Five things: Jay Feaster and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Very Bad Week

 

 

(Author’s note: If you are one of those people who thinks I am too negative about the way the Flames are run, I advise you skip this column for reasons which the headline should make obvious. There’s nothing here for you.)

1. Let’s get the good thing out of the way

It has not under any circumstances been a good week for Jay Feaster, and while I guess, "Jay Feaster screwed up again," can’t technically qualify as news in July 2013, it’s at least important to note that he isn’t totally terrible at his job.

Early this week he successfully acquired winger TJ Galiardi from the San Jose Sharks for the low, low price of a fourth-round pick two drafts from now. This is good business, as is signing him to a one-year deal for next to nothing. Getting even a warm body to fill out the NHL roster for almost no cost at all, in terms of assets or money, is a very good thing.

There are concerns there, of course. That Galiardi won’t even come close to replicating what he did in his rookie year, which was no especially great shakes itself, is obviously front and center, because he couldn’t even succeed in terms of production when he was inexplicably slotted onto San Jose’s top line.

But again, it’s a low-cost deal with no risk beyond this season if it doesn’t work out, and you’d rather they give that kind of deal to a 25-year-old than a 34-year-old just for the sake of getting Experience In The Room or whatever nonsense they could cook up. That’s because, if he succeeds, you don’t have to have any qualms about giving him another three years without expecting everything to flatline at some point during the deal.

Now, with that praise having been doled out, it’s time to get into the far larger number of things Feaster screwed up since last we spoke. You’ve been warned. Twice.

2. The first bad thing

Not long after 5T was published last week came news that the Flames had traded Alex Tanguay and Cory Sarich for David Jones and Shane O’Brien, which is a trade I don’t really understand at all.

On the surface, it’s the team moving its famous "post-apex" players for those that are decidedly "pre-apex," though taking on an addition $500,000 in salary to do so. That’s an extremely negligible amount of money, but it grows to an additional $2.5 million against the cap in 2014-15 because O’Brien is signed for an additional year beyond what Sarich was.

So what’s the problem with this trade: It’s what it represents. The words people used in talking about this deal are the ones Feaster has been parrotting needlessly since everyone in the front office realized how bad the team was late last season. "Bigger," "harder to play against," the ideals of an era long gone. O’Brien is an obvious upgrade over Sarich, because just about anybody would be (Sarich really only succeeded by even meager terms because his competition was garbage, though it should be noted O’Brien’s better performance in terms of corsi relative was also against relatively low-quality opponents).

Jones, meanwhile, may be younger than Tanguay but he’s also appreciably worse, signed for the same amount of time, and for more money. He was good a few years ago, and the theory is that the Change of Scenery will do him good, but I’d really like to see it before I start believing it.

This was a deal made with a good idea in mind, so credit there, but the execution was certainly lacking.

3. Another mistake

That, I suppose, brings us to the two other obvious screw-ups, both of which were made at the draft. I’m not hugely in favor of taking Sean Monahan over Valeri Nichushkin (Monahan being the one guy in the consensus top-6 I wasn’t totally sold on, based on the information available to me), but it’s probably the safer pick, so I can’t really begrudge it. 

However, when it comes to Emile Poirier, though, I thought that pick was outrageous. Not specifically because I don’t think the player can turn into an NHLer, per se — though I’m always dubious of a highlight reel that’s nothing but him blowing the doors off some poor-skating CHL defenseman to the outside, and of first-round QMJHL wingers in general — but because few had him going at No. 22. Judging by his reaction when his name was called, that included Poirier himself. This was made more troubling by the fact that Hunter Shinkaruk was just sitting there, waiting to be chosen several picks after everyone assumed he’d be taken.

Of course, Feaster assures everyone that Poirier was safely inside Calgary’s top 10 draft-eligible prospects, which seems odd for a guy for whom the buzz was that he "might" go in the first round. Kent called it a "no brainer" when Shinkaruk was there at 22, and yet here we are with that player as Canucks property and Poirier already talking about making the team. Woof.

This goes back to Calgary’s supreme confidence in its scouting, because even a decent pick at No. 28 like Morgan Klimchuk, whom they swear they had at No. 13, shows that if they have a plan, they don’t deviate. Meaning that a team which hasn’t drafted particularly well in forever is putting all its faith in internal scouting, and not deviating from its plans no matter what.

Is Poirier going to be a better NHLer than Shinkaruk? I don’t know. But I know that every other hockey person on earth didn’t think so on Sunday afternoon. I can’t go around putting a lot of faith in the thinking that led to an off-the-board-of-picks-that-were-off-the-board pick like Mark Jankowski. As it was put to me at the conclusion of the first round: The fact that we’re using "It could have been worse" as praise for the team’s drafting at this point tells you everything you need to know. Especially when you’re talking about The Most Important Draft In The History Of The Calgary Flames. 

The other guy who they shouldn’t have drafted is Keegan Kanzig, who objectively sucks at hockey, and was selected when a number of more enticing prospects including Jordan Subban were still available.

You just really can’t trust the Flames to not screw things up at draft time. That’s the lesson here.

4. Comments on Lecavalier

And you can say the same thing about the lip service paid to the rebuild. The second an over-30 player in which the Flames had any interest came on the market (Vinny Lecavalier), all pretense of pursuing only "pre-apex" players went directly out the window.

Jay Feaster practically performed an interpretive dance routine in talking about how badly he would like Lecavalier in Calgary, all but screaming that when it comes to players of his ilk (assumedly, this means 33-year-old second-line centers who had just been bought out and whom Feaster had previously managed) "transcend post-apex." That, for those scoring at home, is shorthand for "All that stuff I’ve been saying is BS." This is the guy being trusted to rebuild the Flames. It’s insanity.

The only reason that we’re not talking about Lecavalier being on the team as a result of the team having been so thoroughly mismanaged to this point that it’s no longer a prime free agent destination, if it ever was one, which is debatable. Thankfully, the Flyers, too, are in the business of giving out questionable free agent contracts, and they at least present the illusion of success.

5. Brodie’s fixing to be offer-sheeted

Just prior to my writing this, it was revealed that Jay Feaster has yet to even open negotiations with TJ Brodie about a new contract, since he is about to become a restricted free agent starting tomorrow.

We’ve been told that this is fairly common practice: GMs and player agents alike are fairly happy to wait around, let UFAs set the market, and then negotiate a deal toward the end of summer. Okay, fine.

But there’s a problem for Feaster specifically, and something that should give people pause overall. Feaster is the most recent general manager to do the worst thing a person in his job can do: He offer sheeted another team’s player. This makes him and the Flames’ RFAs, of which there are several, targets. And of those targets, only a small number would actually be worth the trouble. At the very tipppy-top of that list is Brodie, who teams in the market for defensemen — say, I don’t know, Colorado — would likely do very well to add.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see someone pay Brodie a little more than market value on an offer sheet just to twist the knife with the Flames’ rebuild plans. And maybe that GM will actually have the benefit of understanding how NHL waivers work.

6. B-B-B-BONUS-S-S-S-S THING

There is, of course, a way for Feaster to redeem himself. Yesterday, for seemingly no good reasons, the Wild and Sabres bought out two players that Calgary should be targeting hard. Tom Gilbert, a 30-year-old former Oiler though he is, could provide help in the near-term and maybe create some flexibility to trade someone with actual value (Giordano) while they still have it.

Gerbe, meanwhile, is just 25 and was completely misused by Lindy Ruff in each of the last two seasons — largely in a checking role — and is certainly worth a shot with another club that, say, has plenty of minutes to go around in its top six and needs warm bodies. He’s being bought out, by the way, on a deal that pays him just $1.45 million against the cap for next season only. Someone would be wise to at least give him another chance, because he’s just two seasons removed from scoring 16 goals in 64 games.

Get either one of these guys, and that’s a step back in the right direction.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    It absolutely floors me that the Flames are the ONLY team that gets mocked for passing on Shinkaruk. The only one. No less than ten other teams did the same, including (but not limited to):

    -The vaunted Detroit Red Wings’ scouting staff

    -Columbus–twice

    -Washington, who picked after Calgary and chose the skilled but statistically unimpressive Andre Burakovsky

    -And, the team that ended up with Shinkaruk after all, Vancouver, who reached at #9 for Bo Horvat (I like Horvat, but there’s no denying he was a reach in the top 10).

    Reaching for puzzling reasons was in fact extremely common in last weekend’s draft, and Poirier probably made the most sense out of the lot of them. Puzzling (if not outright baffling) reaches include (but aren’t limited to):

    -Morin at 11

    -Remi Elie 40th overall–in the 2nd round (he probably shouldn’t have been drafted at all)

    -Tyler Bertuzzi at 58th

    -Zach Sanford 61st overall (a guy who managed to be 4th on team scoring in the EJHL).

    Kanzig was a horrible pick, but an extremely reasonable argument can be made that Elie, considering draft position, was even worse.

    No one should be worried about an offer sheet for Brodie. The only one the Flames wouldn’t match would be an offer another team shouldn’t make. It is, quite literally, a no lose situation. (it is, though, concerning that they haven’t started negotiations yet. I mean, really?)

  • Michael

    I like Lamberts posts, but then again I generally agree with what he has to say.

    One of the con’s mentioned in analyzing any potential trade for Seguin was that his age and contract didn’t fit the rebuild.
    The thought being that his current contract expires at age 27 (at which point he would become an UFA) and that the Flames wouldn’t be able to ‘build enough assets around him’ to be successful in that time frame. (the assumption being they couldn’t resign him).
    Could the Flames be having similar thoughts about Brodie? Maybe an offer sheet would suit their purposes in capturing several more first round picks?
    (I’m in the we should resign Brodie camp)

    • icedawg_42

      Only saw a few live games this year, but after seeing them live, Backlund and Brodie were MILES ahead of the rest of the Flames roster, so – my answer to letting him go to an offersheet in exchange for picks is – PLEASE NO!!! He’s a legit building block and stability on a very weak backend. IMO, as I said before, he should get top priority.

      • piscera.infada

        No one’s saying they should let him walk for peanuts. The issue people seem to belabour is this ridiculous notion that someone’s going to offer sheet him to something ridiculous just for the sake of doing it. If he’s not worth the offer-sheet amount, you (likely) get a good to great return for a guy who had a good half-year.

        Don’t get me wrong, I agree he’s a great building block on the back-end, and I hope something gets worked out soon. But a potential offer sheet is nothing to get worked up about.

      • McRib

        I think everyone would like to keep Brodie, but if someone loses their marbles and offers him the moon, and they also happen to be a terrible team, then that’s not such a terrible worst-case scenario.

  • CDB

    It scares me to say this but I agree with 90% of this article. Galiardi was a smart pickup. Cheap, young, some more size and speed up front. Can be useful, and if he isn’t, nothing lost.

    The Colorado trade for me is pretty whatever. I may be just so overjoyed that Sarich is gone. O’Brien is awful too, but as noted, he is better than Sarich (bar is pretty low there). And I like the fact we get bigger up front. We’re not trying to reinvent the Broadstreet bullies here, but having the oldest, smallest team in the league is not a recipe for winning. Tanguay was overpaid, declining quickly, and has all the heart of the tin man. Stats gurus may hate the use of an intangible there, but trust me, actually working hard, skating, and trying to win a hockey game actually does make a difference in, you know, winning a hockey game. You can say Jones is worse than Tanguay, but he’s coming off a lost lockout year which I practically don’t count. Worth a shot that he bounces back in a new place, with a full season. And Tanguay is old, frail, and rapidly declining. Jones should have a decent shot at reclaiming 20 goal status, and long term providing the better value for which admittedly are two bad contracts. I get we’ll be eating some extra cap, but 2.5MM in a rebuild when you wont (or at least have no business spending to the cap, STOP JAY, JUST STOP), should not matter. Plus, think of all the hair we wont have to rip out now that we won’t watch Tanguay, with an open net try and feather a backhand saucer pass, no look, between his legs, through 6 bodies, only to have the puck go back up ice as he slowly coasts around. That is my opinion, but alas I can see where Mr. Lambert is coming from.

    I liked the Monahan and Klimchuk picks. Poirier infuriated me initially, though I have softened my stance a bit. Still don’t like how off the board they went, though there are rumours Montreal was going to pick him at 25 (who knows if that is true or not). I do think we are all putting far too much stock in young Hunter. The kid was in a free fall in the draft, and probably with good reason. If he had been from somewhere, other than the good old CGY, would we have cared as much? I have seen him play, admittedly not much. I won’t try and say how he’s going to turn out, or who will be the better player. Basically, if you have a problem with them going off the board, that’s fine, I did too. But if it’s because they didn’t draft a hometown hero, give your head a shake. And if shaking your noggin doesn’t work, look up the careers of Brent Krahn and Wade Davis, the last time the Flames tried to appeal to their fans with draft picks. I don’t care if the guy is from Calgary or Dubai, draft who is going to be the best player. Risky pick, time will tell

    The rest of the draft (aside from Roy) and the Vinny talks are an unmitigated nightmare. I would delve into it, but I have rambled on long enough and my therapist has told me it is best to let my anger subside before I delve into how I feel about that horrific display of management.

    Great points on Gilbert and Gerbe, agree wholeheartedlty.

  • internuncial

    Yo, Lambert,

    Let’s get one thing straight: There is a WORLD of difference between the information that the organization has and what we on the outside run with. There are a thousand things about personalities, chemistry, injuries, team plans, directions, salary expectations, etc that the team knows and we never will. That’s data that they have and we don’t have and it’s no small thing.

    Anyone on the outside who makes absolute statements like the ones you regularly do in this column without qualifying it implicitly or explicitly as an opinion that was formed with WAY LESS information than the team has is being wildly disingenuous. Like, aren’t you the guys who are all sanctimonious about data-based decision making?

    I’m no fan of Feaster. I’m just way less a fan of crap logic and hypocrisy.

    That being said, the Kanzig pick is insanity.

  • Derzie

    You had me until you brought up Tom Gilbert. A terrible post-apex post-Oiler. No freaking thanks. Other than that, I agree with your points. The roses and sunshine crowd will be up in arms but the truth hurts. Our GM is a poor performer. One small quibble is the dis of the Monahan pick. I’m in the Don Cherry camp on this one. All things being equal, take the Canadian player.

  • Danger

    Warning: This post is largely about writing style, not hockey. Feel free to skip it if you’re not interested in that. Also, it’s a long one. Like RexLibris long.

    I usually refrain from commenting on tone or writing style on FN – it’s a hockey blog, not a literary magazine, after all – but today I’m making an exception because of all the bile that has been directed at Lambert’s writings as of late.

    I enjoyed this week’s 5T (as I often do), but I especially liked the fact that in spite of extra warnings about pessimism, this was actually a pretty balanced take with several (mildly) positive comments. Given the kind of week it’s been, I don’t think you could honestly have said any nicer things about the Flames’ moves.

    Obviously, the tone was still a bit snarky, but that’s just Lambert’s writing style. Personally, I enjoy a bit of snark so I really don’t see it as a problem. I have no idea if I am in the majority or the minority on this matter, but certainly the people who don’t like the acerbic stylings of Mr. Lambert are very vocal about it. I therefore think it’s only fair that I should speak up and express my appreciation of this kind of writing.

    I’m not saying that those who dislike this kind of writing are wrong, just reminding them that taste is subjective. Plus, it’s not like Lambert is making up all the questionable things Feaster has done. For whatever reason, our GM seems determined to make one questionable or just bad move for every decent or good move he makes. He does make some good moves, to be sure, but that makes it all the more mystifying and frustrating when he goes out the very next day and makes boneheaded mistakes.

    • Captain Ron

      Nice Lambert apologist comment. You sound like his Mom. “Oh he was a little bit snarky today but that’s just my Ryan.”

      His “attack ad” style of writing is the reason that some “bile” is directed his way in the aftermath. Not everyone likes it.

      Since some one has already done it for me I won’t bother to criticize his suggestions that we “seriously” look at signing Tom Gilbert. After all Jay Feaster and Flames management I will assume can redeem themselves in his eyes if they do this:

      “There is, of course, a way for Feaster to redeem himself. Yesterday, for seemingly no good reasons, the Wild and Sabres bought out two players that Calgary should be targeting hard. Tom Gilbert, a 30-year-old former Oiler though he is, could provide help in the near-term and maybe create some flexibility to trade someone with actual value (Giordano) while they still have it.”

      No mention of Minny’s goaltending save percentage of somewhere around .875 last year with Gilbert on the ice though. Must have been his on ice partners fault.

      On top of that we could add another smurf who was possibly underutilized in Buffalo.

      Yup this is just what the Flames need. Of all the players that will be available we should “target” these two guys.

      After criticizing Feaster for things such as draft choice preferences in the first round that may or may not work out based on the general consensus of others he obviously holds in higher regard than him, he lays that last bit of brilliance on us.

      For the most part RL reaps what he sows. I’m sure he knows that.

    • I agree 100%, EXCEPT for that this is about the length of a parenthetical or subtitle in one of RexLibris’ enormous musings. I didn’t even have to scroll down mid-post.

      @RL– A great read as always Ryan– I’m glad you came out swinging after the grouchery you’ve been subjected to lately.

    • icedawg_42

      Agreed. Nothing in here that should really get anyone’s hairs up. Im taking a ‘wait and see’ on Poirier. Feaster wasn’t the first or only GM to pass on Shinkurak, and we’ve all heard the ‘rumors’ about his attitude, so apparently the Flames staff had their reasons. If it was a matter of not expecting him to be available, and simply not being able to think on the fly – that’s a different story. Totally agree on the coke machine pick. What a waste. Again – baffling…Almost as baffling as TJ Brodie signing not being TOPS on the to-do list. WTF is going on there. As far as the Monahan pick…my gut feeling is that the Flames really wanted Lindholm and really thought they were going to get him. To me Monahan is still the next best thing. All in all, we’ll have to reserve judgement until all the dust settles.

      I’m a fan of TJ Galiardi, and the trade altogether. I think it’s all positive, given the money and term. The problem here is that the Flames have assembled plenty of ‘supporting cast’, and their 2 best assets/players have yet to be signed in Brodie and Backlund. Ok – we get it, depth. Good job on depth…now get to work on some top end stuff. THANK GOD Lecavalier went somewhere else. Now if we can just avoid the grenade and pass on Bozak.

      • Danger

        Fair enough – and my little rant there wasn’t directed at you per se, more the frequent mentions of Lambert’s pessimism that have been cropping up in other threads lately.

        FWIW, I certainly don’t agree with Lambert on everything either. The Tanguay trade wasn’t great, but it was better than buying those two out, which seemed to be the alternative from my perspective.

  • Gange

    Tanguay was a butter-soft ageing malcontent since Iginla left, and Sarich, as much as I love the guy, was mostly destined to occupy a press box seat.

    Jones and O’Brien are younger if nothing else, and haven’t checked out because their best pal left town. We have seen Tanguay turtle and pout until he was traded in Montreal and TB too. Galiardi is excited to be a Flame, so welcome aboard.

    With all of the new guys, they are obviously not top tier talent, but we aren’t supposed to win next year and need to ice a team of competitive useful bodies while the younger people develop. So what’s the problem? 1 extra year for O’Brien and 500k more for Tanguay? Big deal.

    Poirier was apparently not as out of left field as some thought, and many people seem to have soured on Shinkaruk.

    Kanzig is a puzzle, but pretty minor imo.

    As for Brodie, who knows what is going on inside the organization. Maybe he wants the moon? Maybe he wants to play for a winner? Or maybe Feaster has been busy with other things. Remember they didn’t make qualifying offers until the last minute either. So I wouldn’t worry yet. It is also not out of the realm of possibility that Brodie’s agent is asking for the moon.

  • Michael

    TJ Galiardi and David Jones
    TJ is a decent pickup, low cost, one year contract at a reasonable amount, no problem with this one
    I like the addition of Jones, but we moved a top six forward to add a bottom six forward.
    Seems to be a theme in Feaster trades, we typically trade the best player in the deal

    Poirier
    Nothing against the player but an absolute puzzle as the 22nd pick.
    The Flames draft list seems to have included only players they thought would be available at their pick, and excluded everyone else.
    You have the feeling that if a Barkov or Jones had fallen to six, the Flames would have still picked Monahan.
    The Flames come across as so micro managed from the top that they have lost all flexibility and the ability to think on their feet.

    Lecavalier
    Another typical Feaster move, he loves chasing (with little success) the big names like Richards and Lecavalier.
    Now, Lecavalier on a two or three year deal might have make sense, but why would he want to sign here.

    Brodie
    I know it’s typical to wait until the last minute to try and sign players, I just don’t understand why.
    Get them signed, or at least find out where they are at. Erixson is a perfect example, had the Flames been talking to the player they would have realized much sooner that he wouldn’t sign in Calgary, and they would have avoided a panic trade.
    I expect Calgary will sign him, but why on earth delay and risk losing him to a large offer sheet.

    • piscera.infada

      First, I’d just like to say I wont address the Poirier-Shinkaruk business as I’m fairly happy we didn’t take Shinkaruk. This issue is too highly contestable to have any meaningful debate on.

      – I’m not so distraught about the Avs trade. I was sick and tired of Tangs and Sarich, and we got two players that are willing and excited to be here (something we probably can’t say about many players in the NHL – except maybe Galiardi). I think this is a good thing during our rebuild. Would I have liked a first and Duchene? Hell yeah. But there’s no way that either was available. We have to understand, our assets are horrible – this isn’t entirely Feaster’s fault, as much as we might like to think so. I can’t think of any team looking to part with much more for Tangs and Sarich – they didn’t want to be here, good riddance.

      – To reiterate what was said by Gange; I’m not too sure how much desire Feaster actually had for Lecavalier. 2-3 year deal? Yeah maybe. I’m assuming he was out the second Lecavalier’s agent came out with a 5 year deal. Maybe not, but you know no better than I do what was actually discussed in that meeting.

      – As far as Brodie goes, I have to believe we get him signed. No one wants to play ‘offer-sheet twister’ with a team with oodles of cap-space. But let’s set up a little scenario for you: Colorado (or another likely lottery team next year) comes along, thinking their “going to get us back for ROR” and offer sheets Brodie for 5 years at 4-5 million (inflated price, I know). How do you not look at just taking their 1st and 3rd rounder at next year’s draft and just saying “thanks”. Maybe we end up with two picks in the top 5 next year? Maybe Brodie had an outlier season (I don’t think he did). All I’m saying is getting worked up about an imaginary huge offer sheet is ridiculous. If a team really wants to play hard-ball with us on that, we have tons of cap space as well as a need for draft picks.

    • Michael

      If the offer sheet was from a terrible team, and the compensation was a high 1st and 3rd it might not be such a bad thing. That said, we have oodles of cap room, and will just match anything offered that isn’t outrageous.

      As for Lecavalier etc, it is Feaster’s job to be in on everything. He should at least evaluate, and hopefully talk to anyone who meets a team need. Talented centres being the most high on that list of needs. Maybe it is true that his money and term are too high, but after all, our bid failed, so maybe it was shorter or less money. (or we are terrible and he didn’t want to come) In any case, no harm done in talking and making an offer.

  • Gange

    Tanguay CLEARLY did not want to be here. Did we get an adequate replacement? No, but what did you expect? Sarich is out, good move!

    I’m going to wait to see Poirier’s underlying numbers before I throw Feaster under the bus on that pick. I’m not sold on Shinkaruk because clearly other teams had the same reservations as he dropped significantly from his ranking.

    We can’t make any determination, good or bad, on Jankowski at this time.

    I have no idea why Keenan Kanzig was drafted. Seems like a throw away TBH.

    I’m not sure how committed Feaster was to LeCavalier. I’m glad they talked but I’m equally glad they didn’t come to agreement. I believe it was more about doing your due diligence as his former GM. What did you expect him to say about Vinny anyway? “He was good a few years ago, really dropped off, maybe he’ll be cheap…”?

    I don’t see GM’s offer sheeting just to “get back” at someone. The ROR offer sheet was a poorly executed plan but it was sincere in it’s execution. The ONLY troubling thing that came from that is their clear lack of understanding of the CBA terms. That was worrisome.

    Was this supposed to be a two minute hate??

    • Michael

      Instead of waiting to see Poirier’s underlying numbers before judging the pick, why not watch him compete at camp and at the Canada Junior camp? Perhaps even watch how he develops?

      • Gange

        Agreed. This talk of draft failure is WAY too premature.

        Since Sutter left they’ve drafted Baertschi, Goudreau, Gillies, and Brossoit. I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt for now.