How to Rebuild the Calgary Flames – A Four Year (and a bit) Plan – Part 2



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This is a continuation of a series in which I propose a method of rebuilding the Flames organization. For a frame of reference, you can go to the first in the series here.

Preparing for a shortened 2012-13 NHL season

As I mentioned in the first article, I am operating under a list of assumptions, the first of which is that the 2012-2013 season is an abbreviated one, beginning in January. A shortened season will be Kryptonite to this already borderline roster, while a cancelled one would be potentially catastrophic for the organization as a whole.

For the past two seasons, the Flames have stumbled out of the gate, posting slow starts that have hamstrung their chances for the postseason. It’s a situation that will only be exacerbated by an older roster, many of whom have not played since last April. Is it fair to say that a four-month season could result in the Flames getting a top ten draft pick, if not higher, regardless of any moves made to encourage a slide in the standings? I know this sounds inflammatory, but I believe the impact of the lockout on the roster, and in particular the older players who form much of the Flames’ core, could be more detrimental to Calgary than some other teams in their conference.

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Based on the above assumption, there are a number of alterations that I would make to the roster and the short-term expectations of the club.

To begin with, prior to the season starting, I would hold a meeting with the entire team to outline a new plan. I would communicate in no uncertain terms that we would be rebuilding the team internally with a timeline of at least three years. Some players would need to find a new place to play; others would be welcome to become part of a mentorship and development program for the younger players that will inevitably be coming into the organization. Under no circumstances will this team be built, or coached, with the explicit intention of losing. Instead, that effort, accountability, balanced with an eye towards development and education would be the criteria for playing time. Rather than waste time trying to be something that we are not, I am going to build the team into what we want to become.

Any players who wished to leave the organization under these terms would be welcome, they need only meet with me and I will try my best to find them a good franchise that best meets their needs and helps further the goals of the Flames organization. All players with clauses restricting their movement would be asked to waive their agreements on the condition that I inform them of any potential moves and consult with them and their families prior to finalizing any deal. No player will be approached until a deal has neared conclusion and management will do their utmost to shield players from speculation and rumours.

I realize that this implies some hypocrisy on the part of management in the way No Trade and No Movement clauses are dealt with. I also have to face the possibility that many, if not all, of the players involved would refuse to waive their clauses outright. The return values on some of the players is, therefore, optimistic.

 Beginning of the End

Therefore, we begin at the inauguration of the 2012-2013 season in January, prior to a brief training camp. The first move I make is to establish the market for Miikka Kirpusoff and Jarome Iginla. The new CBA and all the revitalization that it implies is the ideal time to begin the process of moving on from the Iginla era. I might not necessarily trade either player prior to the season starting, but the dialogue needs to begin immediately and the buyers involved need to be identified quickly. It is risky, but given the way values can often increase as the season wears on and new teams find themselves in playoff contention, beginning the process early gives me the most opportunity for a decent return.

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I am very uncomfortable with this roster as it sits right now. I will be perfectly honest that the temptation exists to buy out Dennis Wideman immediately. When looking over the available free agent defencemen, however, there aren’t many, if any, who would be considered an improvement. Reluctantly, I would retain Wideman, though with an eye to trading him should the opportunity present itself.

I believe quite strongly that the league will implement changes in how it calculates and imposes a salary floor. To that end, I doubt that there will be a Dale Tallon-like buyer out there looking for a salary-floor cushion like Wideman. His contract length and salary relative to performance aren’t likely to make a move any easier, with or without a no-movement-clause.

I will also waive Anton Babchuk and pay to have him play in the AHL for the remainder of his contract. One recent NHL proposal would have had this count against the salary cap, however his cap hit isn’t my concern. My reasons for demoting him are strictly that I believe there are better, more well-rounded options available for the roster at this time.

Following this, there will be a brief free-agency period. The first free agent I would pursue would be Chris Campoli to replace Babchuk. His defensive numbers aren’t terribly exciting, but he does tend to drive the play in the right direction. The contract would be for two years, at no more what he made last season ($1.75 million a year). No clauses or restrictions.

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Given my intentions for the direction and commitments of the team over the next four years a two-year deal for Campoli is far better use of money and ice time than continuing on with Babchuk.

In terms of organizational depth, the right-wing is one of the most glaring deficiencies for the Flames. As a result of trading Iginla, Jiri Hudler would likely need to be moved over to that wing for the foreseeable future, rather than attempt to solve the problem via a shallow free-agent pool.

Matty Franchise!

Now about Matt Stajan. Kent wrote an article last January that debated trading Matt Stajan for Scott Gomez. To go back in time a little here, I would attempt to negotiate this exchange as suggested before the beginning of the season. This deal may not be available, however, given that the salary cap is going to drop, the Canadiens may feel that a longer-term buyout of Stajan is preferable to the higher-cost of buying out Gomez.

The fromer Devil/Ranger is also said to have a good reputation amongst his teammates on account of his work ethic and leadership, which I consider valuable commodities for a rebuilding team. The fact remains that Stajan has a longer contract at a lower cap hit and if financial concerns enter into the equation, I believe this would be possible.

Again, this is partially predicated on the earlier statement about having players waive their NTCs and NMCs and in this case I believe that Stajan may welcome a change of scenery. This would also heavily depend on the Flames own cap situation in the coming year, of course.

The obvious advantage for Montreal in the trade is the actual money they would save in in the initial stages of the contract with the option of buying it out next summer. Gomez’s buyout cap hit in June would be $4.3 million next year and $1.5 million the next, as per capgeek. Contrast that with Stajan’s calculated buyout over the same period, $1.8 million the first year and $0.8 million the second.

Due to the lack of any contract amnesty in my scenario, and with Gomez’s contract expiring at the end of next season, I don’t think that the Flames could receive much more than a swap of problem players in the exchange. Rather than suggest that the Canadiens could be convinced to throw in a 4th or 5th round pick in 2014 to offset the difference in dollars, I am proceeding with the straight exchange premise. Replacing Stajan for a useful NHL center that can play on the top two lines is the primary goal here.

Another option might be to trade for Vincent Lecavalier.

Sorry, just thought I’d put that in there to see if you were still paying attention. No Lecavalier.

For the sake of this exercise let us assume that a trade has been made and that Gomez is now a Flame until July 1st, 2014.

Bye JayBo

Another player I would actively shop prior to the beginning of the 2013 season is Jay Bouwmeester. Based on the terms to which I have alluded, I would have asked Bouwmeester for his consent, and negotiated the terms of his agreement to waive the NTC. My asking price from any potential trade partner would be, at minimum, a first round draft pick in 2013. Ideally a 1st and either a skating prospect (not goal) or a 3rd round pick.

My motivation for trading the team’s #1 defenceman is simple: the Flames aren’t going to be making the playoffs. Any players or assets that would artificially inflate the team’s standings at season’s end and who have significant market value need to be leveraged immediately for future assets crucial to the goal of restructuring this team. Exceptions would be made for those players who will anchor key positions out of necessity. The defensive core is not one of these as the blueline will be manned by a range of players. The most crucial positions to fill are that of the first and second line forwards. One year of Bouwmeester, or even four if we were to assume being able to sign him to an extension, does not compare to potential impact of a drafted and developed player over the course of the next ten seasons. In four years that developing prospect will likely be more valuable to the organization than Bouwmeester in his early-thirties.

Ultimately, this team needs to leverage its most valuable assets to better fit the needs of the organization from a long-term perspective. Bouwmeester is not going to be the difference between this team missing the playoffs or winning the Stanley Cup. His contract expires after next season and his value will likely never be higher.

Here ends part two. Ready. Aim. Fire away in the comments section!

    • Captain Ron

      This was exactly what I thought when I read that paragraph on swapping for Gomez LOL. Might actually make a lot of sense for the Oilers too, with his work ethic and all since they already have those young players in place.

      No thanks for the opportunity to boo him 42 times a year in person. There are other players already on the Flames who can teach work ethic and provide leadership.

      I see no real benefit to a Gomez for Stajan deal. We would be the laughing stock of the NHL even more so than having Stajan on the team.

      If you take this team on the rebuild route then Kipper, Iggy, and JBO are all on the table for picks and/or genuine NHL prospects. Maybe Giordano too although I think he is one of the guys who can provide the leadership and work ethic you are looking for in that Gomez deal.

  • Captain Ron

    Yes to trading J-Bo and perhaps Smith, Jackman and Stempniak for Cole, Reaves and a 1st from the Blues. Gives the Blues 2 NHL def and some veteran character. The Flames get youth a number 1 pick and some young toughness that Hartley likes. No to the Stajan for Gomez. I agree that there needs to be Iggy and Kipper movement or at least Kipper to bring in some more youth. After those trades, go to Iggy and see if he wants to stay or go.

  • BurningSensation

    A few quibbles with your plan so far;

    – Gomez is a decidedly worse player than Matt Stajan, so trading Stajan for Gomez adds more salary and takes away even the small amount of usefulness that Stajan has, a lose-lose. I agree that moving Stajan will likely mean taking a bad contract in return, but there is no reason to take a worse contract and player in return.

    – Hate Lecavalier’s contract all you want, but if Matt Stajan could be moved out for Lecavalier it would be a huge win in comparison to Gomez. Lecavalier for all his faults, is still a legitimate NHL player. Gomez is not.

    – For a variety of reasons I don’t see Iginla ever being moved. Kipper on the other hand, he could be ripe for a trade. Replacement level goaltending is easier to find than a scoring forward.

    – I would target Philly for a J-Bo trade, with the asking price being not a 1st rnd pick, but one of their developing young pivots (Couturier being my 1st choice, Schenn my 2nd). I’d even be prepared to sweeten the deal by including one of our prospects/picks, and or taking back a bad contract, to get the deal done.

    – The other trade I would target is Girgerenko in Buf for….just about whatever it takes. He’s a full-blooded offensive pivot with size, and fits a glaring need in the organization structure.

    • RexLibris

      Do you think that having Lecavalier for the next seven years at a cap hit of $7 million is better than two years of Gomez?

      Why would either Philadelphia or Buffalo trade one of their young (and cheap) centers? Philadelphia might, but they would want more than just Bouwmeester, I would think, in return. As for Buffalo, if they were unwilling to trade the pick because they wanted Grigorenko this June, then what do the Flames have now that would entice them to move the prospect after seeing his progress thus far?

      Simply put, the Flames don’t have the resources, aside from a fistful of future (high) draft picks.

  • RKD

    What exactly are you trying to achieve? If you are trying to make the playoffs then trading Iginla, Kipper, Bouwmeester, etc doesn’t work. And if you are then why bother with a Stajan for Gomez swap? Gomez is twice the cap hit and salary. You don’t like money?

    Iginla isn’t waiving until he has a shot with the new roster. The Flames have nobody to back-up Kipper let alone replace him so trading him isn’t an option.

    And what is this nonsense about wanting to buy-out Wideman? That brings us into “Spider Man could beat up Batman” hypothetical silliness territory because no GM is going to buy-out or trade a player that was just signed to a 5-year 26-million dollar contract. You would destroy the clubs credibility with future free agents. Besides, you can’t trade Bouwmeester and get rid of Wideman.

    I don’t get paying Babchuk to play in the AHL while going after Campoli. At his worst Babchuk is a better PP and offensive option then Campoli. Neither is worth anything in the d-zone. Besides, you have just offloaded Kipper, Iginla, and Bouwmeester. Why waste the money?

    Sorry man, but the strategy is all over the place and doesn’t make much sense. If your blowing up the team there are better ways to do it. And after signing Cervenka, Hudler, and Wideman to big contracts no GM is blowing up a bubble team unless they are horrendous out of the gate (and probably beyond). This blog is late by 8-months. The table is set and the turkey is in the oven.

    At best we will see Bouwmeester moved. Though I think if the return was available that deal would already be done. On the far side of realistic perhaps you see something like Gaudreau+Glencross for Krejci. Or some other maneuver to bring on a top 6 forward. Other then that the trade deadline is the earliest we will see moves IMO.

    • RexLibris

      My strategy is to rebuild the team for the long-term while avoiding anything that smacks of “Oiler-style rebuild”. This club missed an opportunity last February when they refused to trade out the expiring UFAs. Missing what may be their last window because of a faint hope of a playoff position would be irresponsible, in my opinion.

      Also, I’m not the one who signed Cervenka, Wideman or Hudler. Hudler I might have done, and Cervenka is worth a gamble, I suppose. But the Wideman signing was just plain ludicrous. I’m trying to find a way out of the corner into which Feaster and Sutter have painted this franchise, and avoid the easy “blow it all up” route.

      • RexLibris

        “But the Wideman signing was just plain ludicrous.”

        Not really. The Flames needed a player who could provide offense from the blueline (especially on the powerplay). They needed a defenseman with a RHS. Wideman is both.

        Certainly, the contract is too much for too long (with a NTC, besides) but I guarantee you another team would have signed him to that exact contract (if not one more ridiculous) if the Flames hadn’t jumped ahead of the game. Look at James Wisniewski in Columbus. I’d rather have Wideman than Wisniewski, and they’re signed to basically the same contract. And they probably wouldn’t have been ridiculed to the extent Feaster and company were (if he had been signed by the Red Wings, it would have been lauded as a brilliant move).

        Honestly, it’s the Hudler move that bothered me. He’s a skilled player in his prime (sort of), but he doesn’t really add anything that wasn’t already there. At least, he doesn’t appear to from where I’m sitting. I would have prefered a solid defensive pivot, aka someone who would have prevented the necessity of using Backlund as a shutdown center next (this) season (which, with the roster as it currently is, is basically unavoidable).

        • RexLibris

          Interesting, I was always more doubtful of the Wideman signing than the Hudler one. At least the Hudler one is shorter term, lower cap hit and no clauses. I think the team can move Hudler, if the need arise. Wideman, not so much.

          You are right, another team might have been willing to offer Wideman as much or more. But that doesn’t justify the Flames doing it any more so.

          It would be nice to see Backlund move up to 2nd line center, but we’ll have to wait and see what Cervenka can do.

  • RKD

    I guess that’s one way too look at it, but the Flames management wants to keep winning now. Maybe another shortened season might proves wonders for a guy like Kipper. In 38 games he won the Vezina and lowest GAA in modern day time. Granted he and Kipper are eight years older but management still holds out hope for a miracle run.

    St. Louis really wants Jay-Bo, he’s a left-handed d-man who can play with Pietrangelo.

    This might not be an Oilers rebuild, but gutting your d to tank and gain a top 10 draft pick smells all too familiar.

    The shame is by the time the Flames are really competitive and have a shot to win a Cup, Iggy and Kipper will be retired or on a different team.

    • RexLibris

      Babchuk and Bouwmeester leaving doesn’t really rank as gutting the D. Babchuk for Campoli is trading a PP specialist for a slightly more rounded defensive option.

      Bouwmeester needs to be moved, so doing it now is a necessary move, rather than waiting until the trade deadline and being hampered by a NTC with other GMs smelling blood in the water. Starting earlier leaves at least a little power in my hands during negotiations.

  • Captain Ron

    I’ve liked the rebuilding series that you did, but as for this idea im not liking it at all. Far too much wishful thinking.

    The whole plan is just fraught with ways of simplifying how to rebuild a team. I think as your rebuilding series suggests, there is no one way to rebuild a team. I don’t like the over simplified fire sale to end all fire sales approach.

    Nothing wrong with trading, just that your strategy is to lose hard and hope the picks pay off isnt good enough.

    • RexLibris

      I’m only trading three guys. They are all coming to the end of their contracts, and two of them are closing in on retirement. Not trading them would be a horrible misuse of franchise assets, in my opinion.

      As it sits right now, if the season is lost, there is every chance that the Flames could lose one of their most iconic players for absolutely nothing. That isn’t good.

      I’ll admit, some of this is simplification. But I can’t sincerely argue that I’m going to draft franchise players in the 2nd round or sign the best free agents. I’m trying to outline a process of priorities and possible paths by which to accomplish them. Drafting and developing is the priority. Trading veterans and accepting a reduction in competitiveness is a method by which to achieve that goal.

  • loudogYYC

    I like a lot of what you’re saying Rex, but I think there’s some serious pipe dreaming going on.

    I too would consider trading Bouwmeester and Iginla. But at the trade deadline, whenever that may be. Buying out Wideman and trading Stajan for Gomez though, not even close, unless Bergevin sees the value and is willing to include a 2nd rd pick along with the overpaid enigma that is Gomez. Not a likely risk a new GM in a crazy hockey market would take.

    I see huge potential in the Flames starting a true rebuild this year, it would be a great time to make 4 or 5 bold moves, but in reality it would be tough to pull even one off.

    That said, if you can only pull off 1 big move, make it Iginla. Get as close as you can to a bidding war with 3 or 4 teams that look primed for a cup run (Boston, Pittsburgh, St Louis, Boston. And don’t forget Boston).

    • loudogYYC

      Agree. We still have Kipper for 1 more year after this at a bargain basement price(1.5mill). He will be extremely valuable at a trade deadline in 2014. In addition, we need to see what Ramo will bring to the table for immediate help & that gives us the end of this year & the first half of 2014 to make that evaluation.
      Therefore, target Iggy. He’s the elephant in the room & truly the beginning of the end of the Iggy era as we know it. Hope for a 1st(probably a late one) & decent prospect.

      Agree, Wideman buyout shouldnt even be considered. He is actually not a bad dman, so why would we do that. JBO, should be on the table but only if Rex gets an overwhelming offer packaging a 1st & a decent prospect. Trade deadline would be the best opportunity to get top value but next draft or the 2014 trade deadline are also very good options.

      I would also look at trading Cammi but again, he has 1 more year left & that looks like a 2014 trade deadline deal as well. I realize we are only getting rental value but who knows, Gaustead & Penner can score 1st rounders, these guys in the right market can too.

  • RexLibris

    Haha, so this isn’t playing so well so far. We’ll see how things unfold over the next few pieces.

    Just a note, I talked about buying out Wideman, but I acknowledge that it can’t happen. So Wideman stays.

    As for moving Bouwmeester and Kiprusoff, they have value right now. The extra year might even increase it. As I’ve said, trading them now means, I think, a higher return.

    With regards to moving Stajan for Gomez – who is the Flames top center right now? A converted winger? Stajan currently sits idle many nights and when he does dress has had trouble keeping his head above water. The cap space is wasted on an entirely non-performing asset. Gomez produces, at least, something. It may not be 30 or 40 pts a year, but he can honestly go up against NHL competition. I’ve compared their numbers at and Gomez is a better option. Cervenka is unproven and it would be prudent to at the very least plan for the opportunity to shelter his minutes.

  • RexLibris

    Making Sutter GM was a experiment that went south and cost this club dearly.Both Edwards and King are responsible for that mistake,and i say that with total respect for D Sutter.He was a pro player and a great coach.Hiring a lawyer to manage the team was obviously Edward,s choice,after being burnt by King/ Sutter.So hear we are with King/Feaster(marketing guru/lawyer).

    Yea .i.d rather give both there jobs to John Davidson,but hell ,it could be worse , the team could be run Kevin Lowe

    • RexLibris

      I wouldn’t call seven years as GM an experiment. It also was a famously popular relationship for the first five years of his time in Calgary. While I’m not a fan of the moves that Feaster has made, and remain at best ambivalent towards Weisbrod, I am willing to give them both time to work towards their goal. Lets see what happens.

  • T&A4Flames

    “My strategy is to rebuild the team for the long-term while avoiding anything that smacks of “Oiler-style rebuild”. This club missed an opportunity last February when they refused to trade out the expiring UFAs. Missing what may be their last window because of a faint hope of a playoff position would be irresponsible, in my opinion.”

    This whole thing smells of an Oiler style rebuild. Burn it right down for nothing but kids and picks that hopefully develop as a group in 4 to 5 years.

    Even suggesting buying out Wideman is silly. He hasn’t even shown how he could fit in yet. Sorry Rex, but that statement alone hurt a lot of your credibility on this matter.

    I do agree that Iggy needs to be a priority. Pitt will likely be the best option for both Iggy and the Flames. Perhaps we could get Morrow and a 1st. I would like a transition from Kipper to Ramo, so maybe next years deadline we target Chi for say McNeil and a 1st.

    As for Stajan for Gomez, it has to be worthwhile. If we don’t get at least a 2nd along with that, why do it?

    Bottom line, if the returns aren’t wins for us, we may as well stay the course set out by Feaster and Weisbrod and try to win now with an eye on the future.

        • RexLibris

          the Blackhawks value McNeill pretty highly for some reason, I think they probably rate him as high as those other 2.

          But if that doesn’t please you, I’m flexible. Clendening, Hayes, or Fournier (and a 2nd) would do nicely as well. Basically anyone but McNeill.

    • RexLibris

      Re: Oiler style rebuild.

      This is actually pretty funny to me because I was strongly advised to go farther in my approach and burn it down more than I have already indicated.

      My refusal to do so was that if I, an avowed Oilers fan, come into the FlamesNation house and start talking about 1st overall picks and turning over every veteran in sight for more picks and prospects, then I will lose all credibility.

      I have said before, that every team needs to find its own rebuilding style. What I’m trying to do here is what I feel Flames fans might be willing to support: put together an entertaining team while accepting that immediate results cannot drive the strategy for the short term. If fans are entertained and get a solid effort from the team, all while collecting high picks and solid prospects, I honestly believe that they will tolerate a short interruption in their drive towards another championship.

      On Wideman, yeah, I’ve backed off moving him. But I still hate that contract. The term is too long, the dollars too high, and the clause is just an outright mistake. I apologize for drawing this comparison, but I have never been able to shake the feeling that it has “Souray” written all over it. A bad contract that will have to be dealt with before it is over.

      Right now Stajan sits on the shelf. Gomez is a top 2 center, especially on a team without any. And a shorter contract. I avoided including a pick in the deal because I’m trying to stay conservative in my estimates. A pick would be nice, but I can’t move this excercise forward based on best-case scenarios at every turn.

      • T&A4Flames

        Hey Rex. Sorry if I came across harsh on your assessment/proposals. I was a little confused by zone of your ideas so I am going to comment again.

        It’s been said on here before re: Gomez. If we keep Iggy, them trying out Gomer may help. However, if you are planning on moving Iggy, and therefore our best forward and chance at the PO’s, then why do it if we don’t get back another asset (2nd rndr).

        Wideman may turn out to be a bust. I believe he will be a value for the 1st 3 years of that contract so long as he is used for what he does best and not as
        a big minute defensive guy.

        Iggy should be moved for both the franchise and for Iggy himself; dammit Iggy, go get that cup! I long mind what Feasr and Weis are trying to do, keep competitive and build up our prospects. That said, Iggy should be moved, at least for now. He can still come back and retire a Flame.

        Happy holidays to you Rex and all you hockey lovers that contribute to this site. Go Canada go!

        • RexLibris

          Bring the harsh. At least its hockey talk.

          I thought about not trading Stajan, but it seemed to me that trading Iginla, and keeping Stajan as a center would just push me into the “deliberately trying to be bad for draft picks” camp that I am trying to avoid.

          Same to you sir, Merry Christmas.

  • ChinookArchYYC


    In my view, most of your suggestions are good overall, but I can’t see how Scott Gomez is a fit and I’d rather wait it out with Stajaan. I really don’t understand your view of Wideman. I agree the signing was ludicrous, but I expect there are other teams that would take this contract, so why not make them pay?

    “Reluctantly, I would retain Wideman, though with an eye to trading him should the opportunity present itself.”. Like this contract or not, it’s an asset, why not treat it like one?

    • RexLibris

      You can check my comments above this one for another opinion on Wideman.

      I see the contract as having more liability than asset potential in the long run. High dollars, long-term, NTC.

      That being said, the way the Hockey Gods love me, I expect that Wideman will score five or six PP goals against the Oilers when the season resumes, just because I’ve been so down on him. 😉

  • MC Hockey

    Hey Rex, First Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours! Second, nice job on the series here so far. For this part 2, I like the thinking here in some ways and some less so:

    1. Gomez in for Stajan – I do like it. Why the heck not…this is the kick in the pants both players need to play better. I think Gomez upside as a play-making centre on first or 2nd line is FAR higher than Stajan (see past statistics) so if cap concerns minor and only 1.5 years left on contract, they why not try it. Flames have taken big risks before.

    2. Wideman – sorry just give the guy a chance. Maybe with maturity and coaching his defensive play improves and his offensive skills are still strong.

    3. New attitude and plan. I think it’s a good idea to communicate it to everyone that things will change so “get in or get out”. This may make trading Iggy or Kipper possible. I say Iggy would like stay anyways and embrace it while Kipper may say “OK we go now”. So get a good return such as first round choice if possible and/or two decent prospects, perhaps one Forward and one Goalie.

    4. I agree moving JayBo for long-term build is a good plan but again must get good return or hold off. Return must be a potential top-2 defensive prospect and possibly more.

    Interested in your rebuttal to me!

    • RexLibris

      Likewise to you and your kin, MC, and thanks.

      1. Agreed. I looked into the numbers before proposing this and the stats suggest that it would be an improvement. For me, the biggest draw is that the Flames would finally have a veteran bona fide center. He may not be a franchise one, but it is a better bet than a converted winger or an NHL untested import who, by some accounts, is a natural winger.

      2. See above comments – I may put this series to bed still arguing about Wideman. 😉

      3. I feel strongly that players need to be kept in the loop and told what is expected of them. As for the returns, I’m keeping my expectations conservative. I need to operate on assuming a bare-minimum of resources (zero-based budgeting, if you will). No scheduling windfalls into the budget like some other institutions.

      4. I think Bouwmeester has to move now. Think what the Oilers got for Penner because he had another year on the contract. My feeling is Bouwmeester is in a similar category. Teams will pay more because if it doesn’t work out this season, they always have next year as well.

  • supra steve


    I won’t fault you for saying change must come, I’m in total agreement. Everything has to be on the table and as this is all hypothetical, I won’t trash any of your ideas (especially the ones you have already stated you wouldn’t be prepared to go through with–Wideman).

    I am still on the fence where Feaster is concerned, don’t love or hate him…yet. However…if the season does start in January, and they stumble out of the gate, he is going to have to get off his butt and make some serious decisions on the long term of this franchise. Iggy pretty much HAS to be asked to waive his NTC. Get whatever you can get for him. The Flames cannot afford to lose him as a UFA, or to resign him to a big money long term retirement deal.

    We will get no consensus here, too many differing opinions. I, however, am in general agreement with your proposed approach. Thanks for the diversion.

    • RexLibris

      Heck no, trash them all you want. That’s what this exercise was meant to do. I’ve been critical of Feaster and company, so here are my cards on the table.

      As for Iginla, here is the situation as I see it: if the season is lost, then the Flames re-sign him to a retirement deal. Let’s say four years, $5.5 million, and a NTC. I don’t think that is unreasonable based on past contract history and his standing within the organization.

      So now, that commits the team to win within those four years. If they can’t and the team falls in the standings they can either double down (by this time it’d be more like triple or quadruple down) and go for it again. Or they can fall into a rebuild. In which case the Flames likely have to trade Iginla per his request not to be a part of a rebuild, and then you are dealing a 37 year old, or older, winger, signed to a few more years at significant dollars, and with a NTC pending his approval of destination.

      Talk about diminishing assets and wasting time. It needs to be done now, or the clock gets put back another three to five years on when they can sort out this mess.

      In my opinion.

      Thanks for writing. I look forward to continuing this conversation as the series rolls on.

  • RexLibris

    Thanks guys.


    This is what I wanted. Hockey talk, for a change.

    Now, for the replies. I’ll try and get to everyone, but if it takes a little while please be patient. I’m on something of a time crunch right now.

  • RexLibris

    Flames are not in a position to embrace a full rebuild. The majority of Flames players are in their primes and have NTC/NMC. This would greatly restrict trades while having enough decent players to have reasonable results.

    Only way I see Flames rebuilding is in a much more drawn out process. Maybe in 4 years when most of the current core’s contract expires is the timing when the next round of prospects need to be developed enough to take on major roles with the team. The thing is there isn’t that sure fire franchise player to build around in the Flames’ system.

    • supra steve

      “The majority of Flames players are in their primes”

      Was going to refute this statement with factual information, but that would take some work on my part. So, I throw it back at you Connor, PROVE this statement. You are gonna have all kinds of trouble with that, if your definition of “prime” resembles everyone else’s.

  • supra steve

    Interesting article but I think it slightly misses the point. Assuming we have a shortened season take place, this could ultimately prove to be the most important season for the Flames this decade because it will provide the Flames the best opportunity to trade whatever assets they have to rebuild for the future. The reason I say this is because (a) a shortened season provides more teams (including the Flames unfortunately) the belief they can win the Stanley Cup and (b) provide a great opportunity to sell assets at a higher price than in a normal season. This is because some of the weaker teams could perform well for a short stretch and provide them the belief they can make the playoffs. In contrast, a longer season ultimately will separate the good and bad teams at the end of the day.

    However, the bigger question is whether Flames management are of the view that they think the shortened season also provides them the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. My thinking, unfortunately, is that management will now be even more convinced that this is the time to make one final run at the cup with Iggy, Kipper and Bouwmeester. This is because the Flames (a) already have one of the older teams in the league (b) have gone out during the summer to acquire/sign older assets like Widemen, Hudler and Sarich and (c) management is paid to win now.

    For Flames fans this is bad news because the Flames don’t have the assets to win the cup this year or next year. Worse yet, the Flames could once again end up with a pick outside of the top ten, when they should be drafting a top five pick, which could make a massive difference for the future if that pick turned out to be McKinnon, Jones or Barkov.

    But all is not lost as one of two scenarios could occur: (1) the Flames could begin the shortened season out very badly and this convinced management to sell Iginla, Bouwmeester and Kipper and bring some valuable younger assets and picks or (2) and, less desirable, the season is lost and the Flames get a high draft pick because of the lottery system and Iginla walks for nothing. So at the end of the day, Flames fan need to hope an agreement is made because and scenario 1 occurs as this could truly set the Flames up better for the long run despite management’s goal to win the cup now.

    • RexLibris

      I think we agree on some basic points here: that Flames management will likely view a shortened season as their opportunity to go for it once more and load up.

      My approach is the exact opposite to that which I believe management will choose, that is, to take the shortened season as an opportunity to increase the pool of potential bidders for the services of these outgoing veteran players.

      It also, in my view, necessitates these proposed move, which, from my take on your comments, you believe to be the case as well. Am I close?

  • supra steve

    Defining prime comes down to semantics. I would say it usually is the ages of 26 to 32.

    I counted 16 of the current Flames roster according to the ages and roster ranges listed on NHLnumbers. Other key members are on the wrong side of their prime who are also key members of the Flames like Iginla, Kiprusoff and Tanguay.

    • supra steve

      Guess you’re right. With Blaire Jones, Matt Stajan,Tim Jackman, Blake Comeau, Lee Stempniak, Roman Cervenka, Henrik Karlsson, Derik Smith, Chris Butler, & Anton Babchuk all in their PRIME how can we even think about a rebuild? That would be CRAZY.

      The skilled heart of this team is old. Iggy, Kipper, Tang are all past prime (as you defined it). Cammi and JBow, does anyone not believe that their best is already behind them? When I consider all the rest, the ones I could honestly say are in their prime/and their prime MAY be better then replacement level–the names I come up with are Hudler, Gio, and Glencross.

      That being the case, the Flames are in a position where they SHOULD be seriously considering a full rebuild.

  • supra steve

    I agree that the Flames should rebuild. I just think that the rebuild is going to take a much more different route than the more common rebuilds done by Pittsburgh, Chicago, LA and now Edmonton.

    It will be difficult to get market value on a lot of Flames players because of their NTC/NMCs. It is also unlikely that the Flames fall off the map due to poor performance with so many players in their primes.

    The way I see the rebuild going would be less drastic change year to year but overall the same amount of change in a five year period as a team with a more traditional rebuild.

    However, IMO the key to the direction of the rebuild is Kiprusoff. If the Flames trade him and or he has a significant drop in success, that can result in the Flames falling faster in the standings than anticipated.

    • loudogYYC

      I think you’re confusing a player in their prime with a prime player in their prime. Just watch the Spengler cup, there’s tons of players in their prime permanently playing in Europe.

      What Calgary lacks is prime/elite players and they need them young. To say that they have to wait until 16 players are out of their prime or are traded is ludicrous.

  • supra steve

    They can start the rebuild now but with the current players the Flames have, it’s unlikely they suffer a complete collapse.

    Players in their prime just doesn’t mean that will be the offensive highlight of their careers, it also means that these players are more physically strong and defensively responsible.

    The Flames need elite talent and ideally young elite talent to build around but I doubt they are going to achieve this by consecutive top 5 picks anytime soon.

    • loudogYYC

      Picking up 5 top picks in a row will only guarantee tons of expectations. Besides that’s what the Oilers are doing and we all know how bad they stink (sorry Rex, it’s true).

      What the Flames are is a cash rich, asset poor team. It’s almost irrelevant that they have 16 support players in their prime. Fortunately, support players are the easiest to move but it’ll all have to start with one of the big 2.

  • RexLibris

    I agree with Connor here, in that the Flames have the guts of a decent roster, just no skeleton around which to build it or the necessary muscle in elite talent (to take the metaphor perhaps a little too far). But that is something that Kent has elaborated on previously (lots of high cards, no faces or aces).

    The result is that, in order to really commit to a full-scale rebuild the likes of which even the Penguins and Capitals had never seen (I’m talking scorched-earth, Napoleon-style) they’d be best to move out Jackman, Glencross, Giordano, Cammalleri, and just about every valuable asset they have, for picks, prospects, and whatever other form of barter they might find available on the NHL black market.

    However, as Connor notes, and has been advocated here before, the Flames will have to do something a little different. And gutting that part of the roster isn’t it, therefore the complete collapse that would almost guarantee a flaming death spin into 31st place (according to Feaster’s comments last season), is off the table.

    So a more controlled descent is then required. This is my starting point for the exercise. If I were going to go all in, I’d move every available asset for picks that would ensure the team between 8 and 10 picks weighted across the first three or four rounds for at least the next three years. Then leverage some of those to move up at certain draft points, and restock the cupboard until the team had found its new core and could trade a collection of developing prospects for immediate help, without plundering the development system, a la Anthopoulos. The rebuild would be more catastrophic, more spectacular, and would plunge the team to the depths of despair.

    But as an Oilers fan, I don’t think I can go there. This time, Nixon can’t go to China.

  • RexLibris


    We are close in the sense that we recognize and agree that the Flames are in a terrible position in terms of pure team talent and that there simply many other organizations who are positioned much better than the Flames to reaching true cup contender status in the next two to three years.

    However, I think we are getting ahead of ourselves if we think Flames management is going to say seriously contemplate trading Stajan for Gomez. If anything, recent moves by the Flames management shows that (a) they completely misunderstand the type of players that are needed to win in NHL today and (b) they simply still don’t understand the dynamics of the ‘Salary Cap’ world. Signing guys like Wideman and Sarich may make the team better this year but does improve the team in the long-run. So will getting Gomez for Stajan but this does not set the Flames well for the future. The future being in a position to seriously compete for the cup.

    So it seems that Feaster is still trying to have his cake and eat it by telling Flames ownership and fans to a less extent that he can (a) restock the team with future talent through better drafting and (b) keep the team competitive for a cup by running up against the salary cap. This strategy essentially will keep the Flames stuck in no man’s land forever. The way for the Flames organization to be become more competitive is to stock up on draft picks and young players and not gamble on veterans.

    Meanwhile, creating valuable salary cap space could also provide the team an opportunity to (a) take a bad contract and getting young assets at the same time or (b) take an expensive contract but a great player at the same time rather than simply signing bad contracts. Gambling on veterans/retreads rarely pays off. Ask the Toronto Maple Leafs on this strategy.

    Admittedly, it is difficult to tell whether high drafts picks will ever pan out but those are the type players that will be needed separate a cup contender from an also ran. However, it’s become quite clear that if the Flames had drafted in the top ten the last two years the Flames future would be looking bright if we had gotten our hands on Courtier and/or Grigorenko at the centre. The Flames should have been a position to draft Grigorenko had they not won the last two games of the season last year I believe. Crazy! This is not to say Bartshi and Jankowski won’t be good or serviceable players but our pool of prospects still looks pretty thin and weak.

    So I guess I’m trying to say I really don’t understand what Flames management is trying to achieve. To me it’s not completely clear at all. All I know is Flames fan will likely be disappointed again. That said, I still think Feaster will have a lot to answer to in the coming months.