fail to account for when you eval his “fit for the season” is his waiver eligibility. If I’m the GM of a young likely non-contending team (the NY Islanders for example)that doesn’t want to spend much or a team with a heavy cap crunch (Chicago) why wouldn’t I want to grab a former 1st round pick, who according to some anecdotes, is NHL ready for cheap (600K according to capgeek)?

    Are the Flames to potentially throw away control to his rights just so that they can retain Kronwall (who has successfully passed through waivers in the past) on the active roster? That seems like a poor gamble to me. Better to have Pelech on the main roster as the #7 d-man in my opinion then risk losing him for nothing.

    • Bob


      Agreed. At their prices, I don’t think either Pardy or Pelech would clear waivers this season. Worse yet, if Pelech does clear waivers and goes down, then does well and we try to call him up, we lose him on re-entry waivers and still have a $300K cap hit to show for it.

      Best case is one of Staois or Sarich are moved, and Kronwall is designated the #8 guy. But unless Staois gets sent down or my Sarich-for-Hecht dream comes true, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see either Pelech or Pardy given a Stralman-style toss over the fence for a draft pick during training camp.

    • @RossCreek


      Guys, let me clarify the waiver rules as I understand it. I have added this to the article, but I’ll also put it here. This is from me pouring over the CBA the cross referencing stuff the last few days. The wording is extremely cumbersome and I’m clearly not a lawyer, so I’m not saying my understanding is accurate, but this is what I’ve been able to gleen…

      As I understand it, Pelech would NOT have to clear re-entry waivers because his AHL salary is not higher than $105,000, it’s right at that number. That means re-entry waivers do not apply.

      Plus, if that’s wrong, Pelech would only require re-entry waivers if he was called up, sent down, and then called up again all in one season.

      Also, because Pelech didn’t play an NHL game last season, his salary does not count against the cap this offseason…he is technically a minor league player.

      Finally, the enforced waiver period doesnt start until September 25th this season (12 days prior to the start of the season). Pelech could safely be in Abbotsford prior to that date.

      The timing is good, because we get a chance to sit down with Jay Feaster tomorrow…I’m going to run that stuff by him during a break, see if I’m on crack, or if I’m reading the CBA correctly.

  • Gotta think Pelech has a job to lose. His waiver status dictates as much. I’d say his ceiling is probably higher than Pardy’s (although Pardy may be steadier today), so if worst comes to worst, they’ll keep the former 1st rounder ahead of the free agent signing… at least imo. Of course, if there’s any movement with the other d-men, Pelech & Pardy could both be here.

  • marty

    i think your right pat. but i hope that the kid gets a chance. i think he can surpass pardy’s or kronwalls contributions. i still hope they bury staios to get so cap relief and maybe sign another forward. also i still say at least 1 possibly 2 dmen outta the top eight could on different rosters before october

    • i think he can surpass pardy’s or kronwalls contributions.

      I’m with you there, I think there is potential, if he’s healthy, to give you more than those guys. But being that he hasn’t been healthy on a regular basis, maybe starting the season in the minors is a good thing.

  • Bob

    I wasn’t overly surprised at the signing, even though we seem to have a surplus of D-men kicking around. I, like some of you, expected to see 1 or 2 of our larger contracts sent out of town. I thought it would just take time once teams had a better idea of how their own prospects were developing and seeing who might be expendable yet still catch Darryl’s interest. Once that developes it just takes a few conversations and some tweaks here and there and soon Mr. Sarich and a 5th rounder are headed out East for a prospect and a 6th or 7th rounder and with a couple more transactions then Mr. Pelech had a better chance to claim a roster spot.

    As you pointed out Pat, another year in B.C won’t be the worse thing for Pelech. It would be worth it to see if he can play close to a full year and see if he’s progressed. But after today I am rethinking my theory that Darryl has time to move some bodies. Not so much lack of time, but if Gagne warrants a 4th rounder…can we expect much in return for some of our “depth” players who have large salaries attached to them? It has been brought up by others that the worry is that if Darryl wants to move a large contract, the only interest he could get is from GM’s basically just wanting to trade unwanted large salaries of their own.

    I think Pelech is destined to be in the AHl most of this season and Pardy or Kornwall will be joining him. It’s too bad, I wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of young guys be given some time to see what they can do over the course of 8-10 games. With the roster as it currently sits, there just isn’t really any room for the young guys right now.

    • Good point on Gagne. At $5.25M x 1 year, he’s a LOT more valuable than Sarich at $3.7M x 2. So if all he garners is a 4th rounder, there’s no way Sarich gets moved for anything but another contract (or by giving up a fairly shiny draft pick).

      Which begs a question, who else (other than Hecht) would make a good Sarich-for-equivalent-forward trade?

      NOTE: I’ve assumed since we got them that Kotalik and Staois are untradeable until at least next year’s deadline, so I don’t bother asking about ways to move them anywhere other than the K or AHL.

    • It has been brought up by others that the worry is that if Darryl wants to move a large contract, the only interest he could get is from GM’s basically just wanting to trade unwanted large salaries of their own.

      That’s a great point you make regarding Gagne and what he garnered. Whenever someone has brought up trading certain players (Sarich, Langkow, Staios, etc) I’ve always countered with exactly what you said…it’s going to be tough to trade a big cap hit and get close to full relief. You’re going to have to take substantial money back.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Regarding Staios, I’ve read alot on here about burying him in the minors to remove his contract or other various ways to be free of his cap hit.

    My question to those in the know, do you think (praise be to) Sutter that he would really go a route such as this and put him in the AHL?

    From all inclinations it appears that (praise be to) Sutter has some kind of plan and given the trade for Staios i’d have to think that he’s included amongst those plans.

    Also, it would be nice to see you, Steinberg and Kent to maybe troll over to oilersnation every once in awhile for some insightful comments, I enjoy reading your stuff eh and think you could have some fun over there. RossCreek certainly trolls enough on ON 😛

    • My question to those in the know, do you think (praise be to) Sutter that he would really go a route such as this and put him in the AHL?

      It has happened before…Anders Erickson was being paid $1.5 million to play in the minors a couple seasons ago, while Staffan Kronwall was being paid $500,000 in the minors last season. So, the Flames ownership has been willing to take a hit financially if Sutter deems it best to help their cap situation.

      Also, it would be nice to see you, Steinberg and Kent to maybe troll over to oilersnation every once in awhile for some insightful comments, I enjoy reading your stuff eh and think you could have some fun over there.

      It’s actually on my to-do list as the offseason rolls on and closer to the season starting. I’m still balancing writing, commenting etc here and on the other Flames blogs…ON is next, because it is always red hot.

      • Wanyes bastard child

        The reason I was asking about Staios is because at the time the trade happened I totally thought Tambs fleeced (praise be to) Sutter in that deal.

        In Retrospect and seeing the moves that both Sutter and Tambs have been making this summer I don’t see the Staios trade as a Tambs initiated move. Tambs (I say Tambs because its late and I wouldn’t be able to spell his name for the life of me…) has made moves to cut his cap ie; Staios and Vishnosky at the deadline, Moreau-Nillson-POS as waived/buyouts and moved to make the team younger, bigger and cheaper.

        Then I look at what Sutter is doing and just going by what I read in the papers every weekend in Calgary, he keeps on about “a plan” and that he is not done yet. From what I see of Sutters plan is that he is going for experiance and vets to fill his line up and to me Staios seems to fit that mold. Other than the money he is making and his age, Staios isn’t actually that bad *ducks* and Sutter probably thinks the same way. This is what leads me to believe that Staios may be in the plans for this year and not buried in the minors.

        Again though I am an Oilers fan so I don’t know as much as even half the posters on this site as to the Flames and their situation moving forward but I do enjoy reading yours and Kents articles.

  • I’m actually of the opposite opinion: Pelech should make the team this year. That is, if he’s a player worth a damn at all.

    There’s three Flames blueliners that are reasonably close to replacement level – Kronwall, Staios and (I assume) Pelech (with about 200 pro games under his belt and 5 years past his draft year, if Pelech isn’t in this range he’ll never be worth a damn anyways).

    So granting that this assumption is true, the calculus is pretty simple. Let’s say the players are all within spitting distance, but Pelech being the youngest is still the worst of the 3 at the start of the year. You choose him over Kronwall because the latter is a 28 year old journeyman and unlikely to improve. He’s already at his ceiling. You choose him over Staios because there’s little chance that Steady Steve covers the spread in their salaries. At 2.7M versus 600k, Staios is 4.5 times more expensive than Pelech. If he isn’t that degree better than Pelech (and I would bet he isn’t), then you’re paying way too much for a marginal improvement at the bottom end of the roster. Particularly for a club like the Flames who are in cap hell.

    So basically, if the Flames think Pelech is even close to being an NHLer, he should make the squad over Staios and Kronwall this season.

    • I don’t think Kronwall even factors into this discussion to be honest…the two that are interesting are Pardy and Staios.

      Regardless, I still think it’s probably better for Pelech to start the year in the AHL…if things are working it gives you options to bring him up. However, if you start him on the big team and it doesn’t work, you risk losing him on waivers if a return to the AHL is desired.

  • Graham

    Pardy, Kronwall and Pelech are all plug in pieces, so I expect the plan is to let them battle for any openings at camp / pre season.
    At that point you can try and trade the surplus piece (like Strallman last year) or put them through waivers.
    With our cap issues, both Kronwall and Pelech would appear to have the edge, both are several hundred thousand dollars cheaper than Pardy.

      • Graham

        You’re probably right, in the hockey world it isn’t a lot of money….
        However, if Pardy and Kronwall are playing at roughly the same level, I would still factor in the salary… $200,000 was the difference between signing and not signing Nystrom, or might have sweetened the pot enough to resign Higgins.
        I think you have to squeeze the salaries for players with limited ice time and redoy the savings to upgrade elsewhere.

  • @Steinberg

    Thanks for the waiver information. Waiver rules are the most headache inducing part of the CBA IMO.


    Funny you should mention Stralman. The deal to send him to Columbas was the first bad move that Daryl made last year. Beyond feeding his goon addiction with McG.


    Yeah I agree. At 2.7M Staois is the worst value on the team (including Kotalik). Steve Staois is not 4.5 x better then Pelech (Frankly, I’m not sure he’s better then Pelech period).

  • Graham


    Thanks for the clarifications. Given Pelech could be sent down prior to the 25th, and called up at least once with no re-entry waivers, I’d say your probably right about him starting the year in the AHL.

    I think it’s safe to say Sarich isn’t going anywhere without at least $2M coming back in salary (or a 2nd rounder going out). So even if that happens, post Ian White signing we’re still over the cap and at least one guy has to be moved. By logical deduction, the only way Staois is on the team this year is if (a) Sarich is traded and (b) Kotalik is in Europe (or the AHL himself). Otherwise, barring some really fancy footwork with the Langkow situation, Staois has to be AHL bound. I think that means Pardy is the #6 guy no matter how you slice it, and I’d rather see Pelech playing a lot in the AHL then sitting in the press box. That should be Kronwall’s job.

    Of course, there’s still the other possibility that the only way this can be fixed is moving a more desirable asset (Hagman? White?). Those 2 trades are looking dumber all the time, surpassed only by the Gilmour-Leeman fiasco. I think they deserve (require?) a catchy phrase for ongoing ease of reference… The Alex Staois Affair? The Steve Kotalik Situation?

  • Graham

    @ JF & Graham

    While I should ask for Kent’s help with this, I think Stralman was not so much “traded” as picked up.

    As I recall, and my memory is fuzzy at times, Sutter put Anton on waivers with the thought he should clear and then was to be sent to Abbotsford. Oops, Columbus jumped at him and I think had to give up peanuts to claim him and Sutter was without a back-up plan as Stralman was a prime candidate to be called up and jump into the line-up.

    As Kent likes to point out, Sutter doesn’t have much of a plan beyond a couple of years, and even that road is littered with potholes.

    Sutter was a good GM pre-lockout. Not so much post lock-out. Look at the teams currently suceeding and look at the decisions made by their management…notice any difference between them and us???

    • Graham

      No, Stralman was never put on waivers (had he been Columbas would have gotten him for free). He had run out of waiver exempt years and Sutter traded him to Columbas for a 3rd round pick. He never attempted to waive him (it was common knowledge at the time that Columbas was interested in him so there was no point).

      Curiously, Sutter then went off and traded Kyle Greentree for Aaron Johnson (as the #7/#8 defenseman) and Johnson eventually for Steve “blah” Staois (mysteriously adding in a third round pick). While also having earlier waived Kronwall and assigned him to Abbotsford… What was the point of trading Stralman again?

      • Graham

        I was right…my memory is fuzzy. Sorry for putting out incorrect information. Oh, well, it made me put forth some effort to do a little research and in doing so proved beyond a doubt that I was wrong. As for the point of the Stralman trade…I haven’t a clue.

        To make things more disappointing, Stralman punched up J-Bo numbers last season (though Jay’s -4 is better than Anton’s -17). And while researching, it would appear that when Darryl traded for Stralman to send Primeau to Toronto…he also gave up our #2 pick in 2011?!? Seriously?!? Can I get verification on that.

        At this point I should ask, does anyone have time to see what picks we have for next year…if we even have any? I know that the draft is 11 months away, but I am now suddenly curious to know what amo Darryl has left that he could try and use (i.e. Give Away) between now and then.

        • The Flames have their 1st round pick (At least for now, I fully expect Darryl to trade it for a lower 1st/high 2nd and a 3rd or something like that and then claim that whoever he get’s with his next pick is the guy he wanted anyways), no second (Going to Toronto), no 3rd (going to Edmonton), I think the flames still have their own picks in rounds 4-7 (Woopie).

  • The Stralman thing is weird…they gave up a 2nd in the deal to get him and then flipped him for a 3rd. However, they also got rid of Primeau’s contract, which was good. But Sutter signed Primeau to that contract. It’s a bit of a crazy circle…fact is, had to give up a 2nd to get rid of Primeau.

    • Well… like I said they got Stralman for the 2nd (Which I thought was a good deal) but then flipped him for a 2010 3rd (which I thought was bad). So they didn’t so much give up a second to rid themselves of Premieu as much as they gave up the difference between a 2nd and 3rd round pick. It’s yet to be determined how big a differential it ends up being.

      Yes they got rid of Primeau’s (self-inflicted) Contract… but they took on Colin Stuart’s 1-way deal coming back as well combine that with the bulk of Kronwalls (Who Sutter, IMO foolishly, kept over Stralman and then demoted anyways) salary both being paid in the AHL and Sutter essentially sacrificed draft position to save the Flames ownership about 400K in real dollars.

      If those are the hoops he’ll jump through and the extent that he’ll sacrifice to save 400K I shudder to think about what he’ll have to do to get around having to eat Kotalik (3M) or Staois’s (2.7M) deals…cause we can’t eat both under the cap, it’s one or the other.

  • There are a couple guys out there (C RFA’s) that peak my interest.

    First on the list is Martin Hanzal, the guy is a hard worker who put up dece numbers last year, Phoenix lost Michalek so they could use a dman (possibly Kronwall or Pardy?) Unfortunately, with the likes of Jovanoski, Aucoin, and Morris on their squad already I don’t think they’d be interested in Staois or Sarich.

    A couple other AHL guys that look promising who are RFA and have yet to sign…..

    Brock Trotter MTL – Leading scorer for them last year, needs to work on some aspects of his game, same situation as PHX regarding D.

    Julien Talbot COL – Decent AHL’er whose numbers have dropped off a bit as of late. Could be one of Sutter’s reclamation projects. The guy has scoring ability. Colorado could take on Staois, they don’t have too many vets on their roster.

    Nicholas Drazenovic STL – Has some good reviews on hockeyfutures, the Blues could possibly take Sarich as a second pairing guy, who knows.

    • Depth signing for Abbotsford.

      2009-10 San Antonio AHL 67GP 10-8-18 -9 86PIM

      From The Hockey News…

      Stefan Meyer, LW

      Age: 24
      Date of birth: July 20, 1985
      Place of birth: Medicine Hat, Alta., Canada
      Ht: 6-2 Wt: 194
      Shoots: L

      ASSETS: Has a nose for the net. Is an important goal-scorer at lower levels. Owns a projectable frame and some grit.
      FLAWS: Is a little lacking in puck skills and isn’t a great passer. Could use a little more bulk in order to thrive in the hitting department.
      CAREER POTENTIAL: Reserve winger.

  • Oyo

    the more and more i read about our situation and the more im listening to what other teams are doing, the more i realize how we might be completely effed to improve this team. unless we trade like madmen and unload bad 3 mill contracts for bad 2.5 and try to save that way.

    but man oh man i hope some kids impress the brass at the pre-season tryouts.