It’s time for another random thoughts article. The Flames unlikely run has made things more interesting these days, in ways beyond simply battling for a playoff spot down the stretch.
Glencross And Bourque…Decisions, Decisions
– The most contentious issue currently is the contract status of one Curtis Glencross. After a rough patch earlier this year in November, Glencross has been quality since, driving things from where ever he’s landed in the line-up. Usually that’s meant in a 2nd or 3rd line role with David Moss, but Sutter elevated him to Jarome Iginla’s unit last night against the Canucks and it was a pretty fruitful coupling. Glencross is the hottest Flame going right now with goals in four straight games. His ice time also crept up over 20 minutes in each of the last two contests, which is likely a first for the formerly undrafted winger.
Naturally all this stuff makes his pending UFA status a bit of a problem. The unfortunate catch-22 of a run like this is the more Glencross seems indispensible, the higher his asking price climbs in the off-season. At 28-years old with numerous seasons of relative obscurity and bargain basement salaries, this summer will likely be Glencross’ best opportunity to cash in as a professional hockey player. As such, the Flames shouldn’t expect him to take a hair-cut to stay in town, even if this is the franchise that sparked his rise to prominence.
There’s no question that Glencross is a useful player. He crushes other third liners in terms of possession, he can play at ES and on both special teams and he can skate with the best of them. Of course, what we’re seeing right now is probably the absolute apex of his abilities and there’s a chance you’ll be paying him too much in the latter half of any long-term contract. Also, despite his recent success at the top-end of the rotation, Glencross doesn’t have a history of skating against other top-sixers and the list of NHLers who suddenly become heavy lifters is an incredibly short one. If Feaster signs Glencross now with the assumption that his current outburst will be typical going forward, he’s probably in for a surprise. And I haven’t even mentioned the career high 17.0 SH% the dude is riding currently.
I’m a fan of Glencross. A big fan. But the Flames have to proceed with caution here. As Rene Bourque can attest to this season, exectations and responsbilities rise with an increased cap hit accordingly.
– Related: Rene Bourque continues to fight things. I’m hoping one of our credentialed brethren sits down with Bourque at some point in the near future and has the temerity to ask the guy if somethings up, because he’s not the player he once was for whatever reason. Bourque was never a complete player as compared to your Sidney Crosbys and such, but there were a few things one used to be able to count on from him in the past: winning puck races and puck battles chief amongst them. Bourque also used to drag the puck through coverage into the scoring area with aplomb. Almost none of these things happen with him anymore. He’s weak and ineffectual along the boards, his speed is usually a non-factor and the puck seems to turn into a tennis ball on his stick.
Like Glencross, the team may have to make a decision on Bourque sooner rather than later. If his malaise is temporary, then he could be a pretty useful guy going forward. If whatever ails him continues indefinitely, however, his contract will rapidly become an albatross.
Kipper: To Play or Not To Play…
– The whens and whys to play Kiprusoff are surfacing again. As usual, the Flames are in a dog fight for the last playoff spot heading down the stretch, so there never seems an opportune time to play the back-up (this year, amicabaly played by Henrik Karlsson!). I don’t know where I fall in this debate because, frankly, I’ve never seen any evidence that goalie fatigue predficts a downturn in performance. On the other hand, aside from the 9-0-1 run recently, Kipper hasn’t exactly been knocking the ball out of the park this year anyways, so the difference between him and the Calgary Tower when it comes to a single night here and there is probably negilible. That said, I’m guessing Kipper will be the starter indefinitely until the post-season is secured or lost for good.
Trade Deadline Countdown
– We’ll be gearing up for the trade deadline around here pretty soon (suggestions and such for the big day welcome in the comments BTW), but it’s unlikely things will be as…interesting as they might have been absent the big run. In fact, it’s entirely possible the club won’t do anything at all, prefering to preserve what depth they have now and seeking out real changes in he off-season when the new GM is crowned (be it Feaster for good, or whoever the ownership is holding out for).
If you’re curious about the Flames various pending UFA’s, check out NHL numbers. I’d say the only guys that will draw any interst at all are Anton Babchuk, Curtis Glencross (naturally) and Brendan Morrison. Question is…wil Feaster have any interest at all in moving those guys with the team in the middle of a dog fight for the final playoff spot? My inclination is "no".
The other question, of course, is whether Feaster will seek to add to the roster rather than subtract. That may be true, although the Flames dearth of draft assets (no second or third rounder this summer), prospects (Nemisz, Erixon, Brodie and er…Howse?) and need to retain anyone useful for the stretch drive might make it hard to close any deals.
– Pat’s going to continue to add audio to the site when and if at all possible. Flattery and gifts might help get things rolling, so feel free to send him finery and poems (because I hear he likes that kind of stuff).
– In lieu of the now-dead Comment of the Week Contest (RIP) A new, twitter-based Hudsons contest will be coming in the next week or so. I’ll announce it here and via twitter when everything is ready to go.