The Toughest Decision

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.

  • Sworkhard

    I think most of us would agree that the Flames are good enough to make the playoffs; but not good enough to go deep. We would have to be buyers at the trade deadline and that would cost us at least a first round pick and some high prospects that I’m not sure Flames fans would be too happy about.

    Before the recent winning streak I think most people were getting used to the idea of “blowing it up”; and Regehr’s value will never be higher than what it is now. A little change in team dynamics might not be such a bad thing right now especially if Regehr could bring you back a huge return. I think we are passed due to start making room for some young guys on our roster.

    But only if they get a huge return for him… we don’t want another Phanuef trade on our hands.

  • coptin_

    there are teams out there that are looking for defensive help,and several teams looking to dump players i agree that reggie and j bow or sarich should be moved,with the season they have had i dont think you could get much for them but would be lucky to clear cap space. as fans we tend to think our players are worth more than they really are.

    • as fans we tend to think our players are worth more than they really are.

      That can be true, but it’s not true in this case. There’s no doubt Regehr would draw plenty of interest from around the league, and would draw good value in return.

  • That_Angela

    As much as it would pain me to bid farewell to Regehr, it’s time for this team to start making moves for the future.

    While many bleat on and on about the playoffs, this is not a team that will do well in the post-season. It simply doesn’t have the gas to sustain a series against the top-end teams in the conference.

    The Flames should get what they can for the blue-chippers, dealing strategically instead of the Sutter way of giving away the farm for nothing in return.

    Let’s want more than just an 0-4 exit out of the first round.

  • That_Angela

    I agree that Regher is the most movable of the big 3, but Regher seems like the type of player you can move in the off season. I might be wrong.

    The bigger decision is what do you do with some of the players you can’t move in the off season.

    UFA’s like Glencross, Tanguay, and Babchuck along with hard to move players like Sarich and Hagman.

    I think the argument is moot though. Given Feaster’s tenure and the position the club is in I would be surprised to see more then tweaks before the off-season. If they make the post-season, perhaps not more then tweaks then.

  • Subversive

    This is all predicated on the assumption that Regher would waive his NMC. I sincerely doubt he would, as I remember when he signed that he said something to the effect of “Money’s not the only thing that matters. We love Calgary, and my wife and I were willing to take a little less in order to get the security of knowing where we’d be raising our children in a city that we love.” (I’m doing some serious paraphrasing above, for the record, but that’s what I remember his basic meaning being)

    • This is all predicated on the assumption that Regher would waive his NMC.

      I’ve heard whispers he might be interested in moving on, myself. Not that your quote is incorrect, but there’s some rumors his attitude has changed since then.

      • Subversive

        Hmmm, fair enough. You’re certainly a lot more tied into the rumour network than I am so that may well be true.

        For the record, I still think it’s a mistake to move a value contract. The whole goal is to build a team of players who outperform their contracts. Moving one of the few players on the team who do that is not a smart way to rebuild.

        The best solution (and fastest way to “rebuild”) is to dump whatever bad contracts you can for anything you can get (or nothing, as simply having a bad contract off the books is worth more than any player coming back) and then focus on signing undervalued players to good contracts. I realize that’s easier said than done, but I still think moving a good value contract is a complete step in the wrong direction.

        • For the record, I still think it’s a mistake to move a value contract. The whole goal is to build a team of players who outperform their contracts. Moving one of the few players on the team who do that is not a smart way to rebuild.

          That’s certainly true and I agree. Issue for the Flames is: a lack of true top-end talent up front (and that goes for every level of the org). I think the paramount goal of the rebuild (aside form trying to rid the org of Sutter’s various mistakes) is securing someone who can take over once Iginla retires/is traded/falls off a cliff. Probably one of the lone avenues to do that is dealing a current high-end piece like Reggie.

          • Matty Franchise Jr

            “I think the paramount goal of the rebuild (aside form trying to rid the org of Sutter’s various mistakes) is securing someone who can take over once Iginla retires/is traded/falls off a cliff.”

            I’d try to secure someone to replace Iggy by trading Iggy. That’s kinda how we got him in the first place, though under less happy circumstances.

            I’ve said it before, but my team has Regehr on it until he retires. He’s the kind of guy I want my young defencemen to be around as they develop into NHLers.

          • Subversive

            I agree with this wholeheartedly. I also think Iginla gets you at least as good a return as Regehr, with the added bonus that you’ve now unloaded a “bad” contract. Iggy is certainly still the best player on the team, but he’s nowhere near a $7 million dollar player these days. I think, though, that there are enough GM’s who basically rely on scoresheet and press clipping evaluations of players, that you could get a very nice return for Iggy.

        • Moving one of the few players on the team who do that is not a smart way to rebuild.

          It is if you can get value for him. The Flames already have virtually the same $ invested in an immovable Cory Sarich. Obviously he isn’t on Regehr’s level, but after next year, they would now have those $’s to spend on a Regehr replacement.

          They have an opportunity to pull off a quick retool of sorts, but if they choose to chase the dream, this organization is a year or so away from following the Oilers footsteps post-2006.

        • Moving one of the few players on the team who do that is not a smart way to rebuild.

          It is if you can get value for him. The Flames already have virtually the same $ invested in an immovable Cory Sarich. Obviously he isn’t on Regehr’s level, but after next year, they would now have those $’s to spend on a Regehr replacement.

          They have an opportunity to pull off a quick retool of sorts, but if they choose to chase the dream, this organization is a year or so away from following the Oilers footsteps post-2006.

  • Subversive

    Well, I don’t know if a Pardy-Bouwmeester/Giordano-Sarich top two pairing is drawing a ton of applause.

    i’m pretty sure they tried this at some point the opposite way (jaybouw/sarich, gio/pardy) and it was mediocre at best. #4 definitely improves with #28 on his wing, and even then the competition gets the better of them on a nightly basis.

    the other thing that isn’t considered here at all is that pardy is not under contract for next year and i imagine that if he’s not signed in the next few weeks, he’ll be unloaded for parts.

  • @Subversive

    You make a good point about moving bad contracts. J Bo’s contract is a little heavy and maybe should be looked at, but he’s younger than Regs.

    And I think Regehr would wave his NMC to go to a contender.

  • everton fc

    I wouldn’t move Regehr. I’d move Bouwmeester. Perhaps even Kipper, though he might be able to play at a consistent level until he’s 37, if Karlsson/Irving can take on more games in a backup role.

    Glencross may have some value, packaged w/Babchuk/Hagman/et al. Actually, Babchuk hasn’t done too bad as a #5-6 guy. He’s putting points on the board.

    What I guess I am getting at is this… Patience… If Regehr is recognized as one fo the best shut-down guys in the league, at $4mill/year…. Why would we move him – for a dice-roll of prospects/picks? Until this organization proves it’s scouting can actually capture/poach decent talent, I’d not go that route. There are some decent young players out there that could fit into our lineup. For cheap.

    @Pat

    “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.”

    I’m not so sure Sarich is the reason Gio’s +/- has slipped. How do you come to this conclusion?

    • I’m not so sure Sarich is the reason Gio’s +/- has slipped. How do you come to this conclusion?

      This is no knock on Sarich, because he’s being asked to play an elevated role, but Giordano is having to carry his regular workload on top of having to carry Sarich far too often. Eventually, this is going to catch up to you, and there have been NUMEROUS examples this month as to why, even over the last 3 games.

      Sarich is still an NHL defender, but I don’t think he’s a number four guy who can be asked to play 20 minutes a game in key situations.

  • Cant believe that this team has gone from having a glut of guys on the back end to now being thin on the blueline. If Reggies traded, you got Bouw, Gio, Sarich, Pardy, Babchuk, Staios, and Mikkelson. Thats a pretty bad bottom end.

    • everton fc

      @Pat

      I see your point, and agree, on Sarich not being a 3-4 guy.

      Palt:

      Spot-on. And with Playfair’s recent comments about Seabrook having to re-assess his career… We may not be too deep past Brodie, on the farm…

        • everton fc

          Playfair said Wednesday’s game might have been the most ragged performance by the Heat defensive corps this season. He added he’s “very disappointed” in Seabrook’s play, given that he had high expectations for the defenceman heading into his second pro season.

          “He’s a player who’s got to take a hard look at his career,” Playfair said. “For him to be a good player, he’s got to be a lot more physical, and a harder player to play against.”

          This is what I was referring to. (Source – Abbotsford News 26 Jan/2011)

  • In my opinion, why would anyone want Regehr?

    Too slow. The year is 2011, probably 85% of all NHL players can easily skate by Regehr. His best asset is his size, which he doesn’t even utilize as much as in seasons past.

    Robyn Regehr aka Cory Sarich 2.0 (with less fighting).

    • I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with anything more than this comment.

      The “too slow, too old” sentiment I’ve heard/read regarding Regehr couldn’t be further from the truth.

      No, he’s not the same player he was in 2006, but he’s still extremely valuable and he makes life insanely difficult on the likes of Sedin, Sedin, Datsyuk, Toews, Thornton and more on a nightly basis.

      If and when he’s beaten, which is nowhere near as regular as you’re suggesting, it’s because his five man unit is out against the very best in the NHL…and the very best in the NHL is EXPECTED to score.

      • CitizenFlame

        Insanely difficult? As much as I hate the Sedins, I don’t see how Regehr makes it difficult for them. Like many, I would like to see Regehr lay a huge hit on one of the Sedins, but that will never happen.

        Lets not even talk about Datsyuk, that guy’s a magician. He can go against two or three players by himself, let alone one Regehr.

        One example that easily comes to the top of my mind is the time Setoguchi blew right by Regehr. He looked like he was waterskiing out there, hanging on for dear life.

        • CitizenFlame

          You could make that comment for pretty much every top top 2 defender in the western conference. It just so happens that you watch Regehr 2-3 times a week.

        • CitizenFlame

          I don’t disagree that a player like Regher was more valuable in the old NHL then he is in the new NHL. He also had an off season last year which highlighted his lack of mobility.

          However, if you can’t see Regher’s work on players like the Sedin’s then you aren’t watching the same games I do. Especially this season.

          Take last game against Van. Regher plasters Burrows into the corner. Then he throws Sedin A to the ground and takes him out of the immediate play.

          This knocks the puck free and Sedin B gets it in the corner. The younger faster Bouwmeester is then forced to take a stupid penalty because Sedin B get’s position on him. He failed to play him physical.

          Fan’s may question Regher’s play. However, I don’t think many NHL players would. Especially if they play RW in the West.

          • Vintage Flame

            “I don’t disagree that a player like Regher was more valuable in the old NHL then he is in the new NHL. He also had an off season last year which highlighted his lack of mobility.”

            – IMO, that had a lot to do with covering for Phaneuf, who was notoriously out of position and Reggie had to watch both sides of the ice.

            He looked a lot more at ease, and seemed to be regaining his form once Phaneuf was gone.

          • Vintage Flame

            “I don’t disagree that a player like Regher was more valuable in the old NHL then he is in the new NHL. He also had an off season last year which highlighted his lack of mobility.”

            – IMO, that had a lot to do with covering for Phaneuf, who was notoriously out of position and Reggie had to watch both sides of the ice.

            He looked a lot more at ease, and seemed to be regaining his form once Phaneuf was gone.

    • I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with anything more than this comment.

      The “too slow, too old” sentiment I’ve heard/read regarding Regehr couldn’t be further from the truth.

      No, he’s not the same player he was in 2006, but he’s still extremely valuable and he makes life insanely difficult on the likes of Sedin, Sedin, Datsyuk, Toews, Thornton and more on a nightly basis.

      If and when he’s beaten, which is nowhere near as regular as you’re suggesting, it’s because his five man unit is out against the very best in the NHL…and the very best in the NHL is EXPECTED to score.

  • everton fc

    There is always a lot of talk about “freeing up cap space” here and elsewhere. Question I have is, “for what”. The FA pool is pretty slim and you don’t often pick up value contracts there. You can be sure that if Brad Richards hits the open market, that is not going to be a value contract.

  • CitizenFlame

    I wouldn’t trade the big 3 during the season unless the Flames are out of contention by the deadline and then only if there is a homerun to be made. The time to move them will be the summer; probably to the east conference. Despite the “market” conditions I think that all 3 will draw a lot of interest especially after the recent CBC poll. Kipper ranked 5th, despite this season? Iggy, 3rd ranked behind Crosby and Lidstrom? Calgary should still be trying to use this as a draw to get free agents, especially if they have the cap space from the recent moves by Feaster.

    As you can tell I am not a proponent of a scorched earth rebuild. I have seen enough great players leave town without continued success of the franchise and am prepared to soak up every last minute of greatness extolled on me by the likes of Iginla, Kipper, and Reggie. I count myself lucky to be able watch these players live and hope I can be there when we hang their #’s in the rafters.

    • I’m with you, in that I don’t think “blowing it up” is really the way to go, at all.

      Trading Regehr doesn’t mean scorched earth. It means you’re trading a guy when the demand is highest, and that is right now.

      You’d get assets in return, both for right now and the future, and it would be a move that would help moving forward.

      That is a good picture though, captures the type of player Regehr is.

      • CitizenFlame

        The reality is the team is aging and fighting to remain relevant. That being said, Iggy was just rated the 3rd best(?) role model behind Crosby and Lidstrom (Eat that everyone who questioned his leadership in tough times.) And judging by comments here, Reggie is held in the same regard for mentoring young d-men.

        I know that a lot of people are trying to look long term and these guys are the most valuable assets.But they are also your most useful tools in luring free agents. Trade Iggy, Kipper, and Reggie and what separates Calgary from Edmonton? I’ll tell you what won’t separate us; a rebuild in a northern Canadian city, with crappy travel in an aging building.

  • CitizenFlame

    I said on another stream that I like what Feaster is doing. I would like to see what some of our young guys can do over the course of the season. Sutter always seemed to pay the young guys lip service then sign 3 veterans. At least now if someone is injured we’ll find out what some of the young guys are made of. If you’re a player on Abbotsford you have to be a little more excited today than yesterday.

    I would be interested to see how the Pelech’s, etc. respond now.

  • CitizenFlame

    …(IMO) the fact that Staios is still a member of the Flames tells me that one of our d-men are on the market.

    1. Bouwmeester

    2. Giordano

    3. Regehr

    4. Sarich

    5. Babchuck

    6./7./8. Staios, Pardy, Mikelsson

    …the most moveable is Regehr.

  • icedawg_42

    If this team is playoff bound they might be going in hot and lightning in a bottle has happened before. Reggie’s worth @ 30 in the offseason will garner a heap of interest. I agree, trade him but not til then, that is unless the team doesn’t completely tank in the next week or so. Let Gio mentor Brodie & Erixon he’ll do just fine with a letter on his shirt.

  • icedawg_42

    I still favor scorched earth. As other teams pick up their games as the playoffs near Calgary will fall off. Next year we’re just older.

    Besides, LA, according to several different accounts is hungrier by the day to make a big splash and add more scoring. LA needs to make the playoffs or risk ruining what they’ve built so far. It’s essential to the team’s dvelopment.

    We’re in a unique position of time. LA wants Iginla and is willing to give up a prospect who can be a gneuine cornerstone with no real flaws in his game. How often do you get a chance at a 19 year old who can score and make plays, has great all-around skills, plays hard, plays physical, is a leader with great character, plays all 3 zones, prides himself on his D, has the size and oh, yeah, plays centre. I’m really becoming a frim believer in the theory that you can’t win around a winger, but that you need a stud centre.

    My point being, that an opportunity like this does just come along, it’s a rare occurence. The commodity is there and we have what they want for it in payment. If we wait until summer, who knows?

    Does LA get Alfredsson instead? He’d cost less for a return and his contract is cheaper. Or do they fail to do anything and during the summer decide that they’ll try again, this time with Schenn, thinking they can always try to make the same trade again? Only this time, the team takes a step forward and Schenn, more prepared this time around, comes in and makes a big enough impact that LA thanks the hockey gods they never moved him.

    Meanwhile, back in Calgary, we eagerly anticipate Iginla turning 35.

    Sell high, we’re in the driver’s seat. But don’t let this mirage of a winning streak that was bound to happen sooner or later, fool anyone into thinking we’re now a contender.

    • Oyo

      very strong agruement.

      i think feaster tho is stuck between rock and hard place.

      cant trade iggy when team is winning or majority of fans will throw a sh*t fit, because they cant see long term. PLUS the trade deadline is coming quick so he either decides and make plans now or waits till off season.

      But if team tanks he still has 11 NMC on his hands.

      i dont not envy feaster right now

    • wattree

      But is Schenn even in play? Sounded like the first go round was just rumours started by media types dieing for something to write about.

      I would love to see him here, but the other side of the coin is I don’t see Iggie waiving his NTC to not go to a serious contender. And LA has not looked the part the last month or so.

      • wattree

        For how desperate LA is and for what they’re after, he would have to be. It just makes sense, but anything is possible.

        I think Iggy, especially if he’s packaged with Tanguay makes LA a contender. It also nets us back another quality prospect I’d think.

  • wattree

    @Beeker73

    “I’d try to secure someone to replace Iggy by trading Iggy. That’s kinda how we got him in the first place, though under less happy circumstances.”

    My beef with this is that when they made the move to bring in Iginla, they still had Fleury to play in the tough situations and could shelter Iginla a bit to start his career. I think you need to draft or trade for a prospect to play behind him and be aforded the shelter to get his legs and his confidence.

    Worst case scenario is what happens if they trade for his replacement and we end up with a bust? I mean if Phaneuf continues to play like this into next season, I’m willing to declare the Flames winners in the trade no matter how bad Stajan plays. (unless Aulie turns into a monster, then we got fleeced by Burke)

    • wattree

      You can’t let the fact that there are no guarantees in life to paralyze you from making the correct decision.

      Though, granted, if this hypothetical trade happened and Schenn was a bust it would suck huge.