Mixed Messages



After a weekend spent watching the Flames punt one of their hard minutes defenceman out the door at this weekend’s draft in St. Paul, like Ryan Lambert, I can only wonder exactly what the hell Jay Feaster is playing at. While I suspect most fans were hoping for the team to begin the clean-out of the club’s extraneous players, I’m fairly certain Robyn Regehr wasn’t the first name that came to mind. Reggie’s move to the balmy climes of Lake Erie wasn’t the only move of interest over the weekend, of course, and after the jump I’ll offer a few thoughts on the festivities.


Goodbye and good luck:


First off, there’s no question that absent Paul Byron becoming a top-six forward, the Flames have engaged in a full-on salary dumping manoeuvre with this trade. Chris Butler won’t get much more than a million dollars on his next deal (hopefully), and combined with Alex Tanguay’s ticket, which I’ll discuss further down the piece, the Flames should be about 2.5M better off against the cap than before the trade.

That in and of itself isn’t bad at all, but the return for Regehr when considered as a hockey deal is inadequate. A top four defenceman with an acceptable contract needs to attract more than a bottom pairing defenceman and a middling prospect that might not have been in Buffalo’s top ten. The fact that the Flames included a second round pick, which apparently was the price to unburden them of the Kotalik contract, just makes this deal as a stand alone transaction seem that much more questionable on the surface.

As for the players heading to Calgary, I’m not really expecting much from Chris Butler. He wasn’t much more than a bottom pairing defender in Buffalo, although the St. Louis native did manage to be on the good side of the outshooting metrics without starting in the other team’s end all the time. He was the only semi-regular Sabre defenceman to have a ZS number under 50%, which does suggest that he survived against the competition he faced more of less on merit. He’ll join the stable of 5th-6th-7th D on the payroll, and barring significant development on his part the likely best case scenario for him is be part of the third pairing.

Paul Byron has posted some nice scoring numbers in the AHL, and Jay Feaster professed faith that Byron would be in the NHL in the near future. I’ll admit that compared to the propects that toiled in Abbotsford, Byron scores like Sid Crosby, but Buffalo was no juggernaut last year and he only got a cup of coffe in the bigs. Hopefully Jay’s not simply overwhelmed by the fact that an AHL player can actually manage a point total higher than 35.

The one other thought I did have in the aftermath of the deal was that the Flames might have another move or two ready to set more salary adrift, although including picks on every occasion in order to do so isn’t going to get them very far and should be eschewed, obviously. The Flames, presuming that they’re willing to send Hagman away to the AHL or Europe, will likely be able to spend about 7-8M on a top four defenceman and another winger that can play in the top nine on July 1st. Whether they should do that or wait until after next year to really start over is a decent enough question, of course.


Long time running:


Alex Tanguay’s new deal was pretty clearly linked to moving a major ticket, and to be honest, the yearly amount is pretty low for a top 30 scorer in the NHL that’s had one bad season in his entire career. I gather that people are less satisfied with the term of the deal and the modified NTC, and I’m on board with half of that.

People really do need to get over this "Oh My God, another movement clause" silliness, given that we’ve just witnessed one of Calgary’s lifers willingly waive his full NMC to join to a club that isn’t exactly the most attractive destination. We also saw Brian Campbell agree to depart one of hockey’s marquee franchises for one of the five worst clubs in the game, so it would behoove fans to ratchet down the hysteria a touch. NMC/NTC aren’t the end of the world, and since Regehr and Kotalik both had clauses, the Flames now have a net amount of one less than they started the day with. Progress, right? I could have done without the length of the deal because Tanguay might be hard-pressed to sustain his play until he’s 36, but since this contract is about a million a year below my cynical guess from a few weeks ago, it’s not hurting my feelings that much.




I’m about the last guy to get worked up about the draft, since most 18 year olds aren’t anywhere near ready to help a decent NHL team, but I don’t mind the Flames’ first two picks. Bartschi was always a player that was in the picture for teams drafting in the 10-20 range, so my preferences aside, he was in the ballpark, and Granlund might turn out to be decent down the line as well. They’re both reasonably skilled forwards, which is a novel development, and it was interesting to note that the Flames weren’t hesitant about picking smaller guys for the first time in roughly forever. That’s the one area where the new regime is showing a willingness to explore a different style of player. 

I’ll also take a stab at why Nikita Filatov went as cheaply as he did. Beyond all the issues that have dogged him in his first couple of years as a pro, timing restricted the potential return for his services as well as the pool of bidding teams. With this being the last year of the CBA, any team having him on the roster would have had to count his entire salary, bonuses and all, against the cap. 

Filatov’s hit is north of 2M, so a team either had to be convinced that he could play minutes commensurate with that cap hit, which would be in the top nine, or they had to possess enough cap space to live with the possibility that he would languish on the fourth line. Calgary really isn’t in that sort of position, and I also suspect that a team benching him or sending him down would run the risk of losing him to the KHL for good, with a draft pick wasted in the process. Ottawa likely made a reasonable gamble in acquiring him, but better organizations than Calgary with more cap room let him slide as well, so I’m not killing Feaster for not jumping on Filatov. 


Final thoughts:


Overall, it’s been a bit of an odd stew this weekend. The Flames have almost certainly hurt themselves in the short run by moving one of the few players on the roster that had the capability to handle dificult competition, and the Tanguay signing, although reasonable enough in isolation, isn’t exactly the mark of a rebuilding team, so there does seem to be a bit of a contradiction in those two moves. If they spend Regehr’s money on a decent defenceman next weekend, I suppose the club could come out OK, but I’m certainly not presuming that’s a lock to occur.

On the prospect front, there’s no doubt that the team is trying to address the lack of prospect depth at forward with the Bartschi and Granlund selections, and the absence of a big grinding type among the forward choices might indicate the beginning, halting as it may be, towards changing the team’s approach to roster construction. If you consider Byron to still be some sort of prospect, it should be noted that he’s no giant either, so the old ethos definitely seems put to bed. 

It will be very interesting to watch Calgary’s moves over the next week as free agency looms, because if they don’t do something silly like sign Anton Babchuk to a contract or trade for Ryan Smyth, they might be in the mix next Friday afternoon for a noteworthy player or two. Again, whether that’s a good thing is a matter of opinion, but until today’s transactions, there wasn’t even a chance of that happening.

  • Robert Cleave

    Good article.

    On this issue of the Tanguay contact, I understand that it’s a modified NTC where Tanguay can submit a list of 10 teams he can be traded to…Not bad.

    I agree that this draft may mark the beginning of a new attitude when it comes to drafting. Time will tell but in the meantime, I’m hopeful that Bartschi will be an impact player in the future.

    If we take Jay Feaster at his word, there’s more trades in the works. Maybe we will reach for a free agent or two on July 1. Stay tuned, right?

  • Greg

    Regehr was done in Calgary, he did not want to play here any more. Listen to what Feaster said him coming to him about “helping the team with working out a trade”, nice way of saying I don’t want to play in Calgary anymore. The sooner everyone accepts that the better of we are. Kotalik is gone which is what everyone has been crying for the last year and half. We received 2 young potetial NHL’ers who will have good contracts. Regher will continue to get slower at his age, I see him like Darian Hatcher later on in his career. Feaster did the best he could with what he had to work with. Now I would extend Iginla for 3 more years to match Tanguays contract.

  • Robert Cleave

    Couldn’t agree with you more, thought this weekend was more of a mixed bag then a disaster. I hope that flames fans realize that ownership probably put there foot down on swallowing (burying) big contracts. Good on Feaster for starting the Darryl Sutter Project clean-up. As well listening to Feaster on the fan it does look like Calgary will make another move for a top defender of forward. Could Jussi Jokinen be in the mix?

  • icedawg_42

    Pictured: what Justin looked like the entire weekend

    I really hope Feaster doesn’t overspend on July 1 because he thinks he has to do something. Unfortunately, I forsee that happening.

  • Robert Cleave

    Now that you’ve written about the business of the draft in Minny how about a story on the “networking” you people did. Which media people did you meet and talk to. Which players or management people did you meet and talk to. How were the soiree’s. If this kind of story isn’t your thing use a pseudonym like Rocky Clever. We’ll never know.

  • Greg

    The Tanguay signing is solid IMO. Anyone who thinks that isn’t a huge hometown discount needs to take a look at the UFA forwards this year. There’s no doubt in my mind he would have gotten at least $4.5M on the open market. The limited-NMC is perfectly acceptable, and quite frankly I would gladly give that condition to any veteran player of note. Let’s not fault Feaster for all the other NMCs Sutter handed out before hand. And the 5 year term? Little long for sure, but Tanguay wanted 4 years @ $4M, so we basically gave him the 5th year for $1.5M to lower the cap hit. Solid.

    As for the mixed messages part, I still think it makes sense. Unless you were ready for a complete tear-down-and-rebuild, you have to stay competitive while trying to get younger. Tanguay helps keep our offense competitive, AND he helps keep trade values high should a full rebuild be needed later. Without Tanguay, Iggy is a 30 goal, 70 point guy. With him (or Cammy or ANYONE else to play with for that matter, but Tanguay was the only option this year), he’s 40 goal, 85 point guy.

    On the trade, a 2nd round pick for dumping Kotalik’s contract is fair-market value, based on other pick-for-dump trades we’ve seen. In fact, he did better than Sutter in that regard because Sutter gave up a 2nd to move Primeau’s contract and that was half of Kotalik’s. I also would have preferred to just eat that contract and keep the pick, but that might not have been an option Feaster had. At the end of the day, Feaster is accountable to the owners, and I’m betting they are quite happy with that. So let’s assume he had to make that move, and in which case, acknowledge that’s the going rate and move on. Bad contracts are absolutely toxic, and any notion we could move one and actually GET an asset back at the same time is pure lunacy.

    Which leaves the Regher portion of the trade. I’m not thrilled at all, but I do concur with other posters on here… if there had been a better offer out there, he would have taken it, and that says all we need to know about what Regher’s real trade value, regardless of our own fanciful ideas about it (a first AND Luke Adam!). Unlike the Phaneuf trade where there was lots of talk Sutter didn’t shop around and several teams claimed they would have offered better, that hasn’t happened with this one, so I think we did get fair market value for Regher. I’m assuming the Kotalik dump had to happen, and it definitely doesn’t happen without putting Regher out there, erego, c’est la vie. I too thought we could have gotten more, but clearly that wasn’t the case. As it stands, we did get a young, cheap, NHL caliber defenceman (and I seem to recall a 24-year-old Giordano being a healthy scratch a lot too, so there’s still a lot of potential upside to Butler), and another guy who immediately becomes our top offensive prospect (sigh).

    It’s not great, but assuming it had to happen and acknowledging it was the best we could get, I can live with it. I chalk it up to cleaning up the mess Sutter left the franchise in, and simply hope it’s the last such transaction we have to go through.

  • Greg

    Another thought on the return for Regher… a late first round pick has what, a 20% chance of becoming an NHL player? Everyone probably would have been happier with a 1st and Byron, but in reality, Butler is worth more than a late 1st, is he not?

    It’s kind like opening a Christmas present and realizing it’s just a sweater. It’s not as exciting as a lottery ticket with a chance to win $1M, but the reality is you probably wouldn’t have gotten anything with it, and at least the sweater has real value. Boring, but warm and useful.

    • Vintage Flame

      I read your previous post as well Greg, but I thought I would spare the board room and just comment on both here. I agreed with a lot of what you posted actually. i too would have rather seen Calgary eat Kotalik’slast year than lose that 2nd rounder, but then I started thinking about it. A lot of people agreed that in order to sign Tangs, we had to trade Reggie. But that might have ALSO included Kotalik. I’m thinking there is a strong chance the Flames are going to bury Hagman in the AHL. Now while there has been A LOT of criticism on the part of the Flames management [Mainly by Ryan.. No surprise] being too cheap to bury 3 mil in the AHL, we clearly know that’s NOT the case because the Flames in fact buried Kots in the minors last year. What I DON’T think they are willing to d is bury Kotalik AND Hagman in the AHL at the total of 6 Mil. And I have to agree with that. Odds are Kotalik called there bluff and was NOT going to stay in Europe or the KHL or anywhere BUT here, so the Flames HAD to move him. So I think the 2nd for Kotalik had a lot to do with them signing Tangs as well.

      You bring up an interesting point in your post quoted above. Is Butler worth more than a late 1st round pick? Well I guess we are going to find out. Does he have a more than 20% chance of making this squad? Given our depleted roster on D, i waould say he has a good to better chance. And I like that he showed such progression over the year in Buf in his minutes played, but he is in for a different pace when he comes to the West and he is facing the likes of the Sedins, Hall, Ebeerle, Datsyuk, Kesler, Toews, Kane.. adn now we can add RNH to the list, that actually still goes on. Not that he wouldn’t with Buf, but now he has multiple games against this group. i’m hoping he can rise to it and that he does realy well here.

      I still think we need to get a 3-4 D-man off FA, we’ll see whose available.

  • RKD

    There are still some free agent UFA defencemen the Flames could go after on July 1:

    Bieksa, Ericsson, Wisniewski, Pitkanen, to name a few.

    They should keep Pardy and Babchuck for cheap if they can.

  • RKD

    There are still some free agent UFA defencemen the Flames could go after on July 1:

    Bieksa, Ericsson, Wisniewski, Pitkanen, to name a few.

    They should keep Pardy and Babchuck for cheap if they can.

  • RKD

    A couple of questions:

    1) Butler seemed to have progressed over the season. He started as a low minute / press box guy to a 22 minute player. He was a top minute guy in the playoffs.

    Is that something to get excited about? How did his numbers progress throughout the season? How much of that was related to injury?

    2) Last season Calgary was one of those few teams that absolutely buried two of their D men.

    With Regher gone Calgary is probably going to share the load across their D.

    What does that do to Bouwmeesters game?

    3) I don’t have the data to back this up, but it seems like Regher’s D partners dry up offensively at EV. Shot totals go down. Points go down.

    Is there something to that?

    • Robert Cleave

      I was looking at that for Butler as well, I’m still learning about all these advandced statistics and all, but should we be looking at more of a tighter picture on Butler, He had an alright opening of the year in October, but in the Months of NOV/DEC/JAN only got into 13 games. Maybe he was crap, which is why you look at a whole season, but if we look at progression and look at his end of year for FEB/MAR/APR he got into 28 games(double the previous 3 months) and doubled his TOI as well and then continued that into the playoffs.

      Are we able to break his advanced stats stuff into two almost seperate season? I mean if we got the first half of the year Butler, thats TERRIBLE, but if we get second half of the year Butler that may not be a bad thing, cause that Butler looks more capable of stepping into a #4 role.

      Also @RKD,
      Bieksa isn’t playing anywhere other than VAN, they will work some deal out, rumor was that one was already done at the draft. Pardy is fine if we can keep him for around what he made this year. Babchuk is gonna want to much for to long and will be a contract we regret far to fast.

  • crapshoot

    Glad to see the pitchforks being laid to rest.

    I believe Feaster accomplished some pretty good things this weekend. I also disagree with you on Butler Robert, since I believe that Chris Butler might be a nice surprise if he can build on his play from the later portion of last season including the playoffs. He played top minutes for a few games in the playoffs, and all in all he made good progress through last season. Feaster indicated that he will get a shot in top 4, and there is even a slight possibility that he may have a breakout year in 2011-12. If that happens, the Regehr trade will look really good.

    I don’t believe that the team necessarily got worse from draft weekend. It sure as hell got different, which was necessary. For better or worse is yet to find out, and right now I’m very excited to see what the next step will be.

  • loudogYYC

    I agree with most of you here. Losing Regehr with Kotalik included is definitely bittersweet.

    There’s tons of work to do still but if you take a step back for a second, Sutter would have been working on an extension for Hagman right now.

    We could definitely be in a worse position.

  • Dr. Nick

    I think you made some good points Mr. Cleave, but I do disagree with you on some other points.

    I agree with you that the return on the Regehr trade was less than he was worth and did not help out the Flames at all. I personally don’t think Feaster put that much effort into trading Regehr. Unless he was trying to get a first round draft pick, he could’ve taken a couple more days to find a team willing to offer a bit more.

    This trade was all about signing Tanguay than trading Regehr but the cap had raised enough to sign Tanguay at the contract he got no matter what. If it was paramount that cap space was cleared before signing Tanguay, and I’m sure there was potential to find other deals to relief some cap pressure. I mean if Campbell could be traded at the draft surely some of our one year contracts, like Jokinen and Hagman and Sarich, could have been traded to teams needing to reach the cap floor. If it takes 3 trades to make the cap space rather than one so be it, it just means a little more work, which any GM worth a grain of salt should be willing to do on one of the most important weekends of the year. The return on them would have sucked too, but it wouldn’t have been much worse than Regehr’s and you would have got more time to get the proper return for Regehr.

    I also agree with you on the point about the NTCs and NMCs for the most part. I don’t think they are that detrimental to a team as long as full NMCs are reserved for star players or players that can’t be replaced and the others have limits to them. I mean if players like Henrik Zetterberg and Bobby Ryan don’t have NTCs or NMCs why should Curtis Glencross and Alex Tanguay have them.

    When it comes mixed signals, I think the only one he has sent was his whole stance on the giving out the aforementioned NTCs and NMCs, where he was going to take a stronger position on handing them out, but has already given out 2 on his first 2 contract negotiations.

    When it comes to the remaking of the Flames roster I disagree with you. Jay Feaster hasn’t really sent a mixed signal; from the beginning Feaster has been more about retooling the roster than rebuilding. So getting trading Regehr and Kotalik and signing Tanguay definitely has a retool feel to it. Unfortunately, nowadays NHL fans only think in the extremes, you either rebuild or go for the Cup.

    I also disagree with you about Nikita Filatov. While his cap hit is about 2.2mill, there are ways Feaster could have made this less of an impact. When he offers a UFA or RFA a contract he has options to keep them within the budget. Plus he does have the option of actually giving some propects in Abbotsford a legitimate opportunity even if it is to fill out the 4th line or being the 5/6/7 defenseman. I mean if he did get Filatov he would only have to sign 3 other roster players. Finally, as I mentioned before, he could try trading a couple of our one year contracts to a team trying to reach the cap floor.

    When it comes to smaller players, I think it is good to keep an open mind about them, but all the forwards we acquired this weekend through the Regehr trade or draft were all under 6 feet and weigh 175 pounds and under. I mean it doesn’t hurt to take one once in a while but don’t fill up your tank on them. Plus to take John Gaudreau, who is 5’7″ and 140 pounds soaking wet with your 4th round pick is probably not the best move.

  • Robert Cleave

    So I checked Gabe’s site, and Butler played second pairing minutes against Philly in the opening round. He also had his head handed to him, albeit facing about a 42% ZS. Still, let’s not get too carried away here. If he becomes more than a decent bottom pairing defenceman, good. Right now, based on the evidence, no one should get their hopes up.

  • Derzie

    The prior thread called out Feaster for boneheaded moves (ignoring drafting as a monkey can pick draft prospects from a scout determined list). This thread tries to water the assessment of Feaster down. I see this as apathy. This is why Calgary is suffering. Putting up with old boy dumb management and reinforcing it by clamoring for season tickets. We all know that Toronto does this to a tee so why are we so blind here in Calgary. I can ignore most of the stuff that has happened but to even mention Ryan Smyth coming to Calgary is probably the most contradictory and dumb piece of information to come out of the Flames office since Daryl left. This cannot end well. Rest assured the free cap space will be spent on a player that was the bees knees 5 or 10 years ago. I’m tired of watching a good thing go bad here in Calgary. Jarome deserves better.

  • Greg

    Looking at capgeek now, and assuming we sign Butler, Babchuck, and Pardy for around $3-3.5m, we’ll have about $3.5M left over. There are a few noteworthy UFAs that could fill a 2nd pairing spot for that. If Feaster does sign #3/4 guy next week then I think we definitely come out ahead havin picked up 2 young players in the mix.

    Of course one can always dream that Hagman is going farming and the real target is Brad Richards :). I don’t see any other forwards that would make sense to target given the state of the franchise though.

    Any other thoughts on what Feaster might do with that capspace?

  • Greg

    The one forward I’d really like to see here, but doubt we can get, is Scottie Upshall.He is still fairly young, plays with an edge and puts up reasonable points. He isn’t the biggest guy, but he plays big.The problem is because of this he does have some injury issues from time to time.

  • Dr. Nick


    I don’t think this about watering down the hate, it’s more like trying to make the most of a bad situation


    First, I hope we don’t sign Babchuk because he is not the type of defenseman we need

    Second, I hope we don’t go after Brad Richards because I know the kind of contract it will take for the Flames to sign him. It will be long-term, big money and a NMC. If it is about trying to satisfy Iggy, Feaster has already done enough for him with Tanguay, and Iggy’s contract is up after next year. We have to look at making a new core for the Flames, not keeping the old core happy.

    If we are going for a big money contract I would rather go after Kevin Bieksa, a top 4 right shooting defenseman who has played in the Western Conference and would help make up for the loss of toughness from the trade of Regehr and add a little offence at the same time.


    I don’t think we need Scottie Upshall cause I think we have a bigger version of him in the form of David Moss.

  • Emir

    If butler can replace Cory sarich at 1.2 mil that’s awesome. Lets hope Byron has a high ceiling and grows to be a top 6 guy. Realistically this trade looks bad today and if butler just tears it up we can be looking back on this differently.

    Feaster is on a short leash and unless it is a clear cut win for us in any transaction we will continue to react this way until feaster earns our trust.

  • MC Hockey

    Hey Derzie and all you guys, You need to be smart enough to know the whole “we want Ryan Smyth” thing was just a ploy by Feaster to get Tanguay to hurry up and sign and do it for less, I can almost guarantee that…I know lots of lawyers due to my work. As for the contract, I think Tanguay could have fetched 4.5M for 5 years elsewhere because if you check stats on similar players (like higher paid top-30 scorers and former Flames winger Huselius). Plus Tangs’ ONLY bad season was TB (not Montreal as it was 41 pts in 50 games due to injury equal to 67 points in 82 games). Butler has great upside and is more mobile and a better passer than Regehr who is slowing down while Byron plays above his size with passion and grit, could be the next Martin St Louis. IN the end, remember you have to give up something to get something and we got cap space, younger, and 2 good players or propects if you wish.

    • MC Hockey

      Beg to differ on a number of your point
      1) I don’t get where knowing lawyers is at all relaevant in any of this discussion.
      2) I think 4.5 is a bit high. Depending on length of contract he may have gotten 4 million for 3 years-so a small discount for an extended length.
      3) I disgaree with the de-valuing of Regehr. He was a top pairing dman who played only minutes against the top players in the league-and held his own. Someone will be exposed to those minutes this year and quite frankly i”m worried.
      3)Most view Butler as a 5-6 dman. If he has upside it maybe to 4 but doesn’t eat the tough minutes Regehr played.
      4) Byron as a St Louis who was in many eyes the league MVP-wow that is quite a leap I’m certainly not willing to take. He is 100 times more likely to be a career AHL player than a St Louis.

      I’m willing to let it play out but I found the moves entirely confusing. We have the same team as last year minus Regehr and plus Butler. To me we look worse off.

      If we take a step backward I think the 2nd we gave up is not far off the 1st round positions we picked in for about 4 or 5 years.

  • PrairieStew

    Mixed messages is right. Is this for now or later?

    Now it allows Tanguay to be kept, which was essential to getting value out of our best player but the net result on the back end is tough to swallow.

    Now by moving Regehr it allows Jaybo to move back to the left side where he belongs, but why not acquire a defenseman who can play the right side ? Butler is an upgrade over Mikkelson and Pardy for the left side of the 3rd pair – but by how much ? Essentially you have put Butler on the depth chart ahead of Brodie. I would be very surprised to see Pardy resigned now. The left side ( Gio, Jaybo, Butler) looks as good as the left side that ended last year ( Gio, Regehr, Staios); but the right side is hurting with only Sarich and Carson right now, where the Flames ended the year with Sarich, Jaybo and Babchuk.

    Byron certainly adds to the young forward depth, to go along with the slew of middling 2nd and 3rd yr pros we have. This is likely a next year guy when we have 7 or 8 UFA’s at forward when perhaps only Moss will be worthy of returning. If he pushes for this year it is in an offensive role on the 3rd line where Glencross and Hagman occupy the wings and either Jokinen or Stajan are the centre – is he an upgrade on any of those guys? – don’t think so.