1. I don’t know what I expected
So Jay Feaster held, as most general managers do at the end of the season, a nice long presser on getaway day in which he talked at length about all the stuff the Flames have planned for the offseason. I was particularly interested to hear this just to see the kind of dancing around Feaster did to explain his and the organization’s state of mind, given that they actually in-real-life referred to it as a "rebuild."
And, well, I was right about one thing: It sure was interesting.
2. Amnesty buyouts
The one good thing, I think, that Feaster addressed more or less right away, was that the team seems rather certain to take advantage of the amnesty buyouts afforded it by the new collective bargaining agreement, despite the fact that the team doesn’t need to do so to become cap compliant.
What this means, in essence, is that he is aware of at least one dead-weight contract on the roster that it would be best to shuffle off away from the Saddledome ice as soon as possible, and not that he actually got around to saying it but one assumes that, in evaluating the team’s existing contracts and the desirability of them versus the contributions of the players carrying them, the guy who seems most likely to go has a name that rhymes with Story Barich.
This is refreshing for a couple reasons, with the foremost being that it clearly acknowledges just how bad some roster players are. Second, it gives some of the kids the chance to step into NHL roles, or at least try to, if they’re not filled by a veteran signing this summer. Though I guess I should say I suppose that’s very much within the realm of possibility, given the amount of cap room the team still has and the mandate from ownership to make the playoffs that will likely either preserve or cost Feaster’s job.
3. Oh my god they’re going for grit again
"I think we saw in free agency that there is a premium on those hard-nosed, physical guys," is a thing Jay Feaster said in response to a half-question about the team’s desire for just that type of player.
He said that he didn’t want to undersell how difficult it is to acquire players like this, which I guess is true, because guys that are both physical and good at hockey are obviously incredibly difficult to come by. And so it would appear, then, that the Flames have designs on once again trying to acquire straight-up tough players, which is to say bad players, which is to say they’re going to lose a lot. Now, given my position as a person who believes they should lose every game for the next two seasons by six, I guess that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but from a purely aesthetic point of view, it makes for a lot of ugly hockey, which isn’t quite so good.
The issue, I think, is what that tells us about the organizational view of those types of players. Namely that they are in some way valuable. They typically are not. And if Feaster and Co. continue to pursue them, they will never achieve the ends they want. Making the playoffs next year when you’re out looking for No. 1 centers (none are coming, plainly. "It won’t be for everybody," Feaster says!) and tough guys (you can get plenty) is laughably implausible.
4. Goaltending for next year
The Flames have indeed had talks about the ways the team will approach its goaltending situation for next season, which is something you’d expect. Not too much to say about the situation except that Jonio Ortio will be the No. 1 guy at the AHL level and the fact that they have Laurent Brossoit under contract indicates he’s probably going to be a professional as well.
Which doesn’t answer a lot about the NHL situation. With that having been said the answers are, I think, pretty clear, even if Feaster didn’t want to tip his hand too much: They’re going to give Karri Ramo a shot with the big club. That much is obvious. Whether it works out is entirely another, but if not I guess there’s newly re-signed Joey MacDonald to lean on. So okay, that’s three spots definitely filled (NHL Nos. 2a/2b, and AHL No. 1). What does that mean for Danny Taylor, who was specifically mentioned by the reporter asking the question? It means either he or Irving is probably packing up and getting outta town, and maybe both depending on what they expect out of Brossoit. Interesting to see how that one plays out.
5. What we learned?
Asked about how he felt about the job from Bob Hartley and the rest of the coaching staff, Feaster had nothing but positive things to say. The kids loved them and they really helped with development. The power play was pretty good. (Not so much the penalty kill but who’s counting?)
So why did he think the team didn’t succeed this year? If you guessed "The lack of training camp putting them at a disadvantage for implenting the new system, and a lack of practice time," and not "I put together a garbage roster," you are correct. This more or less ignores the success — relative though it may have been — some new coaches had in the league this year. The Capitals and Canadiens won their divisions with new bench bosses, did they not? So for that to be the excuse is pretty much a flat-out joke. Hell, Edmonton had a new coach too, in the same division even, and finished three points up on the Flames.
So if you were worried the management group had really taken anything about roster-building away from that season, don’t be. They haven’t. Of course they haven’t.
Oh and by the way, ticket prices are going up next season. Have a good one.
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