1. The Flames’ draft strategy
So the NHL’s website has been talking to various teams’ officials in recent weeks and talking about the strategies those organizations will employ once the draft rolls around. Earlier this week, they talked to John Weisbrod about what the Flames plan to do.
And hey, look, I don’t want to make it out like I’m immediately dismissive of their strategy late next month, but when he got right down to things, ideas like "drafting for need" came up. Which obviously infuriated me for different reasons.
"Once you get to the later rounds, drafting out of need becomes dangerous because you’re talking about longer-term development projects and the immediate needs of your team from what the needs are going to be in two to three years," Weisbrod told NHL.com.
This obviously ignores the fact that this is the case, you know, with the guy they picked in the first round last year. In the case of most drafts, I think, once you get out of the first five picks, or even 10 at the very outside, you’re waiting two or three years at least for prospects to develop into NHL-ready players, and that means that drafting for need is — you guessed it — stupid as hell. The idea that the Flames might get an NHL-ready guy at No. 6 (or slightly higher if they trade up) is a nice one, but even in deep drafts, how many guys taken outside the top 5 are that ready every year?
Weisbrod says that the draft is deepest at forward and he is of course right about that 100 percent. It just so happens the Flames’ biggest need is at forward, any position, so whoever they get at No. 6 is likely to fit their need, but if that’s the draft philosophy at 22 or 27-30, then this team is in deeper trouble than I thought.
2. Germane to that discussion
Another thing Weisbrod brought up, and it’s one that I honestly hadn’t considered, is the idea of trading some of their picks for roster help now. When I read that, I just started laughing.
I don’t know who they’d target and I don’t know why they’d do it, other than the fact that as Weisbrod says, they simply don’t have the warm bodies to fill out an NHL roster this season. I think this probably goes back to the absurd mandate that the team must make the playoffs next season or heads will roll. It’s an idea I think Flames fans should find distasteful, because it once again involves the acknowledgement of a need to rebuild without the actual desire to commit to it.
Who do they target on the trade market that’s young enough to be impactful for several years while the team rebuilds and also can be had for a reasonable asking price that doesn’t involve No. 6 overall? You have to think that list is extremely short.
3. Adios to Babchuk
So Anton Babchuk is joining short-term teammate Roman Cervenka in returning to the KHL, which is just about right. The Flames won’t miss these guys more than they’d miss any other NHL-replacement-level AHLers, and maybe they’ll be even happier because they won’t have to pay them a combined $6.275 million against the cap (which, holy hell).
That got me thinking about just how bad the KHL must be if they’ll welcome these guys with open arms after they flamed out so badly (no pun intended) with Calgary. They were both abjectly awful for the club, and this was one that had a lot of holes to fill and few options to fill them. When they couldn’t hack it with the Calgary f’n Flames, the fact that anyone would take them at all should tell you everything you need to know about the quality of that league.
Hopefully for the Flames, this discourages Jay Feaster from ever wading back into that water in search of a high-quality player again. Honestly, can you think of any NHL players who were superstars in that Russian league who wound up being of even passable quality in the NHL? I’m having difficulty, and I think that’s a good enough indicator that the well there should be considered extremely dry.
Yes, I know. Karri Ramo. We’ll see how that goes. Don’t expect it to go well.
4. TSN’s offseason plans
Much like NHL.com doing a draft preview, TSN fantasy guru Scott Cullen is previewing the offseason plans of the various teams that didn’t make the playoffs. As you might imagine, that stuff about the mandate to make the playoffs came up, which in turn prompted him to note two things:
1) That they might have been in the conversation at least if they got slightly-better-than-average goaltending, instead of substantially-below-average goaltending this year.
2) That there is a significant need to acquire high-quality players.
"Feaster’s challenge is acquiring top-end talent, whether through draft, trades or free agent signings. While the Flames have solid pros scattered throughout the roster, they don’t have guys at the top end of the talent scale," he wrote.
Well no kidding.
I can’t remember who it was, but someone on Twitter earlier today brought up the idea that the Flames seem like the most likely team to make a run at Valtteri Filppula, and boy doesn’t that sound right/like a bad idea? So of course that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
5. Sorry pardner
Go Pens I guess.