1. I’ve seen everything. I’ve seen it all.
Darren Dreger has a habit of dropping bombshell shockers this time of year (see also: that hilarious Ondrej Pavelec contract demand) but one of particular interest to Flames fans this week was the revelation that the Flames would be open to trading Jay Bouwmeester and Mikael Backlund.
I’m sorry, what?
I think everyone here would be fine if the Flames offloaded a guy like Bouwmeester because, despite the fact that he eats minutes and is generally given a pretty rough go of things matchups-wise, he simply doesn’t play the kind of hockey commensurate to his fourth-among-defensemen cap hit. It would be a tough sell to get someone to take his deal, admittedly.
And that, I imagine, is why Backlund has been lumped into the mix. The only thing I can think of for why this team would trade Backlund — which by the way would be the very definition of selling low given he scored four goals thanks to some truly terrible luck and was hurt all season — is that he is intended to lure teams into taking the Bouwmeester contract off Jay Feaster’s hands. Don’t know how well it will work, obviously, but do know for sure it would be a very shortsighted solution to a two-year problem.
Backlund appears to at least be a developing top-six center, which is what the Flames are seeking, again, in their transparent and ill-advised attempt to squeeze into the playoffs so they can say they accomplished something. It’s all rubbish.
2. Draft strategy?
Not surprisingly, Feaster was more than a little non-commital earlier this week when quizzed about whether the team would be willing to move in one direction or another from the No. 14 pick in Friday’s first round.
The team would be willing to do either, and would be perfectly happy to stand pat. A good answer. If they feel like they could jump up a spot or two to get a guy they really like, I’m for it. If the feel of the room leads them to believe they’d get their guy a few spots lower, that’s fine too. Flexibility is good, especially because you’re probably not going to get game-breaking NHL talent at the No. 14 spot, at least statistically. At least the team isn’t committed to going off on some half-crazed wild goose chase like they are in their pursuit of the mythical No. 1 center that will magically turn Jarome Iginla into a 27-year-old again.
I’m for that.
3. No wonder the Sabres were so mad at Lucic
Two NHL insiders had told me last year a Bobby Ryan/Jonas Hiller deal for Ryan Miller was all but done and then the Lucic incident happened.
— John Boruk (@JohnBorukCSN) June 19, 2012
Well then. This might be my favorite revelation of the last decade. Imagine how terrible that deal would have been for Anaheim. Just a terrible turn of events. Giving up a 40-goal scorer and an All-Star goaltender who, admittedly, started out the year terribly, for an in-decline Ryan Miller? I’d be pissed too.
But beyond breaking the Sabres’ psyche, Lucic did his own organization a huge favor by 86ing the deal altogether. Saves them the headache of facing Hiller and Ryan six times a season for the next decade.
And by the way, Bobby Ryan is back on the market for who knows what reason. Bob McKenzie noted last night that if the team were to move Ryan now, and by all indications, they very well might, they would do so for building-block type pieces that won’t increase their payroll. It’s like they’re actively trying to be worse.
4. Gelinas returns
Because no Flames-related thing these days could ever happen without some sort of reference to 2004, look, it’s Martin Gelinas.
Honestly, it’s tough to get all vitriolic about anything to do with an assistant coach, but coaches and players alike seem to like him and he will have the respect in the room that comes with having played with Iginla and Kiprusoff before (it still shocks me that they’re the only remaining holdovers from that team given how much everyone in Calgary acts like that entire group should be brought back every offseason).
It was an easy, PR-friendly decision, and that’s not the worst thing in the world.
5. Let’s talk about that Karlsson
Closing out today’s column, that Erik Karlsson deal is something else, isn’t it? They’re basically expecting him to continue this type of production, and that’ll take some significant doin’.
Karlsson was used masterfully by Paul MacLean, starting 57 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, mostly with the Senators’ best offensive players. If you think that’s a thing that can happen forever, well then, okay, give him that money. But if you think, on the other hand, that you can’t let a defenseman in which you just invested $44.5 million play that kind of soft minutes against so-so competition, then maybe you’re asking a little too much.
Which, by the way, is just what that contract is: A little too much. Given what Sergei Gonchar is pulling from the team, he’s probably right about where he should be paid, relatively, but in the grand scheme of things, I’d be worried if I was a Sens fan. The guy got a fat seven-year deal and it takes a very rare talent indeed to replicate 70 or more points over that span of time. In fact, only two defensemen in league history have scored that many that often: Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey. They had the benefit of playing in an era that was very much unlike this one, and it seems unlikely that Karlsson does the same.
Let’s put in the simplest way possible: How do you give that much to a guy you don’t trust in his own zone?