Picking Your 13th Forward

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 08: Sean Bergenheim #20 of the New York Islanders prepares for a face-off against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena on April 8, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Penguins defeated the Islanders 7-3. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)


Although the Flames currently have 13 NHL forwards under contract, one of them is Ales Kotalik who is the most likely candidate to be cast into purgatory should the club fail to shed salary in some other fashion come October 1. So assuming Kotalik makes his Abbotsford/KHL/SEL debut this season, the Flames will have one open roster spot up for grabs.

The ideal candidate would obviously have to be cheap. Using CapGeek’s cap calculator, if we delete Staffan Kronwall and Ales Kotalik, the Flames will have 1.15M in cap space to work with. Which means, the new guy will have to be a league minimum player. That’s a proviso that eliminates most of the Flames farm players, although the truth is none of them outside of Backlund and (maybe) Brett Sutter are ready for prime time. Backlund will likely start the year on the big team with Langkow on LTIR. Sutter has the magical $500k league minimum figure, so he’s certainy a possibility.

Of course, with the UFA market so stagnant, there are currently a number of established NHLers currently looking for work. If the club is indeed looking for someone to round out the bottom end of the rotation, it would make sense to kick some tires with guys who have already proven they can hack it at this level. Here are some of the interesting names that stood out to me:

Sean Bergenheim – LW

The 26 year old was paid $925k for his 23 points in 63 games last season. The veteran of 246 NHL games averaged over 14 minutes at ES last year and more than 1 minute short handed. According to behind the net, he faced middling competition, had middling possession stats and started more often in his own zone. Bergenheim is solidly built at 202 pounds and is right near peak age for an NHL forward.

Richard Park – C

Another ex-Islander, Park’s getting up there in years, but remains a relatively effective bottom-6 forward. New York fed him to the Wolves last year, deploying him almost exclusively in a defensive role. Park led the whole team in SH minutes per night (2:26) and had one of the difficult zone starts on the team (if not the league) at 34.7%. That he managed still managed to put up 31 in 81 games is a minor miracle.

Park isn’t a tough guy, but he’s a got speed to burn and can play on either special team.

Arron Asham – RW

If Sutter wants to carry on with the tough guy motif for the bottom line, he could certainly do worse than signing Arron Asham, who beyond chucking the knuckles can actually play a bit of hockey. A 10 goal, 24 point getter last year with the Flyers, Asham was occassionally spotted higher up in the roster whenever one of the kids seemed to be struggling. Not exactly fleet of foot or capable of special teams play, Asham would at least be capable of taking on other 4th liners.

Nigel Dawes – LW

A 14 goal scorer and effective power play snip…err…nevermind.

Criag Conroy – C

The doors remains open for the Flames to retain the ever likable Craig Conroy for one more season. While his hands have mostly abandoned him, Conroy can still skate and take care of his own end of the ice. When Daymond Langkow was hurt last year, Brent Sutter decided to play Conroy against the tough match-ups for several games before the end of the year, which is indactive of the repsect and trust he’s earned from his various coaches over the years. With the Flames current stable of centers including Jokinen, Stajan and Backlund, it might make sense for the club to sign Conroy as "defensive specialist" since none of the other current pivots have "really good in his own zone" on their resume.

Other names that come ot mind: Andy Hilbert, Stephane Veilleux, Adam Mair, Steve Begin and Tim Kennedy.

Sutter’s other option would be to just carry 12 forwards on the roster in order to save some cap room. That would mean a nightly shift for Raitis Ivanans, however, and some dicey moments should a player go down unexpectedly on a road trip (depending on where the Abbotsford crew is at the time). It would also mean the Flames will have to dip into their kids should anyone go down for any length of time. So while it’s a possible solution, it doesn’t strike me as an ideal one.

If you think I’ve missed anyone, please let me know.

  • I had almost forgotten about Ivanans, Kent.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Obviously Nigel Dawes would have been fantastic in this role. Do you think Park would sign for under 1 mil after getting 31 points on an awful team?

  • I would obviously prefer Conroy to come back, since he has done so much for the Flames and played any role he has been asked to.

    But I wouldn’t mind to see Richard Park sporting the Flaming C. I live in NYC so I usually go to 15-20 Isles games a year, and many nights Park would be the most visible on the ice…always hustling to back check, and putting forth 100%.

    If he would sign for league minimum I would do it in a heart beat.

  • Backburner

    I know this is a bit of a stretch but… shouldn’t the Flames be able to sign Stempniak with Langkow out? I think Flames could use more depth on the RW. He would be in the 3.5 million dollar range I’m guessing, but I’d take him over Moss anyday.

    • Not really. The Langkow LTIR exemption isn’t one that just grants the Flames a bonus 4.5M in cap space:

      (a) Illustration: A Player with a Player Salary of $1.5 million becomes unfit to play for more than 24 days and 10 games. At the time the Player becomes unfit to play, the Club has an Averaged Club Salary of $39.5 million, and the Upper Limit is $40 million. The Club may replace the unfit-to-play Player with another Player or Players with an aggregate Player Salary and Bonuses of up to $1.5 million. The first $500,000 of such replacement salary and bonuses shall count toward the Club’s Average Club Salary, bringing the Averaged Club Salary to the Upper Limit. The Club may then exceed the Upper Limit by up to another $1 million as a result of the replacement salary and bonuses. However, if the unfit-to-play Player once again becomes fit to play, and the Club has not otherwise created any Payroll Room during the interim period, then the Player shall not be permitted to rejoin the Club until such time as the Club reduces its Averaged Club Salary to below the Upper Limit.

      Of course, a lot of the ifs and buts with this case depends on whether Langkow is out for the entire year or not.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    My 13th forward is Langkow, unless he starts the year on the ice then it’s either Stone or Conroy (at similar $$).

    Ideally I’d like the Flames to lose Kotalik, Staios, and Sarich before the season starts. I know – unachievable utopia.

    This is how things could look:

    RW – Iginla, Bourque, Moss, Jackman

    C – Stajan, Jokinen, Backlund, Stone, Langkow (LTIR)

    LW – Hagman, Tanguay, GlenX, Ivanans, Dawes’ buyout (why, why, WHY?)

    D – Bouwmeester, Regehr, White, Giordano, Pardy, Pelech, Seabrook

    G – Kipper & Karly

    Cap Hit = $54.2

    If something happens to a forward before Langks makes it back, the call up a deserving forward like Sutter, Cunning, or Nemisz. If Langks makes it back part way through the year, and if Backlund earns better than 4th line minutes or AHL demotion, then trade Stajan or Jokinen to make room.

    None of this will ever happen though. Just my wishful thinking inside the box that Darryl made.

  • Backburner

    Can’t help but agree with the Dawes’ buyout frustrations. The guy had 14 goals in a second/third line role, on a team that couldn’t find the net. He was young, cheap, and scored like crazy in Junior. He’s undersized, but has mad skills… something this team could use. Yet we cut him, and now we are looking for a similar player, to play a similar role and contribute on the score sheet in a similar way. All of this for likely more than Dawes’ $850 000 cap hit… Frustrating!

    Love Flamesnation, you guys get me through the hockey-less summer! If anyone is interested in more Flames chat, I’ve got a new blog up and running, and would love to talk more flames! I’m new to the blogosphere, so I’m slowly finding my way.. but it should be a good time!


    Or follow me on twitter and I will paste links to new posts:


    Keep up the good work Kent! love the site

  • Backburner

    There must be more to it in the Dawes situation… his third time on waivers and nobody picked him up.. I thought Dawes had a solid season but just not “Sutter” enough I guess?

  • Reidja

    Regarding Dawes, the flames brought him in last year off of waivers because our forward depth was somewhere between Minnestoa and the lslanders. To be successful the guy has to play on at least the second line and produce points. Last season we were debating the choice between Dawes and Fleury (!) on the second line remember. Adding Tuangs, Hagman and Stajan allows us to not only give up the dream of turning David Moss into a top 6 forward but also cut the cord on Dawes who shouldn’t have been a major contributor above our current top 6 and doesn’t fill any other forward role.

    As for 13, I would have loved to see Madden here but I’m willing to give Sutter a chance with the big club. I know it’s crazy, but I’d also give Mitch Wahl a chance.

    • Arrrg! I hear this line about Dawes or one that’s effectively the same (That he’s for some reason only suitable for the second line) trotted out all the time and no one who uses it ever bothers to back it up with any evidence. Why can’t he play on the third or fourth? Show me with numbers what precisely prevents him from doing so and being as effective as GlenX/Moss/Boyd/Any non-useless goon we’ve had there over the last few years.

      And personally it was never a choice about Fluery for me… Theo’s comeback bid was an amusing publicity stunt to generate some interest for his about-to-be-released autobiography and a bit of legacy redemption for all those legacy things players like (number retirement, HHoF inclusion etc. etc.).

      • Reidja

        What does Dawes do that would be useful as a third or forth liner? Backcheck? Not really? Skate? Not very well. Block shots? I don’t think so. Penalty kill? Not the best choice. Throw his weight around? Not likely. Fight? Ha! Maybe bury one good dish in the slot from Stone per season. Dude would be completely mis-cast as a 3rd or 4th liner.

        Not sure how all this trade stuff started (cough*Steinberg*cough… excuse me) but we already traded a crappy D man contract for 2 top 6 forwards (and began a new era of disappointment in TO). Are we willing to lose Reggie or Gio? Man the back-end (and Kipper) would suffer. We would need a good return. Don’t see it coming.

        • Reidja

          So… Can you quote any compelling statistical evidence that he’d do any worse then say Moss or Boyd did? Or that somehow he’s not as valueable at contributing to wins as the new Dancing Bear or Jackman?

          Frankly, I don’t see why Dawes couldn’t play on the third line which IMO has been more of a PvP scoring line then some “defense only” shutdown unit the last few years. The fact is that Dawes spent lots of time eating the hard icetime alongside Langkow and Bourque, he had a positive performance in terms of possession and scoring chances, and was capable of producing points. From the purely subjective standpoint I thought he was decent at battling for the puck.

          Buying out Dawes was a terrible value/$ move.

          • Reidja

            I guess. Personally I don’t see the wisdom in jettisoning a known, measurable, tangible quality player so that you can have a bunch of guys with intangible qualities of dubious (possibly negative) value.

            God what i wouldn’t give for a progressive GM.

          • Reidja

            Also… as much as I wish Conroy had retired so that his spot could open up for a younger player I just can’t bring myself to be unhappy about Craig Conroy coming back. Conroy is entertaining.

            Sucks to be Stone/Sutter/Backlund since I think this’ll pretty much force at least two of them to the Heat.

          • Matty Franchise Jr

            Nobody was that interested in Dawes from last year and our forward group is better this year so I don’t see where he would slot in. Is he better taking minutes from a prospect like Backlund-don’t think so.
            He is cheap and nobody picked him up. I don’t see anything wrong with the cheap buyout here.

          • I see something that is wrong: 14 goals for 850k last year. Jackman and Ivanans have had 11 combined over the past two seasons. They cost more (by about 250k), take up more roster space (that could have been used for someone like Backlund) and suck a lot more. For only last year, the cost to goals ratio was $60,714.29:1 for Dawes. The Wonder Twins? $275,000:1. The games played were similar to the other two, Dawes was playing tougher comp AND we are still paying Dawes cash against the cap. A 4th line of Dawes/Conroy/Moss or Dawes/Conroy/Stone would not only bitch-slap their comp, they would put up some pretty good counting numbers too. There is no rational, defensible position you can take here. Lastly, everyone who whines about his size should realize he is bigger than Cammalleri.

  • Backburner

    He would probably cost a little more than league minimum but if I am reading the rule right, you could hold Langkow out a little longer and fit in Mike Comrie. He comes in right around the million mark, fits in on the top two lines when he needs to, and it would be fun to take another Oiler and turn him loose on them.

  • If we do shed some salary I would love to Darryl throw an offer sheet at Bobby Ryan – Anaheim is having a hard time getting this guy signed. James Neal is another (probably a lot cheaper) RFA option.

    • Flames don’t have the assets to pursue offer sheets for guys that expensive. For something around $5M, the Flames would have to give up 2 first rounders, a second rounder a third rounder. The Flames don’t have a second or third round pick next year (Primeau and Staios trades).

      • Word is, Ryan wants $5M per year up until the ned of his RFA eligibility (meaning he wants a chance to cash in as a UFA after this next contract). Most kids making the big bucks with their second contract usually sell a couple years of their UFA eligibility for the big bucks, so that’s why the Ducks are balking. That and he, Perry and Getzlaf would all be scheduled to become UFA at about the same time.

        As for a trade I think the conversation would start with Regehr or Giordano and the Flames first rounder next year.

        • Most kids making the big bucks with their second contract usually sell a couple years of their UFA eligibility for the big bucks, so that’s why the Ducks are balking.

          Can’t really blame Ryan for wanting his contract to end at the end of his eligibility…if the Ducks are going to use that as a non starter, they might as well move him now.

          As for a trade I think the conversation would start with Regehr or Giordano and the Flames first rounder next year.

          It would definetely have to be one of Calgary’s top 4 d-men, and you’d also have to send a roster forward to Anaheim I would think, plus a pick. And then figure out how to sign him.

  • Kotalik was waved for Daz to prove to Ales that he is not worth the salary. He then gets told look, you can start on the third line with the opportunity to prove yourself and earn powerplay time. We expect you to score 20 goals to earn your salary. You’ve done it before, is that too much to add? The upside of Kotalik is greater than Staios and Sarich. Im excited to see this play out because Kotalik might just be one of the wildcards especially being the token outcast in the media. Its possible to see success, but even moreso to see him on the opening roster. If my crazy theory holds true, we will see no further depth signings. Stone, Sutter, Armstrong Ivanans, and Jackman decide who the 13th is IMO.

  • @Marcus

    So I guess we add Kotalik to the list of players playing with something to prove.

    If it doesn’t pan out we’re gonna suck this year. I could see it happening though. I think Jokinen, Tanguay, Kotalik, Hagman can all step it up.


    May have been a publicity stunt but he would have been more effective than half the dudes on our roster last year, the guy plays with heart.

    Kent, what do you think Neal would garner? His numbers are similar to Bourque’s so I’m assuming he’d be in the 3 M. Likely too much also.

    • Kotalik is clearly one of those guys. Although Hagman i disagree to be in that list. Hes a perennial 20+ goal man. Any team can suck eggs but I suspect we have upgraded our offensive talent enough to turn at least 5 of those 1 goal losses into wins, and sustain a healthy home record and acceptible powerplay percentage. The defensive rankings are already in the top of the league and arguably the defense is better. With a healthy locker room there is no reason why this team cant suceed. The Flames will be like the Canadian economy in that it will surprise many. I cant disagree with Darryl in that we have a good team.

  • If Neal were hypothetically offersheeted, the Flames hypothetically made the cap space for him, and hypothetically had to give up a 1+2+3 pick next year for him, what would y’all think of that? I don’t think it’s the steepest price to pay for a youngster of that ability, in a relatively weak position organizationally, if he were signed to a long enough contract.

  • Bob

    @ Steinberg

    A week ago I would have said no way to Bobby Ryan being traded away. But with Selanne coming back and now the possibility of signing Kariya…Anaheim may just see what they can get for him.

    Even though bringing back Teemu and Paul will only be for one season, if they can get the return they want for Ryan then I think it can happen.

    I’m sure a few GM’s have been talking to Bob Murray about Ryan or are huddled with their own “capologists” and attornies to see if they should be putting in an offer. They may be waiting to see what happens with the arbitrator and NHL’s investigation into some current contracts however, before they offer up the front loaded 25 year $150 million contract.

    • I had wondered in my head for the majority of July about it, but I’m with you, when Selanne got signed it really started the gears turning. It seems like a slam dunk to get the guy under contract, but it may not be as much a foregone conclusion as it would seem on the surface. Very interesting to watch.

  • I definitely can see Ryan getting traded. I lived in Anaheim last year and was able to get to a bunch of games. It didn’t seem like he meshed very well there, he’s almost competing against Getzlaf & Perry. I would love to see us move some guys for Ryan. Gio, Hagman + a prospect? I would hate to see Gio move but we need a young offensive stud that will produce for us.

    • There’s no guarantee that Calgary would be the destination for Ryan, but at least you can see what it makes sense.

      With no Niedermayer, the Ducks are looking at a top 3 of Visnovsky, Sutton and Lydman. Yikes. And then Brookbank and Festerling? Sbisa and Fowler almost HAVE to play if they don’t make a trade.

      Anaheim’s blueline is hurting, and Calgary has depth there, so it makes sense to at least think about it.

  • Trading for Bobby Ryan is interesting. But they would have to give up a d-man and shed a “top” forward to make it work. He’s a young guy. Look at him and Backlund and maybe one of the other guys on the Flames top line in about 2-3 years? Nah. Am i one of the only ones who thinks Kotalik, Staios and Sarich will be on the team come September? I tell ya Sutter wont allow them to leave. He’s too stubborn to admit it was a bad move.

    • Unless Sutter manages to find a trading partner for Regehr, one of those three will be gone.

      Trading Glenx/Moss/Gio wouldn’t free up enough cap space. He knows he can’t trade Iginla (nor would he want to), Langks is untradeable (again, probably wouldn’t want to, either), Stajan/White/Joker/Tanguay are untradeable because they were just signed. Backlund is Sutter’s best prospect by far at this point and will not be traded (again, also wouldn’t free enough cap space). JBo, Sutter clearly loves; highly unlikely to attempt to trade.

      Can’t remember if I missed anyone, but that leaves the trifecta of Sarich/Staios/Kotalik as salary dumps, or Hagman. The blue line is the deepest part of the team, and can stand to lose either one or both of the two guys listed. Between Kotalik and Hagman, price is the same, but Kotalik is the one Sutter placed on waivers.

      So yes, you probably are in a relatively small minority if you think that all three of them will be with the Flames at the NHL level this coming season. Even disregarding prevailing opinion about the fact that they are the most underperforming players on the team for their cap hits, other practical considerations place some pretty big targets on their backs.

      • My guess is it’ll be Kotalik of the three, even with Feaster saying he’ll be there come September. He may very well be given a shot to earn a spot come training camp, but in the end, I think they’ll try to do something to get his money off the cap.

        For whatever reason, I think both Staios and Sarich will be on the team come October.

  • Backburner


    I think your right about Staios and Sarich sticking around… Kotalik will be a salary dump to get under the cap… and I think Regehr and Hagman are Sutters only real trade options… I didn’t think Ryan was ever an option but it doesn’t sound like the Ducks are getting anywhere with him. I would love to see a line of Bourque-Backlund-Ryan but Calgary would have to sign him for more than one year..

  • Backburner

    @Kent Wilson

    They might not be looking to take back salary but should still be looking to be competitive.. they’re a playoff team. I guess Chris Stewart is not available through an offer sheet either..

    • They have the cheapest roster in the entire league. Winning is second fiddle in COL right now – the owners are looking to pinch pennies first and foremost. They made the playoffs last year because Anderson played like a Vezina candidate for half the year and a bunch of their kids had shy high SH%. They fluked out. And clearly they aren’t interested in building on that “success” because they haven’t spent a dime this off-season. Heck, they even dealt Wolski at the deadline because he was having a career season and they didn’t want to have to pay him come July 1.

      I don’t know if Stewart can be had via offer sheet, but that doesn’t matter since the Flames can’t go that route anyways.

  • Reidja

    If this forces Backlund off the roster I will buy a Blackhawks jersey. For the record, I love Conny too. He will likely get injured and he will likely score fewer than 10 goals. If he helps the PK get back to where it was last season, I’ll forgive the stagnation of another forward prospects development. Btw, kidding about the Blackhawks jersey.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Centres: Langkow (maybe injured to start the season) Stajan Jokinen Conroy Backlund Stone

    Assuming Stone starts the year with the Heat, and Langkow is on IR, then the Flames Centre line up is Jokinen, Stajan, Backlund, and Conroy.

    Don’t buy a ‘Hawks jersey yet.