Trade Most Likely Path to Offense

OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 24: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators works on his stick during a break in action against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quaterfinals in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Place on April 24, 2010 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

If there’s any consensus about the Flames current situation, it’s that the club lacks offense. Let’s be more specific and say that the lacks club high-end difference makers, especially with the way Iginla struggled to take on the big boys last year. While I’m actually fairly high on some of the Flames depth guys (Glencross, Moss, Dawes, Hagman) the fact of the matter is, the club doesn’t currently possess a top 6 that will contend with the better teams in the league.

Stajan, Langkow, Iginla, Bourque and (other) can get things going versus the lower end, but are a good bet to struggle against the Datsyuks, Crosbys and Toews of the world. In addition, Calgary’s collection of PP-capable forwards is modest, to say the least.

On top of the Flames already well publicizied cap constraints, the unfortunate truth of the matter is the UFA pool this summer is extremely shallow. Gone are Patrick Marleau and Thomas Plekanec, recently re-signed by their respective clubs. The lone, available superstar forward won’t be worth the contract he lands. So even if Calgary had all the cap room in the world this off-season, there’s a chance it wouldn’t put much of a dent in their need for a big cannon.

Which is why a trade for a flashy name isn’t out of the question. Guys like Spezza and Savard are being publically shopped as we speak and both would provide the sort of high-end offensive abilities the team currently lacks. Savard is older and coming off a severe concussion, but he’s also $3 million cheaper than Spezza and has a solid history of out-playing tough competition. Savard is 32 years old and his contract technically extends to 2017.

However, with the final three seasons paying out at 1.5M, .525M and .525M respectively, the truth is Savard could retire as early as 2014 and not lose out on any significant salary. In effect, it’s a $6.5M contract structured so the cap hit comes in at much more budget friendly $4M.

Jason Spezza is a tougher sell. Naturally gifted with more than a few years of elite production behind him, Spezza is younger and didn’t have his brains recently scrambled, but does come with a much larger cap hit and other question marks. Spezza doen’t have great possession stats on his side, but has indeed played tougher competition in OTT for years and put up some noteworthy numbers.

That said, he’s also played with great players during his career as a Senator, including Alfredsson, who has been a heavy lifter since forever. That muddies the waters somewhat given we can’t be terribly sure Spezza’s the guy driving the bus in OTT. He’s also not the hardest guy to play against and is prone to the odd neutral zone gaffe. As such, his $7M/year contract isn’t a trivial risk, especially given the Flames constant fight to stay under th cap ceiling.

Of course, as with all trade talk, the viability of the deal from a Flames perspective swings on who they have to give up to make it work. A centerpiece guy like, say, Robyn Regehr would likely have to be involved in a Spezza deal. The Bruins would be more interested in shedding salary, so someone of value but lesser dollars would have to be in the equation there (Ian White? Mark Giordano?).

The Flames don’t have a lot of quality players who are good bets to outperform their contracts, so any talk of throwing in Giordano or Dawes should be met with skepticism. On the back-end, the Flames are 8 NHL defenders deep with the likes of Matt Pelech looking to make the leap. If there’s anywhere the org can potentially lose some quality and survive, it’s there. Naturally, the Phaneuf deal was kinda, sorta Sutter’s foray into that territory already, but unfortunately it only yielded capable depth players.

So, Flames fans…does Regehr + make sense for Jason Spezza? Would you move White + for Mark Savard? Because something similar may be the only way Sutter can firm up the team’s greatest area of weakness this summer.

  • Balthazar

    …wouldn’t trade White. Would trade Regher, but he has a NTC. Savard could be a bargain (considering the depth Boston has and Savards age/recent injury). I think the Senators will be asking a whole lot more than the Senators will for Spezza.

    …I think Darryl could land Savard for Regher and a prospect or draft pick. To acquire Spezza would probably take double the assests (2 roster players and two prospects or draft picks).

    …I’m with the last guy on Frolov, but Darryl isn’t going to add an Easter Euro to the roster. He just put their only one on waivers yesterday 🙁

  • Bob Cobb

    Kotalik Buyout rumors quashed?

    From Friedman HNIC’s twitter:

    “One note about Kotalik: Flames did not put him on unconditional waivers, so he cannot be bought out. Maybe they will do it tomorrow… ”

    “but, as of now, he is not eligible for buyout under CBA. The Oilers and Rangers players, for example, were put on unconditional waivers. ”

    I’d wait until Bob Mac says something on the matter to make this official.

  • Balthazar

    Even so, a packgae like Langkow, Regehr, Nemisz, Pick for Spezza would be spot on for Flames fans.

    Langkow out and Spezza in doesn’t end well for the Flames. Iginla isn’t Alfredsson-good anymore, Spezza won’t have someone at starboard to drive the puck north for him.

    The only way Spezza has success on this team is if he’s paired with a killer winger (not an option) or if he’s got somebody playing ahead of him in the batting order (that’s Langkow).

  • Balthazar

    On Savard:

    I’ve been reading (on hfboards, so take with a dozen grains of salt) that Savard had only waived his NTC/NMC for Toronto and Ottawa. Additionally, Boston was looking for more of a ‘soft’ trade, so Calgary could potentially get it done with a defensive prospect/pick or two as opposed to our good value players. Good as Savard is, he is in hockey middle age, and with his concussion history he could turn out to be a cheaper trade than we’d think despite his abilities.

  • Balthazar

    Ed Duhatyschek tweeted from the draft last weekend that Sutter may have offered Langkow + Regehr (+ more) to OTT for Spezza but that obviously didn’t happen. Not to say that that offer is dead, but I imagine the Flames would have to add to the pot to grab a player like Spezza.

    The other thing is that Langkow & Regehr both have no trade/movement clauses and to have them both waive to go tot he same place would be enxt to impossible.

    Even so, a packgae like Langkow, Regehr, Nemisz, Pick for Spezza would be spot on for Flames fans.

  • Bob Cobb

    I would do Regehr + White for Spezza, esp. since RCleave’s analysis has me afraid White’s going to get $3M per.

    I don’t have high expectations for Spezza here – you think Iggy at $7M underperforms in a first-line role? – Spezza will be the same.

    But, the duo together would kill on the PP and could probably go +10 to +20 at EV against the soft parade. With a first line of Higgins-Langkow-Bourque… it’s not hard to imagine that the Spezza/Iggy second line could help the team win games.

    Personally my preference is just to pair Lanks and Iggy, with Higgins or Bourque on left wing, and just win games with PVP. That plan would preclude Spezza, as Stajan-Hagman behind could provide secondary scoring against scrubs.

    Of course this all depends on tight coaching from Sutter, and he was anything but that last season. Nystrom on post-icing starts, I was the most tolerant of those (fourth-liners need to be sheltered, this is one way to do it) but the icetime totals for the fourth line at the end were insanely high.

    As far as generally adding offense: literally nobody has mentioned Frolov this offseason and he’s still my #1 target.

    • marty

      i agree with the frolov, ive been telling some of my buddies that’s who we should be looknig at. we would still have to move some salary to get him tho i would think. cause higgs is goin to sign. i would be fine with speeza too tho. i love reg and lanks but if we can get spezza and save 1.5 mil we maybe better off. maybe we could still get frolov in that case. a spezza, frolov iggy line????????????????? actually check that ig spez and bork someone would have to backcheck. then a staj, frolov, higgs line??? that sounds better to bad in my mind is the only place this will happen

  • Balthazar

    Oof. Toughie.

    Neither are perfect, but I think Spezza is preferable between the two based on age, health, and a comparable skill level. Cost is a key issue, and maybe Savard with a left hand pass is a more natural fit with Iggy… and maybe Spezza is a bit softer … hmm, I may be changing my opinion…

    In any case the Flames don’t need to get older.

    I cannot see Daz shedding Regher. I think he loves him too much (as do many of us), and he voted FOR Reggie and AGAINST Dion with the trade wth the Leafs.

    Is that what Ottawa would want back anyway? They didn’t exactly shoot out the lights last year and would want some scoring (thu trade or UFA) as well as leadership and defense that Robin brings.

    There are wishful trades to mak for either player (i.e. Stajan + White + all the overpaid underperforming aging players – you know who you are – that Daz can put in there to make it look closer to Dion for Spezza) but those aren’t realistic. Bryan Murray isn’t a fool.

    I would suspect he’d want something akin to Backlund (maybe Hagman?) + Gio/Erixson to join Regher/White. I don’t know if that’s a good deal for the Flames.

    I just don’t know if the Flames have what it takes to tease a big trade for a #1 Centre out of another GM without getting lucky with a steal… or taking someone else’s problem.

  • Bob Cobb

    The Flames dont have the people to get a guy like Spezza or Savard. The Core of the Flames are aging and have lost a step, and they have no prospects except maybe Backlund. If you think it took Penner, Cogliano and Smid to get Heatley from Murray last year, it will take both Regher and White to get Spezza, plus maybe a draft pick because he is a top line center. The Flames have to rebuild because they are overrated, Iggy is past his prime and Kipper has lost it. I see some dark days ahead at the ‘Dome, but what do I care, at least we got Hall.

    • Balthazar

      hahaha I think your mullet is on backwards and obstructing your view…
      Spezza will be a hard sell and Regehr will have to be included but I don’t think White will need to go or is an option for going… but ur not wrong that we aren’t exactly stacked with guys to make this work but it could be done… I like Savards chances over Spezzas… yes Iggy probbaly won’t score 50 anymore but I would take him over any player from edmontons roster and about Kipper… are u serious?? lost it?? wow the little credibility you had just evaporated… Kipper is top 5 goalies in the league by far… top 6 if you remove my bias haha

      • Bob Cobb

        Your not getting Spezza for Regher plus something or Savard for White plus something as both Cherelli and Murray would want more, as to my point about the Heatley mess from last year. That and the Flames would want Cherelli and Murray to take back more cash to even out the salary cap numbers and thus it would be at least a 3 for one trade meaning any combination of players and picks.

        • Matty Franchise Jr

          …I believe Savard is overvalued and Spezza is undervalued from what I have been reading and hearing.

          …acquiring Spezza is going to reqire a team to give up alot more than acquiring Savard. This is in large part because Spezza is on the market for different reasons than Savard.

          …Savard will be 33 and is being pushed out of the lineup by youth and his own injury problems. Also, Ottawa has more cap space than Boston and Spezza makes almost twice as much than Savard.

          …I chalk it up to:
          -one roster player and a pick/prospect for SAVARD.
          -two roster players and two picks/prospects for SPEZZA.

          …acquiring Savard seems more likely for the Flames. We will have to see I guess. As Kent said, Bryan Murray is a little suspect (ie. acquiring Rob Brown…I mean Jonathan Cheechoo 😉 in the Heatly deal)

        • Balthazar

          I couldn’t agree more that it will have to be a 3 for one trade, I just don’t see White being involved in the trades… Spezza will most likely need Regehr, a forward, and a prospect at the very least depending on the forward and the prospect and I think maybe more than that. Cherelli is rumored to be open to a “soft” deal so it might not require Regehr to be involved in the deal, maybe Sarich but theres no question he will need a good package in return to let go of Savard, just maybe not as good as Spezza would need…
          I realize I made it sound like I thought Regehr + something would be enough, but thats not what I meant. I just meant that I think Regehr will have to be involved in the trade package in order to get Spezza and that I don’t think that White will be involved, but it will definitely take more than just Regehr +1 to get Spezza. Same goes for Savard… were on the same page there, just not with the Iggy and Kipper stuff haha

  • Oyo

    The only issue with Savard is the recent concussion, but otherwise he’s a great player, and makes everyone around him better. Spezza on the other hand has always played with great players, as you pointed out Kent. I worry that Iginla isn’t at the same level as he once was and that would make the Spezza trade a potential disaster especially considering the aforementioned possession problems, combined with Iginla’s new found possession problems. Savard could make Iginla better, and therefore my vote and hopes aim more towards Marc-y Marc.

  • Oyo

    I think Spezza would be a great fit on the Flames, he has shown that he can have success with a similar player to Iginla in Dany Heatly. It would be a tricky deal in terms of the cap, both teams are in some cap trouble. I think if i’m Ottawa, I would want more than Regher in the deal, I would want to replace some of the scoring that Spezza provides. Someone like Rene Bourque. Obviously we wouldnt want to give him up, but you have to put yourselves in their shoes.