A Review of Jay Feaster’s Significant Moves

Via the NHL

Feaster’s short tenure in Calgary is over. A commentere recently asked for an overview of Jay’s notable dealings during his time in the big chair. That struck me as a worthwhile endeavour, so here it is.

I’m not going to bother including minor (i.e., things that include players who are replacement-level or worse) deals or smaller transactions unless it’s actually a win or loss. There’s so much blurring at the margins that it’s just not worth spilling digital ink over, especially when the deals don’t really have an impact one way or another. So, if you don’t see a specific move, assume that’s why.

Trades/Waivers

Traded a 7th rounder (later traded to San Jose) for Fredrik Modin. The least of assets, but an asset nonetheless – and all for a 36-year-old guy who was worse than useless in the 4 or so games he played. Loss.

Traded Tim Erixon and a 5th rounder (Shane McColgan) for Roman Horak, Markus Granlund and Tyler Wotherspoon. An impossible situation for Feaster, and he got a damn good return in retrospect. I believe Wotherspoon, Horak and Granlund are all going to be better than replacement level, and Erixon still hasn’t cracked Columbus’ blue line (although I’m still bullish on his top-4 potential). Even in a vacuum, this looks like it’s pretty close to being a win for the Flames, but given the circumstances it’s a cinch. Win. 

Traded Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and a 2nd rounder (Jake McCabe) for Chris Butler and Paul Byron. Given that it’s been two years and I think it’s safe to say this trade was terrible. The Flames essentially lost a 2nd rounder because of three million dollars, give or take. That’s not good asset management. Both of the players the Flames were sent back are, at best, going to be marginally better than replacement level. All of that plus the fact that after a year and a half of supposedly being garbage in Buffalo, the Sabres still got two 2nd round picks for him – which, in my opinion, is more than the original return. I want to be clear that I blame the whole organization for this, not just Feaster – but that doesn’t change the result. Loss.

Picked up Blake Comeau off of waivers. Free. It was a really good risk at the time and I was fully supportive of it. They got a 3rd liner for a season and a half for cheap. Win.

Traded Daymond Langkow for Lee Stempniak. The Flames lost a good possession centre (even though he missed almost the entire year before with that neck injury) but gained a good possession winger who is seven years younger. Win.

Traded Brendan Mikkelsson for Blair Jones. The Flames got a guy who can serviceably play in the NHL and they only had to give up an AHL defenseman. Win.

Traded a 5th rounder (Graham Black) for Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. Same deal as Modin. Loss.

Traded Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and Zach Fucale for Mike Cammalleri, Karri Rämö and Ryan Culkin. Bourque for Cammalleri hasn’t even been close – Bourque has scored at a .31PPG rate, while Cammalleri has more than doubled that with a .69PPG rate. Culkin and Holland are both low-percentage picks, and Karri Rämö has already saved more NHL shots than Fucale ever will. Win.

Traded Jarome Iginla for Ben Hanowski, Kenny Agostino and Morgan Klimchuk. The Flames got two low-upside players and a lottery chip for their second biggest trade piece. Not enough, even with Iginla’s NMC and cap hit. This can’t be considered an all-out loss, though, as Klimchuk still has the potential to be an impact player and it was a rather difficult situation to begin with. Push.

Traded Jay Bouwmeester for Mark Cundari, Reto Berra and Emilé Poirier. Unlike the Iginla deal, this was not a difficult situation. Bouwmeester was having his best season since he was a member of the Panthers and he was signed for another year. The trade was made even more puzzling when the Flames neglected to use the salary retention benefits afforded to them by the new CBA. Plus – Detroit’s rumoured package was vastly superior. The Flames received a goalie who is likely replacement level, a defenseman who is likely replacement level, and Poirier. Loss.

Traded a 4th round pick (Michael Downing) for Corban Knight. I am a big fan of Knight and I think he’ll be the team’s 3rd line centre next year. Meanwhile, that fourth round pick likely won’t turn into anything because, you know, Florida. Win.

Traded Cory Sarich and Alex Tanguay for Shane O’Brien and David Jones. The Flames basically traded a good bottom pairing possession defender for a bad bottom pairing possession defender who was also signed for another year. Jones and Tanguay are both ineffective in their own ways and their contracts are basically identical. Loss.

Traded a 5th rounder (in 2014) for Kris Russell. Although he was freely available on waivers a couple days earlier, Feaster didn’t want to take on a contract with arbitration rights even though Russell is now going to be a UFA this summer. Luckily for Feaster, Russell seems like a top-4 defenseman when deployed correctly and has added a significant amount of offense at the same time. Win.

Traded a conditional 3rd or 4th round pick (in 2014) for Joe Colborne. Marginal asset for a centre prospect with a little upside. What differentiates Modin/Letourneau-Leblond (losses) and Knight/Colborne (wins) is simple: we don’t know what Colborne and Knight will turn into. We already knew with the other two. Win.

Traded Laurent Brossoit and Roman Horak for Ladislav Smid and Olivier Roy. On one hand, Calgary got the only NHLer in the deal, and he is a guy who (before this season) has been a legit top-4 man. On the other, Smid might be on the decline and Horak has possession-centre upside. I need to see where Smid is at the end of the season. Push.

Contracts

Signed Curtis Glencross to a 4-year, $10.2 million contract. A very team-friendly deal that included a NMC (whoops) but kept around one of Calgary’s best forwards in his prime years (27-31). Glencross has far outperformed this deal. Win.

Signed Alex Tanguay to a 5-year, $17.5 million contract. Tanguay’s deal was a toxic asset the second it was signed. The dollar figure was fine but the length of the contract – which takes him until his 36-year-old season – was two years too much. Eventually, instead of being a trade-deadline UFA asset, he was traded for David Jones (see above). Loss.

Signed Anton Babchuk to a 2-year, $5 million contract. Kent called this whole situation a significant test for Feaster based on how unsustainable Babchuk’s scoring was. Feaster failed the test. Babchuk watched more games from the press box during this contract than he played, because he sucks. Loss.

Signed Lee Stempniak to a 2-year, $5.5 million contract. Stempniak has far outperformed his contract thus far and is one of the team’s best wingers. It’s likely that next season he will provide more production than his price tag suggests he will. Win.

Signed Cory Sarich to a 2-year, $4 million contract. This was a contract that didn’t need to be signed, considering the Flames’ defensive depth chart at the time. Eventually, he was shipped off for a worse version of himself. Loss.

Signed Dennis Wideman to a 5-year, $26.25 million contract. The term still worries me a little but Wideman has been pretty close to full value for the dollar figure in the last year and a bit. It remains to be seen what happens when he is 34 and making this much, so I can’t say it’s a win. Push.

Signed Jiri Hudler to a 4-year, $16 million contract. I thought it might have been a year too long at the time, but he’s the team’s leading scorer and even if he does finish out the contract in Calgary he’ll still be good enough that the contract won’t be bad. Win.

Signed Ryan O’Reiliy to a 2-year, $10 million offer sheet. The less said about this, the better. Feaster is lucky that Greg Sherman’s incompetence outpaced his own in this situation. Loss.

Signed TJ Brodie to a 2-year, $4.25 million contract. Kent and I were some of the many voices that wanted a long term deal in place for Brodie this past summer, and his play this season has shown that he’s going to be very expensive come 2015. The contract itself isn’t bad, but the resulting situation the Flames will have to deal with has the potential to be. Push. 

Drafting

2011 Draft – Baertschi, Granlund, Wotherspoon, Gaudreau, Brossoit. This may honestly go down as one of the best drafts the Flames have ever had. There may be three top-6 forwards, a top-4 defenseman and a 1A goalie in those five selections – at worst, I expect at least three of these guys to be legit NHLers. Win.

2012 Draft – Jankowski, Sieloff, Gillies, Kulak, Culkin, Gordon, DeBlouw. This draft? Not so much. Trading away from Girgensons, Hertl (both of whom are playing top-6 minutes in the NHL) and Teräväinen (scoring at a top-6 pace in a men’s league), Jankowski hasn’t really been scoring and certainly isn’t developing the way I would want him to, Sieloff can’t get on the ice, Kulak has had legal issues, Gordon still struggles with skating and DeBlouw seems to be regressing a little this year. Kulak and Culkin could turn into something, and I expect Gillies to one day start 50+ games – but that’s about it. Loss.

2013 Draft – Monahan, Poirier, Klimchuk, Kanzig, Roy, Harrison, Rafikov, Gilmour. They had to hit on the first three picks – and they did. I really like the Roy pick, and the last three are your standard 7th round guys. Kanzig, however – I just can’t shake the feeling that that was a hugely wasted opportunity to get a guy like Lipon, Subban, Bjorkstrand, Cammaratta or a whole mess of other players that have a better chance to make the NHL. Win.

Conclusion

First off, I was kind of stunned how many moves Feaster made that were of little to no significance, but I am sure that’s consistent across the league. Still – 29 events of significance in three years doesn’t seem huge.

The issue here is that of the five biggest deals/signings, only one was a win (Cammalleri). That, plus the ROR debacle, was enough for Burke to turf Feaster. It would have been enough for me, too. Hell, the ROR situation alone was an immediately fireable offence. Feaster didn’t do himself any favours as GM, and ultimately you can’t keep a job managing the way he did.

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  • TDM

    While I acknowledge that this is an article about Jay’s moves and not the flawed organizational view that delayed this rebuild longer than it should have been, I think it is a little unfair to drop a loss on Jay in the Iginla trade. Semantics aside, whether Boston’s deal was better than pittsburgh’s, the Iginla return was created largely by ownership’s reluctance to even explore the avenue of trading him until his value had greatly declined. I’m not a Feaser apologist, but I would think it only fair to add some context to the iginla move, given that there was context to other moves listed in the article. Perhaps a bigger concern to me is whether potential gm candidates view ownership’s meddling and Burke’s inability to “be a good teammate” (his words) as reasons not to take the vacant job here.

    I acknowledge that how the organization is viewed by potential gm candidates may be a moot point, given that many have already suggested — probably accurately — that the new gm will be of the proxy variety anyway.

  • The simple truth about Feaster is that he was mediocre as a GM. He wasn’t terrible and did nothing to set back the Flames franchise – if anything, there’s a decent stable of prospects. But he also wasn’t going to lead the organization to Stanley Cup levels – there were enough head shaking moves (like signing McDonald or Babchuk) that showed he didn’t have a complete grasp on the marginal aspects of building a complete team. You can argue specific trades, but he balanced the slight wins with slight losses. You can argue the drafts, but he balanced the good picks (both early and late) with some questionable picks. He was mediocre.

    Now, I really don’t have a lot of evidence to suggest Burke is much more than mediocre either. He is more bold and makes bolder moves but I suspect if a move by move list is made of him it would be pretty balanced between good and bad too. To be considered a really good GM you have to win the Cup and be competitive nearly every year (not sure Burke meets the second requirement). And the really good GMs almost all either hit a big trade or a big draft (more likely the latter) and most big drafts are hit because of high picks.

    Who are the really good GMs? Chiarelli? Holland? Davidson? Shero? What do they have in common? A lot of time it’s a couple of good drafts (which provide the foundation) and then they’re nearly always dealing from a position of strength. They all typically have good lieutenants. Is that reflected glory or all they all really good leaders and mentors?

    All I know is that Feaster was mediocre and the organization is going to have to get lucky to find that someone who is more than that, and that is not easy to do (especially with a not-much-more-than-mediocre gentleman calling the shots).

  • TDM

    jankowski,ROR,Jbo, Iggy. the ledger is too one sided for flyin jay to be retained. sure there are more prospects in the system but how many are truly blue chip. in regards to kanzig he is concussed from a fight with oilking.

    • piscera.infada

      Kanzig got his bell rung for sure as you don’t win them all. He was back dropping the mitts 13 days after and is currently a plus 15 as a shutdown defenceman on a team that is plus 15.

  • piscera.infada

    This is a great example of what’s wrong with many businesses today: a bunch of blow-hards sitting around being critical of past decisions of others under the pretense of “if we don’t study the past we are likely to repeat it”, while in actuality trying to show everyone how smart they are with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight vision….

    It reminds me of the time I sharted …..I didn’t have to study that over and over again in order not to make that mistake again….

    Think of Jankowski as a shart……Bouwmeester as a moist fart with oily residue.
    ROR was only a fart with no serious damage done at the end of the day…
    WW

  • McRib

    I know it would be almost impossible but I wish there was a way Feaster could have stayed on staff in a lesser role.

    I respect what he was able to do in fixing our cap situation.

    He also identified and remedied the age distribution flaws within the organization. We had a lot of young 20 something players and a lot of 29+ players. Feaster brought in players like Russell, Smid, Galiardi, Colborne, Knight, Billins, B. Jones etc. to ease the 23-27 age gap we once had.

    Age was not only a factor in a players potential but also the amount of power one has in contract negotiations (RFA vs UFA).

    Feaster also went hard after any free/cheap valuable assets available in an attempt to replenish the depleted stable.

    He was a smart guy that sometimes I feel was strictly brought in here to get us out of cap hell because he was exceedingly strong in understanding and managing it.

    Don’t get me wrong, he was given a fair shake here. His unsavory public blunders cost him in the end, which is understandable..

    But lets not forget he got us out of a horrible cap/contract situation. In which we came out the other end with flexibility and some of the most valuable young assets we’ve had in years.

    Exciting times lye ahead for Flames fans!

    We can thank the former GM for that.

    I’m excited and nervous to see what the next/current GM will do to make his mark.

  • mattyc

    There was no need to get rid of Jbow when feaster did…cundari was not even claimed off waives and I’m curious if anyone would even take Berra if he needed to clear. That leaves porrier whom I like, but that’s far to low of return for a top pairing d-man.

    I couldn’t even imagine what the Coilers or islanders would trade for a top 2 dman….my bet is a 1st would be the start of the convo!

    • piscera.infada

      Wow that’s a great way to look at it. I bet that you could get a YAK and something for JBO right now. Not sure what our rush was on Bouw. If we moved him and took on Salary I imagine we would have gotten something even better.

  • piscera.infada

    I don’t have a problem with Feaster being fired there were enough mistakes to justify his being fired. Burke inherits a team that is much better off than the team Feaster inherited. Burke’s starting point here is better than it was the Leafs, look at the young prospects on the team, in the AHL and not yet pros.

    My whole problem is that King has not been held accountable for his mistakes. Edwards needs to trust his professionals instead he has hired a know it all who will be a yes man for Edwards dream of a quick rebuild. Unless Burke does something unlike his history he will hire two yes men and then hire a coach from his past and I don’t believe that is what is needed. We went through a whole period of time under Sutter that Grit was more important than talent. We now for the first time seem to have some more talent/depth than we have had in years. (yes i know we don’t have an Iggy in his prime or Jbo; I laugh at all the grief he took in Calgary and now so many who condemned now think we were fleeced in the trade and we may have been) Burke will need to show me he understands that you win with more than grit before I believe he can rebuild this team.

  • EugeneV

    A competent GM would have eaten as much money on Bouwmeester as he needed to in order to squeeze Ty Rattie and the 2013 first rounder out of the Blues. (or at least had a bloody auction!)

    Fired.

    A competent GM would have had Jarome sign off that he would accept a trade to “blank” team, then go off to make his deal. Not end up with the SNAFU that ended up in the botched Boston trade.

    Fired!!!

    A competent GM would not have signed ROR and risked losing Monahan or whoever, plus then losing ROR to Columbus on waivers!

    Fired!!!!!!!!!!!

    See you later Feaster.

    Not to mention all the other reasons he no longer works for the Flames.

  • piscera.infada

    The Iginla situation was obviously poorly played. While Iginla still had to sign off with league office after the trade was negotiated in order for it to go through, Feaste should’ve presented Boston as the ONLY option. They gave him a choice, told him which offer they prefered and then got screwed. Iginla never should’ve had a clue until the the club said “All we have from the 4 teams you agreed for us to deal with is Boston.”

    And no, the Pens could not have contacted Iginla’s agent to let him they had made an offer. Serious breach of the rules. Regardless, even if they had, the company line should’ve been “Boston is the only deal we’re considering, no one else is even close.”

    Feaster was too nice for his own good. Has nothing to do with treating vets with “class,” and eberything to do with negotiating skill. Feaster couldn’t win a game of poker to save his life.

  • piscera.infada

    Perhaps on different scale, another bad move by Feaster in my view is not letting Sean Monahan participate in the WJHCs this year. I personally think it would be a great vehicle to (1) let Mony experience of playing under big game pressure, which is something he didn’t do in the juniors, and (2) experience playing hockey on the big ice. The latter would give him an idea of how much more he needs to improve his skating.

    • piscera.infada

      I’m torn about the WJHC thing. I want him to participate from a Canadian perspective, but there isn’t anything he’s going to learn there that he won’t learn in the NHL.

      I mean really, if he wants an idea how much he needs to improve his skating, you would think the NHL would be the place for that. Not playing against what is – for all intents and purposes – amateurs.

      • piscera.infada

        Still like Loubo’s opinion: he can get 9 games and 2 weeks in the NHL and the benefits it offers back. He’ll never get another chance at wJC and the benfits it offers back.

        • piscera.infada

          I get the argument, and I see how the ‘experience’ would be good for him, it might even boost his confidence. I’m just saying, it’s not going to help develop his skating, shot, strength, positioning, etc. any more than the NHL (although I agree, it wouldn’t hurt his development).

  • piscera.infada

    Feaster had his pros and cons. I think with the help of Weisbrod, he did a great job of drafting in the deeper rounds and picking up player who may end up playing top 6 F/top 4 D roles without having to draft in the top 3. A skill that our neighbors of the south wish they had, as their team would likely be a contender at this point with that kind of drafting.

    Feaster, however, made some terrible trades and almost the biggest blunder in the Flames history (and we traded Gilmour to the Leafs in his prime). Feaster had poor management of the top assets that Feaster was left with. Now many people might say we were handcuffed in these situations, but look at some of the trades BB has made in the past, and it left me wondering if he bullied the other GM into submission. We virtually lost the Phaneuf trade purely on the fact we traded the best player and the best prospect in the same deal (to BB). He was able to snag Lupul AND a potential top 4 scoring dman for a stay at home defenseman. And basically stole Franson from the Predators.

    I worry Burke may try and accelerate our rebuild, but I’d have more faith in his trading abilities with our current assets than I would with Feaster. I’m certain that the Flames will spend to the cap and add vets in the offseason, but we’ve seen what throwing young stars to the wolves has done in Edmonton and Columbus and Florida, while teams like Detroit, Boston and Chicago continue to develop their prospects the right way. I’d prefer players make the jump when the time is right, or else we’ll have the same situation we had with Daniel Tzachuk in the 90’s.

  • piscera.infada

    @ piscera.infada

    I agree it won’t actually help his skating but I just think playing on the big ice will give him a different perspective. Though admittedly, he could get the chance to play on the big ice in the world championships if opportunity comes knocking as the Flames won’t be seriously contending for the playoffs for a few more years.

    That said for selfish reasons I’ll be back home for the Flames five-game during Xmas, so I’m quite happy to see him play live. I’ve got tickets for 3 games!