Losing Langkow: Unfortunate but Understandable

Seeing the Calgary Flames deal Daymond Langkow to Phoenix in exchange for Lee Stempniak left me with a very similar feeling to Calgary’s deal with Buffalo at the draft in Minnesota.  While it sucks to see Langkow leave, I can understand the rationale behind moving a 35 year old forward who has played next to no hockey over the last year.  He may still be a very effective player, but it’s tough to see how Langkow fits into the longterm plans of the Flames.

I asked myself a few questions to help get my head around the deal, and I’ll present them for you now.  I just don’t agree with Ryan Lambert’s "rudderless ship" analogy to this team, as I see it to be the total opposite.  Whether or not the direction ends up being a good one, I do see Jay Feaster et al shaping the team to resemble the one they want down the road.

Does Daymond Langkow fit into Calgary’s longterm plans?

Honestly, how can he?  The Flames have missed the playoffs for two consecutive years and they need to start moving in a new direction.  Langkow is 35 years old, and regardless of his effectiveness, the team needs to start developing younger players and giving them the opportunity to play more significant roles on the team.  With that said, it just wouldn’t have made sense to bring Langkow back beyond this season, as his contract expires on July 1st, 2012.  Regardless of this trade happening or now, I don’t think we’d have seen Langkow back for the 2012-13 season.

Who has more potential longterm? Langkow or Stempniak?

That’s another easy answer.  Stempniak is seven years younger than the player he’s being swapped for, meaning there’s a chance he could earn a new contract with the Flames.  Lee’s contract expires at the end of this season as well, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be re-signed; in a lot of ways it’s up to him.  But there’s no question a 28 year old fits into a longterm vision a whole lot better than a 35 year old.

Were the Flames dealing from a position of strength?

Absolutely.  With Olli Jokinen, Mikael Backlund, Matt Stajan, Brendan Morrison, and potentially David Moss, Calgary has a glut of players down the middle.  On top of that, as discussed earlier in our Yay! Optimism! series, the Flames have impressive forward depth.  I fully understand there are few, if any, forwards on the team who can play the type of minutes Langkow has (I stress, has) played in the past.  They do, however, have a number of forwards who are in the same range and thus any one loss is a little easier to replace.

Is this season the be all and end all?

Hell no.  I don’t view it that way, and I don’t believe the Flames do either.  Langkow’s loss could very possibly see the team take a step back in their competitive level, the same way the loss of Regehr could do the same thing.  But this team isn’t just about this season, and by saving some room on their immediate cap ($2.6 million to be exact) the Flames accomplish two things.  First, it gives them room to make a deal later on to help boost their chances, if it ends up they’re in a spot to compete for a real playoff spot.  Second, it gives them flexibiilty if they wanted to aquire a player who does fit into their longterm plan, with a contract that carries beyond this season; having the free cap space makes that a whole lot easier.

What player will Langkow be?

There’s no guarantee Langkow, who has played four games since March 2010, will be anywhere near the player he was during the 2009-10 season.  There’s no doubting he was one of Calgary’s top forwards that year, consistently put in the toughest defensive situations against difficult opposition.  But missing that much time, and being two years older, it’s difficult to say for sure he’ll be as effective as he was.  I know Langkow played four games at the end of the season, and was very good in that time; but four games is not 82, and having him on your team at that salary is a risk, regardless.

In the end, it sucks to see Langkow go, because I firmly believe he’s still a very good hockey player.  I also firmly believed Daymond would be an interesting case study this coming season, and could be a real help to the Flames maybe being competitive for a playoff spot.  But this team needs to undergo change, and dealing a guy who likely wasn’t going to be with the team beyond this year is not the tragedy if could be; if this deal was made two or three seasons ago, it’s a different story.  The fact is, Jay Feaster made this deal on August 29th, 2011, and I don’t have a huge problem with it.

    • Vintage Flame

      No we aren’t. We are congratulating for finally doing what the fanbase has been whining about for years. Call it what you will, but this is a re-build. It’s just not happening all in one fell swoop.

      Feaster moved out a fan favorite yes. But he moved a depreciating asset that is now 35 and could be one hit away from retirement. I love Langks, but this is a move that is best for the future of this team, not just the immediate future, but distant as well.

        • Scott

          Double Bingo! Feaster is moving pieces of an old core & knows darn well the pieces he’s moving is not going to replace the old cores. Langkow probably was not going to be resigned & was 1 hit or freak play from getting us nothing. Stempniak, has value & is an asset. What was Feaster going to say, Stempniak is future trade fodder, no, he wants the guy excited to come here & have a career year in a contract year. The fact we shed 2.6mill now is icing on the cake. A lot of the fan base has put too much stock in that 2nd half & blocked out the first half. Feaster will have 5 months to dispell that 2nd half or forge ahead with a more obvious rebuild. The contracts he has signed & brought in all play into this theory. Flames still need to sell tickets & jerseys & you dont do that shoving yuuuch rebuild down the fans throats. It’s smarter to have the bottle & spoon ready if come Feb the fanbase is crying for it. If things go well, well what a great problem to have.

          • Vintage Flame

            Except that it was Jay who was the one refused to do a major rebuild at the deadline (thus maximizing values) because of the second half run that he couldn’t stop talking about ad nauseum.

            We won’t rebuild, but we’ll dump core pieces for salary space while receiving nothing in terms of hockey value in return, while also keeping and re-signing other core pieces.

            RL was right. The team is rudderless.

            The UFA idea is a pipedream.

      • Scott

        At the end of the season we will still have 4.5 mil in extra cap space, so no long term gains that way.

        I don’t think Stempniak is a player this team should plan to sign for the rebuild. The type of player he is, is exactly why Calgary has been a middling team the last 4 years. We have enough 3rd liner one dimensional scorers on this team. Plus he will want 3+ mil next year as the going rate for a 20 goal scorer, so we lose any contract/cap space value would will have for this year.

        Either way in my mind this team needs to move forward next year without these two players. So for this year we should have kept Langkow and celebrated his 1000 games properly.

        • icedawg_42

          yeah, but I think part of this is to see who they want to keep or discard at the second and third lines. After this season, the only forwards with contracts are Tangs, Iggy, Bork, Glencross and Backs (RFA). So this whole season is now an audition for all of them. I’ll bet most of those guys will be cut loose.

          • Scott

            I can see your point, I just think Langkow gave us a chance at the playoffs, with the same result in the offseason in terms of contracts offloaded. Now we have no chance at the playoffs and are left with 10 months until some good news comes the flames way and this reason being one big audition for the next 2-3 years.

          • Scott

            Also, because the topic was brought up. We will need to sign or bring up from the AHL 12 players next year, and we have about 22 mil in cap space to do so, thats less than 2 mil per player, can’t really do a big rebuild with that.

            Now, if we get rid of Jbo, and have 13 players and almost 30 mil in cap space, now your talking!

        • Vintage Flame

          “I don’t think Stempniak is a player this team should plan to sign for the rebuild. The type of player he is, is exactly why Calgary has been a middling team the last 4 years. We have enough 3rd liner one dimensional scorers on this team. Plus he will want 3+ mil next year as the going rate for a 20 goal scorer, so we lose any contract/cap space value would will have for this year.”

          No one said that Stempniak is part of the re-build. However, he IS a means to an end. He is 7 years younger than Langkow and 2.6 M cheaper. He is far more marketable come trade deadline than Daymond was. If Lee has a decent to good year, then I like the Flames chances of at least getting back their 2nd round draft choice for 2012, than if they were trying to deal Daymond.

          • Scott

            I imagine you know more about these things than myself, but to throw away the season for a possibility at a 2nd round draft pick at the deadline. Plus if Langkow has a great/decent year, I would think that he would be more marketable for a playoff team as he can contribute in more than one way like Stempniak can. Teams are always looking for additional scoring and shore up their defense, which langkow can do on both sides. I understand the cap savings for now, but if we trade langkow to a playoff team we can get a really good draft pick if we take on their salary dump, as long as it expires this offseason as well.

            Just my assumption though.

  • BobB

    Overall, I don’t like this trade. It’s similar to me to the Regehr trade.

    What I do like about it is:
    Stempniak is younger.
    Stempniak is fast.
    Langkow was a little bit poor value (@ 4.5mil).

    What I don’t like about it is:
    Again, we are a worse team short term, and very little difference long term… potentially worse by probably losing a “home-town discount” for Lanks as a UFA.

    We’ve moved our best shutdown defender and now our best two-way centre for return that doesn’t improve our areas of weakness.

    Sure, we had numbers on defense and numbers at centre, but we had one top qualcomp physical shutdown defender (Regehr) and one responsible two-way centre who can play the heavies (Langkow).

    These are elements every team should have at least one of. We now have none, maybe one in Hannan.

    I understand that it’s likely hard to trade poor-value pieces (Stajan, Sarich, Hagman, etc.)

    But that doesn’t mean you don’t address them, or bump them down the rotation.

    These trades aren’t doing that at all. Feaster doesn’t seem to understand that we need to address our “C-” and “D” guys with our “A” talent pool. Not Move “A’s” for “B’s” and do nothing about the “C’s” and “D’s”

    (Before someone says it: I understand that Kotalik was a “D”, but he wasn’t on our team… he was an overpaid AHL player, he was already moved OUT of the rotation)

    • icedawg_42

      I dont know what kind of rotation you can really have when almost all your forwards are of the 2B/3A ilk. Hopefully this newfound flexibility is a sign that they are going out after a big fish – a legit first line player – I dont care if its a winger or center.

  • everton fc

    First of all, Langkow was, and always will be one of my favorite Flames… Alongside Regehr.

    Okay. Now my comment…

    We almost made the playoffs last year without Langkow. So I don’t see his move to the desert as necessarily ending any playoff hopes we might have…

    He will certainly have no trouble finding a large, luxury home for pennies-on-the-dollar! Man, I wouldn’t want o move my family to one of the most fiscally-depressed places in North America. So it goes…

    I have always like Stempniak, though I don’t think he is a season-chaning acquisition. He is a good role player, one who can score the odd goal… and can add the odd assist. He’s good for 30-35 points a season, like Stajan… Having a number of players in that range… Can’t hurt.

    The trade definitely settles some of the questions around our “depth” at centre, while freeing up some cap-space. Also opens up the possibility of Moss centering Tanguay and Iginla. I like this move. Morrison might work on the wing w/Glencross and Jokinen. I can see that working. And Backlund centres for Borque… Maybe.

    Or does Moss centre Bourque… and we sign a true first-line centre? And do we move Stajan? We now have some cap-space to maybe pickup someone like Weiss… Someone else… To centre our top line…

    Still lots of questions… Lots of defencemen… Lots of 3rd liners… No to mention Hagman… Stajan… And so on…

    I get this real strange feeling Hagman may come out of camp a Flame, and on a bit of a streak. Here’s hoping.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I’m not sure if a similar post has been added to the conversation but here are my thoughts: This is another great deal made by Feaster. As a long time fan and season ticket holder I have nothing but high marks to give Feaster. Langkow was effectively replaced by Brendan Morrison for a fraction of the salary. In the same way Regher was replaced by Hannan. As I have stated previously, a GM should spend his money on offense as the defense can be got for cheap. In respect to Langkow and Regher the value they bring (what types like Steinberg like to harp on) is real. However the dollar amount placed on that value is what is out of whack. $4M+ for players with really only defensive value is not acceptable in today’s game. This is the Darryl Sutter mentality and it belongs pre 2005. Langkow is in decline, there is no way he would have justified his contract this year and after it expired we would have got nothing but memories.

    The scarcest commodity in the NHL is offensive ability. That is where money should be spent. Feaster is doing just that.

    Stempniak is an NHL player still in his prime years. He has demonstrated goal scoring therefore he has high value amongst GM who know what they’re doing. Whether we resign him or turn him into another asset this move is excellent. Bravo Jay!

    • everton fc

      Jeff… I am not a fan of Feaster, but you have spun a perspective above that makes some potential sense! Good job.

      Can’t argue moving a high-salary player who may not even make it through the season was a wise one. Score one for Feaster.

      Honestly, I’m not as high on Feaster as you are. But I’m also no doomsayer. I think we’ll be competitive next season. I really do. And while I’d have liked to have seen us grab a different GM, and dump our President, like many fans… I’ll see how things go.

      Again, good positive post.

      Which would beg me to ask… Would you support moving Bouwmeester, as well? I would, and hope we do.

    • Last year, the Flames spent $32.4M on their forwards (albeit, with much of it on Langkow who missed the season) and 20.4M on the defense.

      This year, they have 33.7M invested in the forwards and 20.3M in the defense.

      There really hasn’t been a big shift in budgetary allocation under Feaster. Not yet at least.

      • Jeff Lebowski

        Significant raises have been given to Glencross and Tanguay this year compared to last year. Two players who are key to the offense. Also Morrison is making more money and he contributed to the offense big time. The shift has come in what types of players are being paid that $33M. I say the correct ones (given value to team) and players that were (over)paid for their value (defensive) are no longer here. Which I applaud.

          • Jeff Lebowski

            I agree with your premise (despite the droll nature which you present it) The argument is what the market pays those types of players.

            You can get similar play for far less, witness Hannan’s contract.

  • The deal isn’t totally a bad one but it’s not great. We needed Lanks and his hit was coming off next year. He also could have signed (I guess still could but would think chances are less) next year for a discount. And no he is not equal to Morrison. Even if we are getting younger it doesn’t mean that ALL of our players need to be young. I think we have seen how well that is going so far in Edmonton (which they corrected somewhat this year).

    Stemp is not anything to write home about. He reminds me of a Hagman. Something that we could do without. I know he doesn’t cost as much but is he needed?

    As for using him for an asset. I think Lanks has more trade value at the deadline than Stemp. My guess is that Stemp gets us a 3rd. I would bet that Lanks would have got a 2nd given the right team (at least a 3rd). I know that his health is an issue but the trade won’t happen anyway if his health sucks.

    The only way this is makes sense is if they have their eyes on another player (ie $$$). It certainly doesn’t help short term and again, both players are UFA next year so there is no advantage there.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Can we get 2 things straight here:

    1) Hannan is much closer in terms of ability to Sarich than he is to Regehr.

    2) Langkow is a far more effective player than Morrison.

    There’s a reason those 2 make less money. Stop pretending there just as good for 1/4 the price because it’s just not true.

    • Jeff Lebowski

      List what makes Regher and Langkow valuable. Write down those attributes. When you add those up it will not justify $3M/contract difference when you do the same for Hannan and Morrison.

      If in the case of Regher/Hannan comparison you are then able to resign UFA Tanguay then it’s you who live in a pretend world.

      The market dictates, not your emotional attachments.

      • Jeff Lebowski

        First, I have no emotional attachments. I’m cold and heartless.

        Second, there’s been plenty of columns on here, including very recent, that demonstrate just how effective Langkow is and how Morrison is not so much.

        We know from years of having him here what Regehr can do. If Hannan were really a true #3 D, capable of shutting down the best in the league night in and night out then why would he have been let go considering his salary? Why were other teams not all over him?

        Moving Regehr just made a hole you have to fill and no way does Hannan fill it.

        I freely acknowldege the savings in cap space. I have zero problems with moving either of those 2 players or anyone else on the Flames for that matter.

        What I don’t get is re-signing some veterans just to lose others. Stating that you want to win now and that the second half of the season is who the team truly is and then ditching your best and meanest D-man who was also a leader on the team (the best one, IMO), plus your best defensive forward who could actually make anyone he plays with better – even Bourque!

        We get worse to save money to re-sign other guys who we didn’t make the playoffs with anyways.

        Some say we’re “rebuilding,” but then we get only marginal prospects back for the core pieces we do move while refusing to move other core pieces. If this is a rebuild then it’s the worst rebuild ever.

        Considering all of the money coming off the books after this season we could’ve just buried Kotalik and I still think Hagman is entirely tradeable to a team looking to make the cap floor.

        You’d then have a team that was close last year, plus Langkow who is coming off the books next summer anyways.

        I see no plan, no clear direction, just moves being made for the sake of making them. So we save some money, so what? Show me the white whale we’re supposed to land with that who’s going to save this team in some kind of magical deadline trade.

        • Jeff Lebowski

          Your comments about Hannan completely support my point. Given his availability on the open market he got $1M (maybe he could have got a little more). That skill set has been given a dollar amount by the market. To me there is not a huge difference between what he brings and what Regher or Sarich bring. So why pay more for the latter two? None of these guys contributes much of anything to the team’s offense so what are you exactly paying for?

          All these opinions about ‘effectivnes’ of Regher and Langkow are nice and all but you have not listed what their value is, you haven’t listed their attributes (they hit? they penalty kill well? you’re going to pay them $4M for that?! Guess what Hannan can hit and penalty kill too, what does he make?). Show me what makes them effective. My point is that there are players around the league who compare favourably to those skills that aren’t making $4M+.

          Players making that type of salary are contributing to the offense in some meaningful way. Now there are other bad contracts in the league but the progressive, smart GMs are realizing you have to put the big money in offense because you can get SIMILAR defensive play from cheaper veterans (just like Hannan) while offense is hard to find and when you do find it you better keep it. If in the case of a cap system where you have limited funds you better be spending and keeping players who contribute offensively.

          That is not saying those attributes Regher et al are not needed or valuable in winning games. What you fail to wrap your head around is what dollar amount the market is paying those attributes.

          After the lockout the league tried to become more offense focused, even today the rule tweaking are geared towards more offense. On whole, since the lockout, teams that have played an offensive style have been the most successful. I think Feaster understands this and that is his vision moving forward. You need to spend your money in the right places.

          • Jeff Lebowski

            We obviously differ in what we believe these respective players abilities are.

            Yes, Regehr provides no offense, but he can stop the msot elite players on the other side from scoring. In it’s own way, just as much, if not more, valuable as being able to score though not as valuable as someone who can do both. Regehr is top 3 on probably 25 teams in the league. His skating and positonal play are better.

            Sarich and Hannan are unable to do that and are more akin to pylons. 3rd pairing defenders at best. Which is why Sarich is slaughtered when put into top 4 rotation.

            Pretending these guys are euqal in ability is a erroneous and you know it. But, I guess we’ll see.

          • Jeff Lebowski

            For the last time, I’ll try to make my point as simply as I can:

            Morrison and Hannan are not the same players as Regher and Langkow. However they are effectively SIMILAR and with the trade off in what Morrison and Hannan make I’ll take the cheaper alternatives every single time. (who again play a SIMILAR style) I’d then put that money towards players who contribute offensively like Tanguay, Babchuk, Glencross and any other offensive player that is available in the league.

            You are correct, we will have to wait and see.

  • Danny Lawson

    Moving Langkow and Regher is the tip of the iceberg as the team begins the Flames core rebuild. Of course the big domino will be when Iginla is dealt later this year. It’s not a matter of if, but rather when. Unfortunately Calgary has been trying to hang onto mediocrity, and losing the battle. Although painful, the Flames will need to bite the bullet and begin to acquire the pieces that will form its future core.