Flames Day One Analysis


Pic via Rob the Hockey Guy

So, with most of the expected signings having been reported and Jay Feaster having talked to the media, day one of free agency in the Saddlesphere seems to be done. There were a couple of new names, a couple of familiar ones and still some UFA targets that haven’t signed.

The Old

  • G Karri Ramo: 2 years, $5.5 million. The Flames presumptive starter. If he can provide league average goaltending, this is a very good deal. Even ~.918 goaltending still makes this okay. Ramo has been profiled here.
  • D Chris Butler: 1 year, $1.7 million. A bottom-pairing defenseman likely being given a deal due to loyalty and not much else. He’s likely being paid under the assumption he’s really 2011-2012 Chris Butler and not 2012-2013 Chris Butler. 
  • RW Brian McGrattan: 2 years, $1.5 million. A fist on skates. See Kent’s post for analysis.
  • RW Greg Nemisz: 1 year, $725k. Probably not an NHLer, so this is more of a former 1st round pick/AHL body deal.
  • C Corban Knight: 2 years, $1.8 million. Knight’s contract is only $900k in base salary/signing bonuses, but bonuses bring his cap hit to $3.75 million (only counted if he achieves the bonuses). Knight could be the Flames’ 3rd line centre, and was profiled in depth here.

The New

  • D Kris Russell: 1 year, $1.25 million. The Flames traded a 5th round pick for his RFA rights as they didn’t want to pick up a contract with arbitration linked to it, which they would’ve had to do had they plucked him from waivers. His underlying numbers are just okay, even as a 5th dman with somewhat sheltered zone starts. Apparently he has some offensive potential (three 20 point seasons), but I highly doubt he’ll play well in anything other than bottom-pairing minutes.
  • D Chad Billins: 1 year, $925K. Billins had 10 goals and added 27 assists in 76 games last year in Grand Rapids, for an NHLE of 17. He likely has some upside and will battle for a bottom-pairing spot next year. He’ll be 25 when the season starts and was undrafted. He spent 4 years at Ferris State, where he had NHLEs of 14, 9, 14, 23. Strikes me as a Clay Wilson 2.0. 

Yet To Sign

  • C Mikael Backlund
  • C Lance Bouma
  • D Mark Cundari
  • D TJ Brodie

Moneypuck Options

  • C Kyle Wellwood: Has not signed. Probably no longer an option for the Flames due to the amount of bottom-9 forwards they currently possess.
  • C Boyd Gordon: Oilers, 3Yx3M. A liittle more than I would’ve committed in terms of years but the dollar figure looks about right.
  • C Alexander Burmistrov: Has not signed.
  • C Marcus Johansson: Has not signed.
  • C Jordan Schroeder: Has not signed.
  • RW Clarke MacArthur: Senators, 2Yx3.25M. Good bet for the Sens here, and will be a 2W for them now that Bobby Ryan is in town.
  • LW Viktor Stalberg: Predators, 4Yx3M. I’m honestly shocked he got this much. If he plays 3W minutes, this is an overpayment.
  • LW Nathan Horton: Blue Jackets, 7Yx5.3M. Huge commitment to what was the best winger available in this year’s free agent crop. I was thinking 5×5 was going to be the max.
  • RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard: Islanders, 1Yx2M. If he can score 35-40 points this year, it’s a bargain. I think he’ll probably start on the top line with Tavares and Moulson, so might be the best value signing from this crop. Assuming he can stay healthy.
  • LW Benoit Pouliot: Rangers, 1Yx1.3M. Good signing here by Sather – will fit well on either the 2nd or 3rd line.
  • D Jared Spurgeon: Wild, 3Yx2.6M. Really good value for an offensive top-4 guy. This offersheet would’ve cost the Flames their 2nd round pick.
  • D David Rundblad: Has not signed.
  • D Mike Lundin: Gone to the KHL.
  • D Alexander Sulzer: Has not signed. Not a lot of room on the Flames due to the amount of bottom-pairing defensemen they currently possess.
  • G Ray Emery: Flyers, 1Yx1.65M. Really great deal by the Flyers here. Should get the majority of starts for the Flyers next year.
  • G Thomas Greiss: Coyotes, 1Yx750K. Jason Labarbera went to the Oilers, so Thomas Greiss has a new home.

Still Available

  • C Derek Roy
  • C Mikhail Grabovski
  • RW Peter Mueller
  • LW Guillaume Latendresse
  • RW Damien Brunner
  • LW Mason Raymond
  • RW Matt Halischuk
  • LW Nathan Gerbe
  • D Jonathon Blum
  • D Ian White
  • D Tom Gilbert


While GM Jay Feaster did well in staying out of the insanity the day had to offer, there are still some gaping holes in the Flames depth chart – 1C and 4D. In my opinion, there’s only three players the Flames should be calling from here on out. The Flames are flush on the wings and bottom of the defensive rotation.

During this afternoon’s press confrence, Feaster also said they have a second offer out to Backlund and a first offer out to Brodie.

  • I’m not sure why feaster didn’t just say no penguins arent offering enough. If not no trade and you can rot. He would have accepted me thinks.

    It was on his list, and he’s going there now anyways…

  • RE: Iginla. I feel slighted too, but it’s time to move on. He went to PIT, DIDN’T WIN A CUP, and now he’s in BOS. He got exposed for the post-apex player that he is. And now, he’ll play in BOS ON THEIR FIRST LINE! We’ll see how well that goes. We all know he’s not a 1st line winger anymore. Enjoy the schadenfreude.

    Point is – move on. Iginla era is over. He helped out this franchise a lot, in many ways. Respect the man for what he was, not what you think he is now.

    On a new topic, looks like Damien Brunner got low-balled by Detroit, so he won’t be returning. We could really use his speed, RH shot, PK ability, and his ability to play C and RW. Give him a couple million over 2 or 3 years. COME ON FLYING J!

  • I like Brunner, but you have to wonder how much he was floated by his most common linemate (Henrik Zetterberg). If Brunner had signed with the Flames, and Cervenka with the Red Wings, would we now be having this very same discussion about the Czech?

    • RexLibris

      Interesting read. First impressions are that reaching in later rounds is a safer bet than reaching with the earlier (ie: first and second round) picks. Hardly surprising, but it will be interesting to look at how Poirier and McCarron do over the next five years.

      Montreal is historically one of the strongest teams at the draft, and Calgary is just slightly below league average. This puts them both in the same range and year for a great opportunity at direct comparison.

  • Like the idea of a Stemp/Staj/Cam line.

    What if we used them as our scoring/easier comp line & threw GlenX/Backs/Jones at tougher comp in an effort to make our “tradeable assets” look better?

    • Captain Ron

      I think Stempniak would be better suited to a tough comp line than Jones. That said, Stempy would also bring more in trade.

      For myself, I’d like to see something like this (at first, and assuming Cammy sticks around):

      Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak

      Baertschi – Backlund – Hudler

      Cammalleri – Knight – Jones

      You could potentially switch Hudler and Cammalleri, of course, but I think Cammalleri helps Jones more than Hudler does, and Hudler compliments the Bs better. Just a thought.

      Stajan with Glencross and Stempniak was a fairly consistent line last season which was trusted by Hartley, so we’ll probably see more of it.

      As I’m writing this, I wonder if they don’t put Jones with Sven and Mickis, just to give them some size to work with.

  • BurningSensation

    Here’s a thought, if Calgary’s draft had gone;

    #6 Monahan

    #22 Klimchuk

    #28 Poirier

    3rd Roy

    4th Kanzig

    Would anyone be complaining at all? (Ok, Klimchuk would still be called a mild reach, and Poirier wouldn’t have been there at #28 for us to take, but it’s my hypothetical dammit)

  • jeremywilhelm

    Is Emile Poirier really that much of a reach? I don’t see it. He doesn’t look any different than any if the kids picked in that range. And he’s got an invite to WJC camp.

      • BurningSensation

        Someone commented last week that people like to rip Jay because of his build and the fact that he talks a little too much. I think there is a lot to that. Our last 3 drafts and this year’s pick ups of late show some good promise. We will need a couple more years of high end picks though and great work by whoever is in charge of developing our guys.

        • MC Hockey

          Agreed 1 million per cent. While smarter analysts on here like Kent give valid reasons for disliking certain moves, a lot of people just like to rip on the fat guy…a bit jealous perhaps. Not that it matters, but as a former somewhat fat guy, some people have health reasons for weight gain. I’d rather be as smart as Feaster and a bit fat than half as dumb as some of the commenters.

  • Feaster’s habit of running his mouth is a fairly legitimate reason to “rip on” him in my opinion. Telling the media that his newly acquired players are the best at their position outside of the NHL, that Jankowski is the next Nieuwendyk and going to be the best in his draft, that the Flames would beat the Oilers in the standings, or detailing how Ortio’s agent was “none too pleased” at the Ramo signing all smack of a sort of rockstarish love of the press. He should play his hand a little closer to his chest and leave the media to generate their own spin so as to avoid looking like a hypocrite or alienating his team.

    • I suspect that’s why Feaster has the job. In many ways, he has the opposite of public personna of Darryl Sutter and the media gleefully piled onto the jolly rancher once the results went south, in no small part because he made their jobs harder and lives miserable.

      The franchise needs someone who can present a much friendlier face for the fans and media in rough times. Feaster needs to sell hope rather than the team itself and you attract more flies with honey than vinegar.

      • Yeah he really is the opposite of Darryl isn’t he? I just wonder if the broken promises and boasting are making the rough times rougher, compared to say a bit of tight-lipped, stoic Sutterism. At a glance, I’ll take Feaster’s drafting over his predecessor’s though, and that’s probably the first thing a team in Calgary’s position should be looking for in a GM.

        • I don’t think a tight-lipped stoic would fare well in the tough times. Feaster is acting as a salesman in his handling of the media now as much as anything else right now, and salesmen polish the product as much as possible, even it’s a turd.

          His stuff looks a bit silly in retrospect, but in general it probably does what it’s designed too – create buzz, reassure the general fan base and enliven interest in the product.

  • Michael

    Feaster is a good guy in the wrong job. He should be team President or an Asst GM tasked with understanding the CBA and negotiating contracts. Feaster as a GM is what people like to complain about; from the first Freddy Modin signing, to the chase for Brad Richards (look how well that would have turned out), to Babchuk, Sarich, thinking Cervenka was a center, last years completely unbalanced team, underwhelming trades, his bluster, and the destruction of the Flames reputation under his watch. He simply has the wrong job…