A Frenzied Day

While Kent and Robert will handle the bulk of the 2011 draft prep, I’m going to be setting you up for the major date that follows a week after picks are made in Minnesota.  July 1st fast approaches, which means the opening of free agency is also very much upon us; we’ll be profiling Calgary’s pending unrestricted and restricted free agents in the coming days, but before we do that, let’s take a look back at July 1st, 2010; a day full of…surprises.

The Flames signed four players on Canada Day 2010, and it goes without saying that two of them turned into very successful ones this past season.  Many are still on the fence about one of them, and the other was a straight up Darryl Sutter fail…but even if you only like two of the deals, Calgary still went .500 at the plate last year.

Alex Tanguay

Starting in chronological order, Tanguay was the third player signed on July 1st of last year, inking a one year deal with Calgary worth an affordable $1.7 million.  I had first heard of the deal while working the draft in Los Angeles, as many around the league were thinking the Flames and Tanguay were a likely match.  When the deal was signed, there wasn’t a whole lot you could dislike about it, at least in my eyes.

You were getting (at the time) a 30 year old forward coming off his worst season as a pro, but a guy who also still had a ton of upside.  The fact that it came at a dirt cheap price on a one year deal made this thing basically risk free for a Flames team that had decided to try and remain competitive in the Western Conference.  The worst case scenario was for Tanguay to see his numbers continue to slide downhill and for the Flames to cut bait when the contract expired; the upside, however,  came in many different forms.

Alex entered the season remaining one of the most gifted passers in the league, possessing vision seen in very few players.  He enjoyed some of the best success of his NHL career in a prior stint with the Flames, putting up a career best 81 points during the 2006-07 season.  And there were also a couple of factors that lead to his poor play the year before: recovering from serious shoulder surgery, not great game shape, and a poor Tampa team.  There were plenty of things that pointed to a potential rebound for the former 12th overall pick, and that’s exactly what we’d see.

Almost immediately, Tanguay clicked with Jarome Iginla, playing almost every shift last season with the Flames captain.  Alex would see his point total almost double, which was due in large part to flanking #12…but the on ice relationship also worked the other way, as Iginla thrived off Tanguay’s playmaking ability.  Jarome would finish with 41 goals while Tanguay would rebound with 69 points, all the while seeing myriad centerman come and go.  It’s true, Calgary’s top line didn’t typically see the top opposition on the other side, but offensively, Tanguay did the job and provided the Flames with crazy value on his one year contract.

Olli Jokinen

If you heard the free agency all day program on Sportsnet Radio last year, you’ll know our reaction to Calgary’s shock signing of our coverboy.  We had three guys on the air at the same time that day, and all three of us were completely and utterly shocked that Darryl Sutter would go ahead and re-sign a guy who was a massive disappointment in parts of two seasons with the Flames.  He was such a letdown during the 2009-10 season that he was deal to the New York Rangers along with Brandon Prust (sigh) in exchange for Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik (le sigh)…so you can understand why no one saw this coming.

There were two main reasons why Jokinen was seen as such a disappointment in his first stint with the Flames.  First, the expectations.  This guy was talked about for YEARS as someone who would finally give Calgary their number one centerman and finally give Calgary the type of top line that elite, Stanley Cup contenders are able to ice.  Second, the price tag.  Jokinen’s cap hit was $5.5 million, which seemed a tad steep for a guy who managed only 11 goals in 56 games to start the 09-10 campaign.

Olli’s new two year, $7 million deal wasn’t actually awful in terms of term and dollars; but it was the shock and surprise of him signing seemed that seemed to win the day.  And I’ll give credit where credit is due…the guy actually was somewhat effective as the season went along.  He finished with 54 points, he was above water when it came to even strength scoring chances at the end of the year, and at one time he centered one of Calgary’s most effective lines along with Curtis Glencross and David Moss.

I still don’t understand the whole chain of events that lead to the signing last year; it was an example of the worst of Darryl Sutter.  The guy could have brought Jokinen back at the same contract if he had just let the original one expire; instead, he got rid of a very effective Prust AND saddled the team with a ferry anchor in Kotalik.  That said, Olli exceeded expectations, at least in my eyes…and that’s a pretty big win.

Tim Jackman

Later on in the day, Darryl made two moves that kind of flew under the radar.  One of them was signing Tim Jackman to a two year contract, in what many believe now was a favor to Head Coach Brent Sutter.  Jackman had come off two seasons with the New York Islanders and Brent was familiar with him from his time behind the Devils bench.  No one thought a whole lot about the deal, but they think a whole lot more about it now.

Jackman put up solid numbers for a bottom six forward, posting ten goals and 23 points in 82 games…but his value on the team went far beyond goals and assists.  First off, he was probably Calgary’s most consistent player, giving you the exact same thing on night one against the Oilers as he did to finish the season against the Canucks.  But you can’t really quantify consistency, so instead, we’ll look at some underlying numbers.

Tim would finish an impressive +28 when counting ES scoring chances for the season, which is pretty damn impressive for a guy who rarely saw more than ten minutes of ice time.  That right there speaks to his ability in driving possession and doing valuable things in the offensive zone despite limited ice time.  While his high 16.31 Corsi number is inflated by a 57.7% offensive zone start, it doesn’t really matter…that’s straight up value from a bottom six forward.

The most impressive thing to me was his short stint playing with the aforementioned Moss and Tom Kostopoulos right as Calgary started to get on their ridiculous run at the beginning of 2011.  While only playing a few games together, the line finished +14 in scoring chances, putting something meaningful on net 69.4% of the time.  But that’s a small sample size, counting only 36 total chances; however, Jackman and Kostopoulos played together much of the time in the final three months, and the numbers are almost as impressive: +24 in the chance count (116 total chances) good for 60.3% of the time on the opposing net.

For a guy who no one really thought much of when he signed, Jackman was a revelation for the Flames this past season.  Kent wrote an article last summer showing that he might be more than just a goon-type player, but Mr. Wilson readily admits he didn’t see this coming either.  Of all four of the signings on July 1st, 2010, this one might be the most resounding success.

Raitis Ivanans

So…the guy played one game.  It looked like a bad signing when pen was put to paper.  It looks worse now.  And he’s under contract for next season.  That about covers it.

So, in the coming days, we’ll look ahead to July 1st, 2011, another important date in a very important summer for the Flames organization.  With six unrestricted free agents and two more restricted free agents, Jay Feaster and company will have a mighty task in front of them, and that doesn’t even take into account other potential open market targets.  Let the fun begin.

  • Interesting news that Bryzgalov had his negotiation rights traded to Philadelphia… thought he only wanted out if the Coyotes moved to the Peg?

    Are they really going with Labarbera as their #1, or is something else in the works? Mayhap Vokoun will be the new Yotes goaltender?

    Things are already getting interesting for free agency. Definitely hope to see something big from the Flames, ie the dumping of Hagman/Kotalik/Stajan for a nice bag of practice pucks and some broken Easton sticks.

    Edit – This was tweeted by Darren Dreger… Bryzgalov wants to be paid as a top player…not just a top goalie. Demands too rich for Yotes.

    Coyotes probably made the right move in that case – Bryzgalov is good, but if he is demanding Kipper/Ward-type money, probably best to go with someone like Vokoun

  • Ender

    Jackman was great. Tanguay was great. Jokinen was (shudder) good.

    The only FA IGAF about is Tanguay. The others are inconsequential and can be easily replaced with cheap UFAs or prospects. I don’t expect the Flames to make a big splash, and TBH, I wouldn’t want them to.

    It’s 6mil for the Joker, btw.

  • Ender

    Tanguay is probably pretty important to the flames as he seems to bring out the best in Igina. Ask yourselves though what a 70 point winger commands in the open market and realize that a team like detroit, one that is thin and old on the wing, just discovered 6 mil. Then take a look at the flames salary structure.

    • Vintage Flame

      Tanguay wouldn’t sign with Detroit though. He wouldn’t be the 1st line winger, or centre. He’s already said it’s not about the money, so I don’t see his incentive for signing with a team like Detroit, where he might get lost in the line shuffle.

      But to your point, there are probably other teams with the same mindset that are also looking at Calgary’s Cap issues and structure.

  • Ender

    I can see Tanguay taking a pay cut, but a long term deal with a NTC. I’m thinking something like Stajan’s contract (15 mill over 4 years). Which could mean that either Stajan or Langkow will have to go before July 1.

    What impressed me the most about Tanguay was how effective he was on the shootouts. Something the Flames havn’t had in a while.

  • icedawg_42

    Oilers1974 and Backburner are both right. I still think there’s potential to sign Tanguay, but his market value after last season may price him out. I still dont see how the Flames can move Stajan – in any scenario. Pat, of the 4 moves you’ve highlighted I’d say Sutter did better than .500. Ivanans was really the only out and out bust there. Im not as down on the CHUDster (Joker) as some are, and he was THE leading point getter on the team for most of the Flames best run (Jan/Feb).

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I think the thing that makes the Joker situation a total bust is the trade to NYR with 2 months left on his contract, in a season that was already a lost cause.

    Darryl could’ve kept him and Prust, and not brought in Higgins and Kotalik, and then signed Joker anyway.

  • icedawg_42

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we should trade Jokinens contract while it still has value of some sort. Stajan can’t and won’t be moved, to expensive to buy out, so he should be centering our third line and riden by Hartsburg till he breaks and we rebuild him. Backlund gets the top line if Tangs resigns and Langks reunites with Bourque on the second. Kosto and Jackman on the fourth.

    If Stajan is centering a line between Glenncross and Moss I bet he ends up with similar numbers to what Jokinen ended up with, its no surprise that when Jokinen was on that line his numbers went up, both those guys were underrated coming into this season. If after this season Stajan has even gotten worse, then we NEED a buyout or minors dump. This team is FAR FROM stanely cup contender and HARDLY a playoff team, we need to ride out some of Darryls mistakes(length of Stajans contract) and get some guys into your system and go from there, Jokinen should get us a pick/prospect for a team looking for second line center help, and after these playoffs everyone wants depth at center.

  • icedawg_42

    I hope there aren’t a lot of changes come july 1st. IMO we need to just ride this thing out. Draft players and develop. I think with Langs back we have a solid (not great) team that can squeak into the playoffs… I’m also just curious to see what this team will do with a new coaching staff and GM for an entire year. Our overpaid players need to stick around until their contracts are up. It’d be a waste to trade away assets just to dump them…

    • icedawg_42

      “Our overpaid players need to stick around until their contracts are up. It’d be a waste to trade away assets just to dump them”

      100% agree with you.

      Rather than trade them with an Assest, we just dump them through Waivers or European Assingment. Any thought of trading down to get rid of a Stajan type contract is a terrible waste. This team is not a Stanely Cup contender and trading down to get rid of bad contracts is even worse management. Stajan is still young, why bother making the flames worse in the long run just to get rid of a contract. Kotes and Hags can sit in Europe without having to give up picks or other assests.

      • icedawg_42

        I disagree. It all depends, of course, on what you have to give up. In a salary cap world money is equal to a player. So you’re not wasting an asset, you’re dumping a terrible contract saddled to a terrible player in order to free up room for another player.

        • Emir

          At this point the only assets we have that teams would take would be our draft picks. Personally I don’t think it’s worth it to trade down in the draft this year. I see what you’re saying and for a team that has lots of options it makes sense to trade away an asset & an awful contract to make cap space but I think the flames have put themselves in a position where either our boatanchor contracts are in the minors, head out to Europe or we just suck it up for another year and let them expire. The flames don’t have enough tradable picks/prospects to be giving away. we gotta keep them for ourselves.

          As for trading down in the draft I don’t really see the point. As far as I’m concerned Feaster has to take the best player available and not worry about what position they play. We have holes everywhere that need to be plugged. Picking higher gives us a better chance at getting a capable NHLer. To me that’s worth it every time. Sutter used to always trade down … I’m pretty sure that didn’t help him at all.

  • icedawg_42

    I’d hate to give Sutter a pat on the back for the Olli Jokinnen signing for two reasons.

    Primarily, it was July 1st, and it was reported that no other teams had expressed interest in Jokinnen. Demand for the erratic, giant hockey playing infant was at an all time low. Yet Sutter decided to offer a deal on day 1 for a dollar figure that likely could have been lower. Also the term on the contract isn’t ideal for a team lacking flexibility in a cap universe. The No Movement Clause also included was simply mind-blowing. It should have sent a message to Flames ownership to start testing the water in Darryl’s office for Mercury.

    Secondarily, while many are mildy impressed with the deal in hindsight, one gets the sense that if Olli were to return to his 2009-10 form, it wouldn’t shock them immensely. This signing still has lots of time to be a big cluster****. Especially if you try to move Joki-Bear at the deadline and he waves the NMC in Feasters face.

    Olli Jokinnen + NMC = #Fail

    • Thank you.

      Forgetting what the Jokinen cost the club (twice), Sutter’s gamble on Jokinen on July 1 last year was still a dumb one. The only reason to bring back Jokinen was on a steep discount, because the dude had next to no leverage in negotiations.

      Instead, Sutter gives him a couple of years, a NMC and a salary that was, at best, a moderate bet to provide value.

      Everyone moved the goalposts in their mind due to his previous failure and the fact that he wasn’t awful this year seems to justify his re-signing – but it remains a less than inspired move.

  • Emir

    Agreed. Trading jokinen just to lose players and bring in bad contracts then re-ink the guy is insane.

    I agree with the notion of just letting the bad contracts go away. Why give up value just to move them, I think the ownership group should lose some $$$ so they can stop letting incompetent people run the show.

    I hope Ken king takes a trip to Quebec to help sign tangs. I’m guessing they will go taping trees for maple syrup or something and talk hockey. But in all seriousness the thought of Ken king near anything hockey scares me. The fact his ship didn’t sink with darryls is some sort of twisted fate. Maybe he golfs with the owners lots and takes them horse back riding too.

  • Vintage Flame

    I see your point Pat, but to me: Darryl gets no credit for the decent season Jokinen put up. His performance was acceptable, but the signing was made for the wrong reasons. D-Suttz re-signed Jokinen to be our #1 centre, playing with Iggy and Tangs. That experiment went as many of us expected it to – disaster. Jokinen deserves credit for completely re-shaping his game to become an effective 2-way second line centre. Most offensive-minded players are less willing to make that adjustment to more defensive roles, but Jokinen embraced it and took initiative. I don’t think he’s a great hockey player, but you can’t question his commitment. He wants to play in Calgary and will do what it takes to chip in and help his team win – and he did that. Glencross and Moss were big factors, but I think they benefitted from Olli’s efforts in a bigger way than we like to admit. As far as second-line centremen go, I think he’s a good fit. Credit to Brent and Jokinen for making it work under the circumstances. Darryl gets no credit for the July 1 signing of a “#1 centre” that evolved into a solid 2nd line player.

    • @Kent Wilson

      @Ry…er…jealous broadcaster

      Guys, I never gave credit to Darryl for signing Jokinen. But you also can’t deny he exceeded all expectations…regardless of the circumstances that lead to him having such low expectations to begin with.

      Kent, I know you don’t like the guy, but even you can admit that he turned himself into a much more effective player this season. His stupid Family Circus routes into the offensive zone were decreased and his decision making once gaining the blueline was much improved.

      Graham, Jokinen didn’t play with Moss and Glencross enough this season to say they were chiefly responsible for him being a more effective player.

      ALL OF THAT SAID…I still don’t like the signing and I still think it’s ludicrous he’s back and the team HAS Kotalik and DOESN’T HAVE Prust…throw in the NMC or NTC or whatever it is…and yeah, it’s still not ideal. But, none of that is Jokinen’s fault, and on the ice, he was better than he was the year before.

      Just framing both sides.

  • Vintage Flame

    I’ll agree with that, and for one year left on a contract, no, but doesn’t Stajan have 3 more years left? That’s the one thing that would make me consider it.

    • Vintage Flame

      But what possible benefit does giving up our first or whatever it takes to get rid of him. Will his 3million or so right now or even next year turn our team from middle of the pack to stanley cup contender?

      If we can get rid of guys like Sarich, Ivanans, Kotes and Hags, that will do a lot more, thats over 10 million to work with for the cap. Those guys are all guys we no longer need on this team and are wasting money, they were scratches, waivered and played in the minors. Stajan was still productive before he got rocked, so maybe with some forceful motivation from Hartsburg maybe he is still effective in a limited role even.

      • Vintage Flame

        I have to agree you here Colin. Can’t cause detriment to the team JUST to get rid of Stajan’s contract. The other guys you mentioned can be cannon fodder for all I care.

      • Vintage Flame

        Giving up a first round pick or a high second round pick is a ridiculous suggestion for the Flames to consider. Swapping picks and moving down for Stajan has to be looked at.

        A team like Florida is in the middle of a major rebuild, they are going to need younger players, skill, offense where they can find it, and contracts that are going to get them to the cap floor.

        The fact that Stajan was a bust here might not impact other teams if they think he can provide them numbers like what he put up with Toronto.

        First two picks for Calgary are off the table. But how about something like:

        Stajan and #57 to Florida for #64
        Stajan and #57 to Winnipeg for #67
        Stajan and #103 to Florida for #153

        At $3.5M for 3 more years you cannot afford to keep an asset like Stajan on your payroll. With one bad year teams might be willing to think its a Calgary problem. If you dont trade him now and he plays as poorly next year you will have no trade options.

        Any salary over $3M has to be treated like a player and dropping down in the draft to get rid of Stajan and bring in another player is a benefit. Especially if a team like the Flyers are going to be sellers depending on if they sign Ilya.

        • Vintage Flame

          Stajan and #57 to Florida for #64, now I know you guys are dreaming. After a good start, he got rocked and put up poorly down the stretch, for someone to take three more years of uncertainty and 10 million dollars you are gonna have to offer up A LOT more than that. Guys like Hags and Kots can be had off of waivers while giving up nothing and they help just as much getting to the salary floor. Teams like Florida, Phoenix and all that are not gonna take Stajans acctually salary dollars, they are gonna BONUS the hell out of the cap this year because all bonuses count directly this year. Why bother actually paying someone when you can just sign a bunch of rookies with really high bonus numbers to reach the floor. Plus those types of teams are not gonna want that length of contract either, if you notice phoenix and florida are going 1 or 2 year deals.

          • Emir

            bingo. The reality is that teams are generally very cautious when it comes to making deals. In order to dump a player on another team it has to have real benefits in terms of making their team better now or in the future. It just wouldn’t be worth what we’d need to give up in order to get rid of stajan. And who knows maybe he’ll find himself again this year. I just think that realalistically it just isn’t worth it. It’s better to have him around than to give up too much.

          • Vintage Flame

            That’s exactly what I have been saying, put him on a line with Glenncross and Moss, get his ass in shape before training camp even starts, we have a strength and conditioning coach for a reason I thought and then have Hartsburgh ride his ass till he either shows up or checks out and accepts a demotion to Europe or the AHL. Putting him on with GlennX and Moss should at the best articificially raise his numbers so if we still want to move him, next year might be a hell of a lot easier with 1 less year on the contract and some improved numbers.

            Anyone thinking that some one out there actually WANTS to trade for a Stajan contract right now is out to lunch, maybe during the season next year or after, but not now. Or thinking move seven spots down in the third round is gonna cut it is also dreaming. Why bother taking the huge risk that is 3 more years at 3MIL per, or just take a quick flyer on a Hags or Kotalik and you know they are off the books at the end of the year. Stajan is still a younger player, we have bigger problems in Kotalik, Hagman and Sarich that need to be dealt with before Stajan.

          • Scott

            Doesn’t mean it can’t be explored or some more creativity apllied to the problem. Stajan is more likely to perform better in the east anyways. He’s that kind of player.

            Plus, with bonuses, the players still have to make those marks. Which I guess you can set low, but I thought the HNL can step in on things like that and declare them null and void if they go against violating the ‘spirit (for lack of a better word)’ of the CBA.

          • Not this year, all bonuses, regardless of actually achieving them will be counted against the cap because the CBA expires at the end of the 2011/2012 season. So because there may not be a 2012/2013 season teams can’t use the bonus defferal, so ALL bonuses, earned or not, count against the cap.

  • Scott

    I really hope the new CBA will allow for contract restructuring if both sides agree. Then you wouldn’t see guys rot in the AHL just because a previous GM made a dumb offer.

    I think Sarich would benefit from a restructuring. I think he is a great guy, likes it here in Calgary, but on the downside of his career, shouldn’t be playing full time 2nd line duty. If he could restructure, we could keep him on the team.

    The only caveat here would be limit the amount of restructuring, and probably still apply somesort of a penalty to the teams who opt for a restructuring.

    • Scott

      It should go both ways, guys should be able to restructure to if they went well above and beyond their contract, it would be similar to arbitration. Though it would be after their entry level contract is done, otherwise restructing will just get crazy.

      Yeah hard contracts are both good and bad for teams, but I think more flexibility is better, as well if guys know that their contract can get higher, I think you see a better product and more effort on the ice on a more consistent basis.

  • Emir

    Still dont understand those signings last year. But their hands are tied this year. Tangs needs to be resigned but NO NTC/NMC please! Make them a thing of the past. As a policy they should only give them to 1 MAYBE 2 players per team and ONLY if they deserve it. This year i dont have much faith in Feaster, never showed he was that good in Tampa.

    I did hear someone mention though that with Illya gone to Philly, Karlsson may be a good fit in the desert.

  • Emir

    It’s pretty disgusting how these NHL refs are conducting themselves. Clearly the NHL wants too boost their American ratings. Too many men, Sedins are getting mugged, and Kes has been sticked a few times. What a joke, wake up NHL!

    Not to worry my Nucks will bounce back.

    Hey Calgary where is Erixon? OH yeah that’s right he chose to play for a better team.

    • Captain Ron

      Todd stop whining about the officiating. If they were calling it the way you want Kesler would spend half the game in the box for cross checking five times per shift. They had plenty of opportunities to score on the powerplay. Your team is getting beat all over the ice by a very determined bunch of Bruins who have decided they won’t be denied. Thomas is by far the better goalie and Boston’s D has been outstanding. Their play in their end of the rink has been very structured. All the pinching the Canucks D is doing is catching up to them and they constantly try for the big hit instead of just making the play. The Sedins are very skilled but too soft for this level of playoff hockey. They always have been and always will be.

      Good luck with Ballard’s boat anchor contract, and Lovable Lou for the next ten years.

      Look at the positive’s though…Salo’s still playing LOL

  • Vintage Flame

    @Todd

    C’mon man your team has had tons of power play chances and just haven’t converted. The Rome suspension was a little harsh but the Rome/Horton tradeoff favors you guys. Luongo is brutal.

  • icedawg_42

    I will admit the Sedins need to be better. I am a little embarrassed about Kess throwing a sucker punch at Chara. HOWEVER, that being said the refs have been brutal!

    2 out 3 with home ice means Van will win

  • Vintage Flame

    I remember July 1 of last year and I’ve gotta say I thought Darryl was high when I heard of the CHUD (Olli Postagain) signing. I liked the move for tangs then and the Jackman move as well and those two worked out brilliantly. I think Olli’s numbers were helped by playing with Glen-X and Mosser so I’m not quite sold on the signing and especially the damn NMC. Ivanans needs no explanation. Brutal.