Five Things: The dog days

1. Flames lose inconsequential defenseman, still have several lying about

This is what qualifies as news in early August except when a prospect maybe or maybe not punches someone out in front of a bar.

To bastardize a quote from "Love Story:" What can you say about Clay Wilson? His jump to the KHL is more or less of no consequence except that it voids his current contract, which was a one-way deal to ensure he got paid his full $525,000 when he’s still bussing it in Abbotsford.

That is good insofar as it gets the Flames one contract under 50 since he was removed from the team’s reserve list, and ok sure. A little more flexibility isn’t really a bad thing.

But there are still eight defensemen on NHL contracts, and doesn’t that seem like a problem? At this point, you have to figure the team goes with Jay Bouwmeester, Dennis Wideman, Mark Giordano, and Chris Butler as the everyday top four. And in all honesty, all joking aside, I don’t think that’s a terrible top four. I mean, look, it’s not, like, great or anything. But it’s pretty alright. It’s probably enough. But defense was never the problem for this team anyway. Okay, I’m getting off topic.

So that’s your top four, right there. And then what? Cory Sarich, Anton Babchuk, Derek Smith, and TJ Brodie are all going to be in competition for two spots with only Brodie on a two-way deal. But Brodie stays because Brodie is good, and that’s five spots accounted for.

Maybe Feaster has a trick up his sleeve to con someone into taking Babchuk’s contract off his hands. That would be no small miracle, of course. But even if that happens, it seems as though the team is hell-bent on keeping Sarich in the mix since they just gave him that two-year contract for the most ineffable reasons imaginable. Something, as they say, has got to give.

Right now there are three guys playing for one spot and only one (the worst one) seems the likely candidate to take it. Well, there ya go.

2. A shocking realization

With respect to the above, maybe you could tell that I wrote the beginning part like "Boy how are they gonna figure this out!?!?!?" and then slowly light dawned on Marblehead, to use a Bostonian expression no one around here uses any more. The more I thought about it from their perspective, the better sense it made. At least, y’know, relatively.

The Flames have a very definitive plan for dealing with an easily avoidable situation of having too many defensemen under NHL contracts (the best way to avoid it was not re-sign Cory Sarich for two years at $2 million per!), and it probably involves doing a bad thing. Of course.

I know I’m supposed to, like, not be this hard on the team based on the comments I’ve seen in recent weeks but at the same time it’s just too much to handle sometimes. The team steered away from the skid by signing Sarich and now has limited cap room because there are EIGHT defensemen on NHL deals. I don’t know, it seemed like a pretty simple issue: Don’t re-up the guy who’s old and slow and not good. I complained about that contract right after it was signed, and now I’m thinking about it again and it still doesn’t make any sense. Also, I forgot about the no-movement clause. Oh hell.

Know how bad that deal is? EVERYONE in the comments agreed with me on it. That never happens.

3. Something I’ve been wondering about

So this week it was announced that the Markham Arena would take another step forward with building applications being submitted. If approved, the rink is intended to be completed by 2015, the same year as the new Quebec arena.

Obviously there are a few teams down here in the U.S. that are struggling, chief among them being the Islanders, Devils and of course Coyotes. Apart from your exhausting and frankly embarrassing THIS IS OUR GAME stance on all matters related to relocation (no one is saying a team in Moose Jaw wouldn’t draw better than the Coyotes do in Glendale, or probably ever has), do Canadian fans in general think another team in the Greater Toronto area would be welcomed nationwide?

Not that it would ever happen.

No one, from my understanding, cares for the Maple Leafs. They’re generally pretty well despised, right? So would you think second GTA team, assuming it was relocated and not a terrible-idea expansion team, is more, less or equally despicable in comparison with the Leafs? Or would you simply not care about them, the way everyone does with the Sens? I’m honestly just curious.

4. Gaudreau at evaluation camp

You probably haven’t heard a lot about this up in your neck of the woods, but USA Hockey is having a junior evaluation camp this week, and of course Johnny Gaudreau is an invitee. However, these scrimmages, and games against other nations, cost money to view online and I don’t think I’m quite so desperate to watch hockey as all that.

So instead of commenting on the talk I’ve heard, I instead reached out to my fellow American patriot Chris Peters of the United States of Hockey blog. Chris is a buddy and pretty much the blogosphere authority on all things USA Hockey, and has seen many of these games. So how has Gaudreau done? Well, it’s not the rosiest picture:

John Gaudreau’s been kind of up and down in camp. Having been paired with Alex Galchenyuk, it seems clear that the USA Hockey folks envision that highly skilled duo to produce and be possible linemates for the WJC. They’ve done OK in camp, but not nearly as well as expected. I think Galchenyuk is still shaking off the rust from his lack of games last year and still is a step slow from his knee injury.

So this is all Galchenyuk’s fault!!!! Well then, let’s get him.

For the latter half of Wednesday’s game, Gaudreau looked like you would expect him to. He’s a really creative little forward that can beat guys with his hands or his smarts. He really has a lot of confidence with the puck on his stick and has good enough speed to get away from checks. After the way he closed out his freshman season at Boston College, I was expecting him to put up a bunch of points in camp, but it just hasn’t happened yet.

So not great, but not bad either. Peters closes by once again noting what he calls Gaudreau’s "special talent," and confirms that there’s basically no way he doesn’t make the team in December. So that’s all good stuff.

5. And finally…

Though I feel this has gotten progressively less bitchy as it’s worn on, here’s Iggy just to be safe…

 

  • McRib

    @Steve

    Honestly Lidstrom/Stuart was their first pairing if they ice the same team don’t see them getting home ice in playoffs.

    I agree Detroit is one of the teams I think we will be fighting with for a playoff spot if we keep Bowmeester.

    Only way I see it happening is if Detroit give us something we can’t refuse, think its nothing more than just feeling the market out.

    Philly losing Andrej Meszároš to injury and Matt Carle to UFA makes Bowmeester suprisingly valuable to multiple teams. Just hope they don’t wreck it by dumping Stajan with it, lets get ride of him some other way. I WANT TOP PROSPECTS NOT A BUNCH OF CRAP.

  • RexLibris

    @the-wolf

    The issue there is that the Flames would be moving players like Glencross, Tanguay, and perhaps Jones, for example, for one first-line player, probably a winger. It might move out some bodies and contracts, but it doesn’t address the underlying issue: not enough talent.

    It would take an absolutely phenomenal trade for the Flames to acquire the talent they need at the positions they need it for the team to avoid the inevitable. Feaster does not have the ability to make that trade. Nothing in his history would indicate it and from the very beginning he lacks the resources, aside from futures and one or two prospects, to leverage that kind of return.

    Quantity for quality so rarely happens anymore because of the salary cap and league parity. Gone are the days of Doug Weight for Radek Dvorak, Marty Reasoner and a cup of soup.

    If the Detroit rumours are true, then I’m pretty sure that Holland would not be negotiating around names like Nyquist, Smith, or even Kindl. He knows all to well that he’ll need that youth sooner rather than later. Flames fans might want to check up on the status of Landon Ferraro.

    • Stockley

      I don’t think the Flyers move B. Schenn under any circumstances. Maybe if Iggy or someone was going back the other way; and even then it’s iffy. They didn’t acquire the other Schenn just to split them up again before the season starts.

  • McRib

    @RexLibris The problem with trading JBOW to Philadelphia is they are one of the few teams the Flames actually have more prospect than others being San Jose/Columbus/Vancouver. Detroit has a lot more options to make a decent trade.

    Schenn last year would have been out of the question this season not so much although by giving them Bowmeester we are planning on not making the playoffs. Our first rounder could be good so not sure how to get around flipping picks.

  • McRib

    Only players worth trading for on Detroit:

    Straight Up
    1. Brendan Smith
    2. Gustav Nyquist
    3. Calle Jarnkrok
    4. Tomas Tatar

    Multiple Player/picks
    5. Marek Tvrdon (Absolutly love this kids game)
    6. Tomas Jurco (Played on unreal team, overrated)
    7. Ryan Sproul
    8. Teemu Pulkkinen
    9. Riley Sheahan

    If we cannot get any of the Top Four think a Marek Tvrdon/Ryan Sproul would be a good trade two solid prospects.

  • RexLibris

    I’ve got it! I’ve finally figured it out after wracking my brain trying to think of which direction this team is headed. It all makes so much sense now!

    Murray Edwards wanted to acquire some high-end talent and make the Flames the best team in the league. There weren’t any really good GMs available or interested in coming to Calgary at the time, so he promoted Jay Feaster. During the interview process Feaster said that he wouldn’t commit a complete rebuild and would do his best to keep the team competitive. Edwards smiled, looked over Feaster’s track record again and said “Jay, you just do what you do best, and the rest will take care of itself”. A Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond trade and a Cory Sarcih signing later and the die was cast.

    Now Mr. Edwards need only wait for the Flames to eventually draft a Stamkos and a Hedman as a reward for Feaster’s fine management decisions.

    Clarity at last! (sarcasm intended)

    • Reidja

      I can’t help but think that your sarcasm is cutting down my sarcasm. Two sarcastic guys walk into a bar. On says to the other “I know the answer to your problem: 1 + 1 = 3”. The other guy says “and I know the answer to yours: 2 – 1 = 3”. Where is the bar located?

      Are we drafting better? Yes. Is our team better? No. Feaster holding on until the Flames cease to suck? Unlikely.

      • RexLibris

        This reminds me of my favourite pirate joke: a pirate walks into a bar and heads straight up to the bartender. The bartender looks him up and down and leans over to say “excuse me, you know you’ve got a steering wheel sticking out of your fly?”. The pirate just looks at him and says “Arrr, an’ it’s driving me nuts”. *ba-dum-ching* thank you folks, you’ve been a wonderful audience. I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.

        Drafting looks better, I emphasize that point. Wait until the eggs have hatched. It’ll take a while. Is the team better? Remains to be seen. This team has more chance of fluctuation than previous ones, I’d say. Previous rosters were going to vary within a narrower margin but with limited upside. This roster could click and climb as high as 6th in the West. Or it could, and is perhaps more likely, to not click and sink to 12th in the West, just ahead of the Blue Jackets, Ducks and Oilers. Feaster will hold on until his incarnation of the Flames falls on its face (nearly all teams eventually do, so this isn’t a specific condemnation of him) at which time it will be prudent to remove him and pursue a “new direction”. Likely one that has been staring them in the face for a season or two.

        And darn it, where the heck is that bar located?

        • Reidja

          Red Deer.

          A season or two is extreamly generous… I’ll take the position that Feaster won’t last because he makes terrible decisions but I appriciate your charitable point of view.

          Question: So, how long can most teams be good until they fall on thier face as you say? I would like to know how long the good times will last when they finally come via the natural order of the universe.

  • RexLibris

    @McRib

    Flipping the picks would mitigate, for the Flyers, the loss of Brayden Schenn based on a similar assumption about relative drafting position.

    I know it seems unlikely that Holmgren would split up the brothers after just acquiring Luke Schenn, but can we really think that there is something this GM wouldn’d do?

  • McRib

    @Stockley

    B. Schenn isn’t untouchable for Philly after Sean Couturier’s rookie performance last year and resigning Jakub Voracek. Understand the brother connection something would need to go back like a Micheal Ferland… Hahaha.

    Honestly though Philly doesn’t have another prospect worth getting for JBow. Other than a first rounder or two, their best prospect is Eric Wellwood who the flames have about 3 or 4 of already in their system.

    JBow / Greg Nemisz for B. Schenn. Gotta dream once in awhile.

  • McRib

    @RexLibris Paul Holmgren is not afriad to shock thats for sure. They REALLY need a defender as well. At least Detroit has Brendan Smith stepping in, Philly just lost Andrej Meszaros to add insult to injury.

  • McRib

    @Rex – that comment was pure sarcasm, but point taken.

    @Stockley – have to agree that they don’t move Schenn.

    @McRib – Philly is light on prospects, but they also have a lot of youth in their line-up right now.

    Matt Read or Voracek might be better possibilities. More likely Voracek since I think his upside is more limited.

    • RexLibris

      “Matt Read or Voracek might be better possibilities. More likely Voracek since I think his upside is more limited.”

      Really? Read is 3 years older than Voracek and just played his 1st season.

      why not both? 😉

      • RexLibris

        I know Read is older, but he was still a rookie an dput up 24 goals. Plus, even though not big, he seems to have that ‘moxie’ that Philly likes. Not that he’s overly physical, he actually takes care to avoid the penalty box(a good thing IMO), but he understands the game and plays well in all 3 zones. “He gets it,” to use a Pierre McGuire-ism (please forgive me).

        Voracek, on the other hand, is such a phenomenal physical talent, but in 3 full seasons he has never gone past 18 goals and seemed to disappoint in Philly.

        I just see Read as a guy who will quickly become a fan favorite and Voracek as a guy the fans will view as an underachiever.

        This almost all intuitive as an argument, but I feel Philly would ditch Voracek before Read.

        • RexLibris

          “This almost all intuitive as an argument, but I feel Philly would ditch Voracek before Read.”

          you’re probably right about that. However, they did just sign Voracek to an extension… but that didn’t mean anything with Carter, did it?

          Read is an excellent player, don’t get me wrong. Great defensive forward. You can never have too many of those (and the Flames need some).

  • RexLibris

    @McRib

    Philadelphia is the one that traditionally adds insult to injury.

    I think your “Bouwmeester and a prospect for Schenn” is a realistic proposal. I’m not sold that Schenn is a first line center and I think that if he were moved to Calgary they might be tempted to rush him. However, his stock is still high from two seasons ago and he might still have some cache for the Calgary market.

    The prospect going back might end up being Ferland, though. He is the type of player that the Flyers would typically target and it could be argued that he is still a longshot to make the NHL.

  • I don’t get all of the hype around Voracek. He wasn’t exactly lights out when he played for freakin’ Columbus, so why would the Flames want him?

    If JBo went to Philly, I’d be asking for Couturier. That probably won’t happen.

    Flames will tank and then draft Nathan McKinnon. Feaster will claim he was a genius and once fired, will use “I drafted Stamkos and McKinnon, I’m a genius!” to hopefully replace Steve Tambellini.