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:
@katshockey the late birth date effect IMO is one of the most under appreciated forms of draft analysis out there and it’s so crucial.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) May 28, 2013
@katshockey if you’re just building a model to project players based on stats with the same numbers, a Jan 95 is 30% better than a Sept 94.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) May 28, 2013
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org).
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