Diagnosing the Flames Ills (part 13,453,434…)



Unless Calgary goes on the sort of run down the stretch that would make 2003-04 look commonplace, a solid portion of the this off-season will again be spent picking through the rubble, trying to piece together what went wrong. Naturally, we did something similar round these parts last year and one analysis that is even more relevant for the club today is Flames and the inverted pyramid, where I showed how the club’s top players actually lagged behind the depth guys in terms of driving play. 

At the time, I asserted but did not show how and to what degree this is unusual in the NHL. Luckily, JaredL of copper and blue has compiled some league-wide corsi averages for the various forward lines. His results show just how far off the Flames are in terms of puck possession.

First, here are his results:

"Below average" and "above average" are the 25th and 75th percentile respectively. What you are seeing is corsi/60 rates for players compiled between 2007-2011.

He are the Flames players individual corsi rates this season. I’ll arrange them in a depth chart according to average ES ice time per game:

Tanguay (-9.61) Jokinen (-10.68) Iginla (-12.37)
Glencross (-9.10) Cammalleri (-7.02) Stempniak (+3.75)
Comeau (-2.47) Backlund (+1.91) Moss (+7.07)
Jackman (-0.80) Stajan (-1.72) Kostopolous (-4.73)
Bouma (-13.02) Horak (-9.45)  


As you can see, the Flames top-end is getting killed again this season (moreso, in fact). Not only relative to their own bottom-end, but compared to other top lines in the league. The Flames top three forwards (Tanguay, Jokinen and Iginla) are way south of even the 25th percentile of top line players in the NHL.

Of course, we’re talking raw corsi here without context. Sutter has mostly gone power vs power with the big guns this year and none of them have a zone start at or above 50% (although Iggy, who has the worst possession rate amongst regular forwards, has the easiest of the bunch at 48.4).

So their circumstances haven’t been buttery soft. One of the reasons some top lines have excellent corsi rates is their coach works to get them favorable circumstances, like AV and the Sedins in Vancouver. That said, the vast majority of good players tend to play against other good players most of the time in the NHL, so it’s not merely tough sledding that is keeping the Flames big guns at the bad end of the ice as compared to similarly played and payed skaters.

This exercise also displays how far off the Flames are from being elite at this point. My rule of thumb for excellent-or-better possession rates has always been double digits and Jared prove that out here – the best (or most sheltered) scorers in the league have managed +11.97/60 corsi or better since 2007.   

You’ll find those types of numbers in the principle forwards of just about every top level team (aside from, say, the Lundqvist based Rangers this season). For example:

Boston – Patrice Bergeron (+21.47)

Detroit – Pavel Datsyuk (+18.53)

St. Louis – David Backes (+11.35)

Vancouver – Ryan Kesler (+13.68)

Pittsburgh – Jordan Staal (+12.05)

Chicago – Jonathan Toews (+17.17)

Many of the guys I show here play some of the toughest competition on the their respective squads. the Penguins, for example, also have Malkin and Crosby with even higher possession rates than Jordan (+18.78 and +35.31 respectively) because they can send Staal out out against the other teams best. 

Great teams have players that control the play. Or, at least, have coaches who tip the scales enough so their biggest threats spend more time in the offensive zone (and good enough players elsewhere in the lineup to make that possible).

So if you’re wondering this off-season where the Flames lack or what they need to meaningfully improve, look to this article as a starting point.

  • supra steve

    Can’t wait till next year when Iggy and his band of merry men are another year older. Against all reason, lets hope things will go better with this “core” and the Flames ride Kipper to a better fate then we will get this year. Can’t you just feel my giddiness at the thought of another year with this core? Can’t wait.

    Jay Feaster, if you have your peons scaning these pages…you don’t even have to call it a blow-up. Just unload your 2 most valuable (ageing) assets, the 2 I mentioned above. Get younger, more exciting. Maximize the return on these trades and things can’t go all that much worse next year, then in 2 to 4 years when these trades bear their fruit no one will be crying about you having traded 2 freshly retired superstars.

  • Graham

    ‘The Flames top three forwards (Tanguay, Jokinen and Iginla) are way south of even the 25th percentile of top line players in the NHL’

    The question is whether these guys are really top line players at all. Jokinen and Tanguay are closer to second liners than first liners, and Iggy is a first liner who really needs to be sheltered on the second line.

    • They are top liners on the Flames. On good teams…no, they aren’t. Jarome in particular has been a black hole in terms of possession for a couple of years now and he’s getting progressively worse each season.

  • No surprises here.

    Our top forwards are essentually one-way forwards being deployed by a coach who refuses to use them as such.

    Treatment seems far more difficult…

    Step 1: Getting a coach that is willing to shelter the top line ala AV is the most obvious (and proabbly easiest) way to start.

    Step 2: Resign Stempniak and Moss. Presumably Sven is all but pencilled and IMO after Parise there is a big dropoff in forward quality amoungst the free agent ranks. May as well stick with the guys that did well that you know and have a better shot at retaining.

    Step 3: Pickup a quality blueliner. The big fish is Suter (and I do think the Flames ought to take a shot at getting him) but even if Suter is just a pipe dream the blue line quality depth in the free agent ranks is better then the forward ranks.

    Step 4: A better backup goalie. Hopefully that’s Irving but any way you look at it Karlsson just isn’t giving us the quality starts that we need.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Good read.

    I appreciate your stiff reminder articles every now & then that re-focus me by helping to curb my emotional attachment to players & remind me to keep thinking with my head, not heart. One could define that as “intellectual honesty”, no?

  • T&A4Flames

    Something has to happen. I really hope that Iggy asks to be moved for 2 reasons.

    1. I really want to see him get his just reward and win a cup. That won’t be with CGY, not in it’s current format. We should still be able to get a decent return on him and at the end of that year we can resign him as a secondary scorer & mentor on a better structured team; maybe he still gets his cup with CGY that way.

    2. I think with Iggy as our “top” player comes a lot of pressure on the franchise, players AND the fans to win now. If Iggy isn’t here, I think we as fans (how I feel at least) would not feel the same ‘win now!’ pressure because we would see a little more future as opposed the ‘must win now because our best players are aging’ feeling. (If that makes sense).

    I would probably keep Kipper around to help with either Irving or Ramo and help ease us into a new era where we can still win some games. Hell, I don’t think we would be any worse in this scenario.

    • supra steve

      Like your thinking in this post re. Iggy. He has been a GREAT Flame, but time marches on.

      I, however, have doubts about Kipper being able to help out with youngsters. Haven’t seen it happened in the past as no young goaltender has flourished under Kipper, as long as he’s here how many games is his backup going to get? There are always ageing goalies available cheap to help/not necessarily compete with our prospects. With his value what it seems to be, we should at lease find out what Chicago, Washington, etc. might consider paying for his services IMO.

    • Vintage Flame

      Something has to happen. I really hope that Iggy asks to be moved

      It may not seem like much of a difference, but to be honest, I would feel a lot better if it was the Flames that asked Iggy to accept a move elsewhere.

      The reason being is that it would show me the Flames organization is aware of Issues Kent outlined in this article, especially regarding Iginla. I haven’t soured on Iggy, and I would love to see him win a Cup somewhere, anywhere, but if he was to ask for a trade, then I don’t think it shows that this organization has fully realized the shortcomings of the team an its current lineup.

      I would rather management be adorned with the “Black Hat” because they were the ones that moved the franchise player, rather than Iggy leaving on his own accord and the fans still yelling at the management that they don’t blame him for leaving such a crap team.

      The results would all be the same, but its the acknowledgement factor that would impress me the most.

      • RexLibris

        “I haven’t soured on Iggy, and I would love to see him win a Cup somewhere, anywhere”

        But presumably not with Edmonton, Toronto or Vancouver. I know you have some standards.

        Your points are logical, valid, and entirely sane. But for some reason, this doesn’t often happen. It is usually the player who has to be cast as the villain because they get to leave and the organization always wants to be seen as the “someone-done-us-wrong” victim. It happened here in Edmonton, Howson is doing it in Columbus, I think it happened to some degree in Calgary when Phaneuf left. There was even some indication from the response of the fans that Regehr was considered to be in the wrong with how he requested the trade to Buffalo in that it hampered Feaster’s possible return.

        It’d be nice, but so few management groups have the stones to go that route,

        • Vintage Flame

          But presumably not with Edmonton, Toronto or Vancouver. I know you have some standards

          Maybe I should have been more clear.. Somewhere where he has a realistic shot at winning the Cup. 😉

          It is usually the player who has to be cast as the villain because they get to leave and the organization always wants to be seen as the “someone-done-us-wrong” victim.

          I honestly don’t care how they play it to the fans or the media.. I don’t care if I ever find out the true reason he leaves this team, when it happens. What I care about is that they know why Iggy is leaving the Flames.

          I don’t have to run this team, I just have to cheer for it. If I get mad about losing a player, I’ll get over it.. If I get mad about losing a franchise to cheer for? I’m done with hockey. I’m not saying that this team is any danger of relocating anywhere, it was more just for dramatic effect 😉

          My point is that players come and go, whether we like em or hate em.. I’ll get over roster moves if I know the people running the team know what their doing and that their doing it for the right reasons, not just being reactionary to players whims.

        • T&A4Flames

          Re: Regehr, your right. But what is the reaction regarding that trade. I haven’t heard anyone dis Reggie. It seems to be a “thanks for your services & good luck in your new location” type of feeling. I miss Regehr and it sucks that we couldn’t win it all with him. But, we had our shot and it failed. I don’t hink we are worse off without him.

          It would be the same with Iggy. Nobody wants to see him go. But we had our shot with him and now it’s time to hope he has a shot elsewhere. I don’t think it matters at this point who prompted the trade. Iggy will never look bad in the eyes of Flames fans if he went. I can’t speak for the general fan, but the fans on FN seem like an intelligent, hockey knowledgable bunch. Everyone will eventually understand.

  • RexLibris

    The tone of your article, Kent, seems to be that the Flames need to go out and acquire a top-end player.

    I don’t believe that is what your real expectations are for the team because the free agent pool is so shallow this year and the Flames would have to move considerable assets, most likely in futures, to bring in that level of talent via trade.

    Which leaves me wondering, are you preparing your readership for an unpleasant reality that may come about this summer and fall?

    I think all of JF’s points are attainable and likely to be accomplished by Feaster this off season, minus perhaps one or two free agents.

    Something that I noticed about each of the players you listed: they are all centres. Does this bring the Flames back to their perennial quest for a top-line centre this off-season?

    P.S. thanks for looking at the forest and cutting down the occasional “sacred” tree.

      • RexLibris

        A spoonful of sugar, Kent.

        Just a quick note for Flames fans: The Oil Kings face the Kootenay Ice and the Flames Max Reinhart in the first round of the WHL playoffs starting Friday. The Reinhart brothers all square off in this one and there is an element of the BOA in that the Oilers have several prospects on the Oil Kings (and Drew Czerwonka on the Ice) as well.

        Also, the Hitmen face the Wheat Kings, featuring the Flames Michael Ferland and everton fc’s favourite d-prospect, Eric Roy.

        Just thought I’d mention that as it seems there will be no springtime NHL hockey in Alberta this year and WHL hockey is always fun to watch when you have a home team or a prospect in the fight.

  • RexLibris

    @ Kent

    Great article, again. Two questions for you.

    1) Why the hell doesn’t management/ownership/coaches of this Flames team use this information, to make decisions of the club (re. Iginla).

    2) Why does well read media outlets (not saying yours isn’t) like the Sun and the Herald not publishing these for casual fans and season ticket holders to know that King is forcing these “stars” down their throats? I’m sure that an article like this would show even the loyalist of Iginla supporters that the time has come to look for greener pastures.

    • RexLibris

      I think Matchsticks answers your questions today…


      … in regards to Iginla, sigh, he’s still a really good player… the problem is people keep on treating him like he’s a really really great player. Getting rid of your good players is not a recipe for success. Jarome Iginla is not an elite two-way hockey player, the response to that is not automatically to get rid of him but instead to use him to his strengths which the coaching staff have fairly consistently not done.

      He’s still very valuable and more importantly marketable.

      • Vintage Flame

        Not very impressed by this article.

        Mismanagement is not argument IMO.

        Had the Flames done the job properly, invested heavily in scouting and development, actually traded the players mentioned for all futures (not “something for now, something for the future”) as part of a single, coherent game plan, we’d still be reaping the benefits.

        Think about it. If you could just get one star player every 5 years from the draft that would give Calgary an entire first line from the time that Iginla joined the team.

        Blame ineptitude and owner interference for the YG era.

        That said, if I could re-sign Jokinen for no more than 2 years for no more money than he makes more and Moss and Stempniak at similarly reasonable prices, I’d keep them and Tanguay and GlenX to bridge the transition. Ditto with most our D.

        Ottawa and St. Louis have shown you can rebuild without a complete gut and it can be fast and successful.

        Not trading Kipper and Iginla at this stage though is basically ludicrous. The best we can finish next year is 8th. Then what?

        • Matty Franchise Jr

          “actually traded the players mentioned for all futures (not “something for now, something for the future”) as part of a single, coherent game plan, we’d still be reaping the benefits.”

          Or we could have ended up as the NY Islanders. Having a lot of lottery tickets doesn’t automatically mean one will hit.

          “Ottawa and St. Louis have shown you can rebuild without a complete gut and it can be fast and successful.”

          Trading Iginla and Kipper is basically the equivalent of a complete gut… geez, that’s like saying that Ottawa would be where they are if they had traded Spezza and Alfredsson.

          I have to heartedly disagree about that last bit. What’s ludicrous is sending away good players for assets of indeterminate value potentially nothing, you’re supposed to acquire and retain good players not send them away.

          • Vintage Flame

            You conveniently skip the part about proper scouting and development. Mike Milbury is not an argument. Stupid is stupid, regardless of the plan. There’s a reaon some teams draft and develop better than others. Calling it a lottery is just a lame excuse from loser teams and it’s exactly why this team is where it is.

            It’s not like that at all. Spezza plays center and is several years younger. He also gives a rats @$$.

            How did we get Iginla? How did we get Nieuwendyk? Regehr?

            Iginla is a depreciating asset. He’s not 25 anymore.

            Have we won with Iginla?

            Will we win with Iginla?

            Sorry, but I just don’t get this line of reasoning. “Lets stick with what doesn’t work!”

            By your reasoning the Carter (x2) and Richards trades were terrible. How’s Philly doing btw?

            Calgary needs young, elite talent and a complete culture change. How else do you get that without trading away the only marketable assets for futures?

            As I stated earlier in the thread:

            Without trading Kipper or Iginla, where exactly do the people who want to keep them, but acknowledge the team suck, have in mind to acquire young, elite talent?

            Whether you like Iginla or think he’s overrated, only plays when the mood strikes him and how he feels he should play and is a coach killer, it doesn’t really matter. Either you trade the 2 most marketable assets on the team or wait another year and are forced to rebuild from nothing but bottom 5 finishes.

            The Flames have gone past the 1st round once with Iginla. He’s 35 next year, so is Kipper. The rest of the core is also 30 next year (GlenX may be the year after). If, as the team’s best players, Kipper and Iginla couldn’t get it done in their 20’s, why do people expect improvement next season?

            Shelter Iginla and Tanguay all you want, it’s not going to make this club an elite team. Squeeze us into 8th for a final time? Possibly. However, I am tired of trying to scratch into 8th year after year. I demand a higher standard than that.

            So let Iginla go and be a top line player elsewhere. We’re not winning anything next season regardless. It’s time to think about the future in earnest. What really matters isn’t what goes out, but what comes back.

            The crazy thing is that when we repeat this season yet again next year, the same people will be saying that we shouldn’t move Iginla at the deadline and we should re-sign him.

            I wonder if it’ll be OK to trade him when he’s 45?

          • Vintage Flame

            Nothing is for sure. We didnt know how good Iggy would have been but we sure knew Nieuy was a very good hockey player. We didnt know how good Regehr would be but we knew what we had in Fleury. Those were both top prospects, no guarantees, just a little balls & vision & calculated gambles. Mid thirty’s players guys, its time to roll the dice & this time we have 2 guys that can get us the young potential Regehr & Iggy’s. Look how Barchee got this City & fans vibrating with hope. One real good prospect. Now add a couple of top NHL ready prospects & a couple of 1st rounders to add to our 11th or 12th 1st rounder we already have. Now that would be exciting.

            Different note, I dont see trading Iggy & then expect him to immediately return like every one hopes. It may take 2-3 years to win that Cup. Then we sign him to tutor, secondary scoring & retirement contract. 2-3 years may just be about the right time if we do things right for a change.

        • T&A4Flames

          “That said, if I could re-sign Jokinen for no more than 2 years for no more money than he makes more and Moss and Stempniak at similarly reasonable prices, I’d keep them and Tanguay and GlenX to bridge the transition. Ditto with most our D.”

          Jokinen is going to want a raise, but I completely agree with the term. More than 2 years and we are limiting future positions for young up-&-comers. I may agree with 3 years but ONLY if the cap hit stays close to what it currently is. Maybe something like 4.5mil- 3.25mil- 2mil+ avg cap hit of 3.25mil. I could live with that. And no NTC after the 1st year at most!!!

  • T&A4Flames

    The thing that would upset me most about moving Iggy would be if we got a TERRIBLE return. We, at the very least, need to see a high 1st rounder, but more than likely a lower 1st round and quality…no.. top prospect. Anything less and there would be rage re: trading Iggy. Maybe that is why he hasn’t moved.

  • T&A4Flames

    Im sick of reading this same cr@p, there are more factors at play here than mentioned. The coaching, a lack of a center that can hang on to the puck for extended periods and drive possession and essentially just a lack of top end centers (most of the centers u mentioned are on a team with at least one other established center) are more so reasons for this. I’m probably gonna take a lot of criticism for this but seriously iginla would be a top line player on any other team in the league. Maybe not in three years but up to now he would be, his possession ratings are more to do with what I listed above as oppossed to him not being a top line player. Give your head a shake we trade iginla and he instantly goes on the top line of that team, and he’s probably on a team now with a better team system, who better matches lines and who has a top center and thus his possession rates skyrocket. Then your argument is out the window. I agree with you guys this isn’t working but it is less to do with our top guys and more to do with what I mentioned. I also agree trading some of our aging assets is a must. But considering iginla is 33 and is one of the most in shape players in the league I don’t see the rush, just look at ray whitney, I’d say teemu but he’s a second liner…

    • T&A4Flames

      I don’t necessarily disagree with you; you are right that there are extenuating circumstances that hurt Iggy’s abilities. That said, he is (actually) 34 now and 35 before next year starts. My point in particular is more that I don’t want to see Iggy rot here and not win a cup.

      The other thing is that I don’t want to see his reputation tarnished because he refuses to go. Reading the comments here on FN, it already looks like he is getting trashed far too much and some have already lost that respect for the greatest player to ever wear the flaming ‘C’.

      The best case scenario as I see it is, Iggy accepts a trade to a true contender and gets anther opportunity to win it all. We see a solid return to move forward with. Iggy signs with us at the end of his current contract and retires a Flame and Stanley Cup champion, be it with the Flames or another team.

  • T&A4Flames

    *ok sorry iginla is 34, and 35 next season but i stand by what I said Whitney is 39… Also we would never get back the proper return to merit trading iginla, look at the Hossa deal Atlanta gave up Hossa and Dupuis who btw is a 20 goal scorer for essentially nothing, not saying we would get sandbagged that bad but considering iginlas a 30 goal scorer, what he means to the team from a emotional and PR standpoint it doesn’t make sense unless someone overspends, which they wont, dreger even said kipper is more valuable. Not to mention iggy can mentor Sven and others

    • T&A4Flames

      Ok, and Paul Gaustad, a 3rd liner, brought back a 1st round pick. It all depends on timing and opportunity. Not to mention Flames managements ability to pounce on those opportunities if they prevent themselves.

      • T&A4Flames

        I still can’t believe that trade haha the best part is gaustad said he’d probably resign in buffalo in the offseason haha. I’m up for trading anyone on the team who is over 23 years old if it’s a good deal and will make us better in the long run, but late first round picks aren’t good enough alone that’s my point the extras we would get are probably not worth it. If we would get a sure fire top prospect then ya but I just don’t think those deals are out there for iginla

    • loudogYYC

      I’d actually prefer if Iggy didn’t mentor Sven. Iggy’s been here a long time and Flames locker room seems to have a Country Club attitude to it. I don’t think anyone is more responsible for that than Iginla.

      Giordano could/should be the next captain and remain for years, even if Iginla’s traded and then signs here as a UFA in 2014.

      • supra steve

        I meant more from a young star will benefit from seeing an elite player on and off the ice. Giroux was gonna be a star regardless but he has improved drastically in part to do with watching Jagr on and off the ice, there is a lot to be learned by watching an elite players off ice training and game preparation techniques etc. Giroux even mentioned it himself….. I agree gio is next captain. At the end of the day my point is ppl are so high and so low it may not have been at this site but there were some flames fans calling for the trading of gio cause the team played so well without him…. The big picture is all I wish fans looked at more often. I can accept trading iggy if it’s beneficial to the team but ppl talking $hit without looking at all the facts is shortsighted and honestly it happens far too often from flames fans, I appreciate hearing from the more level headed fans who understand the sport in all its faucets, pretty much all of you who has responded to my comments I would consider level headed fans so thank u, I’m not necessarily criticizing u 🙂

  • T&A4Flames

    Well thanks for that cause it’s the iggy bashing that gets to me the most, I’ve been defending iggy for years cause my old man bashes him all the time, it’s usually in oct/nov just like the rest of them but he’s truly my current favorite player and the amount of sh#t ppl talk about him on here is really annoying actually. I would love iggy to win a cup cause unlike most here I know he deserves it and is the type of player every team would love to have and is an elite player… How many of those has Calgary had since the end of our powerhouse 80s/late 90s teams…. Only one that’s how many

    • supra steve

      Iginla sucks. 🙂

      1) Ownership will do nothing because the Flames are in the race late into the season. Until we’re out of it in February they will do nothing. They’re still scared to death of the YG era.

      2) Elite wingers (Iginla, Bure, Nash) don’t have the same effect as elite centers and you only get those through the draft.

      Without trading Kipper or Iginla, where exactly do the people who want to keep them, but acknowledge the team suck, have in mind to acquire young, elite talent?

      Whether you like Iginla or think he’s overrated, only plays when the mood strikes him and how he feels he should play and is a coach killer, it doesn’t really matter. Either you trade the 2 most marketable assets on the team or wait another year and are forced to rebuild from nothing but bottom 5 finishes.

      The Flames have gone past the 1st round once with Iginla. He’s 35 next year, so is Kipper. The rest of the core is also 30 next year (GlenX may be the year after). If, as the team’s best players, Kipper and Iginla couldn’t get it done in their 20’s, why do people expect improvement next season?

      Shelter Iginla and Tanguay all you want, it’s not going to make this club an elite team. Squeeze us into 8th for a final time? Possibly. However, I am tired of trying to scratch into 8th year after year. I demand a higher standard than that.

      So let Iginla go and be a top line player elsewhere. We’re not winning anything next season regardless. It’s time to think about the future in earnest. What really matters isn’t what goes out, but what comes back.

    • supra steve

      We need to remember what happened to those elite players from that previous generation. Mullen-traded to Pitt. won a cup, MacInnis-traded to StL won a Norris, Suter-traded to Chi, Gilmour-traded to TML and became a superstar, Vernon-traded to Det won a cup, Nieuwendyk-traded to Dal won a cup, Fleury-traded to Col.

      All sent packing, the return on these deals ranging from pittiful (Gilmour-Leeman) to pretty pretty good (Fleury-Regehr) to outstanding (Nieuwendyk-Iginla).

      There is some risk to trading any player, but when that player is nearing retirement age (when you will lose him for no return) but still has significant trade value, you have to pull the trigger (particularily in the predicament the Flames are in). Time stops for no man. Boston did it with Ray Bourque, he won a cup and still has strong ties to the Bruins. Besides, like T&A said, maybe you can bring him back as a free agent after next year.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I suppose the Money Puck version of On Base Percentage is the ability to drive possession into the offensive zone and keep it there. I believe that is what Corsi is about (correct me if I’m wrong). So, the Flames need to start bringing in more players like Stempy and Moss. Then maybe with enough of these types of players Iggy can be given Sedinesque minutes and zone starts.

    But how do we get enough of these type of players while keeping Jarome?

  • T&A4Flames

    great read kent, your article re enforces what many have felt for a considerable length of time. management needs to view the data. obviously butters coaching tactics plays into generating unfavourable results.

  • Vintage Flame

    I agree with the-wolf. How do fans expect to get top end talent or prospects by not trading Iginla and or Kipper? By most Iginla lovers plans, he’ll be tudoring 3rd and 4th liners when he’s 40 and the Flames will be exceptionally worse to watch.

  • RexLibris

    I’m going to have to bring a bucket of cold water on this discussion and say that the young franchise player many of the fans here seem to want in exchange for Iginla isn’t likely to be included in his return.

    I know that #12 brings out the strongest emotions in Flames fans, but I have said it before and will say it again, the market for an aging veteran even with his rock solid annual returns-on-investment points isn’t likely going to be a Brett Connolly + 1st round pick type return.

    I don’t know exactly what to expect, but a first round pick in return for Iginla isn’t going to be a lottery pick for starters. And the prospect that is returned might not become the guaranteed captain and cornerstone of the franchise that fans appear to feel they need in order to replace Iginla.

    It could be that the next face of the franchise will have to come from somewhere unexpected: the draft. Trust me when I say I know that this can be a scary idea given a team’s draft history. Really, I know this. But the Flames have so many problems right now not only in their dressing room but also with the fundamental tides of power that run through the roster and into coaching and management that this team is now stuck in perpetual sub-standard mediocrity.

    I read the article at M&G about the nuclear rebuild and while I empathize with the fear about another young guns era, I find the logic and methodology of the argument inconsistent and unconvincing.

    The Saddledome emptied out because the team was bad. Okay, I saw the same thing happen here in Edmonton. But the underlying reason for that lack of attendance wasn’t simply the bad team (the fans desperately wanted to cheer for the Oilers) but also the economics of the era. It was about the same time down in Calgary. Things were bad on the ice and in the market. Sellouts happen when a fan base is loyal and energized, but also when they have the means to financially accommodate the luxury, and that isn’t solely due to winning. It can be about excitement and emotion. To argue that the fans, and by extension corporations, of Calgary will leave the ‘Dome because the team loses is to imply that the city has the same attachment to the Flames as that for which we often accuse those in Vancouver. Is Calgary a bandwagon city (outside of the Stampede, obviously)?

    The article also goes through the fickleness of drafting players and the unreliability of that process and then goes on to lay such lofty expectations of their recently drafted prospect Baertschi by calling him the Flames “potential star of the future” (No pressure kid), this is a conflicting argument and one that reeks of both desperation and opportunism.

    As I see it the Flames have got themselves into a no-win situation and their fans are the ones twisting and writhing about in perplexed anxiety over the course of the team. Will Iginla stay or will he go? What happens when he leaves? Will the Flames get some sort of guaranteed heir to the throne to salve the wound? Who knows. Nothing, really. And probably not.

    I’m sorry to do this but I have to play this card, I have watched some of the most talented players in league history leave Edmonton. One after another. Like band-aids being ripped off again and again. It sucks. Flames fans know some of this as well, but I think the long-tenure of Iginla has made many forget about that period. This isn’t the end of the world, though, and the team, and city, may just be better for it. The Flames and their fans have spent so long worshiping Iginla and frantically awaiting the arrival of someone who would pair with him and achieve the greatness that the city so desperately desires. That window has closed now and whether he stays or goes, the way forward must inevitably be downward before it can again climb.

    I have read many suggestions that because Philadephia, Ottawa, St. Louis and others didn’t go through a large rebuild, neither should the Flames. That is unrealistic and wrongheaded. St. Louis did do a massive rebuild, they selected first overall in ’06, 14th in ’07 and 4th in ’08. They drafted the pieces around which they are currently succeeding. Ottawa isn’t succeeding because of the players they drafted last year but due in part to the players they acquired in drafts and lucky trades many years ago like Spezza, Alfredsson, and others. And Philadelphia isn’t succeeding because of the players they drafted in their awful season of 2007. They are succeeding because of players they drafted and developed in the years prior.

    If you want to use these teams as an argument for not tearing the whole thing down then you need to focus on the relevant comparables: drafting, free agents, shrewd trades. The Flames can’t trade because they don’t have the assets. They are at or near rock bottom in the area of moveable assets for futures (THN has the Flames ranked 29th overall in NHL prospect depth. A little low, imo, but nobody has them higher than 25th). They have been able to attract free agents so that is an area wherein the team could exert some effort and improve. And drafting has had a good year last June. Whether they are able to follow that up and if the GM provides the scouting team with the resources to pursue even a replacement level of draft picks remains to be seen.

    Anyway, that is my Tolstoy-ian post. Sincere thanks if you were able to muscle through it and I do hope that it was coherent.

    From where I sit, the Flames are heading for the end of a cycle. How soon they get there depends on management’s courage and honesty, however, the sooner it starts the better for the fans.

        • RexLibris

          Thing is Rex, I know we have really debated the return of Iggy to some great lengths. I’m really not sure he has more at the draft or whether we should be just waiting until the trade deadline & trade him as the highest profile rental that would probably be on the market. Surely you must agree if Gaustad & Quincey can get 1st round picks, I would do a side bet with you when the time comes that Iggy gets way more than just a mid to low 1st rounder. Like Wolf says, timing is everything. Some fans think we trade him, get a huge return & then just resign him back. I dont think so, once we trade Iggy, he will probably sign with a contender next July 2013 & you know & I know that wont be Calgary.

          • RexLibris

            I always default to the trade deadline when selling. I think that before the draft is when most GMs (Scott Howson aside) value their picks higher than they do at most other times of the year.

            Don’t use Gaustad and Quincey as benchmarks. They are younger and were traded in a different year under different circumstances. They are also far easier to fit under the salary cap.

            Iginla will bring what he will bring, but take a look at the Rangers prospect pool and ask yourself what you could get in return if you fill in the following shopping list: a 1st round pick, a top prospect, a 3rd line or 3rd pairing roster player. By my reckoning that would be a first (in the bottom 10 overall, likely) then perhaps Christian Thomas and maybe Artem Anisimov or Stu Bickel.

            As I have said before, I would use that approximation as a template of what to expect, meaning keeping my expectations in check so that if more is returned then all the better.

            I agree that the Tkachuk trade and sign strategy is a pipe dream. He may come back, but planning on it is like planning on the lottery for your retirement.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    @Rex – I’m not saying another team is going to part with the 1st overall pick, but when you look at some of the trade deadline deals the last few seasons, obviously the potential return would be solid. There’s always a team looking to go for it that will do anything to get over the hump.

    We we’re forced to trade Nieuwendyk and received a top prospect…his name escapes me right now….

    Remember, it’s not just about getting the player, it’s about preventing other teams from getting him and GMs are as competitive as anyone.

    Despite my opinions on the flaws in Iginla’s game and character the man can score and his repuation, thanks to the MSM, is solid around the league. If you’re a team close to the Cup, you will pay something worthwhile.

    Again, a lot is scouting. I was booted off CP forums for suggesting Iginla be traded after his last 50 goal season. Most people thought I was mad and I was personally attacked constantly. I was hammered for using the Sundin comparison (well ahead of anyone else using it, I might add). General consensus was that Giroux, Carter and a 1st was laughable for Jarome. Carter was buried on the 3rd line though and potted 40 the next season. You and I both know you couldn’t move Iginla for Giroux straight across now. In hindsight, that deal would’ve been a steal. Some idiots were saying no even if JVR was thrown in. Pure hero worship.

    Good trades are about timing as much as anything. This summer is really the last chance to get something solid that has the potential to be great, back for Iginla.

    That’s the key. A contender isn’t trading greatness, they’re trading potential greatness which comes with the flip side of potential flop, for a proven commodity in order to win now.

    Which means there’s risk for Calgary too. People said the same thing when Nilsson, Fleury and Nieuwy were moved. Sometimes you make it work, sometimes you have an idiot like Risebrough in charge (which admittedly, Flames management is the part that scares me). But doing nothing but tinkering with the bottom 6? That’s not working.

    And as far as the team comparisons, you’re nitpicking a little. The intended point is that teams have done rebuilds within reasonable time frames and come out on top. I’m just tired of hearing about CBJ and NYI. The Pens rebuilt from scratch twice and have 3 Cups to show for it. Which people will pick apart because of generational players like Lemieux and Crosby, etc.

    Point is, even Feaster has acknowledged that half the rebuilds are successful. A 50% chance of winning the Cup is far better than what we currently have btw.

    To use the Oil as an example – they suck. They suck bad. Right now. At the same time, who’s closer to a Cup? Calgary or Edmonton? We all know the answer to that one. And the Oil could screw it all up, but again, is that because the strategy of a rebuild is terrible or because of mismanagement? Like I said, there’s no cure for stupid. The Oil need to use some of their prospects (hi Omark) and draft picks now to grab a couple of quality D and a true #1 goalie and they’ll be flying. We’ll see, I guess, but I totally agree with the argument that the Oil have been rebuilding for 4 years not 10 years, blah, blah, blah…

    btw, Carter and Richards did help get Philly to the finals, so……but maybe ‘painless’ was the wrong term to use.

    • RexLibris

      Your point about moving Iginla two or more years ago is a good one. The trick in all aspects of business is not to trend, but to be ahead of the trend. Detroit did that fabulously when it drafted the Russians from behind the iron curtain and then again when it became the first one to heavily invest in Swedish players. Had the Flames moved Iginla to Philadelphia for Carter and van Riemsdyk or Giroux and perhaps a draft pick it would have been the deal of the decade. But it wasn’t likely to happen.

      I haven’t stated any specific pathway for the Flames to use to rebuild their franchise, aside from a culture change and a crucial improvement of management. I have always said that the Flames will need to do things their own way, whichever way that is. And most fans would take a 50% shot at winning a championship within five to seven years over a one-in-thirty shot over the course of twenty years (or forty-five years if you are a Leafs fan). So I agree with you on that point.

      The purpose of the rebuild here in Edmonton was to at least give us a shot. Not to get to the playoffs or have another magical run, but to win the darn thing.

      The Oilers could end up screwing this rebuild up. In fact I wrote about just that thing a few months back using the circumstances of the Jasmine Revolution (Arab Spring) as an example. Nobody saw that coming. Just as likely, one of those top prospects for the Oilers could become a bust, or die prematurely (ask the Canucks about Luc Bourdon), or have a hissy fit and demand a trade. Anything can happen, and it might all go sideways, but you have to take a shot.

      The Oilers are going to move Omark and likely some others as well this summer. Dubnyk and Khabibulin will continue in net with Devan getting the lion’s share of the starts next season. Barker and Peckham are likely going to be gone and Sutton will most likely be traded at the deadline next season. In the meantime they will continue with Petry, Potter, Smid, Whitney, and Schultz and probably graduate one of either Plante or Teubert from the farm. I expect that the team will end next season close to where the Anaheim Ducks or your Flames are this season.

      The need for goaltending depth will come, but Khabibulin is inmoveable until the deadline and our defence has a tidal wave of prospects coming in the next two years. So many defensive prospects are developing that the Oilers are going to end up losing some of them to free agency or the draft because we won’t have enough contracts.

      I honestly don’t see where the Oilers could possibly trade for top-pairing defencemen and a number one goaltender. Those assets aren’t going to be made available without sending away forward prospects that, frankly, we can’t afford to lose at this point. Unless Tambellini can convince Lombardi that Belanger or Eager are worth Bernier or Voynov then the discussion is entirely academic at this stage.

      The perception around the league is that the Oilers have all these young talented forwards to trade away. We have three established(-ing) young forwards and the rest are still developing and aren’t yet worth what their true value might be. Trading Pitlick or Paajarvi at this point would make as much sense to the Oilers as moving Baertschi and Ferland for Jeff Carter would have for the Flames.

      As for Carter and Richards they were both drafted in 2003 (11th and 24th overall, respectively) and were being developed long before that 2007 season. Outside of James van Riemsdyk there is no player of note in any of their other picks that year. Flames fans are incorrect to hold up the Philadelphia 2007 season as a model for a quick rebuild. That season was an anomaly, not a step worth re-taking.

      Thanks for the reply, though. I liked reading your opinions on this.

      • RexLibris

        The Oil also have Hemsky and Gagner, plus Smyth and even Horcoff can still contribute from the 3rd line.

        But I ask you, what would their 1st rounder be worth to someone? I’m not really sure, to be honest, but it’d be interesting to see the offers.

        As far as Philly, I actually feel like you’re kind of making my point for me. Philly made 2 good picks. They had the moxie to trade a vet in Langkow for a 1st to get Carter. Not that Carter was the sole reason they went to the finals or anything. They’ve now moved Carter and Richards for prospects and futures again. I don’t agree with everything Philly does (ie. contracts), but they’re not afraid to turn over established players every so often to replenish the stock.

        • RexLibris

          Then let’s clarify:

          My understanding of commenters here using the Philadelphia rebuild model is that they took one year where they stunk and then somehow turned that draft bonanza into the competitive team that they are today. To date they have one NHL player out of that entire draft year.

          Now, on the topic of having the courage to trade away established players for prospects and picks: absolutely. That is one thing that I have noticed an almost paranoic amount of fear coming from Flames fans, and seemingly from the management also, about taking that step. It is curious because there have been numerous others who have left the organization before, but Iginla seems to be the one that nobody can fathom having to send away.

          As for the Oilers, Horcoff and Smyth are third line players next season and Smyth risks tarnishing his reputation if he stays and costs the team the development of one of the younger prospects at LW (Paajarvi and Hartikainen are two potential victims of his ice time). Neither one of them would garner the return of a top defenceman or goalie. Gagner and Hemsky are needed for at least the next season in order to act as transitional talent. Gagner may also be our eventual second or third line centre depending on who the Oilers draft this year and the development of players like Lander and Pitlick. Also, I don’t know that Gagner or Hemsky gets you that return at this point in their careers. They each have a long ways to go.

          I guess, in the end, I don’t see where the Oilers could subtract a forward worth the return of a starting netminder or a top pairing defencemen without ending up taking a step backwards.

          As for trading away the draft pick, it has been, at least theoretically, on the table the last three years. However, this team is still a few years away from hitting it’s stride and acquiring someone who is at the peak of their performance now risks having them in decline when the rest of the team is optimal and you have in the end paid top dollar for something you won’t reap the rewards from until it has depreciated. What a top four draft pick is worth really depends on the buyer. Like you’ve said, it’s timing and opportunity, however this team is taking a methodical approach to the rebuild so it would have to be something significant, at least positionally so.

          If Suter walks on Nashville this summer then the Oilers could try offering up Paajarvi and Omark for a signed Weber, but that is all a long-shot at this point.

          • RexLibris

            Agreed, but I think the Oilers need Smyth for 1 more year. And I wasn’t thinking necessarily a top 2 D, just a younger D who can play solid, tough minutes and is signed for a few seasons. But then, maybe that’s wishful thinking too.