Flames UFA Targets

Knowing where the Calgary Flames are with their salary cap situation and their current roster situation, free agency starting on July 1st may not be as lucrative as it could be for other teams.  However, that doesn’t mean the Flames should be completely idle, and there are some potential good value picks for teams willing to be smart and patient with their money.  I’ve identified a few players I’d like to see Calgary target come Friday and beyond.

Radim Vrbata, RW

After two seasons with Phoenix, Vrbata hits the free agent pool after flirting with 20 goals in both campaigns; he finished with 19 last year after posting 24 the year before.  I see Vrbata as a nice transition player, filling a role further on down the depth chart for a team, but he’s proven himself to be a capable player.  He had decent possession stats with the Coyotes last year despite a zone start south of 50%, and proved himself to be one of Phoenix’s more consistent forwards along with Martin Hanzal and Shane Doan.  I wouldn’t give him anymore than two years, preferably one, as I don’t think he fits the future for the Flames.  But as the team starts to move in a new direction, having him around to help stem the tide isn’t a terrible idea.

Scottie Upshall, RW

Splitting last season with Phoenix and Columbus, Upshall showed his worth as a capable depth player with some offence to go along with it.  He finished 22 goals overall, passing the 20 plateau for the first time in his career, and he did it without being overly protected or sheltered.  I see Upshall in a similar role as Curtis Glencross or David Moss: capable forwards who can give you quality possession from the second or third line.  Obviously there’s a value to this type of player, however my fear from a Calgary standpoint comes from the asking price.  He counted $2.25 million against the cap last year, and might be a guy with a number of different suitors after him.  While I think Upshall would be a nice fit on the Flames, it has to be if the price is right…as in, right around what he made last year.

Jan Hejda, D

Hejda might be a sought after guy if a team ends up missing out on James Wisniewski or Christian Ehrhoff, and I think he’d fit perfectly on a short term contract with the Flames.  With the loss of Robyn Regehr, the Flames may be looking to fill a spot with a capable, veteran defender; shoes which I believe Hejda fits.  He plays a very straight forward game and isn’t going to add a ton of offence from the blueline, but I think fans would feel more comfortable with him in the top four than guys like Carson, Butler and Sarich.  Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Flames stay away from UFA defencemen and go with what they’ve got right now; it might mean feeding guys like Butler or Brodie to the wolves, but I think it’ll be good for them and good for the team longterm.  However, I believe Calgary WILL be looking for a blueliner, so I wouldn’t mind Hejda on a value contract; he counted $2 million against the cap last season.

Jussi Jokinen, LW

First off, I realize it would be far too confusing to have two Jokinen’s on one team, so I add Jussi’s name to the list with that realization in mind.  On a Carolina team last season with very few forwards in black possession numbers, Jokinen turned in a nice season, and from what I’ve seen, he’s actually a decent forward.  Again, he’d fit more into a depth role with the Flames, a guy who the coaching staff could count on to keep things on the north side of the ice when called upon.  He had 52 points with the Hurricanes last year and turned 28 in April, so there are productive years still ahead of him.  I’m not sure how much of a raise he’ll be looking for on his $1.7 million cap hit last year, but overall, I think he’d be a nice fit with Calgary, and that’s before his shootout prowess is added to the equation.  Again, the mind blowing potential for two Jokinen’s on the ice at the same time does make this paragraph a little trippy.

Joel Ward, RW

"Good luck Steinberg" is what I’m sure a lot of people are saying after reading this addition, but I can’t tell you how thrilled I’d be if Ward were to join the Flames.  His stellar postseason with the Predators may put him in line for a larger raise than he was already going to get, but who knows, the asking price may not be as steep as some believe it will be.  Ward is a very capable player with strong defensive sense that I think would be a great fit playing on a line with Daymond Langkow, giving Calgary a shutdown option similar to Ward flanking David Legwand regularly with the Preds.  He counted $1.5 million against the cap last year and was good value for that, even if you take his 29 points out of the equation.  Having a Corsi number in the plus after being buried by Head Coach Barry Trotz all season is a feat in itself; his offensive zone start finished at 39.8%.  If Calgary got this guy, even though he turns 31 in December, I’d be a happy camper.

Kent wanted me to include Mike Commodore, who is expected to be bought out by the Blue Jackets prior to Friday; if that happens, he will enter the free agency pool.  I’m not a fan myself, as I see him being an average hockey player at best, and not as serviceable as Hejda.  I think Chris Butler or Brett Carson could do as a good a job, or better, than Commodore, even if they don’t have red hair and didn’t play on the 2004 team.  Again, I’d rather see Calgary stay away from free agent defencemen myself, unless Wisniewski suddenly becomes affordable, which isn’t going to happen.  Let’s be honest, he’s not going to be in Calgary’s ballpark, neither is Christian Ehrhoff and the story is true when it comes to some of the more sought after forwards.  For the Flames this Canada Day, good value signings, like Tim Jackman one year ago, should be the story of the day.

  • Day one Feaster should be focused on young players that are part of the Flames future. I don’t see players like Ward, Vrbata, or Hejda fitting that mold. Though they could be a later summer signing to fill in gaps if still available.

    My targets would be Bergfors and Greene. I would also put Connolly on that list just because he can play between Iggy and Tanguay. If he can be had in the

  • wattree

    Thoughts on Bogosian? If we’re getting younger is he worth taking a run at acquiring his rights? I kinda remember that there were questions about him having a falling out with the coach last year. New org but maybe he wants a fresh start

    • Bogosian would be a great target. The Thrashers misused him last year, but who knows how the new Jets management feels about him.

      On Jovo – it was always thus. He took the route I think Phaneuf is on: great skills, fine in the offensive zone, never got it together defensively.

      Remember when Giordano humiliated him? –

  • Nogoalov

    It was discussed this morning that there wasn’t a large appetite to sign babchuk this off-season. I think that he brings something unique and scarce on our back-end with his cruise missle of a shot. Is his main detractor his foot speed? I think it is worth overlooking…as long as he is asking for less than 3/per

    what do you guys think?

    • His main detractor is his overall defensive game, which has been limited since he made the NHL. He is no better than a third pairing guy at even strength because you can’t trust him against good players.

      The shot is a true skill. The issue is not paying him too much for it, because you need money to pay the guys who can actually play against top lines at ES.

      • wattree

        The way I see it is that Babchuk is like Kotalik on defence. When he was playing on the third line and chipping in on the PP and shoot out, he looked great for 1-1.5 mill. But give him 3mil and you need him to produce in the top 6 forwards.

        Babchuk will be the same, if he gets paid like a 2-4 slot d-man, then you expect him to play like a 2-4 slot d-man.

  • the forgotten man

    As long as Ken… (cough, cough) Jay Feaster is running the show this team is going nowhere now and in the future. Keep Feaster at this point but K-squared is a huge anchor weighing down this franchise and must be let go. Sadly, if the Flames go the rebuild route, this buys King 4-5 more years of safe cover from his ineptness. He will throw Feaster under the bus, like Daryll and Button, if things go south this year and next.
    Keeping King in place is like leaving Obama in the White House and Grimace in charge at City Hall…”winning the future” indeed.

    And for the Love of God, could our local media please stop throwing whiffle balls at King during interviews? This could go a long way to enabling some real “Hope and Change”.

  • the forgotten man

    What’s the status on Sean Bergenheim? I remember he was highly touted when he was in NY. Had a great playoff with TB (9 goals) before getting injured. He is a UFA paid $700,000 last year. Any thoughts?

  • Vintage Flame

    I like Bergfors for around $1M a year. I would like the Flames to go after Upshall, but stop at the contract they gave to Glencross, but with a Tanguay NTC in it. $3M for 4 years is good money for Upshall, beyond that you can find better deals.

    On defense, I am really hoping that Detroit does not resign Ericsson. He is worth a $2.5M contract for 3-4 years. Other than that I wait to see what happens with players and teams in the summer.

  • Derzie

    I hope we avoid the Big Fish/Small Pond guys. We have a whole team full of players that came for small market (Florida) or losing (the hapless Leafs) teams. Pedigree required.

  • Captain Ron

    If the deal for Erhoff is really ten years and 40 million and Montador got 11 million for 3 years it leaves me feeling pretty deflated about our chances of landing anyone of note tomorrow. Would sure like to see Joel Ward on our roster.

  • MC Hockey

    That erhof deal is aweful. And that much for montador? What the heck is Chicago thinking??? Bad contracts being handed out like candy, with term to boot. Lets watch them all get bought out down the road…