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.