1. Just about done
I was reading Christian Roatis’s recent breakdown of what could, at this still-early stage, be the Flames’ roster for the 2013-14 season, and short of adding someone out of the blue within the next week or two, I’d say that his projections look more or less where the team will stand between now and October.
Overall, I have to say I’m pretty happy with it, because I think it looks exceptionally bad, and that’s what I think the Flames should be going for. Admittedly, there are some who would disagree with this (because they are babies), but I don’t know how anyone looks at a roster featuring a starting six of Glencross, Backlund, Cammalleri, Giordano, Wideman, and Ramo and says to themselves "this is a team capable of competing for something that isn’t the worst record in the league." Those are all perfectly acceptable players, in theory, but with divisional realignment being what it is, the Flames are going to be in tough to even scratch desperately at the door to the conversation for a playoff possibility. No one they add at this point is going to catapult them into that area, either.
Even if you’re insanely optimistic that those guys can compete against some of the top-end talent on the Kings, Canucks, Coyotes, Sharks, Oilers and Ducks (and they’re not; Calgary’s starting six is worse than all of those teams’), a second line and pairing of Sven Baertschi, Corban Knight, and Jiri Hudler with TJ Brodie and Mark Cundari can’t exactly fill you with a ton of confidence. Those five players combined have played 584 combined NHL games, and 451 of those are Hudler’s alone. These are all guys that project well enough, one supposes, but this team’s issue will obviously be high end talent, largely because it has none of it.
2. The Monahan Conundrum
Another thing you might notice in that lineup post is who the No. 3 center looks to be. It’s Sean Monahan. And isn’t that interesting?
Again, the eternal optimists among Flames fans will almost certainly say that it can’t be a bad idea to get the kid into games at the NHL level and see where that gets you, especially considering the dearth of other options available. Certainly, the club is already looking to sign him to his entry-level deal (though this is standard operating procedure and does not guarantee him a spot in Calgary), and the local media is already softening the beaches for such a move. But the idea that he could be playing more than the 10-game tryout with the big club is a very bad one for a number of reasons.
The first of these is that it flies in the face of something John Weisbrod said just over a month ago about how the team would not be looking to rush the No. 6 pick into the NHL. I didn’t see one second of development camp so I can’t speak to how "ready" he is, but let me just note once again that everyone thought Mark Jankowski was "ready" for college hockey because he was dominant at the same camp last year and then he turned out pretty much not to be. Putting stock in that kind of thing seems a very Flames-y, and overall bad move.
Moreover, the cautionary tale of what Sam Gagner is going to get this summer should be a pretty good reason to dissuade the Flames from bringing an 18-year-old into the fold at this level. Gagner is going to get paid. And as Neil Greenberg points out, unless you think you’re going to get an above-average performance from a kid at that age, you’d do well to keep him in junior from a future financial standpoint. Monahan seems rather an unlikely candidate to be above-average in the NHL next season.
3. A few words about "advanced stats"
I don’t know what it is, exactly, that kicked off the latest round of insipid discussion in the hockey analytics community about the need to make what people sometimes refer to as "advanced stats" like Corsi and Fenwick and zone starts and PDO and so forth more accessible. Their solution for doing this somehow isn’t making a greater effort toward outreach or anything like that, but rather rebranding them with names that are easier or more fun to remember.
This is of course stupid. People aren’t sitting there saying they don’t understand corsi because they don’t know what that means. They’re saying they don’t understand, fundamentally, that it’s any shot attempt recorded. Any old one at all.
The other problem with this is that any cosmetic changes made to the statistics are being made primarily to appeal to idiots, and when you do that, you’re really undermining your own credibility to some extent. Ideas don’t have to be marketable to be good, they have to be proven to work. We are only just now starting to see corsi, fenwick, and other measures be applied in real ways that actually explain anything to The General Public. I was joking yesterday that corsi could be POOP (Player On-Ice Opportunity Production), PDO could be PEE (POOP Evaluation Equilibrium), and fenwick could be BUTTPOOP (Blocks Uncounted Toward Total POOP), just to underscore how childish the idea is.
Doing more to prove the metrics can be used on a predictive basis to reasonably evaluate players and entire teams should be the focus (and germane to that point: When teams like the Flames and Leafs stop investing energies into being "tough to play against", etc., fan insistence on such will go away as well). Calling them a different thing accomplishes nothing other than in-fighting.
4. The trade market?
One thing that I think is interesting not only for the Flames but league-wide is just how slow the trade market has been, especially considering the number of guys teams may be looking to unload. For instance, can you believe Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller are still both with Buffalo? Can you believe the Flames haven’t 86ed Mark Giordano or Mike Cammalleri?
I don’t know why things are so gummed up (maybe cap concerns), and in free agency too. One has to hope, I guess, that once one domino falls — perhaps your Mikhail Grabovskis of the world — that others will go too. You’d think anyway.
5. No one wants to come to Calgary
My bud Justin Bourne wrote up a list the other day, ranking all 30 NHL markets in order of their appeal to unrestricted free agents. Boston topped the list.
Calgary bottomed it.
Sayeth Bourne: "Why on earth would I do this to myself over the next three years? Team isn’t going to win for awhile, the old building just flooded and wasn’t a palace to begin with, and it’s cold as s**t there in the winter. Nice city in the right season or whatever, but…why? Seriously, why would I choose Calgary?"
Tough but fair, really. I said it last week — and somehow caught flak for it — but this team is going to be Oilers South for at least three years, maybe (probably?) more. And while that’s all for the better in the long run, for right now, it’s going to be very disquieting for the locals.