FGD: Remember When This Was a Rivalry?

 

There’s not much reason for either club to show up tonight, outside of, you know, because they’re being paid to. The Canucks have the NW division sewn up and are well clear of anyone chasing for second in the conference. The Flames, on the other hand, are done like a thrice boiled potato.

Vancouver may still have an eye on the Blues for first in the WC, but that’s merely window dressing. It wouldn’t surprise me if they start resting bodies heading into the last few games of the year. For their part, the Flames are getting bodies back and are actually playing better hockey by and large, but it’s too little, too late. The game versus the Avs last night was one of the best in the last few months, but some bad luck and mediocre goaltending resulted in the loss.

It’s ironic that Calgary is finally starting to outshoot and outchance some teams again, only to see their record deflate and the season end. The unfortunate corollary of winning games you don’t really deserve (as the club did through January and February) is it’s also possible to lose games probably shouldn’t have now and then. As we’ve seen before, the hockey gods are fickle.

The Lineup

Nothing much will change for Calgary tonight, although we might actually see Karlsson in net – which is a mighty big surprise to me, even though the game is meaningless. Flames have gone to great lengths to bypass the big guy completely for the last month or so.

Tanguay – Cammalleri – Iginla
Glencross – Jokinen – Moss
Comeau – Stajan – Stempniak
Jackman – Jones – Kostopolous

Butler – Bouwmeester
Giordano – Sarich
Hannan – Babchuk

While the game is meaningless to the team as a whole, a few pending free agents are still playing for contracts. Cory Sarich got back into the lineup last night and was reunited with former partner Mark Giordano on the second pairing. While Cory is not very mobile and tends to get hurt now and then, he’s certainly proven this year that he can still play at the NHL level. While I doubt he’ll be re-signed by Calgary this summer, I think he could still help another NHL club as a 5-7 option. That’s good news for a guy who started the last couple of seasons as a healthy scratch.

Comeau, Stempniak, Jones, Kostopolous, Moss, Jokinen and Hannan are all guys who have the last three contests to audition for a new contract in July. Jones and Comeau are RFA’s, but are fringe enough players that being re-signed at all is still in question for them.

The Opponent

The Canucks have undergone a bit of a face life since the last time the two teams faced each other. Gone is Cody Hodgson, while Zack Kassian and Sammy Pahlsson were added.

Lapierre – Sedin – Burrows
Raymond – Kesler – Booth
Higgins – Pahlsson – Hansen
Ebbett – Malhotra – Kassian

Edler – Tanev
Hamhuis – Salo
Gragnani – Alberts

The first line looks a bit different with Lapierre in for the injured Glimmer Twin. The Canucks third line has been doing damage recently, with Chris Higgins recently scoring his 17th goal of the year. Each of Higgins, Pahlsson and Hansen are very capable ES players, which is why the Canucks remain an elite team – not only do they have a top end featuring the Sedins and Kesler, but their bottom end boasts a number of pretty cheap guys who can nevertheless drive the play in the right direction, even against good competition.

Kevin Bieksa is out on the back-end this evening, meaning youngster Tanev moves up into the top-4. It will also be interesting to see how MA Gragnani plays on the third pairing – he was a bit of a throw-in in the Hodgson/Kassian deal but with AHL seasons of 52, 51, 43 and 60 points over the last four seasons, might be a Giordano-like late bloomer for Vancouver going forward.

Luongo likely to go in net.

Make sure to check out Canucks Army for the enemy’s perspective.

The Story

The Canucks are warming up for the post-season. The Flames are warming up for the golf course.

  • Reidja

    I wonder if Karlsson will be starting in an attempt by Feaster to showcase him to prospective takers? I can’t honestly say if another team would currently have any interest in him, but a strong showing tonight could change that. I also wonder if Irving will get another call up for one of the games next week, or if they’re content to leave him in Abbotsford.

    In regards to our upcoming RFA’s and UFA’s…I can’t see too many of them (aside from Jokinen) having a case for raises if they have an offer to resign with Calgary. I would even be reluctant to resign Joker as he and the rest of our top players were virtually invisible on a lot of nights during the recent skid.

    It will be interesting to see if anything transpires leading up to the draft.

    • Vintage Flame

      In regards to our upcoming RFA’s and UFA’s…I can’t see too many of them (aside from Jokinen) having a case for raises if they have an offer to resign with Calgary.

      Actually any RFA automatically gets a raise with a qualifying offer from the team. If the team does not “qualify” the RFA, he then becomes a UFA…

      As per the current CBA:
      The current team must extend a “qualifying offer” to a restricted free agent to retain negotiating rights to that player.

      Players who earned less than $660,000 in the previous season must be offered 110 percent of last season’s salary. Players making up to $1 million must be offered 105 percent. Players making over $1 million must be offered 100 percent.

      1. If the qualifying offer is not made, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent.

      2. If the player rejects a qualifying offer, he remains a restricted free agent.

      3. If the player does not sign before December 1st, he is ineligible to play in the NHL for the remainder of the season.

      To put in this in terms say with the Flames and if they qualify Mikael Backlund.
      Backlund’s salary this season according to NHL Numbers was $787,000.
      Therefore he would be entitled to a raise of 5%, which means the Flames qualifying offer to retain his rights would be $826,350.

      • @Vintage Flame

        You must excuse me for having a laugh at your reply to my statement. I realize I did not expand to much on my reasoning for my reluctance to resign our soon to be expired contacts. Be assured, I am aware of the CBA regulations as it pertains to contractual obligations. Let’s be honest, I expect Backlund to be offered a qualifying offer, and if it is @ 105%…it’s not much of a raise based on his current salary. Jokinen may argue for a much larger increase, and I won’t say it’s not warranted, but depending on term and cap hit, plus added clauses…I don’t know if it’s something that should be considered.

  • RexLibris

    I’d be pretty surprised to see Karlsson. Would that be interpreted by fans as Sutter basically calling out the rest of the team to say that they won’t have Kiprusoff to save them with his high-wire act this time?

    As for showcasing Karlsson I can’t see any team being that interested, even Columbus.

    I think I can see Comeau re-signing after he hits free agency so that his contract can come back into line with his performance. And the Flames could likely use Stempniak next season for secondary scoring. Feaster would be wise to sign him to a one-year deal with the intention of trading him at the deadline to recoup one of those 2nd round picks he has so often traded away.

    I don’t know that the Flames will have many options at second-line centre if they don’t re-sign Jokinen. His will probably be one of the more interesting stories to follow this summer.

    Just to see what the responses are: what would Flames fans think about Feaster trading Kiprusoff and their 1st round pick for Rick Nash?

    I’m not advocating it, just trying to think what Feaster could do and what he might be able to package to accomplish it.

    • the forgotten man

      Dont think so Rex & I doubt Nash waives to come here anyway. Giving up 1st rounders is no longer on the buffet menu for the Flames anymore. We need 1st rounders + the best possible NHL ready prospects Feaster can negotiate for with the only 2 chips we have an argument of actually getting anything for. Stempniak will shop the market before signing a 1 year deal. I’m kind of in Wolf mindset right now where I think we need a complete flush & start to build an ew culture like the OIl are doing. Hopefully we dont need as many sticks of dynamite.

      • RexLibris

        The Oilers didn’t need a lot of TNT to break up their roster. A lot of it left via free agency and unqualified contracts. Some of it through the AHL.

        But certainly, a new culture appears to be in order.

        I’ve got a long (even for me) post I wrote up last night after the loss but failed to add. I’ll probably post it after tonight’s loss, er, I mean game.

        Sutter only traded away one first round pick, as I recall. The conditional 1st rounder was in the Phoenix-Jokinen trade (which became Brandon Gormley/Tim Erixon pick). When I looked over the draft picks during the Sutter era a month ago it seemed that Sutter most often moved prospects and young players (Lombardi, Leopold, etc) as well as 2nd round picks.

        • Sutter traded a few firsts but he did get some back. He traded a first to get Cammi from LA, he also traded a first to get Tanguay from Colorado, but he did manage to get Montreal to give him a 1st back for Tanguay & then of course he traded his first for Joker.

          Maybe less dynamite was bad wording, maybe less torches. I think Calgary have more of a secondary veteran core to compliment a youth movement more than Edmonton did. Oilers basically ran with Horcoff, Hemsky & Khabbi as their verteran leadership. Whitney would be in that group but he was way too injured all the time & was alittle too young to be considered a veteran. If we trade our biggest chips in Iggy & Kipper, we still have Cammi & Tanguay, Glencross, JBO, Gio to groom in a new young future core. I think right now thats what the Oil lack, are some real solid veterans to take some of the pressure off the kids. JMO.

    • There is no way the Flames give up any 1st rounders!

      Not trying to insult any Flames fans here actually trying to look at the positive.

      The Flames may be the worst team in the NHL for the next few years, If they decide to re-build.

      If the Flames can convince players to waive there NMC.Then the Flames have a shot at some elite talent coming. If not then I’m afraid you fall into the Toronto syndrome!

    • Reidja

      Your comment made me laugh. Kipper and a first rounder for Nash. You need to add a few more players and a few more draft picks for that trade to happen. Not even Columbus is that stupid to consider a trade for an aging goaltender and a mid first round pick.

  • everton fc

    Nash isn’t worth Kipper and our 1st round pick. He’s also not the answer.

    If we get poleaxed this evening, I wonder if Brent even does a press conference!

    This is the end of an era here, me thinks. We have to move in another direction. It may be w/Feaster & KIng, it may not. My sense is we’re stuck with King. We need to look for a young GM who’s played the game and has some business sense… and a bright young coach and staff to develpo our youngsters.

    It’s the only way we find salvation from the quicksand.

    Someone had suggested starting Baerstchi, Reinhart and Ferland next season. I’d like to see this. I think many fans would. I’d also like to see Irving in more games. I think many fans would.

    The executive should listen to the voice of those who pay to fill the seats… Good business in a volatile global economy.

    • RexLibris

      Oh Nash is definitely not the answer, but that’s because you’re asking a different question than some.

      Burke thought Kessel was the answer and it cost him a franchise centre, a key defensive prospect that any team in the league would kill to have and an exciting, rough young winger. Not a good move but one that he continues to defend to this day.

      As for Ferland, Baertschi and Reinhart starting next season, I understand the desire amongst fans to bring them all up and flush away this gangrenous mess but do not do it. Absolutely not. Baertschi ought to spend time in the AHL but won’t and in the end he may not even need it. Ferland and Reinhart absolutely should spend at least a season there. Junior is a long ways away from professional and they will have a considerable learning curve to climb.

      • T&A4Flames

        I agree with you Rex, those 3 really should spend time in Abby. I am as excited about the new wave that may impact this team, but I don’t want to push to hard to fast. Let them go to Abby and dominate for a year with a few call ups; get them some confidence and more importantly, an understanding of winning.

    • T&A4Flames

      Yes, MSM outside of Calgary are finally starting to gather. Don’t get me started on the Calgary MSM. Shannon on Sportsnet called out both Iginla and Murray Edwards in 2 days.

      Maybe, finally, some real change will take place because if they come back the mostly the same I think the MSM outside of Calgary will roast the entire executive.

      King was peeved btw. What a tool.

  • T&A4Flames

    Kent, you say the flames are done. This is statistically not true. This is a big game for them. It’s a must win.
    As for the Canucks, it doesn’t really matter, but they’ll try to win anyway

    • the forgotten man

      Baljit, I got the following available and for you priced at a family discount if you act now:

      A can of magic beans

      Some “waterfront” property in sunny Florida

      A bridge in Brooklyn

  • T&A4Flames

    the flames are in no position to trade 1 st rd picks, they need to borrow dale tallons book on retooling. trade the biggest assets to get the best returns. a bold approach is needed at this time. take a good look, there realy is not alot of upside. trade kipper, jarome and others, its time to rid the club of the country club attitude. the coaching casualties list is longer than the legitamate prospects list. time to find a true leader to rally the troops. as for loyalty to iggy, his selfish play should dictate him moving elsewhere.

  • Truculence

    Just lose the next three games in the hope of jumping up a spot in the draft. Then suck miserably next year for a lottery pick, and hope you get Nathan. Until then…..stock up on a lot of Gray Goose and Jack Daniels.

  • Truculence

    feaster should rent rinkboard advertising for the stanley cup playoffs. wanted 21 motivated hardworking nhl hockey players. must have experience in winning, losers need not apply.

  • T&A4Flames

    Kent I rarely disagree with you but in my opinion, Blair Jones definately deserves to be re-signed. He is more than a fringe player and I think he has earned a spot on this team. I believe he should be our third line center going forward.

    Oh well I’m looking forward to a good old 11th overall pick this year.

  • @ anyone who uses advanced stats to place value on a player.

    This is such a misleading resource. When he was coach, Darryl Sutter used advanced stats and entered every season saying that “on paper” this team will compete for the cup. What a messed up approach to assessing talent. The old school mentality of judging their grit and determination on the ice. Their ability to compete one on one and win battles. Measure their emotion and their heart by their reactions after each loss. A winning team is ALWAYS contrived of a group of individuals that simply want to win more than the other team. Look at the skill level of Washington. They only started winning when they started to invest some care and emotion into their game.

    Brent Sutter was ever able to evoke these emotions from his players and too often, our entire team looked like they didn’t much care if they won or not.

    I do agree with Austin that Blair Jones has to stay. This guy has energy, a high compete level and an obvious love for the game. We need more players like this guy. The only assets we have, are Kipper and maybe Iggy to an extent. If it helps the team, trade them without question. The only player that I really don’t understand, is Moss. This guy brings NOTHING to the table. I watch him on the ice, and he loses his battles, makes too many errant passes and lacks any type of skill you need to be successful in this league.

    Don’t really know what will transpire in the off season, but I do know that the future does not look too rosy in Flame land!

  • Reidja

    Are you kidding me JBO as a veternan leader. If you want your team to play like a cream puff then he can be a leader for sure. This guy has been in the league 10 years with no one game of playoffs to show for it. He is soft and while he can skate like the wind he never has much to show for it. If you’re building around this guy be prepared to miss the playoffs for many years