Flames At the Deadline and other Thoughts




With only about 2 weeks separating Calgary from the trade deadline, and 4 points separating them from 8th, things are starting to heat up on all fronts for the Flames.  Over the next 14 days or so the club will have to decide if it’s going to sell at the deadline and, if so, who it should be putting on the block.

– Obviously I think the Flames should be sellers. Although they are only 4 points back of the final playoff spot right now, there remains six other teams clustered ahead of them. Calgary’s schedule doesn’t get any easier through the rest of the season either: the Flames have played 57% of their games on home ice to date and have enjoyed (a probable league high) 9 opponents on the second night of back-to-backs so far. Meaning, although they have run through the softest part of the season, they are 20th in terms of score close possession overall which is reflected in the fact that almost every high paid player on the club is underwater by this measure. Sports Club Stats puts the Flames chances at making the playoffs at just under 1 in 4.

In short, this isn’t a team I would bet the future on. They have been unlucky so far for sure and I think the goaltending will improve and with it the Flames fortunes to some degree. However, they remain a relentlessly mediocre team and management’s true priority should be leveraging certain saleable assets at the deadline if possible.

– The big one, of course, is Jarome Iginla. Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis and San Jose are the probable suitors come April and with a potential dearth of big name rentals available it’s possible Feaster will be able to establish a bidding war for the Flames captain. Especially in the east, where the Bruin and Pens may want to acquire him as much to keep him away from their rival as anything.

We’ll take a long look at Iginla and his potential returns as the day approaches.

– Another guy to consider is Matt Stajan. His resurrection under Bob Hartley is getting a lot of attention in town and rightly so – prior to the season he was considered by everyone both inside and outside of Calgary as the most likely buy-out candidate on the club. Now he centers Calgary’s first line match-up option.

That said, the perception of Stajan is being goosed by a team high on-ice SH% of 14.52 (!!) and team best PDO of 103.5. All of his other underlying numbers, however, are just like Stajan himself – just okay.

A decent 20+ game run may not have been enough to rehabilitate his value in the eyes of the market at large, so he may not be worth moving at the deadline. That said, it’s a guarantee his percentages won’t be shy-high forever so this is definitely the time for Feaster to find out if he can "sell high" on asset that was considered only a few months ago to be less than worthless.

– Tyler Dellow recently took a very close look at Mark Giordano and Jay Bouwmeester to determine how close the former is to the latter in terms of performance over the last few years. The results may surprise you. Tyler examined shot rate and scoring rate for each guy over a three season period and Giordano comes out looking as good or better than Bouwmeester from most angles, even when the quality of teammates and linemates is taken into account.

All of which is to say, I’m not entirely convinced that Jay Bouwmeester is a puck moving defenceman. He certainly soaks up a lot of minutes but they’re offensively dry minutes for the Flames. His teammate, Giordano, sees the Flames generate more shots overall when he’s on the ice, creating a scoring edge that isn’t simply shooting percentage.

I bring this up because there seems to be a growing movement amongst the Flames fanbase to try to move Giordano this year, in part because of his perceived struggles so far. There’s no doubt Gio has had more than his fair share of obvious gaffes this season, most of them noteworthy because they have invariably led to the puck ending up in the back of the Flames net. Unfortunately, Giordano has labored in front of an even strength SH% of just .866 this year (lowest on the team), which is worse than most NHL goalies manage on the PK. As a result, his every misstep has been magnified.

Despite all that, his relative corsi rate is 8 ticks better than Bouwmeester this year and only TJ Brodie and Dennis Wideman have better possession rates than Giordano (having played much easier opposition in aggregate of course).

As such, I think moving Giordano would be a mistake. He is signed until 2016 at a reasonable rate and remains one of the Flames best options in the top-4. His first 20-or so games aren’t necessarily indicative of his abilities, not to mention moving him right now would be selling low on a guy who has proven in the past to be pretty useful (and likely will again in the near future). 

– Finally, I noted this on Friday night both here and on twitter, but Lee Stempniak has been a revelation for the Flames the last two seasons. This year, for example, he’s third amongst regular forwards in terms of possession rate (+9.8/60 relative corsi) , second in terms of even strength points scoring rate (2.49/60) and second on the team in overall scoring (20 points) – all while facing quality opposition (third toughest on the team) and starting way more often in the defensive zone (ZS 43.4%).

Those are remarkable returns for a guy who, until arriving in town, was merely billed as a streaky third-line scorer. He’s playing the big boys and more than holding his own and costs as much as Anton Babchuk in terms of annual cap hit. Stempniak is singed for one more season after this one and is a guy the club should hang on to with an iron grip. If he is anywhere near this good again next season, Jay should be looking to re-up the former Leaf a third time.

The Flames management has caught a lot of flak lately, but the Langkow deal is one Feaster won hands down. Daymond was an excellent center in his time and the club is still struggling to replace his contributions, but time and injuries meant he was pretty much at the end of the runway by the time they moved him out of town. Stempiak, in contras,t is in his prime and has developed into one the club’s best value deals.

Draft Street Freeroll

We have another Nations freeroll going with Draftstreet this week. My brother is the more ardent fantasy game player/gambler in the family and he sings Draftstreet’s parises daily to me, so if you haven’t given it a go I’d suggest taking a look.

This week, build your free roster for this Saturday’s schedule. The pot is $300 as usual.

  • T&A4Flames

    Feaster strikes me as a good contract negotiator for the most part, with the exception of Babchuck…

    I think what the Flames need to look at first and foremost is there cap situation.. I would hold on to guys like Gio, Stempniak and Glenncross because their contracts are great, but Stajan, J Bo and
    Cammalleri should be shopped.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Hey BB,

      I have to disagree to some extent. While he’s been good (or maybe lucky) with his signings within the forward ranks. He has over compensated each and every defensemen he’s dealt with. While Babchuk is an obvious example, I look a the Sarich deal with a lot more vitriol. He spent a good part of last season, as Calgary’s odd man out, and still got 2 years at $2M with a NTC (%$%#!). He also overpaid for Wideman and was involved with he Ian White negotiations.

      Report Card on Feaster Signings:
      Forwards: B
      Defensemen: C-

      The good news is the Hartley understand’s what his defensive options are based on who is getting played.

  • T&A4Flames

    I think the Bruins and/or the Blues stand out as the best trade partners for the Flames at this point. Especially the Blues. Lots of cap space and loads of elite prospects.

  • mk

    Very interesting thoughts on Giordano. I’ve always been a fan but was leaning towards moving him for some value this year. It seems, however, that this is not the best option.

    Any thoughts on the value vs. potential return for guys like Tanguay and Cammalleri?

  • T&A4Flames

    The Flames need to provide conviction for the management. Lose all 3 on this road trip and we “should” be sellers. Win 3….. I personally am not yet convinced we are buyers or a PO contender.

    I still say, 1 (more) year of short term pain for long term gain. Move Iggy (please give him a real chance to get a cup- & please realize this, Jarome), Cammi & if the return is there, Jbo OR Gio. Then I would seriously look at moving Kipper at the draft. We could be looking at 5 1st rounders depending on additional returns.

    • T&A4Flames

      I don’t think they should move Kippy. If he decides to stay next year have him and Ramo split time. I don’t think we should bring ramo over and throw him to the wolves. Kipper can teach Ramo a lot about the game. He is valuable for that reason. Plus i don’t think the goalie market is that strong right now with guys like bernier and louongo out there.

      • T&A4Flames

        I don’t disagree, Kipper would certainly be a valuable asset for the team and Ramo in particular. I was just suggesting exploring trade value and if it’s good move him. I have no issue keeping Kipper, at least until next years deadline. However, how happy would Kipper be handing the reigns over to Ramo and only playing at best (if Ramo is the real deal) as a 1A goalie/half the games?

        • T&A4Flames

          I’m totally open to exploring the trade options, as far as im concerned if a team is willing to provide a good return for ANY player on the flames it should be looked at seriously. that includes kipper. realistically I don’t think the market is right to move Kipper. I just wouldn’t want to move him for the sake of moving him. In saying that. If he isn’t ok with splitting time then it might be best to move him for whatever we can get. either that or he’ll move back to finland.

      • T&A4Flames

        I think that this is the perfect time to move Kiprusoff. Luongo has a large contract and the Canucks are asking a lot for. Bernier is a young franchise goaltender and the Kings are going to be asking a lot for. Kiprusoff is older, minimal contract next year, if he does not retire, and while his numbers are not there he still has the ability to win in the short term.

        Ramo is not some 20 year old juniour annointed goaltender. He has the experience now that he should be able to come in and play 50 games. MacDonald is the quality backup that plays 30 games and the Flames move on from their.

        If the papers are correct Kiprusoff was upset that MacDonald got the one start in LA. Is he going to want to come over and only play maybe half the games helping out Ramo? Or would he rather retire and go home and play for the team he owns for a couple of more years while he still can?

      • T&A4Flames

        I would argue that Ramo should be able to hold his own without Kipper..

        I’m not opposed to keeping Kipper, however, I think he would net a good return at the deadline because Luongo and Bernier are way over priced, and are more likely to be moved at the draft.

        Kipper makes a great rental for any team, and is fairly low risk for the price. I think they could land Jake Gardner from the Leafs, or at least a first.

  • T&A4Flames

    Well for those of you who are in the cheering for a loss camp, this is THE game to lose tonight… A loss to the team directly in front of us who has been slumping badly, with two off days to follow which will surely see us back at the bottom of the conference AND the GM meetings this week… i would think is is finally, mercifully, hopefully, the straw that breaks the camels back.


    • T&A4Flames

      Not enough to be the straw IMO. We have games in hand on just about everybody which is likely to be enough to keep the powers that be convinced that we have a chance. Return form this road trip 0-3, maybe that does it.

  • T&A4Flames

    Move out at the deadline:

    Iginla – The time has come for a change of direction for this hockey team, and for the player in order to breath new life into them. Have to think that the best deal comes out of Pittsburgh because of the depth of higher end prospects and their need for scoring and strength on the wings. The push from Boston should make the return better than might reasonable be expected given the way that Iginla has performed the last couple of seasons.

    Kiprusoff – The numbers are not good and it looks like age has caught up to him. That said I think that he still has the potential to steal games here and there, and that in the playoffs a game here or there can get a team past a round they might normally lose. I think that this is a no brainer for Toronto. They have two young goaltenders and they need a veteran presence to help stabilize their team both in terms of making the playoffs and then making some noise once they get there. Kiprusoff is a low risk, and low investment cost type of addition that will pschologically provide a boost to their team along with a potential home run option in a tight playoff series if Reimer struggles.

    Bouwmeester – The downside is that he plays a lot of minutes that will be difficult to replace. The upside is that his stock in trade might never be so high and that if the Flames take back some of the cap they could end up with a very good young player or two that will help this franchise turn the corner. Team needs high end assets that are going to grow with the team and Bouwmeester is not one of those.

    Stajan – Sure he is the best center the team has at the moment and he is playing pretty good hockey. Darryl bought him when his stock was at a high, and now that it is back up there it is time to dump him and recoup some lost investment. I think that with the parity, and the short season there will be a number of teams looking to add some insurance down the middle and Stajan is a very good option on the third line because he can move up and play second line center in cases of injury. I think that the Canucks are a prime canidate to make a deal with here because they are feeling the pressure and will be more than willing to give up some future to help achieve the present.

    Cammalleri – For the salary he is not the player that he once was. For the Flames to get a great young player or prospects for him I think that the team might have to keep some salary. That said, he is a player that has a history of playoff success and is a natural style goalscorer. I think that the Bruins are a perfect destination because they need the high end scoring and they will need a boost after they lose out on acquiring Iginla.

    Players that I keep:

    Giordano – This is the next captain of the Calgary Flames. He has the dedication and work ethic to help the young players coming into the league and into the team to understand that hard work, perseverence, dedication, and sacrifice will help you in your career. Undrafted is a perfect background for a player to go to others and tell them that if they work hard good things will happen.

    Glencross / Stempniak – Group them together because I think that they fill the third line winger positions perfectly and have the ability to play on the second line when needed. They provide secondary scoring, have good possession rates, and provide excellent return on investment.

    Tanguay – The guy has talent and skill and provides some good leadership and direction to the young skilled players coming into the lineup. He has the experience with winning and is a good conduit from Hartley to the team because of their relationship together.

    Backlund / Brodie – These are two of the corner pieces of a regrowth program. These are the ages that the team needs to be building around instead of building around players in their late 20’s and 30’s.

    My twist on the rebuilding philosophy is that while I look at acquiring first and second round draft choices in the deals for Iginla, Bouwmeester, and Cammalleri I then use those draft picks and flip them for assets. The only draft pick that I dont move is our 2013 1st round pick. Every other pick that I get goes back out to bring in players like Neiderreiter, Paajari, Schoeder, Colburne, Nquist, etc. Those are the types of players that I look at bringing in in trades as well. Players that are in the same age group as Backlund and Brodie or younger that will provide an core nucleus of talent that is under 25 and that will be with the team for the next 3-4 years.

    The fear is that the Flames are too stubborn to recognize the pattern of the last four years and that they actually believe in the hype and the excuses that they keep spouting about their performance. They like to throw words around like “Meritocracy” and “Intellectual Honesty” but there have been no real instances where those buzzwords have actually translated to real action.

    I dont believe that the Feast actually makes any deals where veterans are sent out. I think that they talk about the season being short, and having a new coach, and injuries to Kiprusoff, and the struggles with veteran players and lockout situations as being excuses for why they have missed the playoffs again this year. They will suggest that the team is poised to make headway next year and challenge for the playoffs because they believe that “the answers are in that dressing room”.

    Worse is that I can actually see this team giving up assets to try and make it happen. I would hope that the Feast is not dumb enough to sell the 2013 1st round pick but I can see it going to Colorado for Stastny, to Dallas for Morrow and Roy, or to Buffalo for Stafford and Adam.

    • Scary Gary

      I’d have to agree with your analysis, although trading JBo better bring in a pretty penny. I’m not sure his value would ever be higher.

      People need to give GIO a break, he’ll get it together (I don’t want to have to update my jersey); he scored a beauty last game as well.

      The flames should be shooting for 3 wins on this road trip if they stand a hope in hell of making the playoffs.

    • T&A4Flames

      Yep. I completely agree with all that you said as well. All but the part about trading all but our own aquired draft picks. If we can move a couple picks together as well as other parts and get 2 more inside the top 10 picks, that’s my goal.

      My goal would be to get some good, NHL ready prospects as well as the picks. If we can get 3 of Jones, McKinnon, Drouin, Barkov, Lindholm, Ristolainen and Pulock, then I’m happy. We need to get and maintain balance with prospects and young players, IMO.

    • RexLibris

      Very good arguments there.

      One question: with regards to the players listed (Paajarvi, Nyqvist, Neiderreiter, Colbourne, Schroeder) for some of those teams, what would be the incentive of trading a 1st round pick in 2013 for a largely developed NHL-ready player? The pick would have to outweigh the value of the player, in their estimation to make the deal make sense for them.

      I can’t see Detroit or Edmonton being interested in moving either of their players. I’m not especially optimistic about either Colbourne or Schroeder, so I think the picks would probably have more value than the players, but if you wanted a quicker infusion of youth to a development system then they may be worth the trade.

      As for Neiderreiter, well I can’t say one way or the other whether the Islanders would make any trade. I mean, we are talking Garth Snow here.

      I wholeheartedly agree that the management group is too stubborn to see the plain truth right in front of them, though. That being said, moving a 1st round pick this year if it were in 12th to 15th range, for two real NHL players might not be the worst trade Feaster has made.

  • T&A4Flames

    Agree Kent. I think Gio becomes part of the blow the whole thing up & burn it to the ground emotion after a California road trip. You are right. Flames dont want to blow up this sucker up. So if you sift through the rubble & if Feaster is true to his intellectual honesty, you have to come to the following conclusions:

    Regardless of our record over the next 9 games (short of winning 7 of them as there are 7 teams within that group fighting for 7-8spots)
    -The captain needs to move on. He looks frustrated & needs a change if anything else. As much as we would have liked a way bigger return, his rental value will be significant in Feasters retool & restock agenda.

    -JBO has been playing so much better, where was that when we needed it so bad in the last 3 years. $6.68 mill off the cap + add Iggys 7.0mill off the cap is huge. Plus the return for JBO again would be significant towards Jays intellectual honesty moving forward.

    If those were th only deals we did prior to the trade deadline, I would be a happy man. Unless there is a bigger market for a goalie like Kipper than what there appears, I say we ride with Kipper & Ramo next year. I wonder if Cerevenka would have any value to Dallas to reunite him with Jagr? Beats sitting him the pressbox.With Sven & possibly Gaudreau & we have Hudler for 3 more years, Cerevenka really isnt the player we need in the makeup of this team. We need an Ott type of player.
    The only monkey in the Oil is losing JBO, that absense will be more notable than losing Iggyfrom a team performance point of view.

  • Im behind moving Kipper, but there are problems shopping him right now:

    1.) The goalie market is soft. With guys like Luongo, Bernier, (maybe) Miller on the market and not a lot big boys looking for help, it’s tough to sell a 36-year old sporting career worst numbers currently.

    2.) His cap hit is still very big, even if his real salary isn’t. In the summer a few lesser lights may be looking for a guy like Kipper to get them to the floor, but most contenders are worried about adding to their cap commitments heading into next year given the lower maximum.

    The time to shop Kipper and replace him was the summer coming off that big year. Now it may behoove the club to keep him around next season in a platoon with Ramo and with the potential for shopping him at the deadline then instead.

    • Scary Gary

      I agree Kent. that’s exactly my thought.

      I honestly don’t think TO wants another goalie. Their two goalies are doing just fine. Toronto would only be in the market for a goalie if riemer sucked this year. but he’s proven to managment that he’s capable in the role of #1. It’d be wiser for TO to keep their assets.

    • T&A4Flames

      The Islanders love the high cap, low actual salary players. Maybe they feel Kipper allows them 1 last push this year or next. Although, I would hate to do that to Kip.

    • Parallex

      The bit about a cap penalty for the teams that signed guys to longterm frontloaded deals stuck around in the MOU right?

      If so I think it might be something of a risk to trade Kiprusoff… If he’s moved and decides that he’d rather retire then play out the last year then Flames might end up on the hook for a significant chunk of his cap hit. Might make more sense to just hang on to him and compliance buyout him if he’s leaning towards retirement.

      • Yeah I’d say the Flames would have to talk to him during the summer and judge his interest in playing hockey, either as a member of the Flames or if they moved him. If he leans to towards retirement, might as well keep him.

  • Scary Gary

    I predict a very slow trade deadline… it always is and i haven’t seen anything that will suggest something different.

    I hope Iggy goes, but i would not be suprised in the least if he stays.

    The only thing i really don’t want to see happen is the flames becoming buyers. I would be upset with that.

    I’d be happy if they sold some of their assets, but i think they’ll just stand pat and do neither.

  • Scary Gary

    One place where I am behind Walker, Boomer and Francis, is their statement (paraphrased) “How do you sell this team next year if it is status quo and they miss the playoffs for the forth straight season?”.

    I was given a little bit of hope by King in his talk with the Fan, in that small changes have not fixed things, and bigger ones might be needed. He also acknowledged the very large movement for change, and also fans are happy on the entertainment level even in losses this year. Here is hoping it’s not just lip service.

  • gotommygo

    Speaking of Ramo, his team was knocked out of the playoffs on Saturday. Any word as to whether he’s bound for Calgary now?

    By the way, love the Matttt Stajannn-Team America reference. That’s how I’ve been pronouncing his name for a while now.

    • T&A4Flames

      I’d love to see it, but Feaster has been adamant that he is not coming over this year.
      Even if he could come and hang with the team a bit would be good. It would make me feel more confident that he was here to sign for next year at least.

        • T&A4Flames

          He did but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a smoke screen to get pressure off the team. Ramo’s contract with Omsk is up Apr.30th I believe. If they already know that he is leaving, why not release him from his contract?

          • gotommygo

            Yes, I just found a Sun article from a couple of weeks back that quotes April 30th for the deadline of his KHL contract.

            It does seem weird that his contract doesn’t end when his team is finished for the season.

  • MWflames

    I’ve been reading Flames Nation for a while now. You guys really do a good job here, very enjoyable and interesting reads…

    As for the flames at the deadline:

    I’m not concerned about the Flames becoming buyers. The one thing Feaster has done, and proved with his actions, is that gathering future talent is a much higher priority for him than it ever was with Sutter. I’m pretty sure Feaster hasn’t made one move that had a significantly negative affect of the future. (Depending on how you feel about the O’reilly incident of course)

    At some the flames have to sell something. If feaster doesn’t make a spot for Sven next year, he should be fired. Tanguay, Glencross, Comeau, Cammi all seem to have a top 9 roll and are natural LW’s. For a number of reasons Cammalleri has always been the odd man out IMO, and if he isn’t dealt at the deadline, then I assume it will happen in the summer.

    If Iginla has no interest in signing an extension before the deadline, that basically means, IMO, that he’s ready to move to a contender. If thats the case I don’t see any quality reason for not trading him. If Iggy goes, than a believe J-Bo should go to for a combination of picks and NHL ready talent coming from the both of them.

    Still can’t cheer for them to lose though, I hope they hand it to Dallas tonight!

  • Michael

    The Flames find themselves back in a familar position, are they just one player away from making the playoffs (buying at the deadline), or should they be selling?
    A lot depends on what the ‘Iggy’ decision is. The owners appear to want to keep him, but does Iggy want to stay? If Iggy stays at what price? Another large contract will scuttle any flexibility that Feaster has going forward, and likely prevent the Flames from selling at the deadline. (Iggy isn’t going to stay with a reduced team)
    To be honest, its time to get what we can for Iggy, if Feaster can start a bidding war, we might still be able to recoup a first rounder plus a combination of a prospect and or a roster player. Given the Flames contract situation, its likely to be Iggy plus a contract…
    I’m just not convinced that the owners are willing to let Iggy go, and that a huge ‘retirement’ contract might still go Iggys way.

    • RexLibris

      Thanks for that link: Jankowski with the opening goal and an assist on the winner, and another great Gillies outing IS good news. 10-0-2 when Janko gets a point. I’m guessing that’s as far as they get, but pretty good for a team of mostly freshmen.

      Very encouraging to read this about Gillies and Janko:

      Beyond [this year’s playoffs], no more than one or two years with the Friars will likely be necessary before they each delve into Calgary’s farm system.

  • RexLibris

    Hey Kent, just a question.

    Does Stajan’s rehabilitation vindicate Sutter’s asking for him in the Phaneuf trade? In other words, has Hartley brought out what Sutter believed he saw in the first place?

  • RexLibris

    Unfortunately all the moves the Flames can or will make hinge on Sir Jerome. If he balks at any movement, the Flames have to shop Kipper and Jbo.
    Personally, Gio and jbo have to stay if igglatowski decides to relocate. Toronto is a good destination for kippa if you get gardiner, seeing that the baby buds now have reilly skating with them. Also other toronto d prospects like Finn and Backer could become available. Rumours of Dion being stripped of the C and possibly movin to the Ducks to join Burky

      • RKD

        Pro scout and advisor to Bob Murray, hired on in February,he’s a big fan of Dion’s and Elisha is a movie queen afterall. rumours are Perry to the Leafs or Wings. Naturally dion trade rumours run rampant in leafsland. most fans hate him. perry lives in london, half way between both cities expressed wanting to be home during the strike.

  • RKD

    Regarding Gio, this is his first time playing on a top 2 pairing all season. He is much better suited on the second pairing. He is feeling the pain Jay-Bo had to put up with and continues to put up with facing the other teams top forwards every night. Right now he is still adjusting to that role.

    A lot of teams want Iggy but right now the asking price might be too steep and they may wait until the Flames and Feaster are desperate to move him closer to the deadline. What type of return would Iggy yield? Look at what came back in the Nash deal, it’s not like trading Carter or Richards.

    Guys who would yield better return would be Glencross, Giordano, Jay-Bo, Stempniak and Cammalleri. Let’s see what happens on this road trip, the Flames should be sellers if they want to move the franchise forward.

  • Oilers21

    I know you want to keep Glencross, for obvious reasons, but if you’re selling and we’re buying at the deadline what would it take to pry him loose? Letting him walk for nothing was one of the worst in a long line of indefensible decisions by Oilers “management”.