Five things: Consider this


1. The goaltending situation

When the Flames put Joey MacDonald on waivers — as they should have, but hey didn’t they just give him a one-year deal this summer? — and called up Reto Berra, few probably expected that he’d be any good at all, let alone give up just two goals on 44 shots to the Blackhawks.

Then Tuesday night against Minnesota, he did more along the lines of what everyone expected of him, allowing five goals on 24 shots, because nothing gold can stay. At least in Calgary. At least these days.

So it seems that at some point the team is just going to have to accept its situation for what it is, right? The goaltending last year was bad. Some of the worst in recent memory across the league. This year, it’s just as ugly. Worse, in fact. That .891 team save percentage is actually three points higher than the current .888, and one has to imagine that there is at some point no getting better. How many goalies can you shuffle through the system in a two-year period and get the same result before you say, “Well this is on us.” Is it a million? Because right now the number of goalies the Flames have used in the last two seasons is at six, with only MacDonald bridging both.

Here are the total results in terms of games played and save percentage at the time of writing, presented in order of best to worst: Dany Taylor (2, .912), Joey MacDonald (28, .898), Reto Berra (2, .897), Karri Ramo (6, .888), Leland Irving (6, .883), and Miikka Kiprusoff (24, .882). That’s six goalies, only two of which played more than six games, and only one of which posted a save percentage north of .898.

This is a major issue that Jay Feaster might want to figure out sometime soon if he’s actually serious about being competitive. Which he shouldn’t be.

2. Early sales

I’ve seen a lot of stuff in the past few days about how teams want to go shopping but aren’t necessarily eager to take on much in the way of contracts, given that the salary cap offers them so little in the way of flexibility. Isn’t this something Calgary should be looking to take advantage of?

Some teams, like the Maple Leafs, for example, are probably desperate for help given their injury situations, or simply because things aren’t working out like they’d hoped when the season began. It seems like this is a market inefficiency Jay Feaster should be happy to deal with. He can take on a little bit of money (well, he can take on a lot, actually) in expiring contracts plus picks and prospects, and offload some guys who might have some value on the market. Matt Stajan, for example. Chris Butler. That kind of thing.

Just kidding on Butler.

Teams need help. Calgary should be more than willing to provide it for a price.

3. However…

It’s important to note, though, that you have to strike the balance between feeding off desperation and getting the best return when there’s more of a bidding war. I saw in 30 Thoughts about Dale Tallon shopping basically every veteran on his roster, and that’s not the approach the Flames should be taking, obviously. Targeting select teams with select guys who can help is a good idea, maybe.

Cammalleri is a guy who’s likely to go to a high bidder at the deadline. I’m not sure the market for Stajan will be especially great, at least in comparison with what you might be able to weasel out of Toronto in particular. It’s something to think about, for sure. You have to look at all your options, and I’d hope for his sake that Feaster’s doing exactly that.

4. Another Providence College update

No points for Mark Jankowski this weekend (and only one shot on goal in two games against Boston University) but all the Flames’ other prospects had solid weekends.

Jon Gillies split the series with BU, going 1-1 but posting a combined save percentage of just .907. Most of that was the giving up four on 25 on Friday, before rebounding against the same team and stopping 28 of 29. He’s 4-1-1 on the season with a save percentage of .938, and GAA of 1.97. Interestingly, though, he gave up four goals in two straight starts before that rebound one-goal effort.

John Gilmour likewise had a decent enough effort, because while he didn’t post any points and like Jankowski had just one shot, he was on the ice for two Providence goals for (including a shortie) and only one against. That one, though, was the game-winner and at even strength, but it was, in all fairness, scored by BU’s best offensive player.

Still room to grow, I guess. I’m not sold on this team beyond Gillies.

5. And about BC

While I didn’t get to see either of Providence’s games, I did take in a hell of a Saturday night contest between BC and Northeastern and the latter’s home rink. As you might have expected, Johnny Gaudreau shredded the Huskies defense for three goals on 10 shots on the weekend, but that one I saw was mighty impressive. It starts at 2:00 in this video:

To be able to see, at full speed and with a defenseman holding the inside position, that he even had the chance to bank it in off the skate of the goaltender is amazing. That he thought to do it, more so. That he actually succeeded, well, that’s why he’s Johnny Gaudreau.

"He sees the ice better than anyone I’ve ever played with,” said Patrick Brown, who scored a shorthanded goal earlier in the contest.

Oh and Billy Arnold had assists on all three of Gaudreau’s goals. As you’d expect.

  • Graham

    I wonder how much flexibility Feaster has to take on salary?

    I don’t get the sense that the owners are willing to take on the ‘bad contracts’ either in trades or for future assets like draft picks.

    • Parallex

      I’m skeptical as well. Thus far we haven’t seen Feaster do any “money for future asset” deals since the rebuild started. Didn’t eat any $$ on the Iggy/Bouw deals, Tangauy trade was all dollars in dollars out, Galiardi/Knight/Colborne/Russell were all young NHL’er for low picks (no $$ kickers)… And most of those teams had/have cap pressure (thus making the possibility that they’d be willing to do it higher).

      He hasn’t leveraged the low payroll/cap space at all. I doubt he’d decline to do so unless he was mandated to do so by those holding the bag. At this point I think that when Feaster said the cap-space would help with the rebuild he was either working on the (erronous) assumption that ownership was cool with that or he meant that it would make retaining the new core easy along with allowing the space to accomadate future UFA’s and not that it would give him leverage in trade talks.

      • piscera.infada

        I’ve always maintained that Feaster wouldn’t “use cap-space” just to “use cap-space”. It would be a tough deal to complete, as the return to take on bad contracts/and or term would have to be so substantial, that it would be an obvious fleecing. The last thing the Flames can afford to do is burn through all their cap room acquiring picks that might not work out. As such, for Feaster to be able to sell the idea to the higher-ups, it has to be as close to assured as one can get (ie: first round pick and good prospect). Thus, it’s not as simple as it might have sounded when he first brought it up, but it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility yet. As @Kittensandcookies alluded to, it’s about waiting for the perfect storm to hit a team with enough assets to essentially give away.

      • RedMan

        No you don’t understand, when they said they were saving money for the rebuild they mean the rebuild of the Saddledome. Pocketing the cash so they can build the new arena 😉

        On the topic of Goalies is it fair to give a player a few games and then decide they are not NHL caliber? Ramo and Berra both need to play 30 games at least before deciding anything. Worst case scenario? They don’t work out and we pick in the top 5 hopefully.

  • Southern_Point

    Gaudreau is obviously a small but highly skilled hockey player. Not really physical, and In the show he is going to need PP time, a decent amount of ice time, and some decent linemates on order to be successful.

    I’m not sure, with the mind frame of this coaching staff, that he will get those things he needs to be successful.

    • MichaelD

      In a perfect world if the Bouma turns out to be a Lucic (I think I remember reading about someone suggesting that on here a while back), and then Monahan centres Gaudreau and and Bouma. Wouldn’t that be something haha. Realistically though I’d imagine in a few years when Gaudreau starts establishing himself we’ll pay a bunch of money for a big free agent winger, whoever that is at the time.

      I really hope the coaching staff doesn’t treat him like Backlund and sticks him with McGrattan.

      I love thinking about the future possibilities though

  • The longer Feaster waits, the more he can extract. Fact is there’s only 5 teams that can take on a non-trivial amount of salary and Florida and Colorado will not, so that leaves three. Garth Snow is both crazy and insane so who knows he’ll do. So that leaves the Flames and Ottawa.

    • Parallex

      But here’s the thing if you have a bad contract it’s more valuable to you to move it now. Say your the GM of a team that has a contract that basically 3M in bad salary… if you move that now it basically turns into 5M at the deadline. If you’re a motivated contract shedder then now is the time to shed.

      Additionally by giving another team cap-space you’re also (in theory) increasing the pool (either width or depth) of future buyers which is a good thing if you anticipate being a seller (as Feaster should).


      But the Flames can afford to burn through some of their cap room acquiring picks. I mean I don’t think they should be taking on giant longterm bad money but they can take on bad deals of the Kotalik (when we traded him)/Tootoo/Liles variety no sweat. The team likely won’t have any significant cap pressure until after those deals expire (and they still have both compliance buyouts in their backpocket). That’s speaking strictly from a hockey standpoint… i.e. a world where real money doesn’t matter… that they haven’t can only lead me to one of two conclusions. First, that they simple don’t want to spend the real money (highly defensable from a business standpoint) or other teams GM’s simply don’t value the cap space highly enough for it to be worth it for Calgary.

      • piscera.infada

        Absolutely. I was saying they would need to be picking up first round picks (maybe 2015?) to make it worthwhile. Unfortunately most teams aren’t looking to give those up. That’s what I’m saying, you need the right situation for a team to begin considering first round picks.

        As you said, it simply isn’t good business for the Flames to start taking on bad contracts (regardless of what they do with them) for third, fourth, fifth, etc. round picks that aren’t likely to do anything.

        • Parallex

          2015? The McDavid draft? Teams are going to hold onto those for dear life just in case… It’ll be hard (impossible?)to get teams to give up 1st rounders for just short-term cap-space, not without timeshifting it to 2017-2018 (and even then only for GM’s with tenious job security). Now 2nd rounders?… that’s more likely (but worth it?).

          • piscera.infada

            I mean, I’ve been musing about this for months. But let’s say you pick a team that is exceeding expectations (ie: Toronto) and in a JML trade (for instance; not saying I want it, but it seems to be brought up a lot), you give them a centre they need, for a 2015 first. If the team thinks they aren’t a lottery team next year, wouldn’t a 2015 pick be of “less value” than a 2014 first round pick?

            Second rounders you could do, but again, is it worth it? Maybe with a prospect as well. But you’re starting move into crap-shoot territory (not saying first rounders aren’t a crap shoot, they’re just ‘less of a crap-shoot’?).

      • Parallex

        If you want to talk about it in economic terms then cap space has absolutely the greatest value the moment before the trade deadline, since after that teams are on the hook for the entire salary.

        Feaster doesn’t want to get picks right now because it’s still fairly uncertain where teams are going to land in the draft order. So it really goes both ways – yes, taking more contract now would benefit teams looking to shed, but they may need to compensate by providing more or better picks.

  • Parallex

    Ryan..nice article..agree on all counts.

    This is a critical year for development of young talent and ensuring we again draft some high end talent. Don’t make winning a #1 priority or you will simply slide back into the Darryl Sutter rebuild strategy of bringing in over paid veterans. With Brian Burke on board you can bet this will not be a painful prolonged rebuild. Give it 1-2 years.

    Bob Hartley..quit jacking around with the young guys. Your history shows you are particularly hard on young guys and have had success but be warned with todays players this strategy may backfire on you eventually. If Backs/Sven don’t fit into your scheme play them, keep there value high then trade them for other young star talent but STOP the head games!!

    Overall the progress of this early rebuild is enlightening!

    Ryan…ps… keep the Devils and Bruins away from Johnny G and Billy Arnold!! Remember although they are Flames property they do not have contracts as they are college players! Scares me!

    • The whole point of being NCAA edible is that you’re not a “professional”
      College has the strictest rules regarding eligibility. The reason Johnny isn’t signed is because he wants to finish playing college or at least play has 3rd of 4 years (this season) with his brother which means if he did ever decide to quit hockey he’d only have to go back for 1 year to finish. He can’t do that if he signs a pro contract of any kind.

      He is Flames property and most NCAA guys who are drafted don’t pull Justin Shultz-like stunts. Though I would not doubt that the NJD and Boston franchises have at the very least been in JG’s ear he probably as a small player won’t have the opportunity there that he will with us right now (maybe NJ but still it has got to be a tough sell). We also drafted him in the 3rd/4th round which I think he is grateful for and I don’t think he will screw us.

      So that’s good and if he turns into a NHLer at all that’s great. I really like the kid I hope we’ll see him dazzle in the flaming C.

      • Brent G.

        Because JG is only in his third of four years he cannot leave us at the end of the year. I don’t understand why people can’t comprehend this even though it has been stated here many times. If he chooses to return to school for another year then I might be a little concerned but as it stands right now he is the property of the flames. Not to mention in interviews he has outright said he wants to sign here. He will be signed at the end of this season and likely seasoned for a year in the AHL. After Feasters hand was forced a few years ago I guarantee you he is being a lot more proactive in determining JG’s intentions. If he was concerned he would be traded and likely fetch a great return as well.

        Come off the ledge

  • I think the only point I would question Ryan is #1. You sound like Feaster needs to address the goaltending because, yes, it actually seems worse than last year if that could be possible. But in reality, I think it was addressed with getting Macbackup out. Don’t get me wrong, Andi Mac is a great guy & a decent enough backup goalie. He should not have been here to even start the year. That is the debate. But it’s been only 3 games since he’s been gone. This is year 1 of publicly declared rebuild. I am satisfied to live with whatever goaltending results we currently have to see what kind of players Berra & Ramo are. We have to give them the year. I will give Feaster/Hartley the benefit of the doubt that both overseas goalies needed at least 10 games to get acclimatized to NA. We should not bring Andi Mac back in the name of year 1 of our rebuild. Play Ramo tonight & if he’s good, play him again. We should hopefully see a 50/50 split of the starts between the two goalies for the rest of the year. To say that Feaster needs to address the bad goaltending doesn’t make any sense. Why trade for a veteran goalie? Give up what assets for him? What I want to see is Andi Mac bought out or traded so we can get Brossoit & Ortio as many AHL starts as possible.

    • piscera.infada

      Truth. While the goaltending needs to be better, it’s far better to find out what we have in the organization then make a knee-jerk reaction to the first 16 games of a season where the goaltending was supposed to be suspect. The remaining 66 games should give us enough of a idea about both Ramo and Berra, maybe Ortio, and possibly even Broissot at the end of the season, to know what we actually have. You assess and then re-assess, and then decide if you really need to scour the league for a replacement – a replacement that will significantly improve this team now and in the future.

  • SoCalFlamesFan

    Feaster has spoken on the matter twice and both times it was 100% clear that they could use their cap room as leverage in acquiring assets.

    I tend to think they should’ve used it when moving Iginla and JBo. The market has narrowed for a deal like that (as K&C pointed out) and I think so too has the owner’s wallet.

    • piscera.infada

      He’s as good as traded.

      HAR! I certainly hope not.

      I’m not on expert on Gaudreau, but from what I know he’s primarily an offensive guy with a hockey IQ so high that defence is not an issue.

      He’ll have to adjust, but I imagine he’ll catch on quickly.

      Not the type to play just one way because defence be damned, if that’s what you’re getting at.

    • MichaelD

      I think it’s safe to say that defence isn’t the deciding factor. If it was, Backlund would get the most icetime (among forwards) on the team. By a lot.

      To be honest with you, Hartley’s liking/disliking of a player seems to be completely arbitrary. You should absolutely be concerned until Hartley gives you a reason not to be.

  • I am not worried about Johnny Hockey pulling a Justin Shultz, at least not because BB or NJD “got” to him.

    What does the new CBA say about tampering?

    If only the Flames had a lawyer with truculence to protect their interests….

    @Svensanity…while I don’t usually comment on spelling, ‘coz I’m not an English major… NCAA “edible” is hysterical. Just saying.

  • everton fc

    Maybe one of Burke’s assingments is to convince Johnny G. to stay with the organization?

    As for Backlund… Baertschi… And more so Baertschi… See link below about the Panthers. What an absolute MESS! We could have it worse here, but if Baertschi, who was billed as the next household name by many in the city and on this site, turns into another Backlund (I am not saying I agree w/the way Hartley and the organization is handling either Backlund or Baertschi, but assuming the organizantion [Burke] is right on at least Baertschi) do Feaster’s moves seem potentially weaker than they look to us all now?

    As for goalies, I’d love to see Brossoit get a longer look in Abby.

    • everton fc

      Baertschi and Backlund aren’t the same type of prospect.

      No one has ever really doubted Sven’s ability to translate offense to the NHL. With Backlund, a lot have questioned his offensive ceiling.

      IMO Baertschi and Gaudreau are on a level of their own in terms of offensive skill within our prospect group. Players like Monahan, Poirier, Klimchuk, Jankowski should all be offensive contributors as well but they are not as electrifying offensively as the other two are. They may end up contributing just as much but in terms of tools, size aside, those two are above all else.

      This is why Backlund and Sven are different. We didn’t always have a group of prospects like we do now and Backlund was our first prospect who actually had some offensive upside. So its understandable why we all are so high on him, not to mention his defensive play which is amazing.

      But I remember I used to be high on Boyd also. Backs is an NHL so I’m comparing in that way, but Backlund might just be a 3rd line center…

      Sven on the other hand should become a 2nd liner at worst. They skill he has is impressive, he just needs to grow and learn the NHL way, his time will come…

      He plays tonight so I am happy

  • everton fc

    Sven gets to play. With whom? Here’s a line that might be interesting SVen Backs Bouma call then the killer B’s.

    Someone mention ed earlier that Sven has not been as productive as his lines mate Monahan and Hudler; statistically your right but with virtually no powerplay time how could he. Also aI recall a couple of goals where he a lot of the work and it ended up with him not getting point as the second assist went elsewhere or he did not touch the puck but caused the turnover. My point is you sometimes don’t get statistically rewarded but contributed to the goal.The way the PP is going right now what do have to lose playing him on it 0/27 no goals in 8 games; would he make it ant worse. Play him with Monahan and Hudler there is chemistry there. I was also happy to hear that he was pissed off about sitting again;good now go and play like someone pissed off and someone who got the coaches message.

    Who does Backs get saddled with? The saga continues and so will our frustration. I’m okay if we lose but please play the right players and give us a chance to play well and develop the future.