Five things: Jay Feaster and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Very Bad Week

 

 

(Author’s note: If you are one of those people who thinks I am too negative about the way the Flames are run, I advise you skip this column for reasons which the headline should make obvious. There’s nothing here for you.)

1. Let’s get the good thing out of the way

It has not under any circumstances been a good week for Jay Feaster, and while I guess, "Jay Feaster screwed up again," can’t technically qualify as news in July 2013, it’s at least important to note that he isn’t totally terrible at his job.

Early this week he successfully acquired winger TJ Galiardi from the San Jose Sharks for the low, low price of a fourth-round pick two drafts from now. This is good business, as is signing him to a one-year deal for next to nothing. Getting even a warm body to fill out the NHL roster for almost no cost at all, in terms of assets or money, is a very good thing.

There are concerns there, of course. That Galiardi won’t even come close to replicating what he did in his rookie year, which was no especially great shakes itself, is obviously front and center, because he couldn’t even succeed in terms of production when he was inexplicably slotted onto San Jose’s top line.

But again, it’s a low-cost deal with no risk beyond this season if it doesn’t work out, and you’d rather they give that kind of deal to a 25-year-old than a 34-year-old just for the sake of getting Experience In The Room or whatever nonsense they could cook up. That’s because, if he succeeds, you don’t have to have any qualms about giving him another three years without expecting everything to flatline at some point during the deal.

Now, with that praise having been doled out, it’s time to get into the far larger number of things Feaster screwed up since last we spoke. You’ve been warned. Twice.

2. The first bad thing

Not long after 5T was published last week came news that the Flames had traded Alex Tanguay and Cory Sarich for David Jones and Shane O’Brien, which is a trade I don’t really understand at all.

On the surface, it’s the team moving its famous "post-apex" players for those that are decidedly "pre-apex," though taking on an addition $500,000 in salary to do so. That’s an extremely negligible amount of money, but it grows to an additional $2.5 million against the cap in 2014-15 because O’Brien is signed for an additional year beyond what Sarich was.

So what’s the problem with this trade: It’s what it represents. The words people used in talking about this deal are the ones Feaster has been parrotting needlessly since everyone in the front office realized how bad the team was late last season. "Bigger," "harder to play against," the ideals of an era long gone. O’Brien is an obvious upgrade over Sarich, because just about anybody would be (Sarich really only succeeded by even meager terms because his competition was garbage, though it should be noted O’Brien’s better performance in terms of corsi relative was also against relatively low-quality opponents).

Jones, meanwhile, may be younger than Tanguay but he’s also appreciably worse, signed for the same amount of time, and for more money. He was good a few years ago, and the theory is that the Change of Scenery will do him good, but I’d really like to see it before I start believing it.

This was a deal made with a good idea in mind, so credit there, but the execution was certainly lacking.

3. Another mistake

That, I suppose, brings us to the two other obvious screw-ups, both of which were made at the draft. I’m not hugely in favor of taking Sean Monahan over Valeri Nichushkin (Monahan being the one guy in the consensus top-6 I wasn’t totally sold on, based on the information available to me), but it’s probably the safer pick, so I can’t really begrudge it. 

However, when it comes to Emile Poirier, though, I thought that pick was outrageous. Not specifically because I don’t think the player can turn into an NHLer, per se — though I’m always dubious of a highlight reel that’s nothing but him blowing the doors off some poor-skating CHL defenseman to the outside, and of first-round QMJHL wingers in general — but because few had him going at No. 22. Judging by his reaction when his name was called, that included Poirier himself. This was made more troubling by the fact that Hunter Shinkaruk was just sitting there, waiting to be chosen several picks after everyone assumed he’d be taken.

Of course, Feaster assures everyone that Poirier was safely inside Calgary’s top 10 draft-eligible prospects, which seems odd for a guy for whom the buzz was that he "might" go in the first round. Kent called it a "no brainer" when Shinkaruk was there at 22, and yet here we are with that player as Canucks property and Poirier already talking about making the team. Woof.

This goes back to Calgary’s supreme confidence in its scouting, because even a decent pick at No. 28 like Morgan Klimchuk, whom they swear they had at No. 13, shows that if they have a plan, they don’t deviate. Meaning that a team which hasn’t drafted particularly well in forever is putting all its faith in internal scouting, and not deviating from its plans no matter what.

Is Poirier going to be a better NHLer than Shinkaruk? I don’t know. But I know that every other hockey person on earth didn’t think so on Sunday afternoon. I can’t go around putting a lot of faith in the thinking that led to an off-the-board-of-picks-that-were-off-the-board pick like Mark Jankowski. As it was put to me at the conclusion of the first round: The fact that we’re using "It could have been worse" as praise for the team’s drafting at this point tells you everything you need to know. Especially when you’re talking about The Most Important Draft In The History Of The Calgary Flames. 

The other guy who they shouldn’t have drafted is Keegan Kanzig, who objectively sucks at hockey, and was selected when a number of more enticing prospects including Jordan Subban were still available.

You just really can’t trust the Flames to not screw things up at draft time. That’s the lesson here.

4. Comments on Lecavalier

And you can say the same thing about the lip service paid to the rebuild. The second an over-30 player in which the Flames had any interest came on the market (Vinny Lecavalier), all pretense of pursuing only "pre-apex" players went directly out the window.

Jay Feaster practically performed an interpretive dance routine in talking about how badly he would like Lecavalier in Calgary, all but screaming that when it comes to players of his ilk (assumedly, this means 33-year-old second-line centers who had just been bought out and whom Feaster had previously managed) "transcend post-apex." That, for those scoring at home, is shorthand for "All that stuff I’ve been saying is BS." This is the guy being trusted to rebuild the Flames. It’s insanity.

The only reason that we’re not talking about Lecavalier being on the team as a result of the team having been so thoroughly mismanaged to this point that it’s no longer a prime free agent destination, if it ever was one, which is debatable. Thankfully, the Flyers, too, are in the business of giving out questionable free agent contracts, and they at least present the illusion of success.

5. Brodie’s fixing to be offer-sheeted

Just prior to my writing this, it was revealed that Jay Feaster has yet to even open negotiations with TJ Brodie about a new contract, since he is about to become a restricted free agent starting tomorrow.

We’ve been told that this is fairly common practice: GMs and player agents alike are fairly happy to wait around, let UFAs set the market, and then negotiate a deal toward the end of summer. Okay, fine.

But there’s a problem for Feaster specifically, and something that should give people pause overall. Feaster is the most recent general manager to do the worst thing a person in his job can do: He offer sheeted another team’s player. This makes him and the Flames’ RFAs, of which there are several, targets. And of those targets, only a small number would actually be worth the trouble. At the very tipppy-top of that list is Brodie, who teams in the market for defensemen — say, I don’t know, Colorado — would likely do very well to add.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see someone pay Brodie a little more than market value on an offer sheet just to twist the knife with the Flames’ rebuild plans. And maybe that GM will actually have the benefit of understanding how NHL waivers work.

6. B-B-B-BONUS-S-S-S-S THING

There is, of course, a way for Feaster to redeem himself. Yesterday, for seemingly no good reasons, the Wild and Sabres bought out two players that Calgary should be targeting hard. Tom Gilbert, a 30-year-old former Oiler though he is, could provide help in the near-term and maybe create some flexibility to trade someone with actual value (Giordano) while they still have it.

Gerbe, meanwhile, is just 25 and was completely misused by Lindy Ruff in each of the last two seasons — largely in a checking role — and is certainly worth a shot with another club that, say, has plenty of minutes to go around in its top six and needs warm bodies. He’s being bought out, by the way, on a deal that pays him just $1.45 million against the cap for next season only. Someone would be wise to at least give him another chance, because he’s just two seasons removed from scoring 16 goals in 64 games.

Get either one of these guys, and that’s a step back in the right direction.

  • McRib

    Umm this is more pathetic than all of the other FN posts. Can’t you guys hire “editors” that actually understands the game and whom actually do researches on the topic they talk about. It seems to me their only goal of writing these bs are to trash the flames. LAMBERT MY A$$

    • McRib

      Yup..lambert.typically I enjoy your writing but this post is foolish. You sound like a whiny kid who is crying because Feaster didnt make the exact moves you would have made… all in all it was actually a pretty good week for Feaster.

      • McRib

        Let me assume the role of cynic for a moment as being the hype guys isn’t working for me at the present time…. “Pretty Good Week for Feaster” Haha. Or best week as a Flames GM?!?!?

        If Lambert cannot get excited about the last couple of weeks he isn’t going to like Feaster much tomorrow, because you know we are signing at least one overpriced FA!!!

        At least by July 10th our shiny new prospects will be arriving into town and everyone other than Lambert will rejoyce at least a little.

        • McRib

          Fair enough…. Im not trying to “hype” the last week but overall we added 3 good forawrds at the draft didnt draft a goalie in the first round and made a couple trades… how about instead of pretty good i say not bad…. cause that is what it was. “terrible it was not. “amazing it was not. But lets drop the dramatics inject some realism.

          I dont see why the Lecavalier thing is a big deal either way. Feaster was asked a loaded question by the moronic media. He side stepped it… he knows Vinny… he is not going to say anything negative to the media.

          One of the reasons I read FN is because for the most part it cuts through the media BS and offers some insight to fans.

          The tanguay trade is realistic for his age and production the last couple of years.

  • Truculence

    “Meaning that a team which hasn’t drafted particularly well in forever is putting all its faith in internal scouting, and not deviating from its plans no matter what.”

    As opposed to putting their faith in bloggers and independent drafting agencies?

    They pay their scouts for a reason, bud.

  • Robb

    @Lambert

    You are way off on a couple things.

    The first is you are making a deal out of the Lecavalier thing. Feaster was asked a direct question by the mdia as to whetherhe considered Lecavalier postapex. He is not going to publicly cut down Le avalier the day he is bought out. Did he talk to Lecavalier sure… why not. If we could have signed him to a three year deal… why not. He would defintely be worth something a couple trade deadlines from now.

    Monahan is a problem for you really? A guy who played against the toughest comp in the league and who carried hi team most nights. You rather us draft the next Zherdev?

    Poirier looks like a pretty good pick all things considered. From what I saw most GMs arent convinced Shinkaruks skills will translate to the NHL. Eveb Mantha who is just a good shot went ahead of him. His low ranking is more due to his rookie season and has nothing to do with how he projects. You have to trust your scouts and pick from the list regardless what TSN and the media have to say.

    I enjoy your blogs but you are way off here and this blog is an example of exactly what is wrong with sports media in this country.

    • McRib

      Yes, heard it would have included our sixth pick among other things (they wanted Gaudreau), was at the draft and people said it was fairly close to happening.

      Glad it didn’t as it seems Tyler Seguin has a bit of a partying problem in Boston and they were shipping him out to the highest bidder we were on a list of three-four teams actively talking with them.

      • McRib

        I know that Monahan is a very highly rated prospect, as is Gaudreau. But Seguin is a proven NHL player, who led his team in scoring two years ago, and has won a Cup, all at the age of 21. From reading comments from fans in Boston, Seguin was never a prototypical Bruin-type player and didn’t fit the Bruins mold, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t thrive in another system.

        I would think getting traded is a pretty good wake-up call, as is the media reports he was partying around so hard he wore the same clothes for three days in a row. A very public wakeup call seemed to work for Kane. We’ll see if it works for Seguin.

        I would have made that trade in a heartbeat. That’s one potential positive on Feaster’s record expunged by ownership.

        • McRib

          Did you see what Dallas gave up?!?!? It was not just the sixth pick (Monahan) & Gaudreau by the way it was them and two-three other top picks prospects, easily one of Poirer or Klimchuk. Imagine if we walked away from the draft with just Poirier during a rebuild year….

          Dallas just dismantled their AHL/Farm System completely, as I think Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith & Matt Fraser are legitamite NHLers. That is not what Calgary needs right now a questionable Seguin and all our good young guys out the door. Honestly don’t be surprised if Carey Price gets traded as well then, similar rumblings at the draft for him, Montreal not happy with his extracurriculars.

          Man Boston totally won this trade, IMO. Loui Eriksson had 29 points replacing Tyler Seguins 32 points. They dump Seguins big contract and all his question marks, as everyone in Boston said he paints the town red nightly and that’s all he cares about. He literally party’s with all the Patriots Bad Boys (Vereen/Gronk). Plus Boston get two very legitimate NHL ready prospects in Fraser/Smith not to mention former first Morrow and dump Peverleys Salary.

          • I don’t want to discount the possibility that every one of the first rounders won’t be future NHLers. One or two of them might even become All-Stars someday.

            But the failure rate of draftees to play even 200 games is pretty high. So when you have a proven player who has won a ring, and he’s only 21, then Seguin is more than just a prospect, he’s a proven top-6 player who hasn’t scratched the surface on how good he could be.

            Seems like a calculated risk, but it’s one I’d take. We’ll see in a couple of years whether I look like an idiot for suggesting it. lol

  • Robb

    All I could picture was Lambert watching the draft screaming “Outrageous!!Outrageous!!” in a high squeaky voice every time Shinkaruk got passed over by another team.

    Another thing for me was him complaining about Poirier’s highlight reel and how he only has one move, but isn’t Nichushkin’s reel pretty much the same thing as well??(I haven’t seen either reel). Just sounds a little hypocritical to me.

    Oh and you really think Brodie is going to get an offer sheet this early? P.K. didn’t get one last year and how long did it take him to sign? Really not something we’re going to have to worry about either way.

    The whole Vinny thing was pretty stupid too. I mean really if you can get a player like that for the right price you’d be idiotic not to get it done.

    Basically makes me wonder why Lambert writes about the flames so much when he has such a hate on for everything they do. Surprised he didn’t complain about the million bucks they donated to flood relief and how it should have gone to such and such charity.

    Oh and for the other people quit complaining about the draft picks in rd’s 6 and 7, you sound like idiots whining over those picks. Teams are supposed to go off the board there and find the guys that other teams missed. Besides pretty much all of those picks never play anyway.

    • BurningSensation

      “Another thing for me was him complaining about Poirier’s highlight reel and how he only has one move, but isn’t Nichushkin’s reel pretty much the same thing as well??(I haven’t seen either reel). Just sounds a little hypocritical to me.”

      Nichushkin’s highlight reel;

      Shows a ‘sameness’ in how he scores his goals. He comes down the wing with speed, drives the D-man wide or simply bulls his way into the slot, makes a nifty stickhandle and scores. I do REALLY like the move where he walks his defender along the blueline before he drives the lane and eventually makes a backhand pass to Kuznetsov.

      Here’s Poirier;

      http://youtu.be/pIBLICwkIQk

      Which shows (I think) a wider range of skills than Nichushkin’s does. That said, at least some of Nichushkin’s highlights are against either international competition (which is decidedly tougher than QMJHL), or from an actual men’s league (the KHL), so his degree of difficulty is likely higher.

  • Its starting to become obvious that Lambert’s personal bias against Feaster is clouding his judgement to the point where he makes irrational claims like drafting Sean Monahan was a mistake.

    If Sean Monahan develops into a top Center for the flames this post will look even more ridiculous than it already does.

  • Robb

    Lambert:
    “Is Poirier going to be a better NHLer than Shinkaruk? I don’t know. But I know that every other hockey person on earth didn’t think so on Sunday afternoon.”

    Sure seems like a lot of teams thought that quite a few players were a hell of a lot better than Shinkaruk on Sunday afternoon. The Flames were not the only team to pass this guy up. Whether that’s because of his attitude, his interviews, what coaches and trainers said about him, who knows. I’m just tired of people ripping the Flames apart for passing on him when A DOZEN teams did. Seems totally ridiculous to me.

    Ripping the Flames for trying to get Lecavalier also seems pretty stupid to me. The Oilers’ rebuild has been ongoing for 6-7 years (and counting) now and one of the biggest complaints fans have is the lack of leadership and veterans. Their team has some of the fastest, most talented players in the NHL and they STILL SUCK. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I’m just shocked that your ideal rebuild would look similar to Edmonton’s. I don’t want to wait 7, 8, 9, 10 years without playoff hockey.

    I want my team to draft properly, regardless of where we finish each season in the standings and I want them to turn it around as fast as they can while doing it properly. Does this mean I want them to do it wrong? No. I’m patient and willing to wait as long as it takes TO DO IT PROPERLY.

    Brodie is not going to get offer-sheeted and even if management was worried he would be, that’s no reason to overpay him now. If it happens, it happens. If it’s a good offer sheet, we match it. If it isn’t, we let him walk and take the picks. As much as I like Brodie, he’s an asset like any other player. Personally, I would love to see the team sign him to a 5-6 year deal for 2.75 mill each year. Similar to a Roman Josi contract with a high reward, fairly low risk.

    I think what frustrates me most about your negativity Lambert is that you aren’t willing to give the team any benefit of the doubt when it comes to the draft, which, frankly, they’ve done quite well at the last couple years. Despite having 3 pretty solid 1st rounders, albeit 1 that you didn’t agree with, you bashed their draft without even giving the kids a chance to play and (like most of us) without even watching the majority of the picks play a significant amount of time.

    Anyways, long story short, this will be the last “5 Things” that I read until the negativity is a little more…’fair’? I have enough negativity in my life right now with my grandmother suffering from terminal cancer and a newly acquired heart infection called myocarditis which basically makes my heart hurt like hell and makes me easily exhausted. I don’t need to read negative report after negative report about one of my favourite things in life, my hockey team. There were a lot of happy Flames fans excited about these draft picks and the new direction of the team, which so many of us have been WAITING for. I’m sure there are teams that drafted better than the Flames this year and I’m sure there are teams that drafted worse but this negativity is ridiculous.

    GFG.