I have already been critical of the whole Jay Feaster situation, and vociferously so. I don’t think he’s the right guy for the job and I don’t think the Flames looked hard enough to find someone who would be. They simply picked the closest guy with experience, etc.
But now I’m really worried, because he might be worse than I thought.
There can, to be fair, be very little assailing of the No. 13 pick being used on Sven Bartschi (or is it Baertschi?), except that I have referred to him as Sven Butenschon several times, which in and of itself is borderline unforgivable. But he’s a good player who was projected to go right around when the Flames took him, and that’s all well and good. I don’t know if we should necessarily be thanking our lucky stars that this selection was made, but it’s good enough, and given Feaster’s drafting record (see also: horrifying) it’s gotta be considered a win.
But the rest of the weekend was a… hmm, what’s the term? A series of missteps? A slew of disasters? A fiery pit of eternal torment untouched by human reason or sentient thought?
Yes, that last one will do nicely. Honestly, what in the bleeding hell was that?
The best place to start, one supposes, is with the apparent intent of the Flames’ strategy this weekend. The plan, maybe, was threefold: to shed salary, get younger and keep Jarome Iginla happy.
So let’s look at the way Feaster felt he should start shedding salary commitments. He traded Robyn Regehr, which is a thing that I’m theoretically cool with. After all, he’s over 31, not quite the same player he used to be and signed for the next two seasons at $4ish million per. If you’re going to start a rebuild, that’s the kind of player you ship out. He has some perceived value and likely wouldn’t be around for when the crop of prospects the Flames want to stockpile really come into their own. That’s fine then.
But when I heard Feaster had asked him to waive his no-movement clause to go to Buffalo, I was a little perplexed. Surely the Flames wouldn’t be able to wrangle a strong roster player from them for Regehr, given that there aren’t many you’d want to start a rebuild around (at least not that they’d part with). Ditto the farm system. What, many wondered, could the return possibly be?
We soon had our answer, but with even more good news: Feaster had convinced the Sabres to also take Ales Kotalik off their hands (based on Darcy Regier’s laughable idea that the forward could contribute in any meaningful way at the NHL level). Good news! A little over $7 million in salary moved out of town.
Oh but what’s that? He had to throw in a 2012 second-round pick to get the Kotalik portion pushed through? Well that’s odd. Calgary, if it really wants to rebuild, should be getting a whole bunch of those, not giving them away, especially because it is very likely to be a pick that’s fairly high. What a strange decision.
And what of the return? Surely with all that included, it would be substantial, right? Wrong again. Chris Butler, a 24-year-old who spent much of last season as a healthy scratch behind Craig Rivet and Mike Weber, and Paul Byron, who is 22 and a little underwhelming, but who the organization expects is close to being able to contribute at the NHL. Butler, by the way, is an as-yet-unsigned restricted free agent.
But hey, at least they’re younger.
If you do want to go with a youth movemen, and maybe this is just me talking crazy, how, exactly, does it behoove you to sign a 31-year-old guy with an injury history to a five-year deal that comes with — YOU GUESSED IT — a no-movement clause?
The Tanguay contract is at least in some way an attempt to keep Jarome Iginla from hanging himself when the team has 13 wins in December, but really Jay, a no-movement clause? Didn’t we learn a horrible lesson about those in any of the previous 10 the organization has given out like Halloween candy to anyone who’s scored more than two goals for the team? No, apparently not.
But fine, Iginla seems to have forged some sort of Conroy-esque chemistry with Tanguay who’s got loads more skill on his worst day than Connie ever did. And the cap hit is not unreasonable, at least based on this past year.
Cap flexibility, all of a sudden, has understandly become the name of the game, and the Flames have a little of it, with which Feaster says he will address "the team’s needs."
The problem with this is that it’s a tacit endorsement of the team as one that doesn’t REALLY need a rebuild. If you’re spending to the cap, which is something Calgary clearly plans to do, then you’re aiming to make the playoffs, which is not in any way conducive to getting younger, rebuilding the system and planning to make things really start to happen in three or four years. I think I might’ve said before that the post-Christmas run this team went on was maybe the worst thing that could have happened to it, both because it pushed them to 13th in the draft instead of what could have easily been a top-10 pick, and because it deluded people into thinking, as Alex Tanguay told Steinberg yesterday, they could have really competed in the playoffs, if only they’d made it.
This is, obviously, not the case. It’s just not realistic.
Then of course there’s the absolutely, positively insane mindset that went into pursuing but thankfully not (yet) acquiring Ryan Smyth. I don’t feel as though I need to explain to you how phenomenally stupid such a move would be, because there’s no way that acquiring Smyth does anything to address the team’s supposed needs. Of which it has become clear that no one quite knows what they are.
It’s been very odd watching Feaster operate since taking over as GM. He says he doesn’t want to give out NMCs any more, but he’s 2 for 2 now. He says he doesn’t want to trade away picks any more, but he just dumped a second rounder rather than sit on a bad contract for a single season.
Therefore, we can surmise that Feaster either isn’t allowed or doesn’t know what he wants to do. And that’s no way to run a franchise.
The Feater Era is in full swing, and so far it’s been a complete dud.