Flames Sign Derek Smith



The Fan960 via twitter reported today that the Calgary Flames have inked 27-year old defender Derek Smith, formerly of the Ottawa Senators organization. Smith appeared in nine games for the Sens last year, garnering one assist. The deal is reportedly two-way, with an NHL salary of $700k.

I have to say I am somewhat confused by the addition. Smith joins a depth chart absolutely bursting with similar ‘tweener type players. After obvious NHLers like Giordano, Bouwmeester, Sarich and Babchuk, the Flames now boast Chris Butler, Brett Carson, Brendan Mikkelson (RFA), TJ Brodie, Clay Wilson, John Negrin, Chris Breen, Joe Piskula, Jordan Henry and now Smith. That is no less than 10 (!!) defenders signed to two-way deals who might be, at best, 5th-7th defenders in the NHL at this point in their careers (most at the 7th or below end of the scale). I understand the Abbotsford Heat could use some veteran depth, but I’m not sure why all of these guys warrant NHL contracts.

The signing is mostly an inconsequential one, of course, so my confusion isn’t anything beyond minor puzzlement. It’s just…where are they going to put all these defensemen?

  • thymebalm

    I like the signing. one year, 2-way, low cap, no risk. He finished 4th in points for AHL defenders, even with a call-up stint to the NHL. The signing might not address what fans perceive to be the Flames problems (ie: #1C or top-4D), but it’s still a good move.

    Feaster added 2 of the top-10 AHL defenders in points during this offseason, and yet he gets no props. Just wait until you see what a difference it will make for all our prospects to play on a winning AHL team. I don’t remember our farm team ever looking so good.

    Brodie – Wilson
    Smith – Breen
    Negrin – Piskula

    Feaster seems to believe in the talent that the Flames have around them. He’s just trying to create a positive winning environment, from the farm up.

    One of those top-5 is bound to blossom into a true top-4 NHL defender. I think Smith, Wilson, Brodie, and Negrin all have the ability to play full time in the NHL, which they’ve all briefly experienced already.

  • Feaster added 2 of the top-10 AHL defenders in points during this offseason, and yet he gets no props. Just wait until you see what a difference it will make for all our prospects to play on a winning AHL team. I don’t remember our farm team ever looking so good.

    The Heat should certainly be more interesting to watch next season, that’s for sure.

    Perhaps my only fear of all these mid-20 year old defenders getting signed is Brodie getting lost in the mix. I don’t think that will happen, but there might be some risk given his age.

    • Captain Ron

      No better way to describe your fear than a deliberate attempt at Cannibalization: When Coca Cola launched Diet Coke, they sacrificed coke sales in order to get the Diet Cola brand going. Coca Cola is still around, but so is diet coke and they are both thriving. The same goes for Brodie, he may be pushed back to top line minutes in the AHL as any former allstar would deserve, but he wouldn’t be pushed further than that. Others may rise to the top and now you’ve got two or three NHLers when you conceivably only had one. This strategy applied over and over could breed some great results over the long term.

  • Ken V.

    … this is a much, much better signing than Henry, don’t see that guy ever making the NHL. This is interesting to say the least but literally could have been that he decided to come here and we had already sent an offer and he accepted it. This is the way it should be, but what now with these desperation signings? I guess keep them in the AHL and hopefully our true prospects don’t get discouraged and move on. Still won’t find a top 4 out of any of these guys so something must be happening, if not we’re screwed.

  • Ken V.

    Has anyone actually seen this guy play? His AHL numbers seem good but we all know that doesn’t necessarily translate to NHL level ability (see Kotalik). This seems like an odd signing if they really didn’t see anything in this guy. I wonder if this is a suggestion from John Weisbrod. Since Derek played with the Binghampton Senators last year, our new asst GM might have had some insight into Smith.

    Here’s hoping.

  • Captain Ron

    Guys, really, are we seriously that befuddled with the state of the union?

    This is a piece of the puzzle that nobody is assembling into a finished product due to the drop off after Bouw and Gio and I get that. But Kent, you have to see beyond the numbers bro. This is It’s so multifaceted, so articulated, that its impossible to forecast what these players are going to do when thrusted into such an intensely competitive environment. The point is, there is so much rationality at play here that the braintrust is choosing to create internal competition by inducing hunger by dangling the carrot.

    1) Acts of God: This I classify as late bloomers that NOBODY forecasted to have the ceiling they did. These are the Giordanos & Beiksas of the world. Is there one in this group of Flames prospects? Only time will tell. The strategy being applied shows internal fortitude to drum up the list of targets, acquire them, challenge them to be up to the task and believe that one or more prove you right. That’s something great organizations are made of. Balls backed by purposeful and deliberate planning & consistency.

    2) NW Division. Regardless of the lack of productivity being pushed out by anyone but the Canucks, this is traditionally a bruising Division especially in Alberta. The Defensive focus with management is showing me that Calgary is not diverting from one of it’s cornerstones. The lineage of great defense runs deep in this organization and the current brain-trust are deliberately trying to do what it has always done well. Develop defensive talent. Think about it. From 9th rounders like Suter all the way up to Regher & Giordano. Defensive development is ingrained in this organization and is a fundamental strength. They are most definitely taking defensive development very seriously right now. Calgary has never been an easy stop in the NW regardless of what the score card has indicated.

    3) After the Regher trade, its clear that they are not resting on their laurels and assuming that their existing make-up is going to cut it.

    4 )2012 defensive free agents: One of the reasons why Hannan is still available is because GM’s that have a need are looking to 2012. If I were a GM I would trade for an upcoming UFA that has an expressed interest to come here similar to how Darryl swindled the league by acquiring Bouwmeester for Leopold’s rights. Who’s on that list? Suter, Kronwall, Beauchemin, Liles, Wideman, C.White, Rome (maybe Weber). The list is deep.

    5) Collaboration: Would it be a stretch to think that Feastie’s gang has reached a consensus that some of our prospects are on the brink and need an added push? That the semi-pro-scouts have jovially stepped forward with a list of worthy AHL men to create intense competition that will allow the cream to rise to the top? Once the cream rises, those knocking on the door will plausibly keep the victorious one(s) on their toes. Now that its clear that Pelech is a bust, I am thoroughly pleased that we are restocking as opposed to waiting for future drafts to hope for something.

    6) Leach & Ramage. Scouts are high on these guys as are management. Their range in their underage years & at prospects camp as been established. While their ceiling enduces copious amounts of uncontrollable Saliva, In the meantime, why sit tight? Get moving!!

    7) Erixon – They have no interest in pissing around after this. They have ground to make up with this loss and as Darryl proved with Gio and Breen, there is potential to find defensive talent with upside and they are making every effort to make it happen again. Anyone with a brain knows its easier to train a defenseman to defend than it is to train a forward how to score which makes for all the more reason to stock up when you are low.

    8) No less than 10 (!!!) defenders fighting for 6&7 spots? – That’s great considering the contracts and terms for AHLers! Who ever falls off the cliff get’s waived, traded, demoted, pushed off the plank it doesn’t matter at this point. Let the cream rise!

    9) B.Sutter – Technician with youth – His JR record speaks for itself. Not since Guy Boucher has ANYONE had the pedigree that Brent has as a junior coach earning his way up the ranks to the NHL. It’s really too bad that his last name associates him with his older brother’s demise as they have taken diverse different roads to the coaching ranks of the NHL. If I were forced to correlate the two, I would submit that they are both elite coaches. Period. Thus Brent is probably the most qualified man available to develop these boys.

    10) Many are fixated with Feaster being the catalyst and to a large extent this is true (as is any manager charged with growing an organization). Moreover there is a deep breadth of sound hockey knowledge collaborating on this team from Goulet, to Weisbrod, to B.Sutter & Hartsburg. Feaster has made no bones about it. You can analyze Feaster to death but the truth is these people know a heck of alot more than all of us combined and they are carrying out a plan that Feaster founded, but you can rest assured, like any great developer in real-estate, they enlist greater architects, engineers, project managers & constructors to carry out the vision. To a large extent, this is exactly what the Flames organization needed. Ken King can take credit for the collaborative environment that exists in the organization today. You have to believe this trickles down to the players and effectively cannibalizes the prospect pool. What is a simple definition of cannibalization apart from eating human flesh? Risking something of merit in order to gain in other areas to succeed. Example Negrin, we were/are all so high on him because there was really nobody else to hope for other than Pelech Pelech was pushed out and the notice has hit Negrin hard. We love your shine and lustre but we are prepared to risk you in order to mine for diamonds. Now it’s time to sink or swim. That goes for everyone. Learn to love it and you just might end up being a success.

    I’m not saying that they are correct in all of their personnel decision making because I have no crystal ball, but you can rest assured that there are people working incredibly hard in this organization backed by sound fundamental knowledge and aptitude.

    Aside from the mistakes, There was alot of excitement during the Darryl Sutter regime due to the backing of ownership and management. Some have recently said that ownership is cheap and would be wise to retract at this point. After the Brad Richards attempt the hockey world knows Calgary is beating the war drum deliberately. You can rest assured that the prospects will be charged by this environment.

    The Calgary flames are proving in a short period of time that they have a concise approach to development right now, and after a short period of time, its clear that this organization is on the right track.

    • Hey Markus! Nice spin, I like it, all those positive waves we cant lose! I hate to sound like a Moriarity here but I think Feasters options are pretty limited & this was pretty well the safest way to go. So yes there is a plan. The wrinkle that keeps going thru my head is what if? What if Brad Richards said yes to the Calgary offer. Then what??? You sign a 31 year old #1 centre to a monster contract knowing you dont have a stanley cup calibre defence & you’re in cap hell again. Perhaps you are right, it’s simply posturing to players(Iggy), season ticket holders, fans maybe even owners. I’ll reserve judgement & cut a lot of slack until the real long term futures game begins with the February trade deadline.

      • PrairieStew

        Thanks Kevin!

        I’d think if they picked up Richards, this year contracts would be buried, and next year they could drop about 10million off the cap with departing UFAs

    • Someone will get the job, but don’t expect any quantum leaps in development by any of the D down there. Don’t get me wrong, competition is good, but if you have to go to these lengths to get a guy like Brodie (just to use a name) to work harder then you have to wonder about their character in the first place.

      Also, the problem with this fostering of a competitive environment is that it’s being done with past-their-prime-to-develop, marginal-at-best prospects. So exactly who, how much and to what roster spot are we expecting someone to be pushed?

      As for trusting in the braintrust, that’s not even a valid argument. Do the words “In Sutter We Trust” ring any bells? The world ( especially the sporting world) is full of incompetency at the management levels.

      Everyone has an opinion and it takes someone qualified to sort through all of those opinions and make a decision. You’re assuming everything is done by some agreed-upon group consensus. The problem with a non-hockey guy in the GM chair is that you have a non-hockey guy making the final decisions based on input from competing sources.

      I give Ken King credit for nothing. This is the same rube who allowed Darryl to rise to the position of Dictator.

      Feaster is just throwing everything against the wall and hoping something sticks. Which is the problem I have. Something may well indeed stick, but hope is not a way to run an organization. That and the fact that I’m very skeptical regarding the quality of what he’s throwing.

  • Captain Ron


    Absolutly great comments that are obviously well thought out. I am in complete agreement with you and subscribe to the direction that the organization appears to be going in. There is a big picture here that will become much more clear as time moves on.

    A high five to you for your glass half full approach.

  • Captain Ron

    I don’t get the Feast at all.

    This reminds me of my other sporting love, the Kansas City Royals. They have a GM, who’s now been in the job for 5 years. And they are still atrocious, because he signs too many crap players for too much money, often to provide “competition”. Sound familiar? But we are told it’s all Ok, because it’s part of a “process” that will all come to fruition in 2010. Or 2011. Now maybe 2012. But 100% certain 2013 if those don’t work!

    Point is, I don’t doubt Featser has some grand plan that he is executing, that we can’t see yet. I just have no confidence at all it is any good, and he isn’t doing a thing to reassure me.