1. Here’s something I’ve been thinking about
It’s kind of hard to believe how close the end of the season is. A little more than a month away at this point. The draft is being held June 30, for god’s sake. And while Flames fans’ focus has understandably been on who will go No. 6 overall, or indeed if the Flames should move up — and, as discussed by Kent earlier this week, there’s a lot of contention as to that point — I’ve been wondering a lot about what Jay Feaster is going to do about those vague threats to spend money this offseason.
What could that possibly mean? After all, we all can generally agree that loading up on high-priced free agents this summer is likely counterproductive to what this team needs to do going forward, but then there is that mandate from management about making the playoffs next year. While that might be hollow, and an attempt to placate a disquieted fanbase, it might also be legitimate.
And that’s scary.
That means that Feaster might approach this summer much as Don Waddel did after he promised the Thrashers would make the playoffs: trying like hell to make it by selling off all kinds of parts. Braydon Coburn for Alex Zhitnik. Keith Tkachuk for Glen Metropolit, a first, second, and third. Bad stuff, and the kind of thing I wouldn’t put past Feaster, even if the qualitative difference is that he has a whole summer to deal with it, whereas Waddel had a few months, all of them in-season.
He’s basically trying to put together a team that will play for his job, if the bloviation from management is to be believed, and as such, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he tries to run this down by spending wildly.
2. Let’s look at it this way
The Flames’ current situation is something of a mess, insofar as they need help at all positions simultaneously. The Flames have 19 guys signed for next season, including Miikka Kiprusoff, who’s not coming back, with a total cap committment of $46.7 million or so. Swap Kiprusoff ($5.83 million) out for Karri Ramo ($2-3 million, you figure?) and that’s about $43.5 million, give or take.
That’s about $20 million to sign roughly five or six guys (given that some of the people Capgeek is counting as signed, like Ben Hanowski, Max Reinhart, and Ben Street probably won’t be up with the big club next season.) That’s a lot of money to spend on not a whole lot of guys, and you have to imagine the idea of being a cap-ceiling team is one that Flames will try to chase again. They’re certainly not hurting.
So I don’t know about you, but I’ve been looking at Capgeek and NHLNumbers pretty diligently the last few days and figuring out who Feaster will probably target. And it’s making my brain hurt. Please don’t mistake my discussion of these guys as me supporting their being signed. Reality is in fact quite the opposite.
3. Forward options
I think we can all agree that the guy the Flames should target is David Clarkson, but the fact of the matter is that this is a thing which is definitely not happening, unless they give him league max or something. And I don’t think even Jay Feaster is that bad at his job, or that desperate.
So that leaves you with other options. Mike Ribeiro, for example, was a point-a-game player last season (mostly through smoke and mirrors, but I digress) and an option I hadn’t considered until the other day when he said he’d take less money for more years because he’s 33 at this point. Boy, does that sound like a Feaster guy or what? Decent enough center right now, coming off a successful season, looking for term and not money (probably a no-move clause as well.)
If they don’t sign him, I’ll be legitimately shocked. The same is true of Michael Ryder, who’s also 33 and allegedly a power forward who can use his big body, and all that. Will he make the Flames a Harder Team To Play Against? Probably not, but that’s something I can see happening as well.
The biggest fear, though, is that Feaster will take Tyler Bozak up on that big-money deal he’s reportedly seeking. That would be the Feasterest move of all.
There are relatively fewer actually-terrifying options on the blue line, and many of them would be Flames retreads (Robyn Regehr, Roman Hamrlik, Andrew Ference, Jordan Leopold, Toni Lydman, Ian White) with limited value. It’s interesting to note, I guess, just how many mediocre NHL defensemen have come through the Flames in the last several years, though.
Other options I can see them throwing too much money at include Mark Streit, Marek Zidlicky, and Douglas Murray. But my absolute deepest fear, and one that I can see coming to the most horrifying of fruition, is that he will sign Ryan Whitney. An offensive defenseman! Wow! Never mind that he wasn’t even good enough to cut it on the Oilers last season, I think there’s at least some chance.
5. What about goal?
Thankfully this shouldn’t be too much of a problem considering the number of mediocre goalies Calgary has already signed. There is that, at the very least.
Anyhow, I’m curious what you guys also think about who the Flames will sign this summer versus who they should. If you were to draw a Venn diagram of the two, I can’t imagine there would be a large amount of overlap.