The current situation the Calgary Flames find themsevles in has made the job of acting General Manager Jay Feaster a whole lot more difficult. With a team now very much in the playoff hunt, moves that seemed like no-brainers even three weeks ago are perhaps not as easy to make. The dilemma is clear: do you look to the future and maximize some of your current assets prior to the deadline? Or do you put your faith in the current group and see if a playoff appearance is a reality. With all that being clear, the biggest individual example of this dilemma comes in the form of Robyn Regehr.
The 30 year old defenceman is one of the most important pieces of this current Calgary Flames group, but in my eyes, he’s also the best trading chip you have right now. Making the decision to move him before February 28th would certainly signify a philosphy shift, however, I truly believe the only way Calgary plays beyond game 82 is with number 28 on the roster.
Maximizing Your Asset
The list of pro’s to dealing Regehr is rather long, because he is that valuable an asset. There are a number of teams that would instantly benefit from the type of skill set his brings, and the quality of minutes he’s able to log on a consistent basis. Whether it’s a team believing they’re a contender (Washington, Dallas) or a team on the playoff bubble (San Jose, Los Angeles), there are plenty of teams who would be willing to offer good value.
That alone makes his trade stock very high, and of the the "big three" members on the Flames, he’s the easiest one to move. Because of his immediate impact on any given blueline, if Calgary were indeed to shop him around, they’d get fair value in return. His cap hit is manageable, at just over $4 million for two more seasons, which makes him a much easier player to move than either Jarome Iginla or Miikka Kiprusoff.
Because of Iginla’s high cap number, teams would have to do some tinkering, and in some cases major tinkering, to make him fit in their salary system. Kiprusoff is the oldest of the three, and the goaltending market is very shallow, making him difficult to move out. With few interested teams, and a growing trend moving away from the high priced stopper, Calgary’s return would likely be a whole lot less than what Kiprusoff has meant to this franchise.
Regehr is a different story, and now would be the time to move him, with teams likely willing to give up more feeling they’re close to that magical playoff run this season being a huge motivating factor. Sure, you’d still get a solid return for the guy during the off season, but with injuries and burgeoning hope in different cities, the time has never been better to make a trade.
Sinking Your Season
Sending Regehr to another team would be a massive blow to the current Flames roster, and I honestly don’t believe the Flames can achieve their ultimate goal for this season without him. This is why the situation becomes a whole lot more difficult, knowing Calgary is just two points back of playoff contention entering the post-All Star break schedule.
Robyn Regehr is just doing what Robyn Regehr does: shutting down the very best of the best on a nightly basis, without any noticeable flash, and without a lot of "counting numbers" on the offensive side of things. However, anyone who judges his value in goals and assists probably isn’t paying attention. Not surprisingly, his QualComp rating is second highest among Flames regulars, and his 51.6% offensive zone start is significantly lower than Jay Bouwmeester’s 54.0%; Jay ranks number one in the QualComp category.
Regehr’s number one value remains in the quality of minutes he’s able to log on a nightly basis, and the efficiency in which he logs those minutes. However, he remains a very effective penalty killer and has been a big part of Calgary’s impressive shorthanded turnaround over the last 11 games. And his physical prescence is still the most intimidating on the team, as we saw numerous times in a great month of January for the Flames.
I shudder to think what would happen if you subtracted Regehr from the current lineup. First off, and this is no knock against him, Mark Giordano has been given a significantly easier work load because Regher is busy handling the heavies. That’s not to say I don’t think Gio would be effective in a similar spot, because I do, but he hasn’t had to, and he’s looked really damn good in the process. But, without Regehr, Giordano would be given a bulk of his responsibility and it would leave the team thin behind him and Bouwmeester.
If the coaching staff decided to place Bouwmeester and Giordano together on a pairing, you’d have a second and third pairing not necessarily filling the roles they’d be asked to be filling. What about splitting them apart? Well, I don’t know if a Pardy-Bouwmeester/Giordano-Sarich top two pairing is drawing a ton of applause. Calgary is lacking depth on the back end, with nobody truly capable of filling out the current top four. Sarich has been okay at times, but he’s also been suspect, and Giordano’s -12 rating in the month of January speaks to that; or in this case, screams pretty loudly.
It’s fair to say sometimes Regehr can show signs of the knee injuries that have slowed him over the past number of seasons. The style of hockey he plays has taken its toll, and he’s not the same player now he was in 2006. However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t remain an extremely effective player and an extremely important one on the current incarnation of the Calgary Flames.
I have zero doubt of the high interest he’d garner if the Flames were to try and move him and request he waive his no movement clause. The assets he’d bring back in return could be extremely valuable, and a big part of a team building towards the future. I also have zero doubt the team would be on the outside looking in for the second straight year without him. Ahhhhh, the joys of trying to manage this team.