Sometimes It’s What You Don’t Do

 

Seeing the sheer number of contracts doled out over the weekend, many have noticed the lack of action from the Calgary Flames, who have yet to really delve into the free agent market.  While they were in on the bidding for Brad Richards, who would eventually sign with the New York Rangers, I’m not really all that down on what the Flames have done, or in this case, the lack of what they’ve done.

When it comes to Richards, I’ve got a number of tweets wondering why the deal "fell through."  Let’s be honest, nothing fell through in this instance.  Calgary came forward with an aggressive offer that the Richards camp considered, but when it came down to it, the Rangers seemed to always be his first choice, and while it was a nice story on Friday night, it was never a realistic option in my mind.  I said it in the comments section Friday, but I wasn’t even convinced signing Richards was the best idea for the team.  Nonetheless, Calgary didn’t do anything wrong in that instance, but it continued a trend in my mind: not landing high priced free agents might be a good thing for the Flames.

Let me give you a few examples.  I’m sure the Flames could have retained Adam Pardy, who signed a two year, $4 million contract with the Dallas Stars, but instead GM Jay Feaster decided his demands were a little too rich for Calgary’s blood.  That’s a good thing.  As much as I wanted to see the team bring Pardy back, it had to be at a smart price, and I certainly wasn’t anticipating him getting $2 million on the open market.  I felt he was going to be an affordable option as a reliable 6-7 defenceman, but as we well know, it’s not smart to be playing bottom pairing defenceman that kind of money.  Good for Pardy striking it rich on the free agent market, but Calgary not giving him the same money is a good thing, becuase I don’t believe he’s done anything to justify it.

Other names that have been pinpointed by Flames fans have also gone to other teams on large contracts; contracts that wouldn’t be prudent from a Calgary perspective.  Kent had mentioned Erik Cole as a possible target for the team, knowing that he can be an effective depth player.  I’d have no problem if the Flames were interested in Cole, but his dollar figure got jacked up to such stupid proportions, it made no sense for them to stay involved.  It also made no sense for Montreal to sign him to a four year, $18 million contract, but that’s another story.

On the blueline, Jan Hejda was a guy I thought would be a good target if the Flames wanted to add to their blueline.  While I don’t think Colorado overpaid grossly, giving him $3.25 million annually over four years, his dollar figure would not have been a good fit for the Flames.  Even though I believe he’d be a good hockey fit with the team, Calgary was, and continues to be, in a spot where patience and forethought are much more important than an immediate hockey fix.

By being patient and not getting in on bidding wars with players like Cole, Michael Ryder, Tim Connolly, and Scottie Upshall, the Flames may not have given themselves any boost for the team this coming season.  But they also didn’t take away any flexibility for A) potential trades further down the road and B) the summer of 2012, when so much money falls of the cap.  Overpaying in July of 2011 will likely set them back in July of 2012, and one summer is much more important than the other.

  • jakeryley

    no doubt staying out of free agency (Richards aside) was a wise move. However, Feaster still needs to improve the team. He needs to. Right now, we’re back in the pack competing for spots 6 thru 8 in the West with LA, CHI, DET, SJ and VAN being a class above everyone else.

    Phoenix will compete for last in the West, as will the Oilers, Wild and Stars.

    One of the 6, 7 or 8 spot is probably a lock for the Ducks. That leaves 2 playoff spots up for grabs for the Flames, Blue Jackets, Avs and Blues. I personally think we’re the best in that group, but either way that realistically leaves us battling once again for a bottom slot in the playoffs – which simply is not good enough, and does equate a realistic shot at success.

    Sadly though, there’s no magic transaction that will vault the Flames into the mix with CHI, LA, DET, SJ and VAN. I felt Richards would have given us a shot at that, but he signed where he wanted to.

    It’s a bit heartbreaking to know that another year of Iginla is looking like an uphill battle, but we are where we are. It’ll be interesting to see what Feaster can do to “improve” the team over the next month or so. He’s definitely on the right path as far as organizational depth is concerned, but it’s not going to help the organization at the NHL level anytime soon.

    Best of luck Feaster, you’ll need it. I’m definitely intrigued right now, and will of course avidly watch all season long – it’s just still difficult as a fan to have lost the blind faith I once had in this team.

    • CBJ and STL will probably be better teams this year too. CBJ adding Jeff Carter was a big move. If Juice is healthy, then they have a couple of very solid lines up front:

      Huselius-Carter-Nash
      Vermette-Umberger-Brassard/Calvert

      Of course, their main issue is goaltending, so they might be hard-pressed to do anything unless Mason or his replacement can be better than below average.

      • jakeryley

        Agreed. The West is not a very pretty picture for our organization (as of today) for the 2011/2012 season. The enthusiasm Tanguay voiced during his call-in during FlamesNationRadio was admirable, but his opinion on the team down the stretch was a bit off once you take a look at our lack of success vs. playoff bound teams. That lack of success has to be a considerable concern, especially with the subtraction of a top pairing d-man in Regehr.

        The Jackets also have Ryan Johansen primed to take a large step next season as well.

        • Greg

          Although it is only a very small window of viewing, and I realize one has to be very careful doing that, I have to wonder if Ryan Johansen is expect to make a big step for Columbus next season as you suggest , what can we say about Max Reinhart for the FLames.
          In the Portland – Kootenay WHL final series I thought Reinhart really owned Johansen, and anyone else he was up against for that matter.
          I also thought watching all the games in that series that Sven Baertchi was the most dangerous Winterhawk by far, including both Johansen and Neidereider. Just hope that translates long term for the Flames.

  • loudogYYC

    Great article Steinberg! Everyone gets so excited when teams sign a player and so worked up when they don’t. Status quo is the best option this year, just ask Ken Holland in Detroit.

    There’s really not a lot the Flames can do to greatly improve the team. I say we sign Bergfors and hope he can stick on a 2nd line with Bourque and Langkow.

    • MC Hockey

      I agree we should go for Bergfors he is a big body with soft hands who just hasn’t found his place on the right team and this may be the place for him, also Tim Connolly would have been a more suitable target for the Flames over Richards. I think there was an issue of all our eggs in one basket and we lost the basket. I have to believe there is something out there for us, Brent Sopel looks like an affordable top 4 D and lock up Babchuk for 2 yrs, why not?

      • Babchuk is going to cash in. He will be making $3M+/year. No thanks.

        Brent Sopel can block shots. That is about it. Other than that he is pretty useless.

        Neither of them would be able to play top 4 minutes, which means that they would just be stealing spots from Brodie, Negrin, and Butler.

  • loudogYYC

    Now is when you need to start talking agressively with teams that are now up at the cap limit. I look at a team like Washington with $1.5M of cap space and RFA’s Brouwer and Alzner still to sign. Poti may come off as LTI, and save them $4M, but Brouwer is likely to eat up around $3M of that.

    Washington has a good collection of young defensemen and can make do without Alzner. If I am Calgary I am working hard to find out what it would take to get Alzner from the Capitals. Short of going stupid like Colorado did.

    I wish that we still had our second round pick to give us the option of putting in an offer sheet for Alzner, but there has to be a trade that makes sense.

    In the next couple of weeks are really going to become a buyers market for teams looking to move some cap space. Glad that the Flames did nothing big (stupid) this weekend.

  • RKD

    According to Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger. Feaster offered more money to Richards, 9 years for 64 million dollars.

    I was skeptical of Richards coming to Calgary. If the Flames don’t make any signings it’s because they expect Jokinen to hit more than 60 points.

    They are expecting Stajan to bounce back. Langkow to go against the top lines and re-energize Borque. Jay-Bo to play more consistent and Butler to play 20 minutes a night. Lot of expectations if the Flames stick to status quo.

  • Greg

    Wow, vokoun to Washington for $1.5m? Did they ever hit the jackpot this weekend. Virtually no market for goaltenders and they come away with a first, 2nd, a cheap contract on the best goalie available, and still have a good young one for the future.

    If that’s all vokoun was asking for the avs trade looks even more retarded now. I hope he wanted was asking for 4 or 5 mil from non contenders or colardo’s gm should be fired.

  • With the Vokoun signing basically maxing the Capitals out, do they have another trade in the works or what? They aren’t going to be able to sign Brouwer and Alzner with only $544K in space.

    As a side note… holy crap on the Vokoun deal. $1.5M for a goaltender previously making $6M+. Alternate him with Holtby/Neuvirth, give the other one more development time, and the goalie situation in Washington will be scary good in the future.

  • well I guess we are in for a long hockey season considering we have little to be happy about given away robin for our 2nd rd was a sad day for Calgary another phenuff or gilmore story IMO, how is it we keep given the rains to Fools like that who give away our only line of defence for AHL or 6 or 7 maybe line defencemen how is it he can sit there and smile as he destroys our hockey team what in heavens name is ken king doing does he figure he can push this team back to the dark ages where we watched the team lose 7 straight season all the while we pay top dollar for the tickets they put in front of us are we going to support a team that is run by a group of pple that don’t care what they put out there as long as they can try and make us believe they are doing the best they can. Perhaps Im just peed off and don’t understand there thinking or maybe I’m a poor fan I don’t know that question because at 1 time I was a in sutter we trust now I would like to take him out to the wood shed and well U know .Now we have Feaster who at first i thought might be our savour maybe im not given him enough time but 1 thing id forsure given away robin is unforgiveable in my mind. JMO

  • jakeryley

    A Backlund, Bergfors tandem sounds very appealing.
    I say we make a play for Fabian Brunnstrom and get a young all-swede 3rd line. Silly you say? Perhaps. Fun experiment? Hell yeah.

  • Bergfors and Stralman for depth if not maybe a pleasent surprise for the season. Maybe McCabe if he’s willing to play for 3M or less for a season maybe two at the most.

    I like the fact we haven’t signed a bunch of these guys that are going for 3+ million, they are gonna turn out like Hagman and Kotalik and we are gonna waste picks to try and get rid of them. We are not a cap floor team and can’t just spend stupid money to get to the floor on players that don’t deserve half the money they are getting.

    The Glenncross and Tanguay deals look like absolute steals right now, hell if we are saving 1 million on a cap hit or more per season for giving out a limited NMC/NTC clause that suits me just fine, as Regehr just showed a NTC/NMC doesn’t mean crap anyways, all it does is prevent a guy from blocking a trade to a hell hole like Florida.

  • MC Hockey

    Love the Alzner and Brouwer RFA signing and/or trading ideas. Also you could possibly sign offer sheets to either one of those two or Wayne Simmonds (Phi up against cap) and only give up a 2nd-rounder if you paid under 3.143M.

    Also Buff has 3 decent D-men to consider stealing and that team is now VERY tight on the cap (only $326K/player to sign 3 guys which is BELOW league min salary). The D men from Buff are Andrej Sekera, key prospect Gragnani, and steady Mike Weber.

    All could be had with very little compensation(probably 2nd-rounder at most) if you see the chart below (bottom 4 categories of RFA compensation under the CBA):

    Offer Sheet Cap Hit -> Compensation
    1,034,249 and below -> No compensation
    $1,034,250 to $1,567,043 -> Third-round pick
    $1,567,044 to $3,134,088 -> Second-round pick
    $3,134,089 to $4,701,131 -> First- and third-round picks

    • Robert Cleave

      Just as an FYI, Calgary would have to re-acquire their second rounder from Buffalo to give an offer sheet at any salary level that required that as part of the compensation. You can’t just trade for some other second rounder as a replacement.

  • MC Hockey

    @Robert. Yup, you’re right about that…I forgot the rules about only give up your own picks. But…perhaps offer sheet to Parise at 4.7M avg over 7-9 years adn give up 1st and 3rd. And 2 of 3 3 D-men I mentioned above would not be paid over $1.5M (so 3rd-rounder is compensation) if we are talking Gragnani or Weber.

  • Do some of you guys actually think the Flames will be better this year? We all know what Stajan is. For those of you who watched the Leafs in years past, such as me, I had high hopes but realized hes just a guy. Jokinens’ final time here will hopefully end by February. Jaybo is just not the d-man the Flames thought he was. Now they while they have some bad contracts gone they still have a few. I think we’ll see Bourque and Glencross digress this year. I think Glencross will be satisfied with his money and NMC and sit and relax. Some of the older players will get frustrated. And by January Hartsburg will take over in an interim basis, of course thats as long as it will be. The Flames look like their scoring punch is the same, minimal and the defense has dropped. Look for them to be a lottery team this year and the scouting staff will prove theyre ineptness by picking some guy out of Latvia who no ones heard of.

  • If my memory serves me, the Flames missed the playoffs last year, didn’t they? And that was with an aging Kipper and Iggy playing out of their freaking minds and the team hammering the last 30 games of the season like they were game 7s. The team is now weaker on D and has done nothing to upgrade the O. Kip and Ig are a year older and unlikely to replicate last year. And most teams in the West have upgraded.

    No, this team looks like a shabby old high-rise that might have had some good years, but now the explosives are being placed and the demolition is just a matter of time. Lottery pick for sure.

  • I disagree with the thought that this team will be the new Edmonton gunning for that first overall pick.

    While we can agree that our best players are a year older I don’t think that means that they are done for and are going to fall off of a cliff. The reality is that they are likely to experience a decline but you cannot even guarantee that.

    I think considering our composition we are likely to finish in 7-10, but definitely not last. I will say that Columbus and la Has gotten better, but nobody else in the west is really improved and Colorado has found new ways to get worse. So really im skeptical about any significant changes, and therefore im not jumping off a bridge thinking we will be remotely close to the draft lottery.

    • I think we are somewhere inbetween the doomsdayers & your 7-10 place optimism. If we had gotten Richards, then we were a playoff contender. We missed the playoffs twice in a row & I do not see where we suddenly elevate that expectation to playoffs. We got 1 bad year for Flames fans this year coming up. I predict we will be a longshot to make playoffs by early Feb. Thank God for the salary cap. Being one of the few early sellers, many expiring contracts will be jettisoned for 2nd, 3rd round picks, might even get lucky with another 1st. We’ll get one of the best 1st round picks Flames have had in years, have lots of other picks in what is supposedly a way better draft than this year, some of our kids will get a chance to step & up and show there skills & we will have even more cap space to go after potentially even bigger fish we missed out on with Richards. The D Sutter finger prints will be a memory after this year. Huge huge decisions this time next year swirling around Iggy & if he wants to stay. If Iggy wants to go to a contender, then I think we will be doing a blow up Edmonton style. Hope not. Iggy & Tanguay after this year should be looked at as a great 2nd line & we need young future franchise kids to lead the way with Backlund as our #1 line. Cap space & avoiding stupid signings will be our ticket to this. If we can get a Kaberle, or McCabe or Babchuk to a 2-3 year term at 3.0M or under is about the only thing Feaster needs to do. I’m kinda excited about the winds of change we are about to witness with the Flames. Being an arm chair GM is so much fun:)

      • PrairieStew

        Improvement is possible. A healthy Langkow means Jokinen doesn’t have to do that job. At the beginning of last year we didn’t know if Backlund was ready for the NHL; this year I see him on the top offensive line with Iggy and Tanguay. Similarily last year we didn’t know if we had a goalie to back up Kipper. Karlsson started slow and got better; and played more minutes and the team got more points with him in the net than any backup since the lockout – I see him doing even more this year, giving Kipper a rest, which will make him better. Butler is an upgrade from either Pardy or Staios on the third pair, and Brodie could very well be better than anyone on our third pair last year. There is also still money to get another dman.

        The team was in a playoff position before both Morrisson and Moss got hurt; and they were, in succession, effectively replacing the injured Langkow.

  • I think when it comes to blowing it up, its usually an unexpected thing as opposed to a planned thing. You just sort of happen to find your organization going down so you decide then to blow it up because really ots not getting any worse. I think if Darryl had been around for the rest of the season then I think we would have done that this draft. But it didn’t happen, and Ottawa was that team last year.

    I think the success of the flames next year truly rests in the hands of backlund n Brodie. If those two have breakout seasons it can be that difference for us, if not, well, we still have our first rounder haha.

    And armchair gm is an amazing position. Nothing but pure fun. Thank you flames nation for letting the arm chair nation have a voice

  • Here is a good tip for Feaster to keep in mind when he is on the path of destruction it is a ex-curt from thn.
    Anyone who saw Kaberle meander around the rink after being traded from Toronto to Boston knows why I called him Bear Stearns on Twitter; like the now-disgraced Wall St. investment firm, Kaberle lost millions based on his performance with the Bruins. At age 33, he is a shell of what he was during his best days with the Leafs – and his physical play is about as tough as an empty shell.

    Of course, as a puck-moving defenseman, Kaberle will receive a number of offers. But remember, whatever he giveth on offense, he taketh away in his own zone. If your GM winds up giving him more than three years and/or $3 million per season, you have every right to question your GM’s judgment and/or sanity. This should be good advice for Feaster but now I’m Afread that is exactly who he will target. All I can say is were in deep doodoo with this new GM. jmo

    • So if the Leafs gave up some Scrub prospect a conditional fourth and LEBDA!!! for Franson and Lombardi couldn’t we have come up with something similar of Value for Lombardi and Franson?

    • brf0170

      Gotta see what happens this trade deadline coming up & next years draft. D Sutters mess will no longer be a reason for crummy trades & lack of prudent moves. Franson & Lombardi were the version of the Regehr salary dump. Giving away a very good dman to dump salary(Lombardi whse career may be toast) They have big RFA’s to sign like Weber that dictated that move & the price for Weber went up since Friday/Saturday.

  • brf0170

    i really like franson i think he would have been a great fit here and for lombo that was just a salary dump so they can fit webbers upcoming contract in the budget. nashville took back a cheap contract and we dont have many of them to give. but great deal for leafs which by the way i hate saying

    • PrairieStew

      Boo-erns Feaster……. So again by only pursuing and albeit a solid attempt to get Richards we have missed out again by doing absolutely nothing significant, what is the point in clearing up cap space to do nothing with it? We could have gotten Connolly, Bergfors and a solid top 4 d for what we offered B-Rad. We are not playing in the AHL here so these depth signings although not bad ones are just not where our priorities should be, these players would still be available for weeks so why the rush to sign prospects? We need a top 4 D and depth forwards (at the NHL level)they are out there so make a move already! With 9 million free to use, signing players should be no problem. Bergfors would have been a solid pick up so good on Nashville for having some testicles and improving their team.

    • the forgotten man

      Feaster said something to the effect that Brad Richards was his Plan A? If he wasn’t jerking our chain, and sincerely thought he would maybe sign here, then we are truly entering the “End of Days”…there was not a snowballs chance in hell that Richards was coming to Calgary. If Feaster truly wasted his efforts on this potential signing and it distracted him from signing guys like Connolly or Bergfors, then I have some Swampland outside of Regina to sell to him.

      The big question now is what is Plan B? The interviewer at the Herald never logically bothered to have Feaster elaborate on it (no surprise there with our top notch Calgary Sports Media!), but I can only assume The Feast was trolling the Hotchkiss Funeral to convince Jamie Macoun to strap the skates back on to fill in for one of our 5th/6th defensive pairing this season.

    • Subversive

      Seriously? More frustrating than the last 3 years? I’d say this is a (small) step in the right direction this year, not that I’m planning any awards in Feaster’s name just yet.

      • the forgotten man

        yes, seriously! there were some solid options we had there and they are now diminishing quickly. I have not been against the happenings of the past 3 off-seasons necessarily, maybe some of the contracts but not when it comes to signing available FA’s. I’m basically getting at the fact we had a chance to get better now AND for the future and we have missed out. I agree steps have been made to lay the ground work for moves to be made but you have to make those moves, trading is NOT the best option at this point in off-season, this is FA time. Pre-season and draft day are trade times. simple.

        • brf0170

          there is a reson bergfors was signed for such a low price if you have read anything about him there are major questions about his commitment levels and we are trying to change that here. who is to say we didnt offer him something maybe he would rather live in nashville than here. he has been on 3 teams in the last 1 and half seasons. panthers didnt even qualify him. he is a crab.

  • joey joe joe jr shabadoo

    buffalo asked for the second rounder from the Flames as proof that we will not step over the line and steal their RFA’s. It is an act of good will to the league that the Flames are straight shooters. there is plenty more deals to come. The patient honest dealers will be rewarded. I did not like to see Regher leave but we are in a period of identity change here in Calgary and Regher does not fit in.

  • brf0170

    Bergfors is an upgrade on the 3rd line for Hagman at 2.4 million in savings! Stajan and Hagman are pylons, Bergfors just needs to be pushed and he’d get that here and will get it from Trotz in Nashville. Would you give a sh*t about hockey if you played in Florida? I wouldn’t! Vokoun took an easy 3 million pay cut to get the hell out of there. Bergfors IMO was a good fit here and would have fit in well and gave us solid 3rd line depth and the contract he was apparently willing to sign was well worth the risk.