Odds and Ends and Questions



Just a few things kicking around in my head this Monday afternoon.

What If

I was thinking about the first Olli Jokinen trade the other day and it’s impact on the Calgary Flames since it occurred. I mean, how many moves in the past 3 years have had some relation to it? Obviously, if the first trade doesn’t happen, then Calgary probably keeps their first rounder, Brandon Prust and Matthew Lombardi. The Flames don’t have that insane salary crunch late in the year when the injury bug hits, and that maybe allows them to stay in 3rd going into the playoffs. They have more forward depth (and we never see Warren Peters) in the first round, and they play against lesser competition. Maybe they win that round or they go long enough to see Mark Giordano and Robyn Regehr get a little healthier. (Worth noting that in my opinion the 08-09 team prior to the Jokinen trade was probably the 3rd best Flames team ever constructed.)

If they make the second round, do the Flames go and try to sign Jay Bouwmeester? I would hazard that the answer to that would be yes, just due to the stupid amount of injuries sustained by the blue liners. What about Mike Cammalleri? He probably stays; he’s said on record before that he would’ve taken 5 million in Calgary due to the lesser taxes in Alberta. The Flames probably don’t suffer as many losses due to the forced continuation of the Iginla-Jokinen duo, and the power versus power structure of the team would create more favorable matchups for Iginla and Cammalleri.

As a result, the Flames probably don’t end up losing 9 in a row in the middle of the season-if the team was still holding down 6th, would Dion Phaneuf still get moved in the second worst deal the franchise has ever made? Even if he did get moved for the exact same return, no Jokinen probably means no Kotalik or Higgins. Calgary has 3 million dollars in extra cap space and a mid-to-late teens pick in the 2010 draft. Would that player be on the ice right now for the Flames? What could Darryl use that three million on?

Assume the events of July 1st, 2010 onwards occur as normal. Now the Flames have Jokinen, Langkow, no Kotalik, Cammalleri, Bouwmeester, the pick from 2010, Prust, Lombardi, etc.-instead of missing the playoffs three years in a row, the Flames are playoff teams all three of those years with some cap space to spare.

Just something fun to think about.

Anton “Jorts” Babchuk

I know we harp on Babchuk a lot around here – and with good reason – but I have heard from a trustworthy source that Anton Babchuk was shopping on Rodeo Drive during the All-Star break. His apparel? A deep V-Neck and Jorts.

What a guy. 

Anyhow, if you watch Babchuk in the games he plays, he happens to have a rather annoying pattern of play that apparently no one has tried to correct yet. Generally, as a defenseman, you want to keep the play in front of you; meaning you want to see as many of the opposing players as possible to allow you to react better to the direction of the play. I was always taught that when the puck is behind the net and you’re the defenseman in front of the net you’re supposed to be as close to the far post as possible so as to not block your goalie and see the ice while still leaving you in good position should a man drift towards the slot.

Every time a play like this develops:

Babchuk is in the wrong position, facing towards the corner, leaving the slot open and obstructing his goaltender’s view, like this: 

 When he should be like this:

You want to make sure the slot is taken away, because that’s a much higher percentage shot then a guy coming out of the corner with two other players pursuing him. Just something I find extremely annoying, made even worse by how simple it is to correct.


The Flames’ team PDO right now sits at 1004. This is interesting, because that’s not an absurd number even though we all know the team (well, Miikka Kiprusoff) is playing way above their collective talent level right now. That’s not a knock on the team, it’s just the reality when you have 9 players who are either AHLers, replacement level NHLers or rookies. Since the Vancouver game on December 23rd, that’s only a change of 2 points. I really don’t know what to make of it. For what it’s worth, last year at this point it sat at 997.


However, the team’s even strength shot percentage continues to decline and that is extremely worrying. It now sits at 46.7% on the season, meaning 179 more even strength shots have been faced by the Flames goaltenders then the team’s opponents. This time last year the team was outshooting their opponents, with a 52.7% even strength shot differental-a difference of 142 more shots last season and a delta of 321 year over year. That’s about 12 games worth of even strength shots difference, which is absurd. Make no mistake, this team is nowhere near as good as last year’s. The last time the Flames weren’t in the negatives in shot differental? Tuesday, November 8th 2011-only because they out-shot the Minnesota Wild by 10 shots at evens.

Tomorrow’s Game

I will be attending as a media member, and like I have the past two times I’ve gone this season, I’m putting out a call for questions you might want me to ask. Keep it tactful and I’ll do my best to get it asked. This applies to you dirty Oilers fans too, but my availability for them will probably be less then it is for the Flames.

Put your question(s) in the comments.

  • The PDO thing is interesting – the top of the roster has generally had pretty good bounces this year, particularly the last 2 months. Everyone else has had dreadful luck – Jackman, Kostopolous, Backlund, Stajan have struggled with bad bounces. The only exceptions to that general rule have been Horak and Byron, who are both north of 103.

    Also, if you used timeonice.com to calculate the PDO, the last week or two was excluded – the script has been stopping at the last Flames/Canucks game this for awhile now for some reason. It’s only a three games being skipped, ao it’s not huge, although the team was horribly outshot in two of three of those.

  • What is the latest on Carter coming to Calgary?

    The more I think about the more I like the idea……

    Where else are we going to get a 30-40 goal like that at 27 and 5.25 mil/year? What are the chances of a first round pick panning out like that?

    • The more I think about it the less I like it. Carter was brought in as a capable winger to play along Nash and help turn around the teams fortune. Instead of emracing the opportunity and faith CBJ put in him, he pouted about it and didn’t report to the team for 2 days.

      While at least the Flames are a play-off contender, the expectations for Carter here would be almost the same. And if Calgary isn’t a preferred destination for Carter, what type of attitude would he display here. From what I’ve heard, he clashed with Pronger and others in Philly and he hasn’t been very good in Columbus’s room either. Do we want that here???

      • Really…..Who would want to play in Columbus?…..Why is Nash wanting out?…..Why are none of there draft picks wanting to report there?…It is not just Carter. Columbus is just like Edmonton nobody wants to play there..can’t blame them.

        • And 10 years ago nobody wanted to play here. Remember that? Chris Drury came in with the same attitude that Carter has in Columbus. I don’t care how good the player is, to play in the NHL is a privilage. I get that these guys want to play for a winner, but there is also a responsibility to play your best and do your part to ensure the team you play for (the one that hands you your paycheque) is getting better because of you. I don’t see Carter doing that and I’m thankful that guys like Iginla and Regher didn’t have the same attitude when the Flames couldn’t fill half the Dome for almost a decade.

      • beloch

        Not that I would want to overpay for Carter & some desperate GM is going to, I do have to agree with Kypreos. You have to cut the kid some slack, he signes a long term contract with the expectation to commit & play his career with the team that drafted him & they trade him before the contract even kicks in to one of the worst teams in the league. Personally, I dont think he would be a bad fit & if the price tag was Backlund, Leiland or Ramos & a 2013 1st round pick, I would do that deal. I would prefer to keep to Backlund straight up for Roy on Buffalo but that wont happen as Buff will want a 1st rounder on top of that. My opinion is we save a cap strapped team 3.0mill of cap space, a Backlund for Roy deal is a pretty fair deal.

        Justin, maybe you can ask if they will try to negotiate a contract extension with Iginla this summer before the CBA comes up? Beats the hell out of the question they hate in whether they plan to trade him:)

        • MC Hockey

          Make no mistake, I understand a change of scenery with a team fighting for a play-off spot could be great for him. But I don’t want to give up picks and prospects for a guy who I think is a big gamble. Please see my reply to Kipreos and I’ll also add this:

          You mentioned that he had just signed a long term deal and thought he was part of Philly’s long term game plan, so epxect him to be upset. I would expect him to be upset…and to show Philly what a mistake they made I expected to see him light it up and do everything to emerge as a team leader and a difference maker. He has done just the opposite and if anything made his value as an asset to CBJ plummet. I just don’t know if we should chance it when there are other guys that could be better fits.

    • Mitch2

      Carter only comes to Calgary on a great deal. That is the only way I can get behind it.

      One of those, wow, what a trade for Calgary situations. To me that means no Backlund going, no Sven going, a 1st and a decent young roster player and maybe a decent prospect. (Period)

      or package in Stajan or Babchuk and beef it up a little more because they likely have negative value.


      Forget Roy, he is a pure rental. He isn’t significant enough to me, may as well keep Cammy at C. So far so good on that experiment.

      Carter is a risk but he still represents a higher level of C. He has proven it already in the NHL for several season. I am not hungry to get him and will not be put off in the least if he goes elsewhere.

      Rumors are in play that Carter may be Dallas bound, you can see how he fits some teams better than others. Dallas has a ton of Cap room, an owner with deep pockets and they may not be as leery of his contract.

  • Justin, bringing up the scenario of what if the team hadn’t made the first Jokinen trade doesn’t do much to lift our spirits…it just reminds us of how inept Dutter had become as a GM.

    as for questions, you brought up the decline in ES shot differential. I know injuries and the inexperience on the ice will be brought up as a reason for it, but I would be interested to know what steps are being taken to correct this and if our Goals For is a concern? Kipper is playing lights out, but he needs some run support.

  • beloch

    I agree about bringing in joker. It reaffirms that Dutters skills are not in GMing. What’s done is done. Now it’s time to focus on the future/present.

    As for questions:

    What’s the plan regarding jokinen next year? (will they sign him)

    Who are the odd men out when the injured players come back? Has anyone garnered an opportunity to stay with the big club?

  • Willi P


    Navel-gazing about Joker is fine but at the time, all of the media and most of the fans were praising what a coup this was for Dutter.

    It’s easy to look back and say what if, but at the time of the trade, I thought it was great as did just about everybody else.

    • Everyone except a small group of people at M&G that is. I don’t know if Justin was a reader at the time, but if he was, he was probable as skeptical as myself and Robert Cleave.

      That said, it’s tough to really play the what if game this far out. I mean, who knows what Sutter would have done if he didn’t land Jokinen?

  • Couple notes about the Flames position this year vs last year

    – This year, the games in hand issue does not exist (at least as of yet). Recall last year a lot of teams fighting with Calgary had 3-4 and even 5 games in hand on the Flames. So although the official “standings” had Calgary as high as 4th, essentially they were more like 10th.

    – This year, Flames have a far more favourable schedule. They only have 8 road games left, and 15 home games. Calgary is a far better home team this year than they were last year (not sure advanced stats wise but in terms of record, far better).

    – The Flames control their destiny this year. 13 of their final 23 games are against Phoenix, Los Angeles, Dallas, Colorado, Minnesota and Anaheim, teams they are fighting with for the final 2 spots. Of those games, 7 of them are at home. Win those games, and they’re in.

    – Kipper is far, far better than he was last year. Yes, the team in front is worse, but good goaltending can go a lot further than better players. Hell, look how far Kipper took the Flames in 04, Roloson took the Oilers in 06 and to a lesser extent Thomas last year.

    Just a few points, but I believe the Flames are in a way better position this year to make the playoffs than they were last year, even with the depleted line-up. Optimism, folks!

    (Side note)- Carolina is out-shooting Washington 28-11 after 2, and winning 4-0. Seriously.

      • 5-0 now BTW. This is honestly the worst I’ve ever seen Washington play since before Boudreau. Ovechkin looks completely dis-interested, and is putting in no effort. No matter how bad it gets though I don’t think they would trade Ovechkin. They’ll do everything they possibly can before moving him.

        • RexLibris

          I think Washington takes this year to adjust their lineup. They’ll take their first round pick, and Colorado’s and see if they can package them together to net Galchenyuk if he drops out of the top five. My guess is he doesn’t, but they’ll see what they can get.

          Then they graduate Kuznetzov to the big team, ditch Semin at the deadline, and then take a longer look at their goaltending.

          For a team with their core I don’t see them taking it all apart, but rather using this as a brief recess to restock and assess.

          As for Carter, well he might appreciate being moved to a team that wants him.

          I think Carter ends up somewhere else, but he’d be a good addition to the Flames, despite the high price.

          And thanks to Bob in the Abbey for pointing out that many players have shunned teams. It speaks more to the player and the state of the team than to the city. There are no “bad” cities in the NHL.

  • MC Hockey

    HI Justin, If you can get the GM’s ear, can you ask him about plans for all the UFAs especially Joker, Sarich, Moss, Hannan, TK, Jackman, Jones, Stempy, Byron?

  • loudogYYC

    Washington is like any other team with the wrong mix. Ovechkin and Semin are 2 of the slickest, most talented wingers in the game yet neither will break 70 pts this season. Without the right centreman you just can’t win!

    If anything, they can probably start blaming the issues on Bourque for the elbow on Backstrom.

    For all those thinking of trading Backlund plus for Derek Roy, I’d argue that Backlund is part of the solution and trading him for a centreman who’s not so impressive prime is almost over would be another disaster.

    • everton fc

      We don’t need Roy. Roy is a playoff-run acquisition. Nothing more.

      I now think we stay pretty much status quo. If we can move one of the three Sarich/Hannan/Babchuk, I guess you have to look at that type of deal, but our defence has done the job without Smith most nights… And it does look, on paper, like an expansion unit.

      I think Cammy may end up at centre long term. Seems to be a good fit, and his faceoff percentage has been abvoe average on a team below average, at best, from the dots…

      As for Backlund, the organization needs to see this saga to its conculsion. He needs to be given every opportunity to find a nitch of some sort here. My sense it’s a third line centre role. Two-way, worth about 30-40 points production, at best.

      Of the UFAs, I’d sign Jokinen, Jones, Byron, either Moss or Stempniak (leaning towards the latter, unless Moss comes cheap and play 4th line minutes)… I don’t know about Jackman. He’s a warrior, but also getting up there in years, not finding the net this season… Derek Dorsett could play the same role. And he has better luck putting pucks in the net (though he’s RFA w/the Jackets…) A fourth line of Kosto/Moss/Dorsett seems to have good point potential. So does Kost/Moss/Jackman. I like our fourth line. Even w/Stajan, who we’re stuck with unless we take a bad contract in return (he’d have to be a spare part in any trade for likes of Carter. Does Calgary take a punt on Semin??)

      I like Kosto – if her were to come cheap… he might be worth one more year. But, he’d take the place of a youngster… Of the AHLers, Irving’s obvious. Aliu is probably worth a punt. Desbiens is wearing the “A”, but as much as I like his game, his point-production is the lowest of his career, while his plus/minus is -15 or so. Not good when you need to have your contract renewed…

      With Comeau/RFA… Not sure he comes back. I like him, but he’s not worth the money.