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…

 

  • Stockley

    @McRib- seeing as how Lidstrom just retired and Smith already looks like a top pairing D there’s no chance that will ever happen.

    I think Nyquist wouldn’t get moved either.

    • Stockley

      I think Feaster has a price for Bo in mind. If teams aren’t willing to ante up I’m guessing the Flames are more than willing to hang onto him.

      Minute-munching D are in demand this summer. It’s a sellers market. A team can either cough up what Jay wants or they can go into the new season with whatever roster holes they want.

  • McRib

    Jay Bow to Detroit for former Wisconsin Star and NHL ready D Prospect Brendan Smith he can replace him and could be a home run, makes us much younger (14GP 1G 6A 7P in 2011/12).

    Or a First Rounder and underrated Vanocuver Giants Forward Marek Tvrdon. Also like Gustav Nyquist and Jarnkrok. Not the biggest Tatar /Jurco fan.

    • McRib

      That’s funny. White and Bertuzzi were the first ones that came to mind. Then I thought, oh right Darryl’s gone.

      I was just looking at the Detroit prospect list and I don’t see much that I recognize outside of Tatar and Smith.

      NHL’ers Kindl, Helm would be good to have.

      Speculated Filppula, Ericsson and a late pick? Not sure that fills any particular need that compensates for losing a top 2 D that is under 30. Also, I think we’re looking at reducing number of bodies, aren’t we? I think we would need to see at least 3 NHL bodies going the other way in this type of deal. Sarich might accept a deal to Detroit, or maybe they have to take Babchuk and/or Stajan to make this happen.

      • If Feaster is looking at offloading someone like Stajan or Babchuk in the same deal as Bouwmeester, expect the return to be low. Like when they included Kotalik in the Regehr deal and got a pile of crap (Butler and Byron are decent, I guess).

        • Yeah, I wouldn’t say it was a pile of crap. Butler I think is a very good NHL defenceman right now, with the chance he could get better. Byron, my expectations are lowered.

          But anyway, I can’t see trading JBo 1 for 2 NHL contracts. More has to be going the other way. If it’s not one of the bad contracts my vote would be ‘no’.

  • Stockley

    frankly, I’m more concerned about the number of wingers than the number of defensemen.

    @FireOnIce

    There was a rumour kicking around a little while ago that the Red Wings offered Filppula, Ericsson, and a late draft pick for Bouwmeester. that might seem tempting given Ericsson’s size and Filppula’s stat line last season (and the fact that he plays center). I don’t think I’d take that deal myself, though.

  • McRib

    Not sure what the whole hubbubabaloo about the # of Defensement is… pretty sure the game day blue line is Bouwmeester, Giordano, Wideman, Butler, Brodie, and Sarich. Sure that leaves Carson, Babchuk, and Smith but really who cares?

    The Flames have rolled with 8 “D” in the past, it doesn’t put them over the cap to do so, and it’s not like the HAVE to have them in Calgary. Besides I find it unlikely that there won’t be amnesty buyouts after the next CBA is signed. So… poof “problem” solved.

  • So… what does Calgary get from Detroit in a JBo trade? I doubt it will be Zetterberg, Datsyuk, or Howard.

    Who’s left? Darren Helm or Filppula should be a starting point. Nyquist? Kindl?

    For the love of all that is holy, Ian White and Todd Bertuzzi had better stay in Detroit. No Gustavsson, Franzen, Tootoo, Kronwall, or Samuelsson.

  • McRib

    It’s always either Philly or Detroit and I do believe Calgary could get a solid return from either team, but I agree wholeheartedly with the comments on here that moving JBo creates a huge gap on the blueline.

    It just does not make sense if the team continues to try and make it into 8th. If Kipper regresses from last season (likely) this team will be in huge trouble.

    Calgary’s forwards, while having a collective amount of talent to be able to score at a decent level, are not exactly 200′ Datsyuk-esque players.

    Our D can move the puck, but how are they going to prevent it from coming in to their zone and take it away in order to move it in the first place?

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens on this front. Seems like every season the team overcompensates in one area at the expense of another area.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Ya if Feaster trades Bouw after re-signing Sarich it will be real head-scratcher.

    I think the return has to be pretty good for Feaster to pull the trigger, as they are under no pressure to trade him.

    • Stockley

      Maybe Jay’s just crazy like a fox. Makes it look like he’s doing what he can to make the playoffs but his real agenda is to just look like he wants them to compete; while in truth he wants the team to nosedive and have a shot at Seth Jones or Nathan Mackinnon. I wouldn’t cry about having either player, personally. They’re the type of franchise-altering talents I think Calgary really needs.

      I’m fooling myself, though. This team will do what it always does. Play just well enough to screw themselves out of a lottery pick. Maybe they squeeze into the playoffs and lose in the 1st round again. On paper they don’t look as awful as some pundits want us to believe. The problem is on paper they’ve looked at least decent for years.

  • Michael

    No doubt about it, trading JBo would leave a huge hole… but i just don’t think the Flames will start the season at $66 million and change… Now, if they had a legit shot at the cup maybe, but as a likely 8-12 place ‘iffy’ playoff team?

  • But if we trade JBO, then our top 4 looks like:
    Wideman/Butler Gio/Brodie Sarich/Smith

    I wouldnt blame Kipper for demanding a trade or he is a no show for training camp.

    I just dont understand why JBO is even on the market if we think we are close to making a run at the playoffs.

    • Stockley

      I don’t really understand why they would move Bo either. I don’t think Brodie is ready to eat more minutes, they’d be throwing the kid to the wolves.

      Babchuk has a NTC, not a NMC. Pretty sure that means he can be demoted. Unlike Wilson he isn’t playing for peanuts, so walking away from that guaranteed money for a big contract in Russia isn’t really an option for Anton. I do hope the team reassigns him to Europe somehow. There’s just no room for him in Calgary right now. He’s a PP specialist. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • I know Babchuk has some type of NMC or NTC – does that stop the Flames from demoting him to the AHL if Hartley decides he doesn’t need him? Does that also stop the Flames from just waiving Babchuk?

    Bouw – Butler
    Gio – Wideman
    Brodie – Sarich/Smith

    That seems pretty good to me…

  • Don’t worry about Gaudreau, he’ll be a superstar. After all, Feaster told everyone how every team in the league told him he was a genius for picking him and that they were all going to pick him but Feaster just beat them to it due to his superb intellect and and now every team calls every day asking about him in a trade. So now worries there. From the same guy, of course, who re-signed Sarich.