1. What does MacTavish mean for Calgary?
As I was watching the Oilers press conference the other day I had two things kicking around my head. One, obviously, was that Kevin Lowe seems almost unimaginably dumb, tone-deaf and destined to fail in all things. Two, though, was that we’re going to be seeing this in more or less 52 weeks a couple hours farther south.
Is this not a wonderful preview of exactly how the organization seems poised to turf Jay Feaster once this team doesn’t live up to Murray Edwards’ mandate of making the playoffs next season? You can just tell this will be the exact format too: The guy who has overseen a disastrous attempt at continuing to compete long past the team’s sell-by date (Ken King) sitting up there bulletproof while the stooge he brought in to clean up his mess (Feaster) is packing up his office, and the new guy (whomever) sits there parroting how important it is not to focus on the rather ugly past and instead focus on what may or may not be a better future.
Of course, with the Oilers, there’s at least that promise given their talent up front, whereas despite all the efforts of the Flames front office to restock the farm everyone seems at least a few years off — Arnold, Gaudreau, Gillies, Sieloff, etc. all probably a ways away from being in any way helpful to the NHL roster.
Not that I’m opposed to firing Feaster insofar as he should never have been hired in the first place, and not that I think the Flames will lean on the kind of ’80’s Oiler cronyism typified by the MacTavish hire, but you wonder exactly how much will be allowed to change as long as King and Edwards are running things. Both teams have the same goal in mind: getting back to the playoffs and being competitive. The Oilers are obviously miles ahead of Calgary in this regard, if only because they have a collection of future stars on their hands. And yet, you get the feeling that these goals are somehow unachievable until the lunkheads running the show are given their walking papers.
2. The goaltending situation going forward
Saw something in the Herald the other day about how Joey MacDonald has earned another contract from the Flames and while I’m not sure I’d go quite that far under normal circumstances, I will say that given the current ones, I’m also not inclined to disagree.
MacDonald has been fine enough by 2013 Calgary goaltending standards, which is obviously the faintest praise one can dole out, and I’m not sure there are too many goaltenders hitting free agency this summer that you’d actually want to sign. Most UFA goalies seem underwhelming in general and those that might entice — your Anton Khudobins, perhaps — would also require a sizable financial and temporal commitment that I’m not sure the Flames should be making given how much they seem to love Karri Ramo’s work in the KHL.
An insurance policy, sure, I get that. You can’t enter next season with a Ramo/Irving battery, obviously (unless you want to go 0-80-2, which I guess is something you should want if you think this rebuild is all going sideways). But at the same time, how much better is MacDonald, or any Flames option, than a replacement-level goaltender?
Is he appreciably better than Jose Theodore? Would he come cheaper Mathieu Garon? Does any of it end up mattering? The answer to all three is probably no. So I don’t know that MacDonald has earned anything, and if he didn’t just happen to be the guy standing behind the guy when everything went south. Not a bad spot to be in, obviously, but the same could be said for the Flames as a whole.
3. Cervenka and so forth
As Kent noted yesterday, that little experiment is winding down and hey what do you know it didn’t work out at all.
Just as Kent got to say "Told you so" earlier this week about Mikael Backlund being really good, I feel as though now is an appropriate time to point out that I was totally right about how totally ineffective this guy would be at the NHL level. Remember when he was being propped up by some as a potential No. 1 center for Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay? Wow does that seem naïve and short-sighted and appallingly optimistic.
First of all, let’s not forget that he wasn’t ever a natural center, and so trying him there in the best league in the world seemed rather a bad idea in the first place. But the facts speak for themselves. He had 14 points in 35 games headed into last night, having spent part of the year as a regular healthy scratch, and oh man if you ever wanted ammo in the anti-Cervenka vein, just go have a look at Behind the Net. Negative corsi relative against negative quality of competition. That’s incredible, isn’t it? The only other forwards to get more than 12 games and have negative corsi relatives against subaverage competition were Brian McGrattan and Blair Jones.
I will say once again that I didn’t think it was a bad gamble, and obviously it didn’t pay off in any way. He’s been flat-out bad this season, but even in a best-case scenario he was only ever going to be okay. Anyone who expected him to be more than that was deluding themselves, but I guess there’s a lot of that swirling around this team the last few years.
4. So they have three first-round picks
With St. Louis now looking very definitively in the playoffs, it looks like all those first-rounders will be Calgary’s this year. So let’s all say it together here: "Best player available."
I hope to god Feaster doesn’t try to get cute again this year like he did last year. The Jankowski pick obviously still needs a lot of time to be judged but it’s already not looking too good, and it was because he decided to try to outfox everyone. Saying Jankowski will be the best player from this draft in a decade was hilariously optimistic at best — and more likely an outright lie — but I swear I can absolutely envision a situation in which he starts trading these picks for two second-rounders and four thirds and a first next year because well heck they got the guy they wanted with their own pick and that was good enough for them.
I don’t know if it says more about me or them that I don’t trust them to screw up what is essentially a free lunch at this apparently very-deep draft, but I’m actually going to be shocked if they get good value for everything. Like, really shocked about it.
5. Well I guess that’s it for Kipper
He had a good run, but it was time. Adios, bud.