Backlund out 4-6 Weeks



Mikael Backlund’s season from hell continues apace with the news today that he’ll miss up to six weeks with an "upper body" (shoulder) injury. And although Mikael’s lack of scoring has been well highlighted recently, the truth is his absence is even worse news for the the Flames.

With Backlund shelved, Calgary’s second line in practice today was the trio of Kostopolous, Cammalleri and Comeau, wtih Cammalleri as the pivot. That’s a career 4th liner, a guy plucked off of waivers and a one-way forward who is far better suited to wing than center. Yikes.

Thanks to the rash of injuries, it gets even uglier after that. The bottom six rotation will be filled out by some combination of Horak, Kolanos, Byron, Jackman, Stajan and Lance Bouma. That’s an AHL roster.

The timing of the current Injure-paloosa couldn’t be any worse. A couple weeks from the trade deadline and embroiled in a tooth-and-nail battle for a playoff spot, the Flames  are getting desperate on a number of fronts. They need NHL bodies to fill out the roster in order to stay in the hunt and they’ve also lost a number of bargaining chips that could have been moved at the deadline in return for either futures or upgrades. Feaster therefore enters February 28th on the weak side of the negotating table with precious few expendable pieces to offer. It’s a bit of a catch-22.

So the question of "buy or sell" may be rendered moot – as the Flames need to buy increases, their bargaining power and assets decreases. Calgary may have to stand pat at the deadline if the priecs for useful players grows beyond their means. Unless, of course, the club gets desperate enough to put really big chips – like the team’s first rounder – into play.

I guess we’ll see. For now, Calgary will have to try to hang on by their fingernails.

UPDATE – By request, here are the Flames other injured bodies and when they are expected back in the line-up:

Curtis Glencross – early March (hurt Jan. 17)

David Moss – ??? mid-March is what I’m hearing now (hurt Nov. 12)

Derek Smith – early March (hurt Dec. 29)

Lee Stempniak – mid-to-late March (hurt Jan. 29)

Blair Jones – late March (hurt Feb. 9)

Mikael Backlund – late March (hurt Feb. 11)

  • xis10ce

    So is Backlund the straw that breaks the camels back or are we able to hold on till everyone comes back. Would be nice to watch this team with everyone healthy, I think we could easily be a playoff team with everyone back, probably not 1-4, but at least 5th spot.

    • Amazing goaltending can cure a lot of ills, especially in the short term. The Flames are going to be outchaned and outshot by a mile here for awhile, but if Kiprusoff continues to be more than human, the Flames may be able to hang on for a bit.

  • xis10ce

    So it would seem we need to hold on till at least early March, at which time we’d get some pivotal pieces back. This all assuming we don’t sustain any more injuries between now and then major or otherwise. We are at the point where someone big being out even 2 games with the Flu would be devastating.

  • wawful

    One player, even a legitimate #1 center, simply can’t replace the production that’s currently languishing in the Flames’ sick bay. Either the AHL’ers currently on the roster have it within them to step up or they don’t. That’s what the remainder of the Flames’ season really rides on.

    Even realizing this, Feaster is backed into in a position where he is forced to choose between obeying his “win now” mandate or building for the future. It is highly improbable that the Flames can obtain a quality pivot right now without overpaying badly, and probably in terms of picks/prospects. e.g. You can bet that trades like Carter-Baertschi are being seriously looked at right now. The sellers all know Feaster has a bonfire lit under his butt right now, so the prices will be staggering.

    I think it’s time to brace ourselves for a really bad trade.

    • wawful

      I would just slash if we do anything stupid. I would rather just tank, sell off the healthy UFA’s & you may even get a buyer for Stempniak before we trade Brodie, Baers, or our 1st rounder. A first round exit is not worth what could be on the table. I would insist on some resignations before renewing my seasons tickets for next year.

  • wawful

    I think someone should just call 911.
    I dont get it. I think at some point Matt Stajan can start to earn his 4.5 freaking million dollars and play with Cammi & Comeau.
    Personally, Butter may have no choice but put Stajan with Iggy & Tanguay & let Joker play with Comeau & Cammi. Pretty sad that in the darkest of times there is no faith in putting Stajan up off of that 4 th line. If thats the case, no matter what happens, if we cant trade him this summer, he needs to be bought out before next season starts.

    • loudogYYC

      I think Friedman tweeted a while ago that the next CBA is expected to allow one or 2 free buyouts per team. If true, that will be the best way to part ways with Stajan.

      In the meantime, the Darryl Sutter disaster is still handcuffing us, but Feaster will probably have to move forward with his instructions and trade for that “final piece” for a playoff run.

      I f***ing hate mediocrity.

      • wawful

        I knew the Daryl cluster mess wasnt going away this year & was going to linger at least until the 2013/2014 Season. I never really expected us to be doing this well. Considering how many new faces & young kids we have in the line up, I know all the math & percentages suck but wow, we’re very much in the thick of this stuff. If you said by mid Feb we would only be 4-5 points behind Chicago & LA in Sept, I would have refered the 1-800# to AA. With these injuries, this wont continue, no more than the Oilers leading the Western Conference after October.

  • wawful

    This is thirdhand information, but it’s been posted on HFBoards that both TSN and Sportsnet have the Flames pegged as sellers at the deadline. Not major sellers, but sending off a couple of pending UFAs. It’s certainly the course of action that makes the most sense to me, and it should be the one that makes the most sense to anyone who’s watched this team over the course of the year (unless you’re a proponent of a full teardown/rebuild).

    • Yes, but all their information has to be clear to the acquiring team and they have to agree to the trade.

      I think it has happened in recent months, though I can’t recall who was traded while hurt. Pretty sure it lowers their trade value though, as it’s sort of a crap shoot as to whether the injured player returns to previous form or not.

  • What teams need blueline depth?

    Just kind of wondering if the team could swing something like Sarich for a Burnette or Frolik or someone like that (Meaning a potentially under-utilized forward who’s depth on his current team but who has shown that he can function as something higher in a pinch).

    We need an NHL quality forward badly. And I don’t want a crazed panic to result in a bad longterm deal.

  • RexLibris

    Regarding the contract buyout, the most-often mentioned clause is the one about a one-time during the life of the CBA buyout that does not count against the cap (I’ll call it the Gomez clause, but eventually it will be replaced in name by either the DiPietro or the Luongo clause).

    The new NBA CBA has a similar clause and this is probably where the idea came from, but the Cavaliers used their one-time buyout the moment the lockout was over to release Baron Davis. To my mind that is not a good sign for an organization. If the Flames used the same thing to get themselves out from under the Stajan contract while the ink was still drying on the new CBA, I think that would be a very bad strategic move, and a sign of a franchise with some deeper issues to solve.

    I know that someone at this point is probably thinking “Hello?!! Horcoff!” or “Souray, anyone?!”, and that’s fair. But the Stajan contract isn’t as bad as Horcoff’s in some ways. The cap hit is lower and the term is one year shorter. If the new CBA were to run for another seven to eight years it might be wiser for the Flames to simply send Stajan to the minors (he has a modified NTC, not a NMC, and so should be waiver eligible) and suck it up for two years. Keeping that one-time option open for the life of the CBA, and perhaps using it eventually as a part of a trade negitiation, might be a wiser move. Take Gauthier in Montreal as an example. If he uses the amnesty clause right away on Gomez, even though he’ll be in the last year of his contract, does anyone have any faith that, should he keep his job for another few years, Gauthier won’t go and make another huge financial mistake that the Canadiens then need to find some way to solve?

    As for Frolik, well, I know what most Hawks fans would like *coughKiprusoffcough* but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

    Frolik could be an interesting addition in that he has a good deal of speed and not-insignificant-size. My concern would be his numbers seem to yo-yo up and down and while inconsistency at a young age isn’t new, he has already had two organizations declare him expendable. That being said, former Panthers and Hawks have had reasonable success on the Flames.

    In order to get him, though, the Flames would have to address a need of Chicago’s. The Hawks have plenty of cap space and they don’t need another defenceman or Karlsson in net. Aside from a prospect or a pick I don’t know what the Flames would have to offer Bowman in return.

    There, I think I hit my minimum length-per-post.

  • RexLibris

    Oh, and sorry to hear about Backlund. Things were beginning to look up for him. All the more reason for Flames fans to hope for playoffs so that the kid gets a chance to play at that level of intensity.

      • RexLibris

        I’m looking at the Hawks blueline and I don’t see either of Sarich or Hannan being an improvement over what they have, but then again, attrition of D in the playoffs is inevitable so from that perspective adding one or the other might be considered. I don’t know that either of them would necessarily be worth Frolik, but you don’t get without asking.

        From an outsider’s perspective, Kent, do you like or dislike the Sutton signing? (It’s generally assumed that he will replace Peckham in next year’s lineup, and Barker will be gone to either Europe or Detroit where he becomes a 45-point defenceman playing with Lidstrom)

        • I don’t like the Sutton signing. I think you can replace 36-year old, 3rd pairing defenders for about half that price pretty easily. The Flames signed Hannan for $1M at the end of free agency last year for example, and he’s a better defender by a fair bit.

          It’s not so terrible that it’s a write-off though.

          • RexLibris

            Agree that bottom-pairing defencemen can be found relatively cheaply, but having watched Hannan this year, and putting aside any hometown bias, Sutton has been a much more effective defenceman this year. Of course, having said that, now Hannan will come out a +2 and Sutton will be a -3 at the next BOA game just to prove me wrong.

            He had set a tone early in blocking shots, his physical play is something sorely lacking in the rest of the defensive core, and he has been more defensively responsible and reactive than many here had initially believed based on his early reports after the trade. Sutton is what Peckham needed to become and in all likelihood he is now heading out of town in the next few months. The leadership he provides for the young group is valuable as well.

            As for the price, that isn’t really a concern for the Oilers right now. On a one-year deal, it is still easily moveable at next year’s deadline and the Oilers are tracking to be nearly $20 million under the cap for next season before they sign Hall, Eberle, and Paajarvi to extensions.

            I guess I would look at it this way, on another team in another situation, the Sutton signing is an overpay. But for where the Oilers are and what they need from him, it suits both parties fairly well. I would rather be dressing Sutton at that position than Peckham right now.

            Thanks for the feedback though. One problem with the tribalistic news coverage of NHL teams is that outside perspective is easily overshadowed.

  • RexLibris

    Also, a note on Broissoit: he got another shutout against Prince George (not the Winterhawks, but still) and now has three shutouts on the year sharing the Oil Kings modern record with Torrie Jung and Alex Archibald.

  • Greg

    If frolik can be had for sarich, I’m all for it.

    If there’s any truth to flames-carter rumors, I think Sarich and Stajan would have to be going back to make the cap hit work. With the injury to backlund and the impetus to “make the playoffs”, did he just become the shiny bauble we dangle? Backlund + 2012 1st rounder with those two contracts sounds about right to me.

    Not saying I like it, just saying that sounds plausible to me. Not actually sure if I would like or it or not.

    • If there’s any truth to flames-carter rumors, I think Sarich and Stajan would have to be going back to make the cap hit work.

      Sarich and Satajn don’t get yor Carter. In fact, Bowman hangs up the phone if either of them are mentioned.

      A Carter deal starts with the Flames first rounder and one of Backlund or Baertschi and goes from there. If the Flames need to clear cap space in this hypothetical situation, they would need to do it through another deal, or include one of their more expensive guys who is actually worth a damn (Giordano for example).

      • RKD

        If that’s the case I take a big pass on Carter period. Seriously if any contract has to potential to become Gomez-esq it’s his… not so much for the cap hit but for the term. He’s a real good player but he looks like a diminishing asset to me.

        Columbas isn’t going to get back what they paid for him at this moment in time and a 1st, Backlund/Baertschi, plus extra is more then what they had to dole out.

        Frankly, I offer then a 1st + spare parts that’s it… they can go fishing for a sucker elsewhere if they want more.

  • Greg

    Actually now that I think about it, Stajan, backlund and a first for carter and sarich for frolik would leave me pretty satisfied. It shores up the roster for this year and Carter is young enough that it doesn’t really hurt any possible rebuilding. And maybe we even get lucky and long contracts get truncated in the next CBA? 🙂

  • Greg

    So now with Backlund and Jones both out long-term, I assume that Sutter has no choice but to put the top line out against opponent top lines. I guess if Sutter maybe put together a Cammaleri, Horak and Comeau line to try and battle top opponents but I think option A, putting top line vs top line, is the better option.

    Oh boy. If Kipper slides back at all we are screwed. Amazing, isn’t it? If Kipper had played the way he has this year, last year we would have been a playoff team without a doubt. This year he’s the only thing keeping us in the race. Hockey’s a strange game, eh?

  • RKD

    Injuries sucks, especially to a team like the Flames who aren’t that deep to begin with.

    We should be used to this scenario, a few years ago the Flames had a ton of injuries I think they only dressed like 9 forwards. From, what I remember it had to do more with a cap issue.

    I feel bad for Backlund, two injuries this season and a lack of point production really hampers his development.

    The Flames should trade for a depth forward if they can or else just ride it out, hope Kipper keeps making mind blowing saves and wait for guys to get healthy and return to the lineup.

    If Iggy gets hotter and Cammy can start scoring more consistently maybe the other guys can hold the fort down, so to speak.

  • CitizenFlame

    Hey Kent, I know you said that you are going to do an article on Frolik, but is there any plans on an article on potential aquisition targets for the Flames? Putting personal views aside, there is a very real chance that the Flames are going to go after a player for the playoff push and most needed would be a center. I think Carter, Roy, Ruutu, would all be potential targets. I’m becoming more intrigued by Carter but I’m not sure of his underlying numbers. His boxcars have been nice over the last 4 years or so but how was he utilized, was he sheltered with Richards in Philly? Another potential fit would be Ruutu from Carolina. I don’t see him play much though. I know the term on Carters contract scares a lot of people, but he is a proven scorer in the league and is still young. His monster contract would keep him in Flame silks until he is 34-35, not 42 like Hossa. What are your thoughts on this topic?

    • everton fc

      Just so I understand the Carter cap situation… We’d take his 11 year deal at basically 6.5mill/season, correct? I know it tails off at the end of the 11 years…

      That seems deadly, to me, but I get your point. Nash is on the market, as well. He must be mentioned, as well. I’d package Backlund and a 1st round pick for either of these guys. It’d be nice to somehow pry Derek Dorsett back as part of the deal. I like this kids spunk. He’s on pace for about 11-12 goals this season. It’d mean Jackman’s days would be numbered, though. And I like Jackman, but his offencive production is gone this season.

      Of all the players mentioned above, none but Carter are particularly young. I like Ruutu. We need that sort of grit here badly. Roy, to me, is smallish, will be 30 soon… He and Cammy, you have two guy 5’8″ at best. I don’t like that size.

      Ideally, Carter and Ruutu would help this team the most. I think Nash would also be a great fit here. But that’s me.

      If you could pick up Frolik for Sarich or Hannan, I’d jump on that one. I think the Flames will be in the playoff hunt until the end. They’ll be right on the cusp. Let’e hope Feaster’s trade deadline moves this season don’t mimic last season’s (Modin/Carson).

      @Rex – I think Broissant is a real prospect. As much a prospect as Ramo. But again, that’s just my opinion. Perhaps the Jackets would have interest in Ramo, as part of a deal to get Carter or Nash??

      I don’t know how you move the likes of Stajan and Babchuk. There has to be a team that’d at least look at Babchuk for a 4th/5th round pick?

      • CitizenFlame

        Ya, I love Nash but I don’t know if Calgary needs more wingers. Especially left handed ones. Glencross, Tanguay, Cammaleri, and Baertschi in the near future. The right flank is definitely weaker. Carter, while that contract is definitely scary (11 years), gives Calgary a #1 center who can score and is still facing the upside of his career. I’m pretty dead set against trading a #1 pick but in the case I think it needs to be entertained given the age of the player you are considering. Are there any RFA’s that might be worth going after?

  • beloch

    Given how bad the Flames are hurting for offense right now, why not call up Bartschi for a cup of coffee? He’s proven he can be dominant at the WHL level. Is another month there really crucial to his development? He’s very likely to produce more on the second line than Kostopolous or Comeau. If you consider a WHL equivalency of 0.3 then Bartschi would likely put up greater than 0.6 ppg, which could make the difference. Bring him up until some healthy bodies return to the lineup.

    Sure, it’s not ideal, but it definitely beats making a bad trade to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive. There’s also the outside chance that Bartschi might slot into the lineup and absolutely kill it.

    • RexLibris

      The same things were said in Edmonton back in 2009 about Eberle. Tambellini steadfastly refused and only brought Eberle up to the AHL after the WHL season had finished for two seasons.

      As much as Flames fans want to see Baertschi play and are probably really excited to think about him playing with Iginla and Cammalleri and so on, patience and time is key. He needs to be tested at every level before he moves on. A playoff run in Portland is probably better for his development right now than bringing him up to the NHL where he might be easily stymied and lose confidence.

      Also, it could be seen as a sign of disrespect to other forwards in the AHL that have put their time in with the organization and are perhaps more deserving of a chance.

  • PrairieStew

    If Smith is due back soon, Hannan is the guy that needs to go to get some forward depth, Sarich is too expensive. Some have suggested waiving Karlsson and keeping Irving around. Could a package of a depth defender and a backup goalie yield a useful forward ?

    I hate buyouts; buying out Stajan in the fall would cost $1.2 M for the next 4 years, and then you have to fill his spot. Even if you do it at a million, all it does is save you about a million in cap space for 2 years , then costs you that same space for the next 2. Sure he is overpaid to be on the 4th line, but he is still an NHL player.

  • Ken V.

    I like the idea of bringing up Bartschi for 10 days until you get a few bodies back.

    Also Hagman would slot in real well right now.Not to mention sniped the winner in OT against us last week.

  • There is no way in hell we should be trading our 1st round pick to try and fill any gap to make the playoffs right now. It 100% goes against building for the future.

    I know Feister guaranteed we gonna make the post season but honestly were probably not. I just hope he doesn’t do a whole bunch of stupid trades to hobble us in there so we can get annihilated by the an elite team.

    If anything, we should be looking if we can do anything to take a swing at Nash.

  • CitizenFlame

    Given that Calgary won’t rebuild this season or even next, go for broke. Anything other than stand pat.

    Carter’s contract is stupid, but it’s also the only thing that would allow this team to have a true #1 center since Nieuwendyk.

    I could therefore stand to see the team part with a first round pick, but not Sven.

    Frolik is in the doghouse, but I can’t see Chicago just giving him away.

    It’ll be interesting to see what Calgary has the stones to do.