Joey MacDonald Hits the Waiver Wire



The Flames decision to claim Joey MacDonald off of waivers last year was understandable – with Kiprusoff hurt and a collection of career AHLers and Leland Irving to choose from otherwise, grabbing a seasoned (albeit mediocre) veteran was defensible.

I never understood, however, why they decided to re-sign him this off-season. A 33-year old career back-up/below replacement level tender isn’t a useful asset from any angle. He’s not trade-able and he’s not going to get better.

After a rough night against the Wings yesterday and boasting an .885 SV% to startr the season, Joey Mac is going back from whence he came – the waiver wire. My guess is he isn’t picked up by anybody and is shuttled to Abbotsford to battle it out with Joni Ortio. I expect Reto Berra to be called up for the Chicago game tomorrow.

Berra, by the way, had a hot start to his year in Abby, but has cooled a bit recently with his SV% sinking to just .908. Of course, he has only played in 9 games in NA, so we really can’t be sure what his true talent level is. Worth a look at least.

UPDATE (via Ryan Pike): courtesy the official AHL and ECHL sites: G Reto Berra and D Chad Billins are recalled to Calgary, G Laurent Brossoit is moved from ECHL Alaska to AHL Abbotsford to back up Joni Ortio.

  • ngthagg

    so, with the update and seeing as how LB has been brought up to backup Ortio in abby… do we expect MacDonald to be assigned to the ECHL? if so, ouch! but really his play has been that bad. He’s played himself out of the league.

    Ramo hasn’t been a whole lot better but I think he gets at least a little bit of a pass due to his inexperience in the league and NA as a whole.

    Backlund’s demotion is an absolute debacle. The guy has played the toughest minutes on this team. Do I think he has more to give offensively? Sure. But how does it help his offensive game to have him play barely any ES hockey while in the middle of McGratten and Bouma?

    If we’re to believe the teams line on ‘meritocracy’ then we should expect guys like Glencross, O’Brien, etc. to be taking a seat long before Backs.

    I don’t get it, Hartley. I just don’t.

  • I think Ortio is the best of the bunch, Gillies not included. I think the Backlands demotion to the 4th line may be because of conditioning. When he was playing more minutes he struggled in the 3rd period and looked gassed. Just a guess.

  • ngthagg

    I know I’m repeating a previous gripe of mine in a recent posting but is it me or doesn’t anyone find it funny that as Joe Colborne’s ice time has gone and conversely Michael Backlund’s has gone down, Calgary’s record has gone down.

    Similarly, the return of Matt Stajan does not seem to be tilting the ice in Calgary’s favour, which is undermining the team.

    While it is clear that Calgary doesn’t have any number 1 centres on the team currently, nevertheless a solid number 2 (though it is clear that Monahan will eventually be a capable 1/2 centre), I’m still completely perplexed about why Backlund has been relegated to the 4th line or worse.

    Although I agree that Colborne is playing better than I initially thought he was capable of, he is still not at Backlund’s level. Apologies to all of Colborne’s family and friend’s in Calgary but I just doesn’t have that initial burst of speed to get to pucks and move the play the right way in my view at least as far as taking a first line centre role. He seems more suited for the wing as he looks very capable of winning battles on the board.

    I guess at the end of the day, I’m frustrated with both Stajan and Colborne taking up more ice time than Backlund. Lets face it, Stajan’s days are numbered in Calgary, however I admit he is simply not a tradable asset.

    Anyways, I guess Backlund’s days are numbered as a Flames. Although I hope I’m wrong, I suspect that he will be traded to make room for Knight, Horak or Reinhart.

    • EugeneV

      They have to give Stajan enough ice time to give him SOME trade value. (soon hopefully)

      While at the same time they need to assess Colborne by giving him ice time, and of course at the same time they need to give Monahan enough ice as well.

      This leaves Backlund where he is currently, a 3rd line center on a team without a 3rd line.

      Backlund is a year older than Colborne with 150 more NHL games, so the team should know where he will slot in going forward.
      (maybe on another team)

      Seems pretty clear to people who WATCH THE GAMES WITH THEIR EYES (not just with advanced stats which only complement the eye test) that he will not score enough to be a top 6 on a Cup winning team

      Remember that WE ARE REBUILDING and that Backlund is only a piece of a puzzle and he is replaceable with a free agent when we actually need a 3rd line center

    • MattyFranchise

      Backlund problem is that he is a non-traditional middle six center in a traditional organization.

      Backlund is the best Flames center from the opposition blue line back to the Flames end he also is the worst offensive center from the opposition blue line in.

      As a result there are several roles that Backlund could take and be a very effective player that drives play either as the center on a hard minutes line that tries to play keep away from other team top lines or the defensive responsible player between two offensive players that get the play into the offensive zone for them.

      Unfortunately the Flames are a very traditional organization and they want 2 scoring lines that play all the power play time a physical third checking line and then a “energy” line that is big and doesn’t play very much.

      So Backlund doesn’t score enough to play on the second line and he isn’t as flashy/gritty working defensively like Stephen Yelle was so the organization can’t see what Backlund should be doing.

    • beloch

      Like: Colborne is being developed rather than left to rot on the goon squad. This is a good year to prioritize player development even if it means a few losses.

      No like: Hartley isn’t being honest with Backlund about why he’s in the dog house. Backlund doesn’t need to develop as much as Colborne or Monahan and Stajan needs some TOI to ensure his trade value stays high. Fine. Be honest about that. Don’t play Backlund on the goon squad in a shut-down role and then bench him for not scoring enough.

    • Agreed. I didn’t care for his tone at all in that interview. You could argue that it’s become a meaningless gesture over the years, but I always appreciate when a player errs on the side of accepting responsibility for a loss. MacD flat out did the opposite.

    • RedMan

      just watched it…

      he seems VERY frustrated, and by my interpretation really throws the other guys under the bus – excuses his soft goal (he says “lucky one” but by my count there were 2 freebies!) and blames the loss on the teams lack of effort in the 3rd.

  • RKD

    Flames struggled a few years to find a good goalie before they landed Kipper. Looks like we are back to those days, where we can outplay teams and still lose because our goalie is below average. On one hand, you can see that the Flames stockpiled themselves with goalie prospects for just this scenario, but prospects can play well in junior or AHL and still not be NHL quality. Look at the Leafs struggle before they got Bernier and Philly,s now to get a goaltender.

    • RedMan

      In both cases, those teams had a great goalie who they subsequently traded for no apparent reason. Toronto had Rask (!!!), traded him for Raycroft. Philly had Bobrovsky, traded him for… well, nothing really.

      And anyway, the Leafs already had Reimer anyway, so it’s not like they were completely barren when they traded for Bernier.

  • RKD

    Chad Billings has the best stats on D from Abby and based upon his size etc, is somewhere between a Russell and a Smith. Hopefully he gets to suit up and we can see him play for 10 games to get an idea where he fits.

    Joey the Goalie; we knew what he was when we picked him up and we got exactly that. Good luck to him. Now we can get a better understanding of Ramo and Berra (possibly Ortio down the road).

    The question is when are they going to do something up front. Having Jackman and McG as your only options upfront limit your depth and development.

  • RKD

    Let’s see where the 1-2 tandem of Berra and Ramo take us the rest of the season. Bryz would be too much of a distraction, they don’t need any problems in the dressing room.

  • Lordmork

    It’s always too bad when a player who’s a nice guy gets demoted/traded/whatever. I hope maybe he’s able to mentor Ortio/Brossoit and find some success in the AHL. But from an organizational standpoint, it seems pretty clear that the best way forward is to play Berra and Ramo until the team figures out which one is best.

  • seve927

    I don’t know what the value is of having good guys on the team, but I don’t think it’s zero. Just like having Craig Conroy in the front office. I have no idea if he has any clue what he’s doing, but I bet he’s had a big part in being able to draw some guys to sign here. That could have been the impetus in having MacDonald around, who knows. All I know is I’m certainly not upset that he’s played a handful of games, and I don’t see that he’s taking anything away from anybody’s development.

    I wish him the best and hope somebody picks him up.

  • cunning_linguist

    This is how it should be. Berra and Ramo battling it out in CGY so we can get a true assessment of their talent levels. Kind of feel bad for Mac, but .885% goaltending with no upside speaks for itself.

  • aloudoun

    Personally Kent, if no one picks him up, although the Oil should, I think he should be bought out before considering sending him to Abbey! Leave the tending to Ortio & Brossoit down in Abbey. That would make a phenomenal competing environment between two hungry goalies trying to prove themselves at the pro level. This is a no-brainer, its not like we don’t have the cap space for the buyout. Stupid contract right from the start & we should have given Leiland & Taylor a shot before even picking him up last year. Both of those guys toiled for this organization & deserved that chance before being cut loose. Who knows, had we done that, we may have had Seth Jones or Barkov.