Flamesnation 2011-2012 Season Preview Rountable

 

 

Old face, new faces, different management, same coach. It’s a cross-roads season for the Calgary Flames with the organization wriggling itself clear of Darryl Sutter’s long shadow. Jay Feaster pruned two of the more expendable members of the former "core" in Daymond Langkow and Robyn Regehr this summer, but is still apparently set on battling it out amongst the Western Conference’s middle class for a post-season berth.

The rebuild, or retool, or whatever you want to call the post-Sutter efforts is likely to be done in degrees rather than a single, purifying conflagration, so the team and we the fans will be caught between worlds this year. Here’s how Flamesnation sees things as we head into the unknown:

Jay Feaster’s first off-season as the guiding light is over. Considering both roster and front office changes, how would you grade his efforts?

Robert Cleave: B-, roughly. I don’t dislike Lee Stempniak, and Chris Butler might turn out to be useful, so moving two solid pros in the process isn’t the end of the world. If he’d been able to move Kotalik withot sending away the draft pick, that would have boosted his grade, but he still gets a slight pass this year for still having to clean up after Daz’s late-term moves (hello, Matt Stajan). I’ll be inclined to judge him more thoroughly next summer when a few more contracts hit the road.

Vintage Flame: I’ll give him a B. He did a good job with the front office, and for the most part, the line up. But I’m still scratching my head on moves like adding PL3 and Desbiens, especially giving up draft picks in an upcoming, supposedly  talent heavy draft. I’m left to wonder what the purpose was when the Flames were still stuck with Ivanans.

Rob Vollman: Given his poor track record, relative inaction was definitely the right move for Jay Feaster. Phasing out bad contracts should be seen as a plus, especially since it was gradual.  Of course, all that makes the bizarrely risky Alex Tanguay deal that much stranger. The Hannan, Stempniak and Glencross deals were all good, though.

Pat Steinberg: I don’t mind a lot of the things that happened this offseason, as having talked to Jay a few times, I know that a lot of this past summer was used to set up the summer of 2012 when numerous contracts come off the books. I look at this season as kind of a "running in place" year in a lot of ways, and I like that Feaster didn’t go out of his way to blow resources on this singular year.  Byron, Horak, Baertschi, and Butler were all added to the organization, and all could be big parts of the team going forward.

What was the Flames best addition this Summer? What was their worst?

RC: Stempniak isn’t any super hero, but I suppose he’s the best player they’ve added. I doubt anyone will surprised to hear that I could have done without the Babchuk re-signing. He’ll need to score a ton on the PP to make up for his play at EV, sheltered or not. 

VF: I’m going to step outside the box on this and say John Weisbrod was their best addition. Weisbrod brings to the organization the cutting of the Sutter regime apron strings. He represents a new ideology and direction from the trolley tracks this team has been in for far too long, in relation to scouting and drafting. Many people are skeptical that Feaster can ‘talk the talk’, but will he ‘walk the walk’? Weisbrod is a key step in that walk. I’m sticking with PL3 as the worst addition. I don’t care that I haven’t seen enough of him to judge. The guy played 1 pre-season game and got suspended. Enough said?

RV: Best addition was Scott Hannan, an affordable veteran defender who can eat up the tough minutes to give others (like Mark Giordano) opportunities to excel.  Runner-up is Lee Stempniak: top-six potential with very little downside. For worst addition, I’ll go with Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, who is unlikely to add any value whatsoever.

PS: I’m with RC, Stempniak is the best addition. Having him as a third line scoring winger is an asset, as Calgary’s third unit will likely be better than a good number of others in the Western Conference. Given offensive starts against other third lines, I think Stempniak could make it a third 20 goal season. Mirror mirror with RC once again. I wasn’t a fan of the Babchuk resigning either, but I’ll defer to the other two and go with Letourneau-Leblond.  Why is he here? There’s no use for him on this team, so I don’t get the trade.
 
Even with the exit of Daymond Langkow, Calgary has as many as five NHL centermen: Jokinen, Stajan, Backlund, Morrison and (sometimes) Moss. Ideally, how do you see the depth chart shaping up down the middle?

RC: What, no mention of Roman Horak? I keed, I keed. Anyhoo, Backlund should be with Iggy/Tanguay when he recovers from his busted digit, and Joker should play with GlenX/Moss if all hands are on deck. That leaves Morrison with Bourque/Stempniak, which I’m not crazy about, but that seems like the best bet of a bad lot, because I’m not that enamored of Moss at center. Stajan? Well, he’ll make a nice compliance buyout after the next CBA kicks in. 

VF: I still think the top centre job is Backlund’s to lose. If that happens, then I like Moss as the #1 centre with Backlund as the #2. The one downside to this is Moss is proven as part of the OMG line; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I see where Robert is coming from with Morrison between Bourque and Stempniak. Leads me to wonder if Horak does prosper, does he slide in there, leaving B-Mo some pressbox time? Stajan rounds out the #4 centre, unfortunately.

RV: I like the opportunity Sutter has to fashion a shut-down line (like the classic Moen/Pahlsson/Niedermayer) in order to give the top line sweet, offensive, Sedin-like opportunities.  If so, Backlund would work best on the top line, Jokinen on the shut-down line, leaving Morrison and Stajan at the bottom. Of course, this has already been shaken up by injuries, something you have to expect to continue throughout the season, so the key will be role flexibility.

PS: What’s most interesting is to see what the aforementioned Roman Horak does on the big team. Does he prove that he can stick and makes the decision to send him down a tough one?  Or does he go the route of T.J. Brodie and prove to us he’s not really NHL ready at this point? Ideally, Moss goes back to wing with Jokinen and Glencross while Backlund moves up to centre Iginla and Tanguay. When everyone is healthy, I have Morrison on the third unit with Bourque and Stempniak with Stajan still with Kostopoulos and Jackman.  hat means Horak will eventually by AHL bound and Hagman will be…somewhere.

What do you consider to be the Flames primary weakness this year?

RC: A center for Iggy and goaltending, same as it ever was. If Backlund takes off, that’ll help, but I’m not quite convinced he’ll be a true top-level center this year even if he plays really well. As for the nets, one can only hope Kipper can find another good season at this point, since the collective evidence over since 07/08 isn’t the best. I’ve never been much for the idea that playing Kipper less would help, but if Karlsson shows some measure of ongoing competence, they might as well give it a shot. I will say that given the overall depth of the club, my marker for Kipper is around .912 overall. If Miikka can manage that, they’ll be in decent shape to make the playoffs. 

VF: It’s not even the fact that the Flames are so thin at centre, but that what they do have is still handcuffed with a bunch of "ifs". You start at the top with Backlund and it’s not a conversation of how good will he be, but will he be good, or he’d better be good. It’s a key year for Mikael, I hope the ‘ifs’ don’t get the better of him. Not to mention the fragile, aged Morrison. How many games will he play? Jokinen has an evolving style at age 32, that’s a question mark. You mention Horak and people say "who?".. Which brings us back to Stajan.

RV: Defense. Their blue line is too reliant on very few players who are above-replacement level defensively, and their forwards are below average as a group. I believe the Flames could have trouble protecting leads, killing penalties, and shutting down the better teams.

PS: Depth defence. There’s no question Jay Bouwmeester and Mark Giordano are the unquestioned anchors on their pairings, but what is fair to expect from Chris Butler and Scott Hannan, the respective partners on those pairings? Butler has never played a full NHL season, mostly because he’s struggled with consistency while Hannan is no longer the feared shutdown force he once was.  That said, Hannan is still effective in my eyes and I think he’ll do well. It’s the third pairing of Cory Sarich and Anton Babchuk that really worries me, for obvious reasons.

What is their main strength?

RC: Depth. I’m not exactly enamoured of Stajan and Hagman, but those guys might be 4th liners this year, and most teams can’t offer that sort of quality at the bottom of the order. The Flames really need that sort of depth as well, in my view. They don’t have superstars at EV that can carry a team for long stretches, so their best hope for competitiveness is to win with their bottom six smoking the other guys’ third and fourth lines. When injuries hit, a team like Calgary needs as many interchangeable parts as possible to sustain that advantage, which is why depth is so paramount for this club. It’s certainly not ideal, but it’s their only real chance for a decent year..

VF: No question, the team has depth. If you’re looking at a fourth line of Hagman – Stajan – Jackman, I think I’m feeling good about the overall depth of the team. One thing the team might have really going for them is the element of surprise. Many opponents are going to see the Flames as a team hampered with high contracts and too many NTC’s, thereby preventing them from making any significant changes. This is a younger and faster squad though and they did it without sacrificing offense. I guess the big disclaimer here is, this depth gets a lot more shallow if the Flames don’t get bounce back seasons from Bourque and Bouwmeester. Scoreface will be wild card in all this as well. How does he play after getting the contract he wanted?

RV: The Calgary Flames are a very experienced team, getting good leadership from a true legend, which potentially makes them more resilient to the inevitable ups and downs of a long NHL season. Theoretically they should be able to take advantage of opportunities and be less prone to mistakes.

PS: It’s gotta be forward depth, as has already been covered. Going back to my take on Stempniak, it’s an absolute luxury for the Flames to have him, Bourque and possibly Morrison/Backlund on the third line Having players like that against depth lines versus the likes of the Avalanche or Wild has the possibility to be very promising.

If you were the Flames GM, what would be your main focus going forward?

RC: Don’t make any false moves this year. Don’t sign Stempniak just because he hits a hot patch, don’t re-up Sarich if he plays well for a bit, and if they do feel the need to secure a player for more than one year, concentrate on Backlund and maybe Moss. Oh, and see if anyone will take Stajan off your hands. It really is such a shame that Doug MacLean isn’t a GM anymore. At any rate, there will be a fair bit of salary leaving after this summer, so a bit of patience is in order for Feaster.

VF: They have to find ‘The Guy’: the one that is going to take over for Iginla, but do it without mortgaging the future. Darryl’s focus was always to find the guy that can play with Jarome. Feaster has to find the player that will take over for him, one that they can basically build a new team around when all this money comes off their cap space and they are free of so many contracts. Yes, I’m looking at you Zach Parise.

RV: Nothing specific. I’d continue to gradually shed the riskier overpriced long-term contracts, replacing them with lower-risk, shorter-term value contracts, and replenish their pool of prospects.

PS: Stay the course for this season. If the goal really is to help set yourself up for the coming summer, don’t do anything to limit that. If you feel your team is close to making the playoffs, don’t put too much stock into one season and make a deal that could hurt your future. On that same wavelength, don’t stray if it’s a bad season, looking for a one-stop cure-all move.

Where do you see the Flames finishing in the Western Conference this year?

RC: 8th. They weren’t really that bad last year, and they’ll get a full year of Stempniak rather than 4 games of Langkow, so they’re a little ahead of last year in that regard. I’m less worried than most about Reggie moving on, by the way, mostly because they still have a representative defence and slightly better forwards overall. The best case scenario is that Backlund is ready to roll in mid-November and they can get a slight uptick from Kipper. As for the potential competition, St. Louis is likely better than last year, but Dallas and Phoenix are worse, and I’m not sold on the Ducks, so there’s a spot for them if the team has just average luck on their side.

VF: I see them as a playoff team. They will be in the bottom half of the draw, but the range could vary. I’m going to say they finish 6th. I see no reason why they shouldn’t be able to score like they did last year, In fact with Stempniak available for the full year, they should be able to score more often and more consistently. With a younger, more mobile defence, they should have a better transition game out of their zone as well. They won’t contend with the heavyweights of the conference, but there are a lot of teams with just as many, if not more question marks than Calgary. That in itself may help the Flames in the standings. That being said, if this team gets derailed again this year, it could be a nail biter come game #82.

RV: The Flames will be a bubble team, fighting for that last post-season position. Unfortunately that leaves a great deal to chance, but playing in such a soft division, perhaps it is finally their time to get lucky.

PS: I’ve got them in the playoffs, between sixth and eighth. I wouldn’t be surprised if they finished as high as five in the conference or as low as 12, so it’s on one thing: consistency. Don’t put yourself in a spot where a torrid two month span is necessary. Instead, play in line with the rest of the bubble teams in this conference. That’s the only way they’re a playoff team this year.

  • icedawg_42

    That’s a fun read. Good job guys. My personal opinion is that Stempniak is probably their best signing, and of course Babchuck is their worst..by far. Feaster has done a good job WHITH WHAT HE WAS GIVEN – I really like the fact that he’s surrounding himself with people he knows know the game better than he does. The sign of a good manager is the ability to leverage the expertise of others. Next year is when it will really get interesting and tricky – its the big chance to cut ties with some ugly contracts, renegotiate some and outright walk away from others. We all know who we want to hand walking papers to, but who comes in to fill out the roster? I think Pat is right on the money as far as playoffs. This will be another Western Conference crapshoot. I think LA is poised to take a big step forward (yeah, yeah we hear that AGAIN)..but I think they’ll overtake Detroit. There’s no way Colorado or Dallas finish higher than the Flames in my mind. It’ll be interesting to come back and read this after game #82

  • icedawg_42

    Oh yeah – and for lack of anywhere else to mention this, Pat, theFan has taken a couple hefty blows with people leaving, and I just wanted to say that you’re really holding that place together right now.

  • icedawg_42

    Agree that the team has a lot of depth at forward and can kill most other team’s 3rd and 4th lines. The problem is that our top 2 lines aren’t as talented or as young as they need to be so it starts to be a bit of trade-off.

    Agree with Pat that consistency is huge. This has been a big problem for the Flames for several years. Too hot and cold. This is where Iginla really needs to take a huge step forward in his development. Which sounds strange to say of a 34 year old, but it’s true. It’s no secret that part of the Regehr trade was to change the chemistry in the room, ie: make it all Iginla’s. If Iginla can go out and play a consistent season and be the force of nature that he can be when he wants to be for 82 games than this team could finish as high as 6. If he decides to take the first part of the season off as usual and then go on a 2 month hot streak where he puts up huge totals against the lesser lights of the league than the Flames might scratch into 8th, but probably miss. It’s time for Iggy to step up as a real leader, one who plays the coach’s system and sets the standard in work ethic and plays by example every night. That, to me, is the real key.

    Defense is also a concern. Butler may work out, but it’s silly to assume he can just replace Regehr. After all, if he was just as good why would you trade him for someone who’s older and more expensive?

    And Hannan is probably closer to a Sarich at this stage than most people are willing to admit. There’s a reason the Caps didn’t want him and he had to sign for only a million/year. In other words, our bottom 4 D may get creamed this season. Which means our depth at forward will be wasted covering for them.

    Goaltending is a question mark, but shouldn’t sink us. I hope.

    Prediction: 8-10th, out in the first round if they do make it.

    • icedawg_42

      Right now I’m subscribing to the theory that less games will mean a better Kipper and that Karlsson takes a step forward. True, it may not work that way.

      • Fair enough. I expect a bit of rebound because I don’t believe Kipper is a below replacement level goalie yet in terms of true talent.

        As for the rest thing. It’s an intuitive yet wholly unproven theory in my eyes that less games = better performance from goalies. The closest I’ve seen to this being proven is that ‘tenders tend to such on the 2nd night of a B2B (as does the rest of the team), suggesting coaches should always aim to split those up.

        Beyond that, no one has conducted a study or any kind showing that fatigue for goalies exists or has a deleterious effect on their overall performance over a season.

    • And he is overpaid. While you can’t blame a player for a contract, the overpayment at goaltender (and for depth players like Hagman, Stajan, Sarich) depletes cap space to spend on the top end, leading them to have a thin top end.

      If the Flames had “pedestrian” goaltending at $3 million in cap space it wouldn’t hurt them so. With that chubby cap hit they need Kiprusoff to be at .920 to realize a level of success commensurate with their cap spending.

      I am going to go with worst signing as Morrison. Yes, it is only $800 k to $1.25 million with bonuses but why is he on this team? If his contribution could not be replaced (or probably replaced) with Stajan or Horak or Byron or Bouma or Nemisz, why the hell are they on this team? A pointless depth siging that took space away from younger developing players. At least Babchuk fills a specific niche.

      • That’s a good point, Tach…especially since Morrison is poised to fall back this year. Bad possession + high percentages is never something to bet on long-term. Especially with a guy who is a middling, 36-year old player.

  • icedawg_42

    “I really like the fact that he’s surrounding himself with people he knows know the game better than he does. The sign of a good manager is the ability to leverage the expertise of others.”

    Which always leaves me wondering why one of them aren’t in charge instead. Why have the non-expert have to sort through the opinions of several experts? Seems counter-intuitive to me. Still think the man is best suited as AGM.

  • MC Hockey

    Great article and thoughts by all FN guys. As an avid Flames fan (and ST holder) and Jets follower and blogger, I think:

    1. Feaster grade: B-minus as nice youth and talent additions in Stempy and Butler/Byron and doing the best possible on Erixon trade (Horak made team + two round-2 choices could work out). But dubious decisions in trading a 5th for P3L and giving 2nd rounder to lose Kotalik. Also do like Babchuk, he is big and shoots hard and will score on the PP, plus is tradeable at deadline. Tanguay is worth his contract in my opinion so I like that one.

    2. Best acquisition: Maybe Butler + Byron if injuries happen to allow Byron to play and Butler plays really well. I like Stempniak too…he can score 20+ likely. Weibrod is probably the best overall asset added if non-players permitted.

    3. Centre ice: After Backlund comes back, put Moss back on OMG so that solves numbers issue. Play the top C and line less and protect them to allow the line to score more and to allow our 3rd and 4th line centres to beat less competition and set up the great winger depth we have on those lines (Stempy, Bourque, Jackman, etc).

    4. Weakness: Uncertaintly in both D and G posistions. Will Butler and Hannan do well? How can we protect Sarich + Babchuk alot? Will Kipper bounce back? Can Karlsson play 25 and win about 16 of them?

    5. Strength – depth at winger….while Centre position a bit fuzzy, we have some fine wingers…all can score with possible exception of TK, Ivan, and P3L.

    6.Main Focus for GM now: Get rid of players whose futures are uncertain like goons and possibly Stajan or Carson or even Hannan. Don’t add big contracts till off-season unless it’s a stud like Parise or Suter.

    7. Finish in West: 6th – 10th. Consistency of defense and goaltending will go along way to deciding this…Dallas, Phoenix, Nashville, Anaheim, and Detroit could all finish lower given lost players and aging players (e.g. Selanne).

  • You guys all talk about “ifs” and “maybes” sounding like the team is questionable, then all say “Yup playoff team.” Really? i want them to be there but i’m not getting my hopes up. This could be like the Leafs who struggle and just miss the playoffs for a couple years then tumble. I see next year (2012-13) Flames team as a lottery team. Good to hear PStein being the eternal optimist. Maybe thats whats needed? Goathe said, “Treat a man as he appears to be, and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.” Maybe talk this team up, tell Stajan he can get 50 points and show enthusiasm and confidence? My only problem is the Flames, in my opinion, have a 2nd rate GM running the show, whos a good manager but not a hockey. I agree, hes probably a better AGM. Again I’m waiting till next year when our Hanna boy, Nill comes back to Alberta, with a huge $20m per year contract to build the Flames into a power house.

    • Vintage Flame

      If the team stays relatively intact, then yeah, they should be a playoff team. The “ifs” come into play when you talk about the mental aspect of the players and how they play this year.

      That’s where the whole bounce back seasons come into play, and unfortunately for Calgary they have a few too many guys that NEED that bounce back.

      Goathe said, “Treat a man as he appears to be, and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.”

      I agree with you 100% on this. Somethings are going to be out of Sutter and Feaster’s control.. no question. I for one am optimistic about the team this year, which is why I picked them to finish 6th. There is a shelf after the top 5, but I still think the Flames are a better team than they were last year.

  • BobB

    What do you consider to be the Flames primary weakness this year?

    RC: A center for Iggy and goaltending, same as it ever was.

    I don’t feel like getting into the debate/analysis over the “bad” years (especially when one is a .919evsv%).

    But this is some serious selective memory.

    7 seasons in Calgary, 4 unarguably elite ones, three that are some of the best in history, and it’s:

    “goaltending problems — the same as it ever was?”

    That is some scary-level hyperbole.

    Sure, goaltending has to be better this year, but let’s keep it real.

    • Tonelli's Stache

      what are you talking about? in the past 5 years, Kiprusoff’s had 11 wins total over replacement.

      since the lockout, he’s averaged 3 wins over replacement per season. that’s nowhere close to full value on his contract.

      he’s not good and hasn’t been for a long time.

      • BobB

        Ok, I know this is a divisive issue – goaltending.

        But since I’ve known Iginla in a Flames jersey… there has always been talk about needing that number 1 centre… always.

        I don’t think, as good or bad as one thinks Kipper is, you can seriously make the same statement about Flames goaltending. That since Kiprusoff has been a Flame, goaltending has been a negative issue.

        I don’t know what new stats people are looking at when it comes to Flames goaltending, but I’m obviously not looking at the correct ones.

        Just so I’m on the same page… does Buffalo have goaltending issues… same as ever… with Ryan Miller? Because Kipper and Miller has pretty similar stats, and workload, and accolades.

        I probably just don’t know how to read stats and evsv%. When I hear people talk about Miller.. I hear “One of the best in the league” yet, here, with Kiprusoff… it’s he’s no good and never has been?

        • It’s fair to say Kipper was once a great strength of this team. He obviously was. He was the reason they won the division post-lock-out.

          Those days are past. In three of the past four seasons, he’s been about replacement level. And he’s now 35-years old.

          • BobB

            That’s fair. I feel like when someone says something positive about Kiprusoff, the reaction is near outrage. Karlsson has to be better as well, and likely as much as Kipper.

            But when I read through these analysis I feel compelled to comment if the idea becomes, goaltending has been an issue, both importance and duration, like the center-for-Iggy issue.

            And when others respond that he hasn’t been value for 5 full years… I dunno, I guess I don’t understand what we think of other goalies around the league then.

            You take away Kippers two best seasons @ .941 EVSV% (2100SA) and focus only on the last 5 (for whatever reason you would do that?, call them flukes) and he’s STILL only .002 behind Miller (.923 vs .921) with a large sample size. (8570SA vs 7921SA)… that’s the last five years. So is that .002 the distinction of value?

            What is the likelihood that Miller will face 1300+ shots this year and save .941ev, to get closer to Kipper’s stats? ….Not very likely. So does Buffalo have long-lasting goalie problems? And he’s in his prime! On a better team!

          • Tonelli's Stache

            the first thing I’ll say is perception is different then reality. Miller wasn’t amazing last season.

            saying that, though, if Miller would’ve been on the Flames instead of Kipper, he would’ve been worth ~2 more wins at even strength (12 more goals stopped), ~1.5 games more on the PK (9 more goals stopped) and negative ~.33 games (2 goals worse) on the PP. Total? 3 more wins for the team last year…which would’ve put them at 100 points and the 4 seed in the playoffs.

            while it may not seem like 5 points is that much on a sv%, the difference it makes over the whole season is huge.

            you also have to remember that over that period Kipper was at his peak and falling, whereas Miller was developing and is only in the past couple of seasons at his true talent level.

          • BobB

            I don’t think it’s as simple as that

            assuming those two teams are equal which is a big assumption, and score effects are none. But it is why I choose Miller, similar teams, similar pay, similar stats… but disimilar reputation.

            point is, the distinction isn’t vast, what you have done is always more important than what you may do. Ryan Miller to Sabres fans and around the league is one of the best…. Kiprusoff to Flames fans (in this forum anyway) is THE reason for the teams failures.

            The numbers don’t support those distinctions.

            And if our entire playoff hopes are pinned on one guy (as they have been for the last 7 years) then we’re not good enough… because the other teams playing in the playoffs don’t share that dependency on one player.

            and if they do, they aren’t very successful. Kipper was lights out two years ago, we still didn’t make the playoffs and only got 90 pts. So I don’t think it’s as easy as just adding 2 wins here and there.

            Maybe the Flames just are not very good. Maybe they need more than just their goalie to be superstar every year and Iggy to score 50 goals. Most of the good teams have mroe than one or two assets.

          • Vintage Flame

            I wanna say that’s a great photoshop BTW.. but I think you actually built that scene and put a FlamesNation pog in the middle then took the picture?

          • RexLibris

            Agreed. Awesome photo, but is that Feaster up top with the tonsured scalp?

            Anyway, my oustide perspective here (and I’ll try to be nice), is that the Flames finish within hailing distance of where they were last year, but again on the outside looking in. Of course that could all change depending on Feaster’s activities on deadline day. If he’s selling then lower, and if he’s buying, then maybe a touch higher, but unless he can somehow hoodwink an idiot into giving them a 1st line centre, as I believe has been mentioned in some posts above, then even if he’s buying I don’t think there’s enough to climb over the teams ahead of the Flames this year.

            I agree that there will be a de facto rebuild/retool because of all the expiring contracts, but I don’t see ownership giving up Iginla. I think they are too attached to what he means for the organization, even if it has more past-tense references than future-tense.

            As for Feaster’s grade, I can see how by comparison to his predecessor he could manage a B, but I would rate it as closer to a C or C+ because of the assets lost in picks and prospects and the value of the ones acquired/drafted.

            While I’m at it I might as well weigh in on the Kiprusoff debate: he played on a middle of the road team with a decent defensive group in front of him and his save % was .906 with a GAA of 2.63. Not bad, but for his price point and history it should be better. By comparison, Devan Dubnyk played on the worst team in the league and had a save % of .916 with a GAA of 2.71. He played half as many games but still kept his head above water with what was, at times, a fire drill in front of him. So he either needs to be better or moved for replacement value. Would moving Kiprusoff for a sign-and-trade Parise at the draft (assuming Brodeur is nrearing retirement) be of interest to Lamoriello?

          • icedawg_42

            On the Jarome Iginla thing – look what Edmonton ended up having to do – go out and get a seasoned veteran with a great work ethic (Smyth) to teach these youngsters how to be pros. That’s a very smart move. I still think that whatever future this team has, Iggy’s still part of it…or at least he should be.

          • RexLibris

            To be fair, Tambellini was probably looking for a “Bill Guerin” type guy to come in and then had Ryan Smyth fall in his lap. It was a perfect bit of synchronicity in the end, but I wouldn’t credit Tambellini as having pulled that trade off out of the blue.

            I agree that Iginla would be a good person to have around. Having a veteran winger when the Flames are probably poised to be drafting a top centre in 2012-2013 (yes, unfortunately that means I’m saying your team will be really, really bad a year from now) can help provide some shelter and guidance. He can also shelter Baertschi when he eventually comes up. More than anything though I think just the emotional attachement that the fans have to Iginla at this point, and the kind of resentment it might cause for him to move, are reasons enough that the organization keeps him around.

            I’m trying to get a handle on the 2013 draft prospects and where I think the Flames might end up picking if they can’t manage the retooling the way they want and, as I see it, there is a chance that they could draft Max Domi, Tie’s son. I say this because if you want to really tick off a lot of Leaf fans, just make Tie have to start wearing a Calgary Flames jersey and watch them erupt in anger.

          • RexLibris

            “Would moving Kiprusoff for a sign-and-trade Parise at the draft (assuming Brodeur is nrearing retirement) be of interest to Lamoriello?”

            The Devils did not win two Stanley Cups because Lamoriello traded a young star for an aging goaltender who is almost certainly overpaid for his predicted contribution.

            If Feaster is going to start the reboot I think Kipper is the place to start. But the trade will be to a budget or floor team that is in contention and looking to shore up goaltending on the real salary cheap in exchange for something of more dubious value (I would think a player who is otherwise over valued in order to keep on a budget team, but otherwise able to contribute plus a 2010-2012 1st rounder) going back to Calgary.

          • RexLibris

            I agree, I’m just glad I wasn’t the one to say that about Kiprusoff.

            As for the return, I’m thinking more in the range of a decent prospect or two, a 2nd to 3rd round pick, and and a roster player to take some heat off the salary-cap. A blend of quantity and quality. Hey, just give Dale Tallon a call and maybe you can convince him this summer.

          • Jeff Lebowski

            I don’t see it that way. Kipper is the best goalie in my opinion despite the fact his numbers may fluctuate.

            I just don’t see age and decline in his physical abilities as a real factor. His 2009-10 numbers were very good as the team play was focused on defensive posture and the Flames were top 5 defensive team.

            The issue with Calgary is they are a team that can only do one thing well. If they’re stingy, they can’t score. If they score goals they give up a lot.

            The Flames have never been a quick transition team. Depending on the year (a good defensive year or a good offensive year) they are usually grinding a lot in that year’s respective zone. They expend a lot of energy and it’s difficult for them to be effective on the other side of the puck. Either they don’t back check or they don’t make plays.

            The constant has been Kipper’s ability to make amazing athletic saves and usually a high number of wins. When the team play is stingy so are his overall numbers. When the team goes for goals you still see the amazing saves but the sv% might be lower. However his quality has always been that of best in the league IMO.

  • Tonelli's Stache

    Patty, you know I love you-but there’s no way the Flames are better talent-wise then 10 teams in the conference. even if they get stupid lucky this year I can’t see them above 7.

  • BobB

    Agree that next summer will be huge, but I think fans need to temper expectations here. The UFA pool shrinks every year as teams lock up their young stars. To think that we’re just going to swoop in and get Paise and Suter from the rest of the league (not to mention their current teams) is wishful thinking. We’ve already seen how effective that strategy was in getting Brad Richards.

    If that’s Feaster’s overall game plan, to free up cap space and strike it rich in the UFA pool, this team is going to be in big trouble.

    The sooner this team realizes that the only way you’re going to get players like that is by drafting and development, the better.

  • Bob Cobb

    The Flames aren’t a playoff team, too old, too slow, and too few of changes made to a roster that had to play all out to try to get in and failed. The Flames aren’t good enough, even with no injuries, they lost too much, Hannan is no Regher, and as much as everyone is saying Karlsson is going to get more action, I’ll believe it when I see it.

    I see St.Louis and Columbus finishing higher, I predict Calgary finishing 12th and having to consider a total rebuild as early as the trade deadline. Let me just say I’m not saying this just because Im an Oiler fan, who I dont think make the playoffs either and finish 13th, I’m saying this because I dont think the Flames improved enough in the off season.

    • icedawg_42

      Not to be confrontational, because you certainly aren’t the only person with that opinion, but why oh why oh why would a team that has 12 contracts coming off the books in 12/13 blow it up and rebuild at the trade deadline? – all those near UFA’s will make for some trade bait for sure, but come on. There is SO much flexibility in the short term future for this team. Just wait out the season, we ALL know this team will fight for a playoff spot, and may or may not get there…but we should also all know that this is NOT the same roster we are going to see next year.

    • Vintage Flame

      “I predict Calgary finishing 12th and having to consider a total rebuild as early as the trade deadline.”

      A total rebuild? That doesn’t make sense to me at all. They are shedding north of both 20 Mil in cap space and 10 contracts at the end of the season.. The rebuild is factoring in itself, they won’t have to rush it.

      The only ‘blockbuster’ move I can see them pulling at the trade deadline is if they move Iggy and/or Kipper. I think it would be a dead giveaway of a rebuild, but I think that is obvious to everyone.

      • icedawg_42

        in Bob’s defense – I can certainly see the Flames finishing 12th, but I can certainly see them finishing 7th as well…there wont be the dramatic peaks and valleys again this year, but I firmly believe the Flames will finish with low to mid 90’s in points.