Random Thoughts – More Changes on the Horizon

 

20080103-DSC_8490.jpg
– pic via Justin Yamada

The Flames have already gone through a lot of fundamental change since Jarome Iginla was traded, but talking to some of the media close to the team this off-season one gets the feeling there’s more to come, starting (if possible) with the draft. The primary target to get moved next seems to be Alex Tanguay – although his cap hit isn’t all that bad, the feeling seems to be that he’s not considered part of the solution going forward.

It’s a sentiment I can understand. Tangs is a fairly one-dimensional forward at this point in his career as evidenced by continuously falling possession rates over the years. When I took a look at the Flames corsi rates adjusted for starting position and quality of competition, Tangs came out 9th amongst regular forwards. In addition, it was plain as the ugly on Mike Ricci’s face that Alex more or less gave up down the stretch when the club decided to trade Jarome and kick off a rebuild. On the one hand, the reaction is an understandable one for a veteran who signed in Calgary long-term thinking the team was going to attempt to be competitive long-term. On the other hand, that bodes ill for the next few years as the organization tries to re-establish itself through a rebuild.

Skill-wise, Tanguay is good enough that he should be a trade-able asset. His contract isn’t overly onerous either thanks to a low cap hit. That said, Alex has been stained by a reputation of petulance in the past. Sometimes things like that can sink a guys stock around the league to a non-trivial degree. Meaning, I expect the team to try to trade Tanguay this summer, but if there are no takers they’ll be forced to use a compliance buy-out option.

– The other vet who may be looking for a way out is Mike Cammalleri. He’s only got one year left on a deal that pays him $6M/year, so he should be a viable trade asset. Whether that happens at the draft or much later at the trade deadline remains to be seen. If the Flames want to move him this summer they may be aided by the rather thin UFA pool – a few clubs who miss out on adding a scoring winger may be willing to talk come August.

– In discussing the Flames goaltender options, we haven’t really looked at some of the big names who may be available for various reasons in July. Ryan Miller, Ilya Bryzgalov, Roberto Luongo, Jonas Hiller, Jonathan Bernier and MA Fleury are all established puck stoppers who may find themselves on the trade market or bought out at some point in the very near future. Niklas Backstrom, now 35, may be allowed to hit the free agent market as well.

Obviously it doesn’t make sense for Calgary to trade for any of the ugly, long-term deals mentioned above (Luongo, Miller, Bryzgalov). In addition, Fleury is a no better than average so I wouldn’t want the team to look into him whatever the situation. Hiller and Backstrom may be decent stopgap measures (each is over 30), but there’s a chance neither will be all that good by the time the team has found its way out of the woods. That’s not a serious problem if they can be retained on short-term deals, of course.

That goes for any of the Luongo group who is bought out and available for pennies on the dollar. That said, I imagine they will all look for a bit more than the Flames should be willing to spend and it strikes me as unlikely that any of them would want to get involved with a rebuild as fresh and uncertain as the Flames. Related – don’t expect Calgary to be a destination of choice for marquee free agents until the team starts showing a glimmer of success again.

– My preference from the list above would probably be Jonathan Bernier, price dependent. He’s the least established and most likely to fail name mentioned, but he’s also the highest reward acquisition given his age and resume. The Flames in their current state are more or less panning for gold, meaning it doesn’t serve their long-term interests acquire the Luongo’s of the world before or instead of the Bernier’s. The franchises view should be the long one and they can afford to take certain gambles in the short-term since they aren’t going to be contenders in the next season or two anyways.

– In the first round target series I have made a point of talking about each of the prospects birthdates so far. Usually that’s not a big deal because kids are only separated by a few months, but that’s not true of the Flames potential choices at 6th overall this year: Aleksandr Barkov is one of the youngest guys available and only a few weeks outside of being 2014 draft eligible instead. Sean Monahan and Elias Lingholm, on the other hand, are 1994 birthdays and almost a full year older than Barkov and some of the other available kids. 

Corey Pronman noted today on twitter that birth dates are a legitimate factor in judging prospects:

 

Corey’s done his own work on this subject, but he also mentioned this article by Iaine Fyffe on the subject from a couple of years ago. Here’s the relevant passage:

To illustrate the dramatic effect that a player’s birth month can have on his projection, let’s look at a hypothetical forward from the OHL, a prospect for the 2011 Entry Draft. He plays for an average OHL team, is of average size (6’1") and recorded the following statistics: 40 goals, 60 assists and 60 penalty minutes in 60 games. The Projectinator sees this player being worth an average of 8.1 GVT in his prime years, making him a very good prospect; however the projection ranges from 6.0 GVT to 9.9 GVT, depending on when he was born.

If there’s a factor that can cause a swing of as much as 25% in a player’s projected value, you’d better be sure to consider that factor. Birth month is a terribly important thing to consider when you’re drafting a player. It can make the difference between a great prospect and a merely very good one.

This is one of the reasons guys like Barkov and MacKinnon are such exciting prospects – they at the very top of the pile despite being quite young as far as drafting goes. It’s also the reason Sean Monahan is a risk to be a lesser talent in the long run than some of the other guys in the top-10.

– Of course, birth date shouldn’t be overly weighted as a factor either. If a guy is clearly a superior talent at a given draft slot, then the Flames should take him. Sven Baertschi was one of the oldest guys in his draft class but he has obviously justified that selection so far.

– I’ve been asked more than once who I think the Flames should take at 6th and I am personally still undecided. Ideally I’d like the team to find a way to get Barkov, but that’s probably a pipe dream. Nichushkin, Lindholm and Monahan are the obvious choices and likely guy still around at six and each one has factors that give me pause.

If I was asked who I think the team will take, it’s Monahan. I imagine his mix of size, character and the fact he can play both ends of the ice will appeal. In addition, he sounds like a guy the Flames will be able to roll out to the fans at the NHL level more or less right away, which is common amongst teams whenever the bottom has fallen out and they are selling hope to the fan base. It’s not a terribly prudent move from a cap management perspective, but sometimes GM’s (not to mention the marketing department) aren’t too concerned about what’s going to happen three years down the road. 

– Word today came down that Anton Babchuk is returning to the KHL. No surprises there.

The Babchuk affair is a strange one to remember in retrospect for myself and likely a few regulars around here. Many probably don’t recall, but a large portion of the fan base and media covering the team when he was a free agent clamoured for management to re-sign him. At the same time that summer, I found trying to convince people that Babchuk was a terrible bet a difficult task.

At the time, I had the feeling of a lone crazy man raving at an unfazed crowd, but that feeling was pretty quickly vanquished when the season rolled around.

– Finally, if you missed it this weekend, take a look at this post and start thinking of FN shirt ideas/designs. We’ll gather together the best stuff in a week or so and start whittling down the alternatives till we get to one or two we think work (and people will actually buy). Slogan ideas are fine, but we’ll accept actually graphic designs as well (send ’em to me – kent.wilson@gmail.com).

Recently Around the Nation

 

  • SmellOfVictory

    As long as Cammalleri wants to stay, I think keeping him around, at least until next trade deadline, would be a good thing. In the grand scheme of things it’s always tough to figure out the real effects of “leadership” and locker room crap, but Cammalleri is fairly well-known for his competitiveness (e.g. calling out the entire Habs team, leading to him being traded). That’s the kind of attitude that I think could really help young guys coming in, especially if the team is going to be struggling; he’s the kind of guy who I’ve never seen give up, regardless of how fruitless the situation was.

    Unless trading him would end up being part of a Barkov package, in which case, seeya!

      • mattyc

        I agree Cammi probably wants out… In which case do you think it makes sense to use a compliance buyout? You don’t want a bad attitude around kids rebuilding…

        If not Cammi, are we even going to use our compliance buyouts?

          • ChinookArchYYC

            “At the time, I had the feeling of a lone crazy man raving at an unfazed crowd, but that feeling was pretty quickly vanquished when the season rolled around.”

            There were 2 of us, and I got the same reaction. I’m so happy he’s gone.

        • SmellOfVictory

          He might not want to stay, but he’ll still play as long as he’s around. More useful as a slightly disgruntled player (and potential future trade piece) than a buyout.

          I don’t see much reason for the Flames to use their compliance buyouts. They have very few high dollar cap hits at this point, most of which (Wideman aside) are shorter term. Tanguay’s the only possibility, and his cap hit is low enough that he should be a decent trade asset rather than being considered a toxic contract.

          • SmellOfVictory

            Ya I tend to agree…. I wasn’t really suggesting we buyout Cammi, or anyone, was just wondering if any buyouts were on the radar screen.

            Sucks the new CBA is letting other teams off the hook for their bad decisions and we aren’t really benefiting. I know people are throwing around the idea of Edwards buying out other teams bad deals in some creative trade/buyout/trade back but I think we are underestimating how painful a buyout is to an owner in terms of real actual $. I just don’t see it happening.

          • Robear

            Sometimes as I’m floating off to sleep I start imagining that maybe we could trade with Tampa to take Lecavlaier off their hands for their 1st rounder. Then we get Drouin AND Monahan!! Unfortunately I think its a nice way to go to sleep, but I don’t see it being more than a pipe dream.

            Not sure I’d see a need for a buyout for Cammi, I also like his compete level. If he wants to leave and no one is willing to provide value for him this summer, wait for the 2014 trade deadline.
            Tanguay mailed it in after Jarome left but I can’t see him being an active problem in the room. Again, work him for value. Last year he drove the Iginla line for the first 10 games. He makes a perfect complementary piece on another team at the deadline.

        • Maybe. I assume GM’s will be ultra cautious about adding dollars heading into free agency with the cap dropping though. It might be the Flames will have to wait through free agency to see if anyone has any money left to spend. Folks may also be waiting to see if anyone useful gets bought out before they start dealing for guys like Cammalleri as well.

          • agreed, there should be a ton of buyout/movements on draft day and beyond. several buyouts for the richards,liles etc of the world. however i think cammy may be attractive to a team like toronto as a bona fide secondary scorer. the flames can fill several depth spots moving him. blacker, matt finn and morgan reily are all getting long lookks for next season, someone has to move.

  • I dont really think question marks on our goalie position or any position is a bad thing. i think creating open spots and competition is important right now. we need the kids on the heat to be excited and to feel like they have a shot. getting a proven starter could negatively affect the development of our goalie prospects. unless we can pry out a young bonafide top goalie from somewhere we should leave the position open and give ramo… berra ortio etc all a shot in the next couple years. give them some real time to develop. like 40 – 50 games each. macdonald should just be there to rest them and in case of injury.

    On tanguay… our first plus tanguay to nashville for their first. or tanguay to columbus for one of theirs… both teams could use offense. as could the rangers… maybe someone like kreider becomes available.

  • Lordmork

    I’ll be sad to see Cammalleri go. I quite like him. Tanguay, I’ll be less sad about, precisely because he vanished on the stretch after Iginla was traded. Overall, I’d love to see our older players get traded, hopefully for picks. I want a young team that’ll be hungry to improve and eventually win.

    Also, I’d love to see us sign a bought-out Luongo for a year or two if Ramo and Berra don’t work out. I doubt he’ll still be available by that point, but I like his character and I think he’d be a fine starter for a couple of years, until one of our younger crop of goalies is hopefully ready.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Compliance buyouts are “pull this pin in case of emergency” tools. There is no need to do this for any of the Flames players. The Flames have –as Feaster will no doubt remind his higher-ups at his annual evaluation — one of the best cap situations they could. It kills me that this will be evidence of why Feaster should keep his job, but there’s no denying there’s no financial reason to do a cap buyout, and financial reasons are basically all that are relevant to whether you pay a guy not to play for you.

    If he’s disgruntled, he’ll be traded rather than bought out, because even disgruntled assets are assets.

    Also: Is that David Hale? Baertschi was in diapers when that pic was taken.

    • mattyc

      and Eriksonn. What a D pair that was…

      The flames still need someone to play forward next year, so if they’re trading away their 2 best forwards, they’ll need to find someone to fill in.

      • T&A4Flames

        Not going to be an issue. Trade Cammi and Tanguay and we still have Hudler, GlenX, Stempniak, Backlund, Baertschi, Stajan and any combo of kids to give opportunity to in the top 9. I have no doubt that we will take on a bad contract or 2 that will help fill the holes in the line up and bring other assets as well. If Minny still had their 1st, I would say they would trade Heatley and their 1st for Cammi and the PIT pick. But, maybe a Tanguy for Heater and a 2nd but then MIN wouldn’t have a top 60 pick in a deep draft. Not like they need more prospects.

  • marty

    “it was plain as the ugly on Mike Ricci’s face” i will be stealing this quote. Barkov or bust is my hope. bout the only thing that could make this happen is nurse jumping way up and with nischkunin (or whatever it is) saying he is coming over gives the team a slight, slight chance. but i am also preparing mentally for jankowski 2.0. Not saying the kid isn’t going to be good but still think he could have been had in the 2nd rd.

    • BurningSensation

      “but i am also preparing mentally for jankowski 2.0. Not saying the kid isn’t going to be good but still think he could have been had in the 2nd rd.”

      And you would still be wrong. Craig Button mentioned that Jankowski was on the radar for at least two other teams at the bottom of the 1st rnd.

  • Parallex

    I would be shocked if the team used any of their compliance buyouts on guys currently on the roster. They might buy out Kiprusoff depending on how the cap recapture thing works… but other then him I would wager on nobody.

    They don’t need the cap space and considering that they didn’t want to use/have to use any salary retention on their deadline deals I would more believe that they have no intention of paying someone to not play for them.

    In regards to Bernier… considering the rumored price on him at the deadline that’s a complete non-starter.

    • If they buy someone out (aside from Kipper) it’s because he has asked to get out or they simply don’t want him around anymore (and he can’t be traded). As you say, there’s no cap real cap reason to buy out any of the skaters.

  • RexLibris

    I don’t normally do this, but given the topic of conversation, TSN has their off-season game plan for the Flames up right now. http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=424137

    The player rankings were very interesting, suggesting that the Flames have only one top-six worthy forward on the roster in Stempniak, and a borderline one at that.

    The overall analysis there isn’t too far off from what we’ve been reading here the last while.

    • Yeah I saw that Rex. Scott travels the stats corridors so it doesn’t surprise me that much of his analysis sounds familiar.

      He’s a little too bullish on Butler given the season Chris had, although Cullen may be giving him the benefit of the doubt seeing as he wasn’t completely terrible in tougher minutes the year before.

      Other than that, it’s pretty much in line with what I think.

      • RexLibris

        I figured you’d seen it already. As I said, the analysis is strikingly similar and that kind of shared opinion lends credibility to the arguments that this franchise is not necessarily attuned to the reality of their situation.

      • mattyc

        He doesn’t make any mention of the goaltending perhaps being taken over by Ramo though. I still think the biggest D is another top 4 D man, but pretty much every team in the league would like another one…

    • Think that these TSN rankings are likely a little low for the Flames players due to a combination of the ranking including the +/- as a category with Kipper being the worst starting goalie in the league would drag down every one on the teams rating and the power play time used by Jerome and Jay Bouwmeester will be distributed to other players leading to higher scoring numbers. Also not sure how consistence hits are as a stat rink to rink or how much that contributes positively to winning.

      The flames have bunch of mid tier players and no real top tier players and need to get a top 6 center and goalie for next year.

  • seve927

    Kent – I couldn’t agree more, it absolutely blew my mind that feaster & co. convinced themselves that Babchuk was a reasonable signing, even for so called ” low risk power play specialist”… may as well have thrown that money right in the garbage.

    Also, is it just me? or should we not be looking at getting some value out of “Matty Franchise” as well?

  • If DOmi is available that late, I’d be all over it. Zykov has really risen on that list, from late 1st or even 2nd round on a lot of lists to 19.

    Goes to show that the first round in this draft is actually very deep.

    Domi’s size doesn’t scare me at all given his genetics (built like a bick outhouse) and his natural strength.

  • Kent – true, but lets take a chance on some higher ceiling guys then. Stajans stock is going nowhere but the red from here on in.

    Looking at Lindholm, he might be a nice fit for Backs’, “Euro-swag-wise” at least anyway… as much as I say that as a joke, I truly believe there’s something to the comfort factor of having a like minded personality in the locker room, and what it can do for a players confidence. You have to like your team mates and want to battle for them, a la carter and richards. Team chemistry should be high on the priority list for the re-build imo.

  • BurningSensation

    Babchuk is a decent option when given ultra sheltered minutes and loads of PP time. At the time of his signing the Flames didn’t have great options from the point. Especially RH options.

    Unfortunately you can add Babchuk to the list of players that Sutter failed to utilize correctly. He sat the bench most nights. When he was called on he was put over his head early and then benched when he predictably faltered.

    I am not sorry to see him go. But if he was used correctly most wouldn’t have nearly the level of hate they have for him.

    • piscera.infada

      I think you have to commit to seeing what we have in all our ‘goalie prospects’. In my mind, It makes little sense to start overpaying for guys who likely wont be here when the team is competitive again – all Smith (or Halak, et al.) would really do is take a roster spot and likely inflate our win totals (but not enough to legitimately challenge for the playoffs).

      – Not that they would come here anyway.

    • supra steve

      How bout we have a look at what we have in net before we go looking for more? Ramo, if they get him signed, may be just fine. After him at very least McBackup is in place, and Berra is also available.

      2013-14 is not likely to be a banner year for the Flames on the ice and we may be looking at another top 10 draft pick next year (hopefully top 5) so lets just ride this out and see what the guys we already have are capable of. Last thing we need is to bring in a goalie who gets super hot, and raises us up to 9th place in the conference (like Kipper tended to do).

      That’s my position, anyway.

      • T&A4Flames

        I agree. We shouldn’t be expecting a PO calibre team next year so going out and signing an expensive UFA goalie would be silly without giving a full year to our current crop of ‘tenders.

        The only exception I would make would be Bernier if he could be had for reasonably cheap. Maybe LAK would like more scoring in Cammi.

        • seve927

          Still, if you can get a good asset for Cammy, I’d prefer it not to be a goalie. Out of the 5 we’ve got under 27, I think it’s likely one of them is better than Bernier. That just seems like wasting Cammy’s trade value to me.

  • My preference for the goaltending this year is league average. Just because then you get the best read on the players themselves (or, at least the people in power do).

    I’ve found that substantially superior or inferior puck stopping can skew the perceptions of the rest of the team pretty drastically, mostly because people have a hard time disentangling true talent/team effects from the goalie skill and variance.

    • seve927

      Exactly. I hope to see nothing special from a goaltender until Brossoit/Gillies are ready to take over. For the exact reasons you’ve stated, and the fact that it will lower any draft picks as well.

      Unless…. Rammo can backstop us to the SCF’s and then we start selling everything to find that one missing piece!

  • Rockmorton65

    I have a question I havent been able to find an answer to. Im hoping someone here can help.

    Imagine this…

    Calgary trades for Lecavalier

    Calgary buys him out

    Tampa resigns him to a smaller contract

    Put aside compensation/willingness for a minute. Would the league/pa allow this?

    If so, that might open up some trade options for the Flames.

    • supra steve

      The Flames took less return in the Regehr trade in order to shed Kotalik and his $3mil, one year deal. Reportedly it cost the Flames their 2nd rounder to get BUF to eat that contract. So then my question is, why do any of us think that eating Vinny’s contract ($45mil over the next 7 years, so it costs the Flames some %age of that 45 million) is something this team would/could do? How many Drouin or Barkov jerseys do the Flames need to sell to recoup that kind of $$? If it were my $45,000,000….I would choose to spend it on something else. What about you?

    • supra steve

      tbay would have to give us a pretty unbelievable deal to eat that kind of money so that they could resign vinny for cheap. like absolutely mind blowing kind of deal. like their 1st, 2nd, 3rd this year and 1st next year and maybe a prospect as well. we’d maybe send back butler and that’s it

  • supra steve

    I’m more inclined to either trade cammi on draft day or wait clear til deadline day. I’m also content with keeping cammi. He’s very positive and a likeable individual. Tanguay, on the other hand will be hard to trade, and for almost no return in my eyes. He sulks when the chips are down, and I agree with the “gave up” part of Tanguays game after Iggy left. He still is one of the better naturally gifted passers but for a 6′ 1″ winger is soooo soft and , like you said kent…one dimensional now. He’s the wrong guy in the dressing room for the youth coming up!!!! Trade or buy- out please. At least Cammi’s still 30. The face of this team is now Gio, Glennx , Sven, Backs, Brodie, hudler, and Wideman. I’m content with the lean years ahead and going young with a few older faces. I’d love to go hard after Horton and Fillpula for selfish reasons but many will say its a waste with us being so young. Gotta have a few faces to make it fun…. And we do have the cap space. I’m just not convinced the owners are content with it being just young inexperienced players. They’ll spend to the cap, and I’m fine with it!

  • Rockmorton65

    I wasn’t suggesting it was a good idea or not. I’m just curious if the league or nhlpa would allow it.

    For the record, I think there are a couple ways it could work, provided Flames ownership was willing to spend a bit o cash.

  • icedawg_42

    I remember the first time I saw Babchuck skate – said to myself “That’s no NHL’er”…

    I totally agree with you re: Bernier as well, he should definitely be high on the Flames wish list.

    Thats one of the things I like most about you Kent. You’re usually in agreement with me, which means you’re usually right. (except Monahan vs Lindholm, but I’ll let it slide this time)

  • icedawg_42

    also – I thought both Cammi’s and Tang’s attitudes sucked after the Iginla trade (body language on the ice wise). I’ve liked them both, but it’s clear they’d rather not be here now. Shop ’em both.