Five things: There’s nothing going on

1. Joorischat

So the Flames signed another college free agent this week, this time a kid out of Union College named Josh Jooris, of whom they got a nice eyeful at this most recent development camp.

I know that I — for a fairly good reason — have the reputation around here of knowing everything about college hockey, but when it comes to Jooris, and indeed Union as a whole, my knowledge is fairly rudimentary. But in my constant efforts to please Flames fans, I have asked around with some college hockey experts for some opinions about him and the results were, shall we say, mixed.

"Honestly, he’s meh," said one. "Decent size, OK skater. Won’t be a goal scorer and is a so-so playmaker. I thought he was overrated at Union."

The reason for that?

"He benefited from playing with a lot of guys – Jeremy Welsh – who scored a lot of goals. They had two 20-goal scorers last year."

Welsh is famous for being heavily scouted during the NCAA playoffs in 2011-12, with about five or six NHL general managers going specifically to see him play (he ended up signing with Carolina after a hard sell from Jim Rutherford and Kirk Muller. Welsh put up 53 goals and 100 points in 119 NCAA games, which is no small feat at that level.

Another guy I talked to said of Jooris, "Good three-zone player, good vision and shot. Plays bigger than he is. Remember being surprised he was only 6-1 after seeing him hit someone."

So this should come as no surprise, but Jooris is, at 23 years old, looking like a definitive AHLer to start his career. That’s fine, that’s great, but to expect any more than that from a guy who underwhelmed in college from a production standpoint seems like a lot. It’s important to fill out the AHL roster, obviously, and competition is never a bad thing, but all these quotes about how this is an NHL contract and so forth, well, that’s true only in the most technical of senses.

2. This is becoming a trend

I don’t mean, "The Flames signing college free agents," because that’s a trend that’s been around awhile now, and it’s a smart one for NHL teams. Bringing on NCAA or junior players without having to give up anything more than a few hundred thousand dollars is smart; most of these guys have relatively low ceilings and the vast majority need at least a few years of seasoning in the minors, but it fleshes out rosters pretty well.

What I mean is that NCAA free agent are now signing what amount to AHL deals with NHL teams (plus signing bonuses) with a little bit more frequency than I think I remember in the past. This has been the case with NCAA FAs since the New NHL CBA was signed (as opposed to the current one, which I consider the New New NHL CBA), when they changed the rules for how college players can be signed, though those mostly applied to drafted players. Teams are getting more aggressive, yes, but so too are the players themselves.

Another recent example of this is Ludwig Karlsson, a Swedish-born, 22-year-old skillsy forward out of Northeastern who attended Ducks and Predators devo camps the last two seasons but ended up signing with Ottawa for as much as $1.475 million per season (including $92,500 signing bonuses in each of the two seasons of the contract) but just $70,000 a year at the AHL level. I’ve seen the kid play a lot, and he’s going to spend a lot of the year in the minors, if not the duration of the contract. Word around college hockey was that his agent got very aggressive in getting him signed this summer, ahead of what would have been is third season in college hockey.

This, obviously, isn’t necessarily a good thing for the NCAA hockey product, or the chances of the schools themselves to replace these players on such short notice, but sending more kids to the best two pro leagues early is certainly not a bad thing.

3. Ugh, they’re gonna do it

The longer summer goes on without the Flames signing another pro-level center, the more I’m starting to think Sean Monahan makes the team out of camp. I’ve talked in the past about why it’s a bad idea for the Flames to do that, and let me reiterate again:

It’s a really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY bad idea.

Even apart from the fact that the decision to bring him aboard makes him more expensive down the road, what good would it do for his development? Yeah, he’s proven he can play hard, hard minutes on a garbage junior team, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense to do with an 18-year-old rookie. You’d rather he continue to log 23 minutes a night on that crap junior team rather than 13 of kind of soft minutes against mediocre NHLers with the occasional power play appearance mixed in.

Plus there’s the prospect that he might be traded to an actual good team, and that the ability to play alongside players who can put the puck in the net in real life might help him to develop his burgeoning offensive game even further. Who’s he gonna play with at the NHL level that can do that? No one on the Flames roster, that’s who.

4. More on Seattle?

So a report came out late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning that with the Phoenix moving to an actual good hockey market having fallen through, the NHL would instead look to expand to Seattle. Makes perfect sense to me. Why wouldn’t it? If they have an ownership group in mind that has an appetite to put a team there and is willing to pay what will likely be a sizable expansion fee, and the arena is ready, then absolutely.

Oh but according to this report, Gary Bettman would be pushing for this team to become a thing for the 2014-15 season. You know, a year from now. Which seems crazy to me. Wouldn’t the arena have not even been ready?

It would be one thing to have the Coyotes, a transient team, hole up in an interim arena for a year or two while they build the new one (even if maximum capacity for hockey at KeyArena is less than 15,200). But to have a brand new team not have a brand new arena seems very odd to me.

5. Hey they re-signed Brodie

I sat here for most of yesterday afternoon with four definitive things and a bunch of question marks next to "5." Then the Brodie signing was announced.

"Oh god," I said to myself, "is it a bridge deal?" And then it WAS! Oh boy is that probably going to work out poorly. Not PK-Subban-winning-the-Norris poorly, but poorly nonetheless. God, bridge deals are so stupid.

Around the Nation

  • I think some bridge contracts make sense. A lot of kids get to the end of their ELC’s and there’s no clear indication of whether he’s going to be worth a damn or not. In fact, I would have been more inclined to give Josi a bridge were I the GM in NSH.

    Re: Monahan. I think the Flames have the center depth now to reasonably send him down: Backlund, Stajan, Knight, Horak, Reinhart (Street, Bouma). That’s not “depth” in the usual sense of the word, but it’s at least enough bodies that they could dress a team without keeping Sean around.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Worst thing this organization could do for the long term is to keep Monahan. He could use another year of junior and the Flames could use another year of his ELC when he is older and more skilled.

    Dont mind the signing of NCAA players, however for the most part they come in with the upside of being AHL journeymen.

    I am still hoping that the Flames sign Trey Lewis. Was impressed with him in the scrimages. He comes from a winning junior culture and has leadership qualities.

    • piscera.infada

      I’m with you on Trey Lewis. Not to mention he was the captain of that very successful team. He’s undersized, so that’s a bit redundant on our blue line, but he seems to be the kind of guy the Flames’ brain-trust likes.

      I don’t think they’ll keep Monahan up past 9 games, the same way I didn’t think Brodie would get offer-sheet’d. You have to think the Flames realize that the kid deserves to play top minutes and in every situation, in addition to a big role in the World Juniors (which is the tipping-point for them, IMO). I understand some fans want to see him right away, but I think this organization understands that the majority of fans would be super-duper excited to see him kill it on the international stage. If there’s one thing this organization hasn’t been guilty of in the past, it’s rushing prospects into the show.

    • piscera.infada

      Agree with this 100%.

      In addition, expansion is stupid. Cheap cash grab that just come sback to haunt the entire league later. The product is already too diluted. I mean, there’s simply just no way that players like Hanan or Sarich should still be playing, not to mention numerous others. You really want to sell the NHL? Kill 4 teams so that the product on the ice goes up. In today’s age of multi-media, satellites and internet, ‘geographic footprints’ are largely meaningless. Not completely, but in the sense that the product is more important than every area of the continent having to have their own team, absolutely. Add 2 more teams to the NHL and Sarich and Hannan will play another 5 years. Begin 8 more. Makes me want to puke. DO NOT go past 30 teams!!! Why the NHL was so desperate to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix is beyond me. Relocate the loser franchise toplace like Seattle, but don’t expand!!

  • schevvy

    The Brodie contract is OK. I would have preferred a long-term deal, but it’s not the end of the world. Hopefully he continues to progress into a good 1st pairing defenceman.

    Monahan will play his 9 game tryout with the Flames, and then be sent back to junior. There is absolutely no need to have him up here and waste a year of his contract. It’s not like the Flames are a playoff team anyway. Let him rip up the OHL and go from there.

    Question: Can Monahan be sent to the AHL at the end of his OHL season? That would be an ideal scenario IMO

      • piscera.infada

        I am pretty sure any player can play AHL once their season is over… I could be wrong but I know Jordan Eberle played 10ish games in the AHL after his draft year then went back for another full year and played AHL 10+ more games after that year. 2 full years of junior, 2 seasons ended in the AHL after his junior team wrapped up.

        Draft +3 he jumped into the NHL and was ready to make an impact right away. By the time he hit the NHL he had about 25 AHL games under his belt… I agree this is ideal and an example of bringing a prospect along properly (perhaps the only thing the Oilers have done properly besides sucking and winning draft lotteries)

        I hope Sean goes back to junior, has a great year, wins WJ gold, his team misses the playoffs and he can get 10-15 games in the AHL. I’d see that as ideal for his development and long term contract status.

        • BurningSensation

          If I am not mistaken (and I might be), Monahan is in that ‘no-man’s-land’ where he is eligible to go back to Jr, or to play in the NHL, but not eligible for the AHL for age reasons.

          He might be best suited for the A, but the options are jr or the League.  

          • the forgotten man

            They’re talking about the possibility of him playing in the AHL temporarily after his OHL season is over. Which he can. Just like Kulak did last year.

            On a related note, why are we all so certain that the 67s will be terrible? A lot of their players will be a year older, and they’ll be joined by the #1 pick in the OHL draft.

          • SmellOfVictory

            That’s explicitly while the CHL is playing, though. Kurt is saying that there is likely no such restriction as long as the player’s CHL team is not playing currently (i.e. out of the playoffs).

          • the forgotten man

            Yes thats what I’m saying… Looking at my example of Eberle again, I double checked my memory to make sure I was speaking the truth…

            Drafted June 2008
            Regina Pats 2008-2009
            World Junior Gold (the Eberle miracle)
            AHL Spring 2009 after WHL over (9 AHL games)
            Regina Pats 2009-2010
            World Junior silver
            AHL Spring 2010 after WHL over (14 AHL games)
            Fall 2010 (Draft year +3) NHL – 43pt rookie season

            Not saying Monahan needs 2 full years of junior, but it didn’t hurt Eberle… My point is just that its an example of finishing out the year in the AHL after CHL is over. He did it 2 years running.

          • SmellOfVictory

            Sorry for the terrible legibility to my last post, the comments box removed all my spacing. Lets see if this is any better.

            — Drafted June 2008
            — Regina Pats 2008-2009
            — World Junior Gold (the Eberle miracle)
            — AHL Spring 2009 after WHL over (9 AHL games)
            — Regina Pats 2009-2010
            — World Junior silver
            — AHL Spring 2010 after WHL over (14 AHL games)
            — Fall 2010 (Draft year +3) NHL – 43pt rookie season

          • SmellOfVictory

            Monahan definitely wouldn’t have two years of junior post-draft. He’s old enough that he’ll be in the AHL the following season at bare minimum.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    “You’d rather he continue to log 23 minutes a night on that crap junior team rather than 13 of kind of soft minutes against mediocre NHLers with the occasional power play appearance mixed in.”

    I respectfully disagree. I see your point, Monahan would get about 10 more minutes a game but I see those 13-15 NHL minutes way more beneficial/challenging/taking one-out of-comfort zone-in order-to grow. Not to mention the NHL lifestyle (here I mean, diet/training, coaching, practicing).

    I know these are opinions but I use the analogy of working out: are you going to improve more doing the same training with weight you are comfortable with or working harder/more intensely for shorter bouts? Perhaps it doesn’t fit for developing talent but I recall a quote from Babcock about implementing new, talented young players ( at time it was Filpulla ). ‘They all get 10 mins and then we stretch them a little to see if they can grow’ – or something like that. I understand the differences of age but I hold fast to young, good players.

    In terms of contracts, I wouldn’t be scared of a player becoming good and having to pay him. I appreciate those arguments against him sticking but they aren’t compelling enough for me.

    Now all of this is conditional on Monahan playing well against 3rd line, 3rd pairing competition in first 9 games ( with schedule there are some good tests for him). How well? At least 5 EV pts (not that he keeps that pace) and not being a liability. I understand opposing coaches, later in season, could see him as primary threat to use toughs against but Hartley has to do his job too.

    If I was betting, my money is he makes it this year. The number they gave him speaks loads in my mind ( however unscientific ). I really see him like a Ryan O’Rielly (and yes, the contract issue with that player may be fodder for keeping Monahan out- however Calgary has no foreseeable cap issues, no multiple good young established NHLers yet).

    This part is just gut feeling. Monahan is really, really smart. He’s such an effective direct (different from simple) player. I belive he was already highly rated by OHL (eastern) coaches as tops in a number of skill categories- how will he tangibly improve? He is going to drive NHL play in the right direction. Also, my feeling is his character will allow it, he seems quietly confident while outwardly humble. Good makeup in my books.

    I prefer a guy to come ‘over ripe’ than ‘under ripe’ (hence my caveats) but I think he’s ready and will be handled (ice time – match ups) correctly.

    The tests (Penticton, TC, exhibition, 9) will show and all of this is conjecture compared to those.

    PS- You suck Lambert! Just kidding, I like that you have strong opinions, regardless if I agree with them.

    • piscera.infada

      I agree with you in principle. As I’ve stated many times though – and I get no love here for it – I don’t want Knight playing fourth line minutes (for the whole season; while Monahan’s up then, yeah). With Monahan entering the fold for the entire season, it bumps Knight back to fourth line. I’d really like to see what this kid can do. Can he handle all situations? Can he reach a second line centre potential? Is he over his head? What’s his style of play in the show?

      With all the questions surrounding Knight, and his age (being an older, ready-to-go prospect), I think you have to play him third line. As such, Monahan wont have much room on the depth chart, unless he’s playing second line minutes – meaning someone gets dropped (Stajan or Backlund).

      Just my thoughts though. I’m a big Knight fan, all jokes notwithstanding. I just want to see what he can do before the depth chart starts getting too crowded.

      • seve927

        My sentiments as well. Knight stood out above everyone else to me at dev camp for his commitment to defense. He looks to me to be NHL ready.

        Does anyone else think Jooris might see some 4th line time? It looks like that’s going to be his role even if he hits his ceiling. Could he play there this year?

    • McRib

      I look at as, to use your analogy, asking someone lifting weights to lift too much, too soon.

      Players need to come in at their own pace to develop properly and unless Monahan look sot be a legit 2nd liner there’s just no point to it IMO. Just look at how many players NYI and CBJ ruined. You can’t tell me the scouts were that wrong, that often, picking that high.

      Young guys need to come in with confidence in their game, especially when their projected role is to be a top offensive player on the team.

      What are the downsides to leaving him in junior for another year? I see none. His offensive game will grow, he’ll get stronger, more mature and hopefully some experience on the international stage playing against the elite of his peers (yeah, he could go anyways, but that rarely seems to happen or work out well).

      • BurningSensation

        The case for keeping Monahan up with the team is;

        – He actually earns a top six roster spot. If it is a 3rd or 4th line role, it is better to send him down. After all, the point is to have him develop as a top 2 Center, not as a checking center.

        – The Flames are serious about it being a meritocracy. If Monahan earns a top six role and gets sent back to junior, you have sent him the wrong message, and you send the wrong message to all his team mates.

        – A prospect develops best when playing against the highest level of competition they can thrive against. If Monahan meets that criteria in the NHL (i.e. he thrives against NHL competition), then sending him to junior isn’t doing him – or the team – any favours.

        • jeremywilhelm

          True, which I state and we agree on. But when I state “top 2 center,” I don’t mean on the Flames per se, I mean a legit 2nd liner on a playoff team who can score in the 40+ point range while not being a defensive liability.

          So, while I agree with you in theory, practically speaking, the odds of Monahan being that good at 18 are very slim. I love the player, but I don’t see him as so good right now that sending him down is making him tread water.

          • piscera.infada

            I’ll agree with this. Him beating out Stajan (when in true Stajan-esque form) does little to nothing. Especially if his second line minutes are actually going to look like third or fourth line minutes.

          • the forgotten man

            The Flames have been a wasteland for forward development…one can argue that they haven’t handled Backlund or Baertschi very well either…seriously who was the the last drafted forward that became anything worth noting in this franchise…One may have to go back to the Reagan era. Keeping Monahan up with the Club is just business as usual for the Flames…let him marinate some more in Junior.

            Meritocracy? You forgot the sarc tag.

          • SmellOfVictory

            I’d say they handled Baertschi reasonably well. He had a poor start to the season, was sent down (as was for the best, I’d say), then came back up and did quite well. The only thing I have a slight issue with is that they threw him on the 4th line/bench warming section for a few games, which was a bit of a waste.

            Backlund, I agree on. They gave him waayyyy too short a leash. I still remember Feaster’s “whistling past the graveyard” crap when Backs was the Flames’ best defensive forward that season, and just having some bad luck (and admittedly some tentativeness in the offensive zone). Weird what happens when you throw a (at that time) fairly new player into the NHL in hard minutes. Straight from soft 4th line minutes to checking line minutes with linemates who are not offensively stellar (albeit Stempniak is decent)? Weird that it took him a while to recover from that.

  • Parallex

    1 & 2: On Jooris and NCAA Free Agents: I don’t see the point. I can’t find anything written anywhere that says he could be something better then minor league depth (Heck David Eddy, is pretty similer to Jooris in terms of his average size and described style along with stats and he toiled in the ECHL last year). I think I’d rather the team keep an open reserve list slot. I do like signing NCAA free agents but I’d rather they limit themselves to ones with more presige and NHL upside.

    3: On Monahan: Backlund, Stajan, Knight, Bouma/Horak/Reinhart… looks like enough centers to not have Monahan play to me. I don’t see any reason to think that he’s inevitably starting with the team. But yes keeping him with the team for more then the 9 games and having his ELC start would be dumb. I don’t object to them giving him the 9 games if they want to but no more.

    4: Seattle: Get the NBA to commit to bringing back the Sonics first. Building a new arena with no tenet beyond a hypothetical NHL team ain’t smart and Seattle shouldn’t do it and I wouldn’t bet on Key being a suitable arena longterm.

    5: Bridge contracts aren’t always bad… I wouldn’t give Brodie a Josi like longterm contract now. I’d rather the one year over the two but it isn’t bad.

  • Reidja

    Re #2, is it possible that better pro opportunity for NCAA players becomes a good thing for the level of hockey, quality of players etc. in the long run? Losing players sooner to the bigs could be short term pain for long term gain.

  • McRib

    I really don’t understand what all the hype is for securing young players instead of having bridge contracts to see if they reach their ceiling. Outside of PK Subban winning the Norris, but he was asking for big money in a secure contract anyway. Let Tyler Seguin serve as a reminder when inking a long term blind “secure” contract can totally go south in a hurry!!!

    Also Eberle making 6 Million for the foreseeable future when Sam Gagner went to RFA and only got $4.8 for basically the same player…. Gagner is making 1.2 less and is more valuable as a centre. These secure contracts rarly seem to work out. Even Erik Karlsson’s deal of 6.5 looks kind of looks foolish now.

    TJ Brodie is going to be an RFA in two years how exactly is he going to screw us or be a huge cap hit?!?!?! When was the last time someone went to arbitration and got crazy money?!?!?! He will get 4-5 million (if he pans out) s similar amount he would have gotten if we secured him… In a year or two these secure contracts are going to be thing of the past. 9 of 10 these secure contracts benefit the player more than the team.

    Here is how to manage the cap effectively… Stay the hell away from massive summer UFA contracts.

    • piscera.infada

      I partially agree with you. I think people tend to feed into the hype of the ‘salary cap era’ by jumping immediately to the conclusion that you suddenly need to start taking risks to pay guys less than they’re worth.

      I’m not a professional sports salary whiz or anything, but it seems to me like the easiest way to make the salary cap work in your team’s favor is to pay guys what they’re worth. I mean I understand trying to get young guys who are performing to sign for less in the long run, but you’re always going to have expiring contracts. In my mind, it just makes sense to have your best players paid as your best players (see: Pittsburgh and Chicago). You run into problems when you start paying guys far above what they should be making (not as dictated by the UFA market, but as dictated by performance – obviously not mutually exclusive, but you should tend to value the latter far more).

      As long as you are paying your stars to be stars, you can always find a way to sign players around them, or keep other guys on home town discounts (or whatever you want to call them). It should be ‘worth’ over ‘value’.

      • piscera.infada

        the Pens kind of dropped the pot when they signed Fleury to that big contract, then tied a noose around their neck when they didn’t buy him out. I really don’t think the Penguins’ salary structure should be held to any kind of gold standard.

        • piscera.infada

          I’ll grant you that, and I’ll agree that perhaps their cap management hasn’t been phenomenal. I think my point still stands regardless. The Fleury contract was made before he fell on his face. They also won the cup that year, and Fleury did play a pretty big role in that final against Detroit.

          In fact, what you’re saying in regards to Fleury is kind of reason I wrote that comment to begin with. I’m sure in the 2009 offseason everyone was thinking “Fleury for a cap hit of 5 million over the next 6 years is a steal.” Now, it doesn’t look that great. So I’m saying, if you sign Brodie for say, 4 million a season over the next 7 years and he doesn’t live up to that contract at all, you’re in the same situation. In two years time, we’re likely to have a much better grasp of what he really is. Then, if you have to sign for 5 million a season, at least you’re about as sure as you ever can be that he plays to that contract.

    • Reidja

      Totally agree… i am of the opinion that this franchise should stay away from long term deals as org policy.

      Yes Brodie may get paid and yes you may break out the checkbook occasionally after bridge deals… but as long as you stick to that policy you will avoid some of the major follies we have seen.

      In the end as long as you stick to the plan and do not deviate things will balance out.

      If you have to make a trade like the Kessel deal then you can actually upgrade over the long term… which is how this team should be thinking … Long term… long term flexibility.

      • McRib

        Look no further than Winnipeg for an example of secure contracts gone wild!!!$31.642 Million for six guys (Wheeler, Kane, Byfuglien, Little, Enstrom and Bogosin) that couldn’t get Winnipeg into the playoffs the past two years playing in the weakest divsion in NHL History?!?!? The problem with these long term secure contract is it takes the players motivation away and they become satisfied with medicoreness.

        How does Winnipeg sign two legitamte prospects like Trouba & Scheifele in three years again? If your paying Tobias Enstrom almost six million Trouba’s going to need more than him. With players like Evander Kane collecting $5.25 a season to party like a rock star (or boxer)… Ahhh, maybe they can trade him to Dallas so he can party with Tyler Seguin (another secure contract recipient).

        If TJ Brodie is worth $5-6 Million in two years as an RFA then he will have become a top pairing two-way defenseman!! If he wants crazy money then we trade him for good value (not to mention arbitrators don’t seem to be handing out 6-8 million dollar contract left right and center anyway). Imagine what Montreal could get for PK Subban right now!!! I can guarentee you something PK Subban doesn’t win the Norris last year if Montreal signed him to a seven year deal!!

  • Demetric

    I would be more afraid of Monahan staying with the big club AND getting non sheltered minutes and getting eaten alive. The sheltered min on 3rd line I think would be okay. It semed to work well for MTL last season with their rookies.

  • Subversive

    I like the new “trash/prop” system, but why is the “Trash It” button so much bigger? It seems like a subtle admission that most of the comments are garbage. 🙂 Seriously though, why make it bigger?

    • Avalain

      lol that sort of thing has happened to Hockeyprospectus at least twice–where would redirect to for no apparent reason.

      Oddly enough, would still take you to the hockey site…

      It’s a server domain thing. Should be fixed in a couple days if someone important happens to notice. In the mean time, I suggest leaving off the “www.”

  • Tonelli's Stache

    I agree with Subversive, the humoungous big Trash It button looks off. Would like to see it with just the thumbs down…That or add text to the thumbs up button. My suggestion:

    Loob it!

  • Tonelli's Stache

    Are there any generally accepted examples of a team “spoiling” a young player because they sent him back to the juniors instead of promoting them?

  • piscera.infada

    I wanted to comment on the NCAA players signing contracts. Here is what I see happening; those players who have been slow developing at 16/17 and are not drafted into the CHL are going to the NCAA after high school (now 17/18) and their bodies have started to catch up to their skills. at the NCAA level they get quality coaching, more practices, more supervision on their development and as they become Juniors they are ahead of many of the non elite players in the CHL. Years ago when the Flames where one of the best teams in the NHL they looked at more NCAA players and I’m glad they are doing so again. While it is unlikely they will find first liners or goons they will find players who can fill roles both in NHL and AHL. We need to rethink the idea of first, second lines during this rebuild and hopefully get the idea of player development. We need to see where the young talent fits and have them play in all situations. Build 4 roughly equal lines, roll them, play lots of people on the PP and PK and find out who can do what. The idea of first and second liners is really for teams who want to win now and I hope the Flames take a different approach this year and next. Blazing Saddles away.