FlamesNation Roundtable – 2013 Season Halfway Point

(We’re at the mid-point of the season, so it’s time for another FN roundtable. Ryan Lambert, Ryan Pike, Justin Azevedo, Vintage Flame and Book of Loob all weighed in on a few of the club’s current pressing issues.)

1.) Despite some decent showings and a capped out roster, the Flames are currently at the bottom of the Western Conference. Do they hold on as long as possible and hope for the playoffs yet again? Or does the rebuild start now?

Ryan Lambert: I’ve actually heard and seen more and more talk that People Around The League(!!!) think this is the year they trade Jarome Iginla, actually and finally. That’s supported by the Calgary Sun about how they haven’t even started talking extension for the captain. I think they still hang on as long as they possibly can to milk a few more bucks out of the fanbase but I think given how bad they’ve been this year, this really is the last straw. About damn time.

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Book of Loob: The team says they have an internal policy not to ever tank out and go full on rebuild, and history suggests this is true, so I doubt that they do, at least not in the way we all typically define a rebuild.

One look up north shows that consistently drafting first overall picks is not necessarily a blueprint for success, so I understand why the team doesn’t want to take that path, nor, I think, should they.

As far as guys like Jarome and Miikka go, I’m sure they’re available (assuming they’d be willing to waive NMCs), but they’re not going to give them away for the sake of getting a return. If they can’t get anything they need, they won’t trade them.

Vintage Flame: The disturbing thing about this question, is that I don’t think anyone in the organization even knows the answer. The logical answer is that nothing is going to change between now and the time playoffs start, so why fool yourselves; in fact nothing has changed over the past four seasons… what are they waiting for? Start the rebuild now.

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The problem remains is that who exactly should the team be building around? If they continue to "build" around Iggy and Kipper, then by default you are not building around the likes of Backlund, Brodie and even Baertschi. This problem is going to be compounded every year they wait to fundamentally shift this organization.

Justin Azevedo: To me, it doesn’t really matter if they try for the playoffs as long as they don’t buy at the deadline. The assets they have to sell, save Iginla, won’t make the team appreciably worse than it is already. If they’re smart – of which I’m unconvinced – they’ll sell in a way where they could actually make the team better. The forwards and defence have been better than the record states, but the goaltending has sunk them. The only goalie who hasn’t cost them points in the standings is Taylor – between Kiprusoff, Irving and MacDonald, the Flames are down 5 points compared to replacement level goaltending. Not average, replacement.

If they can get some luck and some replacement-level goaltending, they definitely have a chance to make a push into 7th – hell, they’d be in 9th right now with two games in hand with RLG. I say roll with Taylor and MacDonald and go for it. Lastly – the Flames are 15 goals below replacement level right now. Their goal differential? -16.

Ryan Pike: Let’s be honest, the rebuild should have begun a couple of years ago. As soon as Jay Feaster came in, ideally he should’ve been swinging the wrecking ball. He didn’t, because the team’s core was competitive. Two years later, they’re longer in the tooth and less competitive. If I’m Jay Feaster, I’m listening to any and all offers. I may not shop specific pieces, but I listen to everything.

2.) Who would you trade at the deadline?

RL: Every veteran who’s not nailed down.

BoL: Seems to me like most guys are fair game to be traded. If you can shuttle out all the dead weight on the bottom D pairings for, oh, anything, do it.

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I think the only untouchables on the roster are Brodie and Baertschi, unless an offer the Flames can’t refuse is made. Bouwmeester probably fetches you a pretty big return, I’d probably be dangling him, just to see what bites you get.

That said, I don’t see the Flames getting rid of a lot of these guys, because that would in fact be a "rebuild".

VF: If the deal is out there, don’t wait for the deadline. But given that’s when most team are willing to "overpay" to make a run at the Cup, then the top three targets have to be Iginla, Kiprusoff and I think Mark Giordano.

JA: Giordano and Kiprusoff. Get what you can/waive Comeau, Sarich, Babchuk, McGrattan, Begin and Jackman. You can fill out the roster with Jones and Sven.

RP: I’d make any trade that would (a) improve the team’s core going forward or (b) got the team more draft picks. Specifically, I think guys like Curtis Glencross, Mark Giordano and Mike Cammalleri probably get the team a nice return.

3.) How would you grade the Flames major off-season acquisitions (Hudler, Wideman, Cervenka) so far?

RL: Hudler and Wideman have been exactly what I expected, or maybe even a little better. I never thought they weren’t serviceable NHL players, but I thought they were overpaid in terms of money and years on their deals, and that their signings were counter to what the team should be doing. The latter roosters are already coming home to roost.

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As for Cervenka, when you give him the kind of deal that comes with that cap hit, and then he ends up a healthy scratch a few times, that’s not good. We were told he could turn into a top center. He’s not close. That was the worst-case scenario in signing a KHL star who had never made it in North America, and it’s not looking good for the kid. At least it’s only a year.

BoL: I don’t know…I guess a C? Cervenka, I think, has had a tough time adjusting to the NHL game, but it doesn’t seem like the coaching staff has any faith in him, because he’s not getting the opportunities or the ice time anymore. I don’t see how you justify parking him on the bench while simultaneously trotting McGrattan out to elbow someone and fight a goon and then not see him for the rest of the game. Cervenka just hasn’t been used the right way.

You have to consider this is all a very big transition for him. He is in a new continent, doesn’t speak English, and the KHL is not the NHL…it would take anyone time to adjust properly, but it seemed like Cervenka has been on a shorter leash than he should be.

I think Hudler and Wideman have exceeded expectations, but are both significantly streaky as well. Wideman has done what everyone thought he would do on the power play and we’ve been given the added benefit of him not being a defensive liability, but he’s shown that all that good play can dry up, which it can for any player, I guess. Hudler is the same way.

VF: I have liked all three. Hudler was instrumental early in the season when the top line *cough Iginla* wasn’t scoring and I have really liked his game in general. Part of what has made this a more exciting season, despite the losses, is the creativity of Hudler and the jump he has brought here. Wideman obviously has been a dramatic improvement on the Flames power-play and it shows. I don’t think he’s been the defensive liability that many thought he was going to be either. That has to be considered a bright spot. You could see from the start the talent that Cervenka had, he was just tentative and not in game shape. Over the last 5-10 games though, you could see him starting to become more familiar with the North American game and his adjustments to the plays. I think he is going to be something special to watch next year, if the team is able to re-sign him.

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JA: I wasn’t happy with the contracts of the first two, but they’ve played well this year. B for both. I’m not sure if that’ll be the case in 2015, but the ink has dried. Wideman’s been the Flames’ third best dman, which is what he was brought in to be, and Hudler has been a good 2/3 wing option, which is what he was brought in to be. Cervenka is interesting – when he’s played, he’s been the 2C I thought he would be; but the issue is there’s nights where he just hasn’t played. It’s not due to performance, it’s due to conditioning, which is understandable. However, since he can’t be out there physically from time to time I have to give him a C.

RP: Hudler’s been very good. Wideman’s helped out the power-play. Cervenka has been making good plays but watching him, I think he’s still trying to get comfortable with the timing and the language barrier.

4.) How would you grade Bob Hartley?

RL: Not well, because his roster management is strange to say the least. But I have to give him a bit of a pass as well given the pile of turds he was asked to make a winner. You see how it’s working out. Let’s call it a C- because while I had minimal expectations for the Flames overall, he’s not even meeting those.

BoL: Bob Hartley confuses the hell out of me, I just don’t get what goes through his head a lot of the time. In a lot of ways, he’s done some very good things. He’s found a diminished role for Jarome lately, and that’s allowed Iggy to succeed a little more. He’s addressed the notion that Jarome can’t be out there in a power vs. power capacity anymore, and that’s good. But I don’t think he manages his players very well. We’ve been over Cervenka…I don’t understand why he plays Cherv the way he does, why he doesn’t put him in a position to succeed. He and Hudler play well together, and I think with Backlund returning, the three of them make a dynamic line that all three were thriving under before Mikael’s injury.

The grit factor too, man, I don’t know. Blair Jones or Roman Horak are far more capable players than guys like Aliu, Begin, or McGrattan, and if a team like Calgary expects to have any success, they need to assemble the best players they have available every night, and Hartley does not do this. Going those 6 or 8 games where the only option at center was Matt Stajan? That was downright wacky. Bottom line…I was never a fan of the Hartley signing, and I’m still not.

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VF: I’ve liked what Hartley has done so far. He’s only had 23 games with virtually no training camp, so I’m not prepared to run him out of town yet. Has he made some questionable calls so far? Absolutely, but what coach hasn’t with this team? The fact that he seems to have picked up on how to utilize Jarome properly to avoid playing him PvP and he is scoring now, leads me to believe he knows what he’s doing. I’d give him a "B" so far.

JA: He’s made some, uh, puzzling decisions at times, but in terms of deployment he’s miles ahead of his predecessor. I’ll say C+.

RP: I think he’s doing the best he can with the roster he’s been given.

5.) Can the organization turn this around in a hurry? Or is a re-tool not enough at this point?

RL: They’ve tried that already, haven’t they? Wasn’t that what this summer was? Look how it’s going. "The core" needs to go, and in turn I’d like to see little attempt to replace them with comparable players. I’ve heard a lot about what that "culture of losing" is doing to the kids in Edmonton but they’re a team that’s run phenomenally poorly. While you’d like to think Calgary’s a little better-operated than that (given the quality of players drafted in the later rounds the last few years), it all remains to be seen.

BoL: Nothing happens overnight without an influx of talent. Rebuild, or retool, it’s going to take time. Calgary has a decent prospect system, but like we’re seeing with Sven, they take a long time to develop, seeing as none of them are marquee Crosby kind of players. The Flames can get better with a retool and the right system in place, but it’s a steady march, not a sprint.

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VF: No they can’t. They’ve been running this hamster wheel for too long already. Every time they go on a late season run and fall short, it just gives them false belief in the way things are being run. That’s when we hear the, "We’re only one or two pieces away." *Sigh* Honestly though, with this team… what is the difference between a re-build or a re-tool? Personally I think one is a solution and the other is an excuse. The only hope of a re-build starts with #12 and #34 right? So two guys constitute a team re-building? Or is just that trading anyone else falls under the re-tool category and is therefore useless and futile?

JA: The organization’s main issue is the lack of young, elite talent. There’s probably not any way they can go about getting that except through the draft, so that’ll have to come naturally.

They have a ton of depth, which is a good thing. There’s three things they need for next season in my eyes: a top-4 dman, a goaltender who can stop 92% of shots taken against him at even strength and a centreman who can handle tough minutes. You don’t need more elite scoring talent if you have a line that can take on tough minutes and give high ground to another line. Maybe try and get Brian Boyle from the Rangers for cheap?

If they’re smart about it, they could be in the playoffs next year even.

RP: It occurred to me after Saturday’s game that this is the group the team has to go to war with. There’s no cavalry coming, barring Sven Baertschi returning down the line like a house of fire. Unless this group finds their consistency, I don’t think they can turn it around.

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6.) The ROR thing was the right move hockey-wise, but a debacle thanks to a misreading of the CBA. Would you have fired Feaster and company as a result?

RL: Well, I’d have never hired them in the first place and fired them long before this, but yeah, they’d have to go. That was embarrassing on a league-wide level and they dodged a fatal bullet only because Greg Sherman is almost as bad a GM as Feaster. Imagine if it had happened; the comparisons would have been Milburyesque.

BoL: Yes, but not because of the ROR thing alone. O’Reilly is just the final nail in the coffin, as far as I’m concerned. Feaster has been all bravado since taking over for Darryl, but he’s never had the tools to back up the talk. Every term we’ve heard Feaster use ("meritocracy" "intellectual honesty", etc.), they’ve all been just words and have yet to mean anything.

It’s too early to tell if his draft record comes out positive, but he has done nothing earth shattering to improve the team. That’s not all his fault, of course, but it’s his job, and if he can’t do it at the level he’s expected to do it at, he’s got to go.

VF: Hmmm… No I wouldn’t have, but that comes with a caveat. From what we have been told, it was the right move. How do you fire a guy for not knowing that the waiver rule was there? If that’s the case then there is a line of people that should also be fired. It’s not like Jay was the only ignorant one in this matter. Colorado didn’t know about it or else they would have told everyone to get rid of any leverage ROR had. Ryan’s agent didn’t know about it, and I don’t believe for a second that Gillis knew about it, despite what he says.

Now the caveat. IF Feaster knew about the waiver predicament but thought that his interpretation was more valid than the guys that wrote the CBA, then that’s just stupid. If he thought he had a good case to present in a court of some manner, then that was a careless risk he should not have been willing to take, and he should be fired.

JA: Yes. The fact that the team has access to the MoU, the NHL Executive’s Office and NHL’s General Counsel and yet still allowed something like this to happen is a total joke. Did no one realize he had played games in the KHL? Did no one ask about that stuff? I don’t buy the "we’d challenge the league" excuse, because if the Flames did, they’d lose and it would be decisive as well as even more embarrassing for the franchise.

So it either comes down to they knew about the clause and were willing to risk the player, cash, picks and dignity against 29 other teams and the actual league or they had no idea about it. Either way, both are colossally moronic and would have resulted in the complete destruction of the team.

RP: I’m not going to judge somebody for not reading a CBA that isn’t finished yet. That said, somebody either didn’t call the right person at the NHL offices or was given the wrong information. That’s not necessarily a fireable offense, but it’s pretty ugly.

7.) Do you have faith in this management group to make things better going forward?

RL: Not even a little, at least not with what we believe to be ownership’s continued interference in their operations. You can’t tell the guys cutting the checks to go screw, but at some point someone has to have the autonomy to say enough is enough. They haven’t done it yet, and you get the feeling they’re little more than marionettes at times.

BoL: Uh..no. It blows my mind that John Davidson was unemployed this summer, and he ended up in Columbus. The day his contract was terminated, the Flames ownership group should have been on the phone with him immediately, offering him the entire world to come save the Flames. Ken King has his fingers far too deep into this cookie jar, and he needs to have them taken out immediately. The Flames now own the Stamps, Hitmen, and Roughnecks, and he’s been promoted to oversee all of them and make sure they keep making money. That’s great. He’ll be good at that. Remove the "President of the Flames" moniker from your LinkedIn profile and get the right people involved.

Obviously that includes Feaster too, and yeah, I’d can Hartley as well. Change starts at the top. If the Flames do intend to rebuild, they’ll need to do it with more competent people in place. You can’t improve your team if your decision makers don’t know how to do it.

VF: If they can show the fanbase that they have the stones to make the tough decisions, like trading Iginla and Kiprusoff, then yes. If they keep trying to snow the fans with the same crap they spew out every year about blatantly ignored cliches like "Meritocracy" and "Intellectual Honesty", not a chance.

JA: See the above answer. That, plus the constant meddling in Hockey Operations by King, Edwards, etc. are all minuses in my book. The drafting record (aside from the best pick they had last year…) looks good, but until those players start making an impact at the NHL level they’ve done nothing. Throwing away assets, however small, for nothing players (PL3, McGrattan, Modin, etc.), signing insane contracts (Wideman, Sarich), refusing to divest assets before they depreciated (Kiprusoff, Giordano) and making gaffe after gaffe in the media are all just things that lead me to believe that HOPS don’t know what they’re doing.

In this situation, if you’re going to build the team from the ground up, you get rid of everything you can at all levels.

RP: Going forward? Yes. I’ve had enough conversations with people around the team, particularly relating to player development and drafting, that I think the team will get some nice pieces coming in going forward. I’m just not sure how long that will take.

  • T&A4Flames

    You need to give Feaster and his management group atleast until this offseason before you can definitively say they need to be fired.

    Get over the ROR thing, anyone could have done it, no harm no foul. More people are at fault than just the Flames management group.

    If Feaster and management go into this trade deadline and dont improve this team looking towards the future, then yes maybe discuss firing them.

    They need to be given this trade deadline and offseason to see what they can truly accomplish in aquiring assests for the future.

    The Sutters were given more time than this and they made much bigger organizational mistakes than Feaster and co..

    • Vintage Flame

      you say anyone could have done it… but not anyone has access to the resources the front office has.

      as far as I understand it, the flames could’ve picked up the phone at any point and asked daly or bettman or fehr or whoever about that clause and gotten a definitive answer. if they had, they would’ve gotten an answer telling them that the player would have had to gone on waivers.

      like I said, either they didn’t know, which is unacceptable, or they knew and for some reason thought they could win a case against the people who wrote the clause itself.

      everyone on the team has been “approved” by feaster. the team isn’t winning. he hasn’t done anything – here or in tampa – to demonstrate why he should be kept around any longer. the reason I, and I expect most would agree with me here, want him gone is because he hasn’t done anything to improve the future prospects of the team even though everyone said that was something he had to do when he came in. the fact that he hasn’t tried to leverage the young assets the team has into win-now players is good, but that should’ve been expected behaviour. the fact he hasn’t leveraged old win-now players into young nhlers or picks is terrible and a complete waste of resources. you need to sell assets before they bottom out, not when they bottom out.

      the sutters were kept around because they were winning. 12 months after they stopped winning they were fired.

      • Parallex

        “want him gone is because he hasn’t done anything to improve the future prospects of the team”

        Eh? I dunno… I like the Flames prospect base more now after two Feaster drafts then I ever did under Sutter at any time. I’d say that’s an improvement.

        • Vintage Flame

          okay, well we can go through the prospects right now.

          I count two, possibly three forward prospects with top-6 potential. one of those is sven, who they got lucky with because he dropped. one of those is gaudreau, who is 5’6 and 165 pounds and may not be able to play in the nhl because he is so damn small. jankowski is the last one and he had an nhle of like 13 this year. none of the dmen drafted have anything except 5/6 potential and all of the goalies could turn out well or brutal, who knows.

          they’ve mismanaged the icetime of the nhl-level prospects at the forward position to the point where they currently have no nhl-level forward prospects in the nhl right now. brodie is the only prospect making an impact but he’s being forced to play over his skis because every other defenseman not named bouwmeester or wideman has been hot garbage this season.

          • RexLibris

            Totally agree with your estimation of the realistic expectations for the three prospects listed and the team’s current crop of younger players.

            Baertschi looks to me like an eventual 2nd line scoring winger. Gaudreau a wild card. He could become Linus Omark or Ray Whitney.

            Just for my own interest I did a quick comparison of Jankowksi’s performance this year against the only other second-tier-junior to college prospect I could think of, Jujhar Khaira.

            The comparison did not favour Jankowski. The two are listed here for Jankowski http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=146518 and here for Khaira http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=93577.

            Age aside, that is still a fair gap between the two forwards with similar positional background. I hope, for Jankowski’s sake, that his progress is positive and continual.

            I would disagree somewhat with your earlier assertion that the Flames could ice four scoring lines “if they wanted to”. Given that they aren’t scoring does this imply that the coaching staff is not deploying the forwards appropriately or that the players are performing below their abilities?

            I think the Flames do have decent second line options in Cervenka, Tanguay, Backlund, Glencross, and Stempniak. But I don’t buy that this qualifies as outstanding depth. By contrast to their elite players, perhaps, but that is an argument of relative values rather than real cross-league comparisons.

            Were they to trade some of those bodies at the deadline they could easily supply two or three teams with the coveted scoring depth GMs love to load up on at the deadline. I would be very surprised if that happened though.

          • Parallex

            Why not Kreider? I think Kreider is probably the better comp. Same height, same level pre-draft (HS League), close to the same draft slot, same NCAA conference.

            That strikes me as a better comp then a guy drafted out of a different stream (Junior A), in a different round, to a different conference.

          • RexLibris

            Kreider may be a good comparable, but I wasn’t immediately familiar with his draft background.

            So then, based on his numbers, Kreider’s first year NCAA numbers are about 0.05 ahead of Jankowski’s pace.

            Good call on Kreider.

            I suspect that Jankowski may need longer than three years (as in Kreider’s case) to fully mature. I hope Feaster’s eventual successor is patient with him.

      • jdthor

        “the reason I, and I expect most would agree with me here, want him gone is because he hasn’t done anything to improve the future prospects of the team even though everyone said that was something he had to do when he came in”.

        How can you make this claim?
        – Baertschi, Gaudreau, Gillies, Brossiot have all exceled in their respective leagues (Sven didn’t excel in NHL yet but he will and hes done well in AHL). Also Horak has impressed as has Wotherspoon, Sieloff and even Jankowski has met expectations of such a young man. Not to mention Deblouw, Culkin, Kulak, and Gordon, although not top-flight prospects still have potential to contribute one day for the Flames.

        Without trading valuable assets (Erixon aside) how can you deny Feaster hasnt done a good job restocking our lackluster prospect pool?

        You are blinding by your frustration, and I don’t overly blame you. But don’t make false claims because our prospect pool looks better than it has in quite some time.

        I hope some others recognize this and back me up here….

      • Vintage Flame

        as far as I understand it, the flames could’ve picked up the phone at any point and asked daly or bettman or fehr or whoever about that clause and gotten a definitive answer. if they had, they would’ve gotten an answer telling them that the player would have had to gone on waivers.

        This is true but I don’t necessarily believe Feaster is at fault there The NHL HATES receiving offer sheets and because of that, teams, not just the Calgary Flames do not like going to them about O/S’.

  • icedawg_42

    1. There’s no way as a fan who’s watched the freefall over the past 3 seasons that I’d support ‘making a run for the playoffs’. It just ain’ta happenin – besides, let’s say the Flames magically squeaked into the playoffs on the last day of the season; who in their right mind believes this team can bring any heat into any kind of run? I’m on record repeatedly saying I believe this roster is better than the past few seasons, even to this day, it makes me scratch my head..but it’s time to admit being dead wrong…

    2. I would hear any and every offer that came up. I would shop every name on the roster, with the POSSIBLE exceptions of Brodie, Backlund and Baertschi. If a smokin offer came in for any of those, I’d consider it. No untouchables.

    3. Hudler and Wideman get a B for being what we thought they were, but a C for their contracts (hardly to be faulted for signing them, I know). Net C+. As far as Cervenka, you can definitely catch glimpses of his skill – which is superior to most other players on the team, but he refuses to get into a physical game – there’s a difference between slipping a check and bailing on the situation altogether. I’ve seen him do that on a few occasions. Still rooting for the guy, and I hope he can make a go of it, but I also wouldnt be surprised to see him say “eff this” and head back to a game he’s more Komfortable with. C-

    4. I love Hartley’s attitude, and forthrightness. It’s truly a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately the more I watch the more I feel like Hartley is trying to coach an NHL team, and Brent Sutter was trying to coach THIS NHL team. In other words, I think despite Butter’s misuse of Iggy et al, he understood how to wring more success out of this substandard roster (read: bore the other team to death). Look – the team is LAST, how do you give the guy anything other than an F? (Really like his attitude though)

    5. There are pieces here. There are pieces coming. There’s NO way to turn it around this year, but if some smart moves are made, we’re not 5 years out either. Better start making these tough decisions before the ‘culture of losing’ TRULY sets in.

    6. I feel the same as Vintage about this one. SOMEONE on the Flames staff is PAID big bucks to pick nuggets like this out. If that person didn’t do his job it should be HIS ass. However, the silly bravado, and CYA story about knowing and challenging the rule (total BS imo) was collosally stupid. So i’d let him off with a very very stern warning from this one. Now, again – the team is LAST – that in itself is a fireable offense.
    7. Answers to #6 cover this

    I sound pretty darn grumpy – I know. But at least it’s not apathy….yet.

  • T&A4Flames

    If any one of Backlund, Baertschi, Brodie, our 1st round pick or essentially any of our other top prospects get traded I will change my mind and say fire them all.

    But we should not fire Feaster because hes been unwilling to trade our prospects and young NHLers in trades to improve our club.

    Most trade calls Feaster has taken have the rival club asking for our young pieces…

    We finally get a guy not willing to mortgage the future and we are still not happy…

  • RexLibris

    Just one question to Justin, you say that the team has a tonne of depth. At what level do you believe this to be true? I’m assuming it is in the secondary and tertiary players, a sort of thick middle between two weak slices of bread.

    I’m not certain that is actually the case. I think the middle two lines for the Flames are no better than league average, but that the top and bottom lines are so bad that the rest of the team is collapsing as a result.

    • Vintage Flame

      if they wanted to, they could roll four nhl-level scoring lines and they have 4 or 5 guys who can play 4/5/6 minutes at an nhl level.

      it’s not high-end depth, no, but they have lots of quality bodies.

        • Parallex

          pretty much what I’m getting at. the team as constructed has probably one elite talent on it. none of the forwards should be playing in a pvp role against first liners, sure, but they could do it against second, third and fourth liners with ease.

        • SmellOfVictory

          In no particular order: Cammalleri, Iginla, Tanguay, Hudler, Backlund, Stempniak, Stajan, Cervenka, Glencross

          That’s 9 guys, and I’d say all 9 of them are either top 6 forwards or tweener “middle 6” forwards (the definite tweeners being Stempniak, Glencross, and Stajan). The depth is quite good; the only issue is that Iginla and Tanguay are about five years too old for that composition to be effective.

  • RexLibris

    My biggest fear is that with the “no rebuild” mentality management will trade our top five pick to “improve” the team now. Feaster has already shown that he’s willing to give it up. (Without the waiver fiasco it was a good move. The next time I doubt it will be)

  • Parallex

    25 teams in this league could have gone into Anaheim and LA and been thwacked. Those two teams are just that good.

    The Flames’ fate will be determined in the next 6 games, all against teams they have to beat to make the playoffs.

    Any less than 4 wins, and you can start the rebuild, if for no other reason than Iggy won’t re-sign.

    Ironically, Iggy might cement his legacy with the fans here by not signing — and thus pushing management to rebuild.

  • Parallex

    Can anyone answer these questions? I’m going to give my opinions (full acknowledgement that no cares what my opinion is and I just like to hear my own voice)…

    1.) Despite some decent showings and a capped out roster, the Flames are currently at the bottom of the Western Conference. Do they hold on as long as possible and hope for the playoffs yet again? Or does the rebuild start now?

    A: Depending on the definition of “rebuild” not “now” but probably at the deadline. Maybe they go on a miracle run before then, probably they don’t but regardless prices will be best at the deadline.

    2.) Who would you trade at the deadline?

    Absent a torrid run of wins leading up to the deadline…

    A: Mikka Kiprusoff, he looked awful to start the season and absent his first game back hasn’t looked better upon his return. I’d trade him for whatever I could get in return. Unless: He has made it known that he doesn’t intend to play out the final year of his deal… at which point I may do a compliance buy out to avoid cap penalties.

    B: Jarome Iginla, unless he’s willing to sign an extension before the deadline he still has value to the franchise but not so much that it’s worth risking him walking this offseason. Best case scenario is he’s amiable to resigning here as a free agent in the offseason.

    C: Mike Cammellari, after a slow start he’s heated up to the point that he’ll arner a nice return, especially if the flames will eat some of the money/cap remaining on his contract for this year (but not next year).

    D: Any and all 4th liners (McGratten, Begin, Jackman) and bottom pairing D (Babchuk, Sarich, Smith, Butler). Those guys are easily replaceable anything you can get for them is found money.

    E: Anyone else on an expiring deal that you either don’t want going forward and refuses to sign an extension

    What’s important is for the Flames to remove people who are not providing good value for dollar (Matt Stajan dispite removing some of his stink still qualifies). To be a successful NHL team you need guys whose on ice value exceeds their contract… you can have guys that are just market value to go along with them but you need to avoid dead money (guys whose dollar value exceeds their on ice contribution) and the Flames have far to much dead money.

    3.) How would you grade the Flames major off-season acquisitions (Hudler, Wideman, Cervenka) so far?

    I like them all. None of them are disappointments as far as I’m concerned. Cervenka isn’t being given enough rope by the coaching staff, he has obvious talent that is wasted by line demotions and scratchings. I don’t know the details behind them but in a trunicated season you don’t have the luxery of “statement” moves if that’s what they were.

    4.) How would you grade Bob Hartley?

    I’ll go pass/fail here. He get’s a pass. His roster management needs work… to much affection for “gritty” guys and the silly benching of Cervenka (and curious love affair with Comeau) are debits but he’s willing to shelter Iginla and Co. and his style of hockey is more entertaining then what we were subjected to under Butter. That’s worth a passing grade IMO.

    6.) The ROR thing was the right move hockey-wise, but a debacle thanks to a misreading of the CBA. Would you have fired Feaster and company as a result?

    No, had it gone through and the NHL pressed the waiver issue (my tinfoil hat conspiracy theory side thinks that Daly only made it an issue to further dissuade future offer-sheets) and the flames ended up losing out in judgement on that issue then I’d have fired Feaster and Co. but since we don’t know what the result of that would have been I lean more on the side of granting a one time mulligan on the issue.

    7.) Do you have faith in this management group to make things better going forward?

    I have faith that they’ll try to do the best they can using the mandate they’ve been given. I’m still of the opinion that up until this year Feaster was still mired in the mess that Sutter made. I think he ought to get more then one half year with “his” team before faith is lost.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Truer words have never been spoken:

    “JA: Yes. The fact that the team has access to the MoU, the NHL Executive’s Office and NHL’s General Counsel and yet still allowed something like this to happen is a total joke. Did no one realize he had played games in the KHL? Did no one ask about that stuff? I don’t buy the “we’d challenge the league” excuse, because if the Flames did, they’d lose and it would be decisive as well as even more embarrassing for the franchise.

    So it either comes down to they knew about the clause and were willing to risk the player, cash, picks and dignity against 29 other teams and the actual league or they had no idea about it. Either way, both are colossally moronic and would have resulted in the complete destruction of the team.”

    • SmellOfVictory

      Which bodes well, in my opinion. As long as he likes playing in the NHL, conditioning is something that can be improved fairly quickly. He’s been quite effective in the offensive zone and honestly a lot better in the defensive zone than I expected (not going to blow anyone away, but after his quotes about not playing defence in the Czech league, etc. I was definitely concerned).

  • beloch

    An open letter to Jay Feaster:

    Dear Jay,

    Being the general manager of a professional sports club who came to the business from outside of hockey puts you in a rather unique position. Look around you. What kind of people do you interact with daily?

    Arguably, most players have the mentality of overgrown boys. They’ve been playing the same game since they were 5 years old (or younger) and have never had to “grow up”. That’s something some of them will do when it’s time to retire to post-hockey life. Others will refuse and, instead, become coaches (or color commentators).

    The owners grew up sometime before mammals evolved, made a lot of money, and decided to look for something to fill the hollow void in their lives that no amount of money, hookers, and blow could ever fill. They yearn for a more innocent time, when life was simple and there was less blood and dirt on their hands. They’re evil old men, but they aspire to be children!

    Jay, you are surrounded by children. Children have no patience for the future. They want results *now*. You can’t give it to them and, sooner or later, they’ll throw a tantrum and crucify you. Accept this as inevitable. You can, however, choose to go down as a responsible adult. If they’re going to be mad at you, they might as well be mad because you made them eat their veggies. Maybe they’ll think of you fondly once you’ve retired back to Florida.


    The Fans (a.k.a. Another friggin’ bunch of children waiting to crucify you)

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Was listening to NHL Radio on the satellite radio this morning. The two hosts were almost dumbfounded as to the direction/state that this team is headed. They both concluded that the Flames are the worst in the NHL in terms of management/ownership. They also had no clue as to which direction that this team is heading, the Flames are not rebuilding, they are not tough to play against, they are not quick, they are nowhere near a playoff spot. The Flames are quickly becoming the laughing stock of the NHL. How does management and ownership not see or hear this? I would think its going to take a few empty seats at home games before upper management removes their head(s) from the sand and realizes that their team, is terrible, 30th in the league terrible.

        • Parallex

          And if you use team points per game they’re tied for 23rd… either way the point stands that they’re not 30th in the league terrible to say that they are is hyperbole, not gross hyperbole but hyperbole none the less.

  • jdthor

    It’s looking like Ramo’s Avangard are gonna be bounced from the KHL playoffs very soon. They’re down 3-0 (3 straight shutouts) and game four goes tomorrow night. Does anyone think Ramo might make his way over to the Flames? I have heard he wants to play in the NHL but I haven’t heard anything about that happening this season. If he does I’m wondering if that could pave the way for the Flames to move Kipper?

    • Vintage Flame

      Feaster has said on air that no matter what happens with Avangaard, that Ramo will not be coming over here this season.

      His contract doesn’t expire until April 30th.

  • jdthor

    Why should we know where the team is heading? Management continues to say the same thing every teams’ management states – we want to win, and believe we can win. How could they say anything else? We can read between the lines to guess the truth, but they have to toe the, “We’re going to do our best to win” line.

    Even during the damn 90’s we were always told, “This is the year we get better”, and we never did, regardless of how we finished or drafted (i.e., poorly).

    Do we have the pieces to win this year? Most likely not. Has management done a good job of attempting to improve the team with whatever pieces are available? Think of the players – they have to want to come here. There are normally at least a few teams bidding on their services. Drafting wise, look at our prospect updates – I don’t know much about the other leagues, but our players seems to be excelling.

    Kent has said before that reaching overseas to grab a Cervenka-like player is always risky, but that’s why it’s a one-year deal. He’s done a decent job –shown flashes that maybe he can stay in a 2C or 3C role. Yes, maybe some people are overpaid on our team – find a team that doesn’t have a behemoth contract or two, or a stupid contract or two.

    My point is – this season sucks because watching a team with bad goaltending is depressing, because every shot against makes you cringe. Management has made some decent moves, all things considered. As some others have said, save the lynching for when/if they do nothing at the trade deadline. But for now, mid-season update should read – bad goaltending.

    • Kent has said before that reaching overseas to grab a Cervenka-like player is always risk

      I was always supportive of the Cervenka move. Although it was risky to pencil him in as a top-6 center, it was a worthwhile endeavor in terms of cost and potential I think.

      • SmellOfVictory

        Hard not to support a free attempt at a player. The developmental process is essentially complete, he only takes up a roster spot for one season if he doesn’t work out, and literally zero assets have to be given up to acquire him aside from money (and fans don’t care about that).

        From a hockey perspective it’s one of the best moves that can be made. Zero risk, with a potential reward that could be through the roof.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    EDIT: @SeanCharles


    The link is to Kent’s last NHL Equivalence article.

    From that we can assume that for forwards, Gaudreau and Arnold are quality prospects. After those 2, the rest are “Needs significant improvement”, “Needs quantum leap improvement”, or “Not really a prospect”.

    Judging from the article, defensemen aren’t really well suited to the NHLE method of assessment, and there is no “translation factor” for goalies.

    But from a FWD perspective, we’ve got 2 and they are not going to be here next year.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      NHLE doesnt tell the whole story…

      Next season we will have Horak, Sven, Reinhart, Bouma, Breen and possibly Aliu all fighting for a roster spot.

      These players are all prospects, and NHLE aside, should contribute on some level next season (maybe Reinhart and Aliu will stay in the AHL, but the rest should be up next season).

        • Parallex

          Comeon now – Sven for sure, Horak probably, Bouma probably (would be here now if not for injury), and Breen probably also (If Sarich, Smith and Babchuck are good enough this year Im sure he will be next)

      • Matty Franchise Jr

        Sure, NHLE doesn’t tell the whole story, but neither do rose coloured glasses. Only time can do that.

        –Dropping philosophy bombs since the good ol’ days.

        When looking to the future, I’ll go with actual statistical analysis over butterflies and rainbows any day.

        • supra steve

          I’m just happy Sutter isnt around here descimating our prospect pool. If that means rose colored glasses then fine.

          I’m happy cause Feaster is improving in that department, its a process that takes time. I’ll give Feaster another year before I truly judge his contributions, or in your case lack of contributions..

  • jeremywilhelm

    One of those “rumour sites” has JBO and Stempniak going to St. Louis for Stewart and Cole… Not sure what the source is but i would assume we would be getting a pick back as well in this scenario seeing as how JBO is the best player in this deal by far.

    Hey Kent, maybe that trade scenario article soon?

  • Purple Hazze

    A lot of hate on here for Feaster, I think he’s done a pretty good job so far of turning this team around for the future given the orders he had to work with. Remember ownership brought him in NOT to do a re-build and build around this aging core, the problem there is with ownership not Feaster.

    When he took over the average age of our roster was 30+ filled with a lot of dead weight. This season, the defense and forward group is better than any of the last 3 years, its just that our goaltending is no longer there to hide the fact that we longer have any elite talent on the team, hopefully with a top 5 pick coming we can solve that problem.

    The prospect pool also looks better than it has since I can remember … If Seth Jones is the considered the #1 pick this year, then his partner Wotherspoon would have been considered a top 10 pick this year imo.

    • supra steve

      I hear you, on the Feaster hate. Many “don’t trust” him to conduct any kind of rebuild saying he’s not a hockey guy. However, the same folks trusted D Sutter (a hockey guy), and look at where he lead the team.

      My thought is…Sutter as a hockey guy and an introverted know it all A-hole took advice from no one, and that lead to a few bad moves (really bad).

      Feaster, as a “non hockey guy” is always going to bounce hockey moves off of his trusted hockey advisors (whomever they may be). As long as those advisors know the hockey end, I’m comfortable that Feaster and co. can do the job, as more then one opinion will be considered on player moves. That does not mean he will never make a mistake (Sarich, Babs re-signing), but hopefully those he does make have minimal impact (no Dion/Olli type trades).

      • Parallex

        To be honest I think entrusting the COO position in a company valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars to a “hockey guy” like Sutter is probably a bad idea. Most former players have little education to speak of, no specific business education, & no business background.

        I know someone who grew up in Viking, about the same age as the Sutter brothers, knew all the Sutter boys… her exact words: “Not the brightest bulbs in the room”.

  • Vintage Flame

    regarding the prospects thing: I’m not a big fan of the “he’s better than the last guy” because there’s a reason the last guy isn’t a gm anymore. compare him to other current nhl gms.


    while it is all well and good that those prospects are excelling in their current leagues many a player has done that and not made the nhl.

    the prospect pool looks better, but that doesn’t mean it will be better.

    • Purple Hazze

      That is true, but its better to be excelling, in some cases dominating (Brossoit, Gilles), than to be playing terrible in their respective leagues… Our prospects that were drafted under Feaster have all trended up since being drafted.

      Even Jankowski was ranked 25th in THN re-draft. Originally he was ranked 2nd round right?

      • seve927

        And you could say that about any prospect pool. You never KNOW what prospects are going to be. That’s why they’re prospects. And there can be little doubt that they are better prospects than we’ve had previously. Not one of the better pools in the league, but better than we’ve had.

    • Parallex

      Alright… if you’re going to make that assertation then put the work in and compare him to other GM’s then. Go get the NHLE’s & some scouting evaluations (for D-men and goalies since just translating point production doesn’t work as well with those guys) for all the other GM’s selected players over the last two drafts (The Feaster Drafts) and demonstrate that he’s done a bad job. If I were the wagering sort I’d bet he probably comes out as average or above.

      Regardless, if you’re going to try and tar him for not improving the Flames future prospects then the standard he’s being held to IS the last guy… because that’s what he has to improve from.

      Truthfully, I’m kind of confused… you indict Feaster for not improving the Flames future prospects but now say that the prospect pool looks better? That strikes me as cognitive dissonance. I don’t see how those two positions can be simultaniously held.

  • Parallex

    I have softened on immediate firing Feaster from that Oreilly firestorm. I dont like the optics but thats all it is right now. I do feel Feaster is being set up to fail.

    This team is no where near reflecting a Hartley coached team. I give Hartley a free pass, he’s doing the best he can with a lot of marginally conditioned athletes in accordance to his standards. I do think conditioning is having a huge impact on the performance of players we are not used to seeing like this. I do not expect this next year.

    I am just at a loss as to what this team is going to do in the next few weeks. I dont think many do. I do believe Feaster does not have a say when it comes to Iggy. If I was Feaster & had some real real attractive offers on the table, I guess I would just let it go as well in frustration. Obviously Iggy isnt interested in signing anything until summer. His last contract extension, if Im correct, he extended almost a year ahead of his contract expiring. I have resolved myself to the fact that Iggy will probably walk away come July. Maybe finally King & Edwards, realizing they screwed themselves, will then let Feaster make true hockey moves with any player personnell & be accountable for the year end performance like most GM’s are. The valuable pieces we miss out on will be felt for years as we wander in the desert.

    • Chris Fairfield

      It’s too frustrating to take and frustrating is not even a strong enough word. I thought for sure that after last night’s loss and the disaster of a road trip, that something would have been done with the off day, maybe even something that “has been in the works” ( a la Feaster), but nothing. Last in the west, 26th overall, isn’t crappy enough, let’s stand pat and not do anything to see how much worse this can actually get.

  • seve927

    For those ripping on Jankowski give the kid a break he’s grown over a foot in the last two years and hasn’t filled out his frame at all. Comparing him to more physically developed players is just silly. He’s a rack of bones give him a chance to grow into his late blooming body and get some strength. Then when he’s physically mature you can start making comparisons.

    • Chris Fairfield

      Totally agree… he looks like a stick on skates. I don’t know much about Jankowski, but from what I have seen, he has shown flashes of elite talent. He’s also just fresh out of high school, I think it will take a couple years before we can get a good comparison. I think he’s at the right level developmentally, and the coaches will be working with him to get stronger..

    • schevvy

      A co-worker of mine out east knows Janko’s dad and says he’s a mountain of a man… Fists like Xmas hams. Here’s hoping… Like father like son! Give him some time, he’s just a kid!!

  • Slowmo

    When you’ve got 2 owners, the GM and the Pres in the room after a game (outside of a Cup celebration) you know the team is a complete and total gong show.

    KK and Edwards and evryone else not named ‘Coach’ need to get the hell out of there, I don’t care if they’re writing the checks.

    What I don’t get is why the MSM haven’t reported this earlier? But read SC’s column in the Herald. Yep, CAlgary is going to be Montrela alright. Idiot.

    Edwards is the real problem when you get right to the very heart of it. Everything flows from him. But how do you fire an owner?

    All we can do is hope he wakes up one morning and realizes what an idiot he really is, stays the hell away from the room, fires KK and Feaster and finds real hockey people to employ.

    Not hiring JD was the worst move this org never made. But JD would want to run things his way and OH NO!!!….CAN’T HAVE THAT!!!

    Trade Iginla, Tanguay, Cammi, JBo and Gio.

  • Slowmo

    This is just to repetitive for me we all know that the flames management are not a competent group. IMO Grabbing Jankowski in the first round was just crazy especially when there were more capable picks out there ready to play in the next yr or 2 at most. To pick a player that is not going to be ready for AHL never mind NHL for yrs to come perhaps 5 yrs before he wears an NHL jersey if he makes it that far. As far as ROR goes that I believe is on Owner ship as You say KK has his fingers all the way in which tells me Owner ship makes the final decision. Guess you can’t fire owner ship so we as flames fans are screwed

  • Chris Fairfield

    Colin Dambrauskas wrote:

    The Calgary Flames lost again in L.A. last night against the defending Stanley Cup champs. Though the loss wasn’t as bad as Saturday night it’s in no way a positive, and coming home after a 0-3 road trip, it’s time to make some drastic changes in Calgary.

    The bottom line is Calgary hasn’t played a full three periods of hockey in a long time and last night was no exception. They were invisible throughout the 1st period, OK in 2nd , and though it was refreshing to watch them play a 3rd period, their attempted comeback was without merit.

    Fans were a little shocked to see MacDonald in net and despite a good showing from the backup tender, his team would ultimately let him down. Though one positive was Backlund’s individual effort and goal to cut the lead to one, but it wouldn’t matter because Brown would score on the empty net to put the game away.

    When the Flames are down they must score on power plays, it changes the entire pace of the game and shifts momentum in their direction. They have failed to gain any momentum what so ever this season. In fact, just when we think they might get rolling, they fall further back. There is a major disconnect in Calgary, and it manifests in games making the Flames players look lazy and unmotivated.

    On their three game road trip, Calgary only managed to score 3 goals and allowed 13 against. Based on this stat alone, I’d say it’s time to into plan B for this season. There are loyal fans who will object to trading the franchise players Iginla and Kipursoff, but it’s time to realize that it’s become a mutually futile relationship. Iginla’s career is starting to echo that of Mats Sundin. The longer he hangs on in Calgary, the less chance he has at a cup, and the less chance the Flames have at acquiring needed assets.

    It doesn’t matter if players are putting the game behind them, or working on conditioning, they can’t win with their current roster and worse, they can barely compete. The Flames are in dead last in the West. TSN went so far as to grad the Flames a D+ so far this season. It’s time to change.

    With that being said, there has been some discussion on Twitter over the last few days that there might be mutual interest between the Flames and the Blues with respect to trades. While this is mere speculation at this point, the names being mentioned are Bouwmeester & Stempniak from Calgary and Stewart & Cole from the Blues. Not sure if the two teams can agree to terms on a deal anytime soon, but this could be a solid framework at the very least.

    Stewart is the center piece for the Flames in this deal, as he is still a young player who can play at both ends of the nice and offers a gritty game; something the Flames lack. What he doesn’t offer, however, is help up the middle given he plays on the wing. The Flames will certainly be looking to acquire players similar to Stewart; still young and have not necessarily broken out at the NHL level.

    Calgary has several older assets to move if they do decide to retool, but the question remains how soon does Feaster pull the trigger? Feaster has admittedly come out and said that he is aware of the current situation with respect to his team and their current trend, but some convincing of owners may be required before anything big happens.

    I wrote:

    Getting Chris Stewart would be a huge bonus, but would Ian Cole be able to play consistent J-Bo type minutes? While it is nice to speculate about the possibility, there is no way that the Blues part with Stewart or a young defenseman.

  • aloudoun

    Stewart and Cole for Jbo and Stemps makes me want to throw up. We need a center.

    Also I would say that Hartley has been a huge disappointment for me. His lines and roster choices are very questionable (sometimes downright stupid).