Flames Trade Deadline – Final Thoughts

 

It’s been a long, frustrating road leading to this low point. Some saw the iceberg ahead, miles out, and hollered warnings with increasingly hoarse voices. To no avail.

In some ways, the franchise’s determination to stay competitive and relevant indefinitely was a noble one, but the execution lacked the same clarity and conviction of the objective. While the Flames haven’t been shy about spending money or furiously shuffling various pieces around each season and off-season, they consistently shied away from making the difficult decisions until time and circumstance forced their hands.

So the rebuild is here. It should have begun earlier, much earlier, and unfolded more gradually, but instead the ship is felled and we have been thrust into icey, dark waters. Be ready for some long nights, cold nights Flames fans.

– Obviously my fearless prediction that the Flames would finish above the Oilers isn’t going to come to pass. My guiding assumption was that Calgary’s terrible goaltending up to that point would improve before the end of the season, but it has actually somehow gotten worse in the interim (with no help from the skaters of course). I also underestimated at the time the degree to which management would commit to the rebuild and, also, how utterly Miikka Kiprusoff would throw in the towel on the season. 

– Pragmatically speaking, that’s all a good thing of course. Most of the time, below replacement level puck-stopping is a disaster, but the Flames are in such a position that it can only hope to improve their future chances of success. All that’s left for the team right now is to pile up the losses and then decide on who amongst the top-5 they are going to draft in June. The last thing they need to close out the season is for someone in net to go on a hot streak.

My anger at the conclusion of the Kipper saga yesterday was genuine, although it wasn’t directed at the player. There have been indications for going on five years now that Kipper was no longer the elite goalie of yore and that trading him and his declining abilities/giant cap hit was the right move to make.

But, because of the way the team was managed and the way asset was perceived, there was literally no other way for his time in Calgary to end but the way it has. For years the Flames seemed utterly determined to run Kiprusoff into the ground. Well, they have. And yet another formerly elite, previous cornerstone player is rendered worthless.

The management team had one last, best chance to move Kiprusoff this past summer. His NTC was gone, he was coming off an a-typically good season he wasn’t likely to replicate and his contract was nearing its end.

They didn’t.

In fact, they didn’t even bother to acquire a meaningful insurance policy should their 36 year old goalie fall off a cliff. It was a gross oversight from whatever angle you look at it and furthermore it was predictable.

It sucks that Kipper’s time in Calgary has to end in such a fashion. As I suggested, though, it seems the management of the team was determined to hand onto Kiprusoff until he either broke or retired.

– I would grade the Flames activities this past week or so rather poorly. There’s a sort of resigned relief that the management group didn’t do something outrageously stupid like trade Backlund for magic beans or acquire "veteran leadership to push this group over the edge" or some such nonsense, but the returns on what they did move were completely underwhelming.

Particularly in light of some of the other swaps made yesterday. Minnesota and Washington both traded significant prospects for players like Jason Pominville and Martin Erat (!). In fact, the Pominville package alone (Matt Hackett, Johan Larsson, a first round pick in 2013 and a second round pick in 2014) almost completely outclasses what Feaster garnered for both Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester combined. It’s also baffling to me that a prospect of Filip Forsberg’s caliber was available and moved for middling scorer like Erat amidst the Flames taking bids on just about every guy on the roster, including former core skaters.

– Another area where Feaster came up short was pruning some of the dead wood. In this he suffers by comparison as well, this time to the Sharks Doug Wilson. Somehow the San Jose GM converted lackluster assets like Doug Murray (slow, third pairing defender), Michal Handzus (barely replacement level 4th line center) and Ryane Clowe (declining top-6 winger without a single goal this season until last night) into a bevvy of futures: four second round picks (two conditional), a third round pick and a fourth round pick. The Flames, with a number of similar guys on the books, moved Comeau for a 5th. That’s it.

One has to admire Wilson’s efforts. The Sharks are battling for a playoff spot and are committed to competing, but he cut against convention and sold off marginal depth players anyways, rather that desperately running around trying to add them down the stretch (when, in fact, their impact is going to be minimal at best). When I noted in my intro that the Flames have lacked the clarity to effectively follow through on their professed goal of staying competitive over the last few years, it’s this type of management and decision making I’m referring to – how many trade deadlines have come and gone where Calgary has needlessly hung onto (or needlessly acquired) bit pieces because they were "going for it"?

– On a more general note, it was a fascinating deadline to watch unfold. We often talk about "the trade market" as it was a single cohesive (and open) exchange of information and bartering, but clearly it can actually fragment into a series of individual negotiations in various virtual antechambers across the league. It seems these then develop into temporary "micro-markets", like maelstroms in the ocean, that really don’t bear much resemblance to the prevailing winds.

High-end prospects weren’t available in general – until they were. Big contracts with remaining years were hard to move because of the dropping cap, until they weren’t. Jay Bouwmeester wasn’t even worth a firm first round pick in 2013. Jason Pomminville scored two picks, including a firm first rounder, and two quality prospects to boot. 

Obviously factors were are blind to exerted some degree of influence on the resultant deals yesterday (pro scouting of each team, their weighting of future value, risks, the to-and-fro of talks, etc.) but it goes to show that trying to pinpoint and determine "the market" for a given player heading into time and pressure compressed events like the deadline can be a fools errand.  

  • Scary Gary

    Kent who should we target for UFAs?

    Filppula (united with Hudler! and maybe Backlund) Cervenka Weiss Clarkson Ryder MacArthur/Bozak (I know how everyone feels about former leafs but…) Stalberg Yip (i’ve always like this guy, not sure why) Kennedy (He used to play NCAA; Weisbrod will love him!)

    Not the deepest pool…the RFA pool however 🙂

    • RexLibris

      Sorry to interrupt…

      Presumably not all of those players are available, and then one has to imagine that the Flames won’t be able to simply get the player to sign on the dotted line without market competition.

      Filpulla is a likely target based on franchise objectives, after that perhaps Weiss, maybe Ryder. Clarkson will either re-sign or pick a Cup contender.

      Now, the RFA angle is a very interesting one. Would the Flames offer sheet Gagner if he isn’t signed in time? Could prove interesting and would certainly give Feaster an opportunity to kick the provincial rivals in the “shins”.

      • Scary Gary

        Of course Rex, I’m just trying to move on mentally. I understand based your teams past experience (Penner and Souray overpays; Hossa and Heatley rejections) how you’d be cautious regarding UFAs.

        • RexLibris

          It isn’t that I think the Flames should be cautious, but rather that it is a shallow free agency pool this year, and if you recall Zach Parise was highly touted as the one free-agent who could be signed by the Flames and push them back into playoff territory.

          The idea is fine in theory, but when it comes time to sell the team (not the city) to the player one has to admit that there are likely more attractive options out there for some players. The Flames are not being run well, that is apparent to most outside observers as well as those within the city. For a free-agent to come here he would have to feel that this is the best opportunity to play and win. Not many are going to feel that way.

          The new realpolitik of NHL free-agency is going to have an impact on the Flames just as it does for any team that looks like it will struggle to win. Two years ago the Blue Jackets traded and signed Carter and Wisniewski, and it cost them dearly. Last summer the Wild spent hundreds of millions of dollars on two players alone. The Flames would need to overpay significantly to attract whom? It simply isn’t worth it to commit to a free agent this year when a delayed response may hold the greater rewards. But delayed gratification is, in spite of results to the contrary, not the great motivator for Edwards, King and the Flames management.

  • RexLibris

    On the topic of Oilers fans’ comments last night:

    I tried to step in once or twice with regards to some of the chatter.

    I’m not a trash-talker, it isn’t in my nature. Then again, I refuse to boo at a game, and I have watched some very, very, very bad hockey over the years. Cheer as loud as you want for whomever you want, but booing is not a right, as I see it. I know many will disagree.

    Fans seems to appreciate the chirping back and forth and it does represent something of the sports fan culture, so there is obviously room for it in forums such as these. There have been several years now of off-the-cuff remarks disparaging Edmonton, their fans, team, management, players and so on. I think much of the vitriol that Flames fans had to suffer through last night is the result of that.

    I’m not defending it, merely explaining a relationship. Nor would I suggest that it should be entirely removed from the online comments. But just like a 3rd line energy winger, we all, everyone on the Nations, need to know the line and go up to it without crossing it.

    P.S. to dotfras : Thank you, sir. I’ll try to keep up the good work.

  • Purple Hazze

    Really disappointed we missed out on Forsberg! I don’t that’s Feaster’s fault as I don’t think anyone even knew he was even available, and I think there’s probably about 20 other GM’s out there feeling the same way. I mean Erat! come on what the heck were the Caps thinking, we could have gave them Glencross … even Clowe would have been a better addition for the Caps over Erat. We think Feaster is bad … at least he’s not making moves like this.

      • supra steve

        Also there is that NTC. We were all happy with that contract as it was a real steal, but in return, Glencross has the right so say no thanks to going to Washington. Forsberg would have been a nice piece though.

      • Jeff Lebowski

        Are you certain he was aware of Forsberg? Many posters here make these massive assumptions about what players were available, what kind of returns THEY could have gotten etc etc. It’s all innuendo and hearsay.

        Us arm chair GM’s think we have perfect information. The reality is we don’t.

        We evaluate things in a vaccuum and point out that certain GM’s are morons. People complain about our return for Regher vs LA’s. Well our trade happened in the summer when draft picks are less likely to be moved as teams are focused on the draft and not gaining pieces for a run like at the deadline (I think that is fair assessment). These details matter. It’s fine to be critical but at least be fair, unbiased wrt perceived notions about a gm and then evaluate.

        This is the thing that makes me laugh at people who think they know, when really they don’t. The massive assumptions they make and take as fact.

        I find it difficult to believe that people in their spare time have a better grasp of all the information available than the paid professionals (who had to rise to the tops of their professions).

        I know someone who works at the highest level operationally of a major professional sports team. I’m talking about one of the biggest, richest leagues. The amount of info they have access to, devour and analyze is lightyears more than the blogosphere. Not saying people are dumb, they just don’t have access to all the information.

        When I read people’s posts on here, I’m struck by how quickly they make assumptions and don’t even recognize it.

        Anyway, I could be wrong as well and Feaster could be an idiot for not getting in on Forsberg. However, no GM’s called me to ask about Glencross or Iggy or JBo so how can I have an HONEST opinion on what the return should’ve been (not to mention having to deal with NTC clauses with each of those guys-HELLO)?

        What happens moving forward (draft, signings) will obviously be very telling to Feaster’s ability.

        I like very much what he’s done in his drafts here so far. I expect it to continue.

          • Also, it ignores everything that we do know. for example:

            – Feaster didn’t wait until deadline day.

            – Feaster’s trades obviously reveal cap space was the biggest thing he was after.

            – Feaster’s own words in interviews reveal the strategy. “First round picks are assets that can be moved. Other teams will be up against the cap and can’t retain all their players.” Paraphrased, of course, but accurately.

            It’s the strategy that’s being attacked. Obviously he wasn’t after high end prospects or they would’ve eaten cap space.

            You can make all the excuse you want. “Our trade happened in the summer, etc.”

            Fact is, when you look at what other GMs get in returns and what Feaster gets, it’s pathetic.

            By your words, no one is allowed to mock Mike Milbury either.

            There’s ample evidence that feaster is a poor trader and his strategy is crap.

  • icedawg_42

    So Carson’s been recalled, and Gio is not travelling with the team! The march to 30th is on! Hopefully Babchuck gets sat in favor of Carson, not that Carson isn’t better, I just can’t stand Baboon and don’t think he should ever be allowed to don the flaming “C” again.

  • icedawg_42

    Personally I don’t see any chance Cervenka re-signs here given the way he’s been treated. After watching him from above last night, I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. He’s got some undeniable skill, but that guy bails on plays way too fast. He refuses to play on the boards, and plays like someone who’s afraid to get hit.

  • What’s done is done.

    It’s where the Flames go from here that is the most important part.

    Speaking as an Oiler fan, I found his Feaster comments about re-tooling very scary.

    Although, one could argue what’s a guy in his position going to say, doesn’t evoke much confidence to his team, but then again his players are not stupid and should be able to see the writing on the wall.

    I also found it interesting they chose to hang onto Glencross?

    At any rate, this would be the draft year to have as many bullets in the first round as possible, like I said it’s what happens now that’s the most important.

    With names like MacKinnon, Jones, Drouin and Barkov just too wet your appetite with, you have players like Horvat, Rychel Gauthier, Mantha, Shinkaruk, Pulock, Zadorov and Lazar that may fall in the first round.

    The right drafting it may not take as long as the Oilers, although it would appear that the Flames prospect pool is pretty poor and need’s more potential players there, although being basis, Bossoit looks to be developing nicely.

    I would be stunned if Calgary GM goes off the board in the first round, if he does, then watch out.

  • RexLibris

    Further to trash talking, this is how a classy fan does it, from Jason Gregor’s post-game article today at ON: I thought it was very classy of the Oilers to honour Jarome Iginla by scoring 12 goals in two games vs. his former team.

    Very nice.

  • mk

    Great article Kent.

    I think Erat has like 4 goals.

    I would literally have traded Cammi and Stempniak AND 6M in cap space for Forsberg.

    Can you imagine what a building block that would be?

    No reason to have to trade JBo before the start of next season. But to not even wait until trade deadline day is beyond horrible management.

    Hard time beleiving JBo couldn’t have been moved to the Wings for, at worst, Jarnkrok straight up.

    And not eating cap space so you can blow it in the summer? Feaster is, indeed, a moron.

    Evgeni Malkin is not going to be floating in the breeze because the cap goes down.

    I had suggested packaging JBo with Iginla. Imagine, alogn with eating some cap space, what that return could have garnered.

    Would help too if some of the @$$-kissers in the MSM would grow a pair and ask some real questions.

    Feaster once again believes he’s smarter than everyone else. Just like KK and Edwards believe they know more than everyone else. They all know better and they’re going to show us all. I can hardly wait.

    • mk

      About the MSM questions: no kidding. I get that they’re not trying to become an enemy of the franchise, but seriously. Who will take management to task for their moves?

  • Scary Gary

    For the most part I have been a Feaster supporter until….

    yesterday’s post draft media conference when he talked about the 25 or more phone calls he turned down regarding Glencross……did WASHINGTON call about FORSBERG?????????

    On Mikka…I respect his contributions to the Flames as an outstanding professional athlete and citizen…BUT he was paid in excess of $50M over his career by Flames ownership… That means himself all the way down to his great grand children will never have to work a day in there lives living a life of luxury! Do you think he would have considered the state of the Flames and any potential return they could have received for his services that would improve the team in the futire???? In fact he could have flown his family with him at Leafs expense and put up in a luxury 5 star hotel with a doctor if necessary for a mere 2 months! I am presuming that serious health issue did not exist with his family because the Flames granted the Leafs permission to discuss a potential trade. Had there been serious health issues the Flames would not have opened that door!!

    Greed and selfishness..thanks Mikka. Enjoy your wealthy happy retirement at the age of 36!

    ps..when I was 36 I was on business away from my kids and missed many birthday celebrations for my $75K annual salary.

    Good riddins!

  • mk

    There’s an interview with Feaster on the Flames website today… I think this should make people feel at least a little bit better about the “playoffs” comments from yesterday…

    Also there’s a Gaudreau promo video for the Hobey Baker Award that is “*@#^ing Awesome”

    I’ve only ever owned two Flames jerseys in my life. A #14 Fleury and a #12 Iginla. Here’s hoping that in a few years I’ll be sporting the missing number… #13

    • mk

      After being pressed on the making the playoffs comment, Feaster tried to spin it into a philosophical thing. It was a ridiculous attempt at PR control.

      After seeing his transactions, one thing is apparent: the biggest concern was to get cap space. Which Feaster has said will be used to go after player’s that teams’ can’t afford to keep under the decreased salary cap.

      He want to shortcut the rebuild.

      Draft the “new Iginla” with a top 5 pick this summer and then it’s more of the same old, same old.

      I actually think they trade those other 2 1st rounders.

      • BurningSensation

        I think given that none of the three trades brought back active roster players or $, that cap space flexibility was definitely something they insisted on.

        I will be choked with rage if they deal the two picks for active roster guys.

        If they do trade them it should be either to move up higher in the draft (top 10 would be nice, Barkov and Nichushkin would give us a starting set of pivots for a decade),

        The other kind of trade I’d be OK with is if they move picks to get high-end prospects/players already in someone’s system (Brayden Schenn, Couturier, Kuznetsov, Tarasenko, etc.).

        The comments by management that we should be aiming for a playoff spot run counter to the actions Feaster has taken so far, so I hope they were just posturing to avoid saying things like ‘we are going to suck for a while, get used to it’.

      • RexLibris

        “I actually think they trade those other 2 1st rounders.”

        Likely, but for what return? Teams aren’t going to be selling too much, except the now-infamous post-apex players.

        I can’t wait to see what players and trades Feaster makes to re-inflate the Flames balloon and climb back to playoff contention.

        His history: overcomplication of trades, mis-prioritization of returning assets, and a general preference for former players. Hmmm, now let’s think about that for a moment. Do the names Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier sound ominously real from that perspective?

        Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  • supra steve

    I am not seeing how we are going to have a problem signing free agents this summer, half of our competition is already in salary cap hell. How will PITT re-sign Iggy with $55mil committed next year to 16 players and a hard cap of $64.3mil?

    There should be a lot of buy-outs available that will sign for cheap also or maybe some players get traded from their current squads to the “cap rich” teams at cheap prices. Cap wise we are in REALLY good shape along with a few others (Nash, Phx, NJ, NYI, WPG), starting to see that that may be a valuable commodity this summer.

    That being the case, JBo is probably a player we would have had a LOT of trouble moving for a decent return this summer, I do not agree that he should have been held for a better return. If we end up with #16-19 pick this summer, that should yield a nice prospect.

    Just allow me to have these few things to be happy about.

    • supra steve

      Only thing you are forgetting is UFA players agreeing to come here. The Oilers tried everything including throwing 10 mil at Hossa. He picked Detroit for 8 mil. Blame the crappy city of Edmonton all you want but the bottom line is players in their prime don’t CHOOSE to go to a terrible 30th place team who might be good if a few UFAs sign. Good free agents go to contenders. They dont go to bottom feeder teams trying to do a quick 180 from the bottom. maybe on the way bak up (next summer?). but forget it this year.

      The scrap UFAs will be available to us for massive overpays. But that’ll just help us get back to middle bubble purgatory more quickly. I hope Feaster doesn’t try to fast track it with overpaying crappy UFAs. But I fear he will…. And fans seem to be hoping for that??

      • supra steve

        Feaster seems to think that superstars in their prime are going to be ripe for the picking when the cap goes down.

        The trades this last while were all about freeing cap space to grab them.

        The whole organization is deluded.

        Calgary Flames: The post-apex of intellectual honesty.

        p.s. I’ll be abusing the crap out of that saying until Feaster is fired.

      • SmellOfVictory

        That’s a whale hunt UFA, though. The key is to find the good, underrated support guys who aren’t going to be sought after by every team in the league. Guys like Stempniak, Steckel, pre-Calgary Glencross, etc.

        The big players you’ll generally have to draft yourself, but you can build 50% of a strong team by picking up the right support players. The other half is the goaltender and the fancy skaters.

        • supra steve

          Completely Agree. You can get middling UFAs. But without superstars you will never be a great team. If the goal is to get back to 8th place, clawing and scratching to get in perpetually, then that’ll work great.

      • supra steve

        Economics says you are wrong. Flames will have $ on hip, BOS, PITT, LA, etc. have already spent theirs. Players like to go to a winner, but they also wanna get paid.

        • SmellOfVictory

          Totally agree.. Flames organization is one of the richest in the NHL and have proved that they are willing to throw down the money. I don’t see any reason why they can’t land any of the top UFA’s on July 1st, and they probably will..

        • supra steve

          You’ll learn my friend… You’ll learn. Oilers thought the same thing. Money only buys you 2nd tier UFAs not the superstars. They want to win, not rebuild.

          Give me one example of a star UFA going to a rebuilding team with zero prospects or other stars. If you give me one Ill change my tune.

  • Nice wrap on things Kent. I think most of us are pretty numb looking forward. I watched that movie Phenomenon & to paraphrase I have a few “possibilities” to throw out there.

    1/ Does anyone know if Kipper retires, will his 5.8mill cap hit go away? If not & Kipper doesnt want to play next year, we should consider him as one of our amnesty buyouts, the cost is cheap & cap space gained huge. Not the way I wanted to see Kipper go out. He deserved better & I truly credit him for bringing us out of darkness in 2004, more than Iggy did.

    2/What an a$$ thing of Edwards to do. No owner blatantly throws his GM in the way of an oncoming greyhound bus after we just lost 2 & probably 3 of our cornerstone franchise players with heir to the throne in sight. Feaster will not be here this time next year. If thats the case & what happens with all this Cap space & one of the biggest drafts in franchise history, we have a GM on death row making decisions that will be slanted to him keeping his job. This is rediculous. Now that the TDL is done, we are playing out the string, now is the time to flip the switch, move Feaster out & bring someone in. The only person readily available on this short notice who I would trust to make hockey trades, has respect of other GM’s in the league (& lets face it our Management team is deservedly considered a joke around the league) would be Brian Burke. Not my 1st choice & I know many here wont like it, but wow, this has Titanic written all over it.

    3/Teams like Philly who are out of the playoffs but dont really need to rebuild but have top 10 picks would be huge trade partners. Two of our later 1st’s & Gio to Philly for Couturier & there 1st could be beneficial to both teams. I truly believe these deals will be there at the draft. Is there a possibility that Feaster is kinda being blackballed because of the ROR scenaio after the ugly lockout. Possibly another reason we need to look at my #2 point.

  • supra steve

    The return Detroit offered was better for JBO imo. It was initially a 2nd, Jurco and Jensen. Detroit would not upgrade to a 1st but would have moved on the prospects but Feaster didn’t even go there. He wanted the 1st. They were surprised that negotiations stopped and he was off to the Blues for a first and 2 prospects who will not play. Detroit then tried for Kulikof and changed the prospects to Jarnkrok and Oulette but it fell through late and may be revisited later. Would we have been better off with that package? I think so but you can form your opinions too. Jarnkrok in my opinion would have been a great addition.

    • RexLibris

      That’s funny. Those 2, along with a 1st are the exact package I’d have asked for.

      I would have gladly relented to just the 2 prospects.

      Feaster is a fool. He thinks extra 1sts and cap space will buy them into the playoffs.

      Calgary Flames: The post-apex of intellectual honesty.

  • RKD

    Good points but until Feaster and King are fired we are stuck with these guys. Hockey guys or not, there’s not much we can except observe and critique their moves or lack thereof.
    Yes, the 4 college prospects may be underwhelming. I am glad we have two first round picks, one is conditional so I hope the Blues get into the playoffs. When was the last time the Flames would be able to pick three times in the first round? Hopefully they pick wisely or a few years of growing pains could turn into a decade of misery.

    • supra steve

      That would be great for CGY, but why would you do it if you were COL? Makes absolutly no sense at all. Would they do it for both those picks plus Gio? Don’t think I would.

      Last year CGY moved down from #14 to get #21 plus #42, that makes sense as the player you get at #14 is not likely to be a whole lot better then the one you can get at #21. Moving into the top 5 however, that is when you have high hopes/likelyhood of choosing a star (especially this year), and for that you have to PAY a premium. A 29 yr old 2nd pairing D-man, who just had a poor year playing as a 1st pairing D-man, does not qualify.

      Besides, COL hates us now (ROR)!

      Now for my plan to parlay Blake Comeau into the 1st overall pick.