1. Busy busy busy
At this point in the year, it seems logical that most teams would try to keep things pretty quiet, not too intent to tip their hands with relation to trades, front-office shakeups, or really anything else. There’s the odd exception, of course: New York signing Alain Vigneault as coach, Colorado talking to anyone and everyone about exactly what they’re going to do with the No. 1 overall pick, a few big contracts for Russian players out of Los Angeles and Detroit.
And yet Calgary has been a topic of conversation for about a week now, for various reasons, and it’s nice to some extent to see the extents to which the team is now willing to go to make sure they are at the very least not boring. So without much more ado, I guess let’s get right down to the thing I think will probably be most important for this organization going forward.
2. Shanahan or Campbell coming aboard
That’s the rumor right now: One of them is going to be leaving the NHL’s head offices and likely heading to Calgary, which tells you how nice it must be for both of them at the NHL’s head office these days.
Getting Ken King out of his job seems like a good idea at this point simply because he’s — if nothing else — a symbol of all the years of frustration the organization has gone through in the last several years. Getting an actual hockey guy into the role, meanwhile, seems like a great idea. Someone to say to Jay Feaster, who is himself not necessarily a hockey guy, "I don’t think that’s a good idea and here’s why," would be a welcome addition to the front office.
Now, as for the fact that it’s Shanahan, who has never held a front office job in hockey, and Campbell, who was more or less forced out of his job because of some very embarrassing emails and has been skulking in the shadows ever since, well, the optics aren’t necessarily great. That’s they’re the last two guys to take on the rather thankless task of telling players and teams who’s getting suspended and for long and why will probably make the hire a little more mockable, as will the fact that Campbell’s last job with an actual team came at a time when you still had to call a phone number to connect to the internet.
Again, this is a change that needs to be made. I think it’s a positive. It’ll be mocked to some extent, mostly because it’s incredibly easy and fun to mock the Flames, but getting more hockey people in an organization oddly devoid of them can’t be a bad thing. Well, okay, it might be. But I’m all for the gamble at this point.
3. Trying to trade all the picks
Here’s another thing that I think people laughed at a little bit, and which I thought was a great idea. The Flames need a top-end player. They miiiiiiight get one at No. 6, but it seems a little unlikely to be one that would help right when the puck drops on 2013-14.
Colorado was also right to tell Jay Feaster to take his three picks back to the bus station and get lost, because it wouldn’t have been an especially good look for the team picking first overall to dump that pick without something significant (say, a good roster player) coming back the other way. With that having been said, Calgary might have been able to sweeten the deal a little more, but that they didn’t is also fine.
The idea of a Nathan MacKinnon or Seth Jones in Calgary is obviously an enticing one, but the same could be said of their being in Colorado. Another good gamble by Feaster in my book.
4. No buyouts?
Okay this is less of a good gamble but I guess the team doesn’t care because they won’t be anywhere near the salary cap and will need all the warm bodies they can get next season, but nonetheless I was a little surprised by this revelation from Feaster last week.
I figured someone on the roster, an older defenseman who sucks and is on the last year of his deal JUST TO PICK SOMEONE AT RANDOM, might be a candidate, but again, I see the need to just keep guys on the roster and maybe take the value in "having someone to show them what it takes to be a pro" or whatever. That’s all fine. There will be plenty of rookies on the team.
5. Corban Knight will probably make this team next year
I love love love this trade, and it’s a really great thing for Calgary to pull off just to take advantage of Florida being in rather a precarious situation. Obviously I’m not one to give Feaster any credit, and I don’t think he’s any good at trading (or much of anything, really) in general, but this was great stuff.
Knight is an very, very good two-way center for North Dakota. He excels at the faceoff dot and logged heavy minutes. Here’s a real stat I dug up on him ahead of the NCAA tournament when I was writing my EXCELLENT PREVIEW for Puck Daddy: He took 1,024 draws in just 40 games, and won 591 (57.7 percent). That was more wins than the next-closest guy on his team even took total. That’s how much he was relied upon by a very good college hockey team this year.
Obviously, quality centers are a bit of a rarity with this team, and honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked if this kid gets an extended run-out with the big club this year. He’s going to be 23 when the season starts and now seems as good a time as any to see what he’s got. We’re none of us getting any younger.