Five things: Poor Jiri

1. Hudler got screwed

The Czech Olympic team finally named a replacement for Vladimir Sobotka and all you Hudlerheads out there are going to be baffled as hell when I tell you that it was, for some reason, not Jiri Hudler.

It was, instead, Martin Erat, who has lately been ripping the hell out of defenses in the Eastern Conference. While he still doesn’t have a goal this season — a thing I literally can’t even believe — he’s got 14 assists in his last 25 games playing third-line minutes against tough-ish competition. That includes five helpers in the last six games. This seems very much a case of Erat filling a role that Hudler simply does not, but it’s still dumb. You want, or at least should want, your best players in a tournament like this, and Hudler is pretty clearly a better hockey player at this point in his life than Erat, not that I’m sure there was ever a point at which the opposite was the case.

On the other hand, I kind of get it. Hudler has put up roughly a jillion points more than anyone had reason to logically expect, but he’s done it against indescribably soft competition, of which there isn’t going to be much in Sochi because these are, apart from a few nations that will go unnamed, mostly all-star teams. Playing for a team this deeply bad also has a negative impact on perception; remember, Jarome Iginla scored 52 goals on a line with Dean McAmmond and Craig Conroy and still didn’t win the Hart, so this really can’t come as that much of a surprise.

Still, though. No god damn goals and the guy makes the Olympic team. That’s crazy. Maybe they figure he’s due.

2. Cammalleri extension? Russell extension?

Thought it was interesting on Tuesday to see Bob McKenzie talking about the possibility of the Flames and Mike Cammalleri actually agreeing to a contract extension. That is, I have to say, something I did not in any way see coming. The rumored extension for Kris Russell, mentioned in Elliotte Friedman’s always-great 30 Thoughts, though, comes as no surprise.

First, the thought on Cammalleri was that it’s been a foregone conclusion for months, maybe even more than a year depending on who you ask, that Cammalleri was getting traded as hell around the deadline, and now they’re saying he might stick around? That seems very strange to me. Again, I get the whole thing about the Flames have to make it to the cap floor next season, and they need veteran players around to fill the roster and “show the young guys how to be professionals” and all that kind of thing.

But this ultimately boils down to asset management, and he’s one of the few guys that’s going to fetch any kind of price on the open market in a way that will meaningfully help Calgary going forward. Even if they take on a problem contract for the remainder of this season (and maybe the next one?), getting a first-round pick and a prospect should be the utmost goal here. Not retaining him. Maybe Brian Burke has had conversations that say the price for Cammalleri from other teams isn’t as high, and that’s the reason the team retains him instead, then okay, sure, but it has to be answered for.

As for Russell, well, he’s been perfectly fine in Calgary, as I think many suspected he would be. Nothing spectacular but he’s rarely bad either, and there’s a paucity of that flying around the Calgary blue line this season. Keeping him around is a good idea.

3. The streak and its inevitable end

So the Flames finally lost, snapping their five-game winning streak, in the Flamesiest way possible. They were shut out by one of the worst defensive teams in the Eastern Conference over the last months. No surprise there, because even the Habs playing at their optimal offensive best these days is probably only good enough to sneak one past a Calgary netminder.

It had to end at some point, mainly because it probably should never have happened in the first place, but that was some kind of weird run the Flames went on there, wasn’t it? They scored 16 goals on 147 shots in those five games, which is closing in on 11 percent shooting. That more or less has to even out all those clean sheets opposing goaltenders held for that stretch in late December and early January, right? This is how hockey evens things up over the course of a season, and now the Flames can go back to losing a lot. Everybody wins. Except the Flames for the rest of the year, I guess.

4. Butler earning praise? C’mon

Saw in the Herald where Chris Butler was getting a bunch of kudos for playing well this season. We’re talking about Chris Butler the Calgary Flames defenseman. Yeah he blocks a lot of shots. Okay great. Hit people a lot too. Sounds fantastic.

A scary thing is: In terms of puck possession, this is actually Butler’s worst season in Calgary. So of course he’s blocking a lot of shots and hitting a lot of guys. He’s awful. Now, to be fair, he spent basically from late November to the middle of December getting buried in his own zone at every opportunity, and has certainly rebounded more recently, but this kind of thing is such nonsense. Every team has guys who block a lot of shots but it doesn’t mean they’re doing well. It actually means the opposite. How are we still having this discussion in 2014?

5. A look at Ortio

In discussing the Flames’ goaltending options last week I neglected to take into account the fact that Joni Ortio, who’s been playing extremely well in the AHL this season, might be a backup option for next season. Didn’t think it was something they might explore. But now with the injury to Karri Ramo, he’s certainly going to get a look here and there for the next little while. Maybe he acquits himself well and earns the job that they might have otherwise given to a veteran No. 1b kind of guy, but I’m not sure you want to put a guy in his first full season of North American hockey into that kind of situation right away, especially when he’s just 23.

There’s plenty of time to get a good, long gander at what he can do, and having him as the backup for next season isn’t going to help or hurt the team any. We all know they’re going to be bad. It seems to me that you should bring guys like this along slowly. Hard to see any reason to rush.

  • Parallex

    RE: Point 4

    I can actually kind of see how Butler is getting Kudos dispite being the same mediocre Chris Butler we all know and “love”. Mostly because (and I acknowledge this is personal opinion) while he’s still not good his number of faceplantingly bad brainfart plays feels like it’s down. He’s still bad but he’s not “memorable” bad. So in a relative sense he seems better.

    In regards to how are we still having this discussion in 2014… it’s been decades (plural) since it was first pointed out that RBI and Saves are pointless stats that don’t reflect any particular skill of the player “earning” them and yet people still talk about it as if it had some sort of relevance. Ol’timey sports meme’s take forever to change (if they ever do at all).

  • Colin.S

    So the Oilers are apparently going to start off the pre-Olympic deadline with a Gagner for K. Clifford trade(probably a bit more involved, cause otherwise LOL OILERS), so maybe Burke starts getting the phones out.

    Hopefully we can retain Russell before the deadline, he’s been good on our blue line for the most part, he’s not a top guy, but he sure as hell is better than most of the bottom rotation defenders.

    As for Camm, if he wants to resign, good for him, better to keep a few of the better vets around. No sense in gutting the team and ending up like the LoLOilers up north.

    Also maybe Lambert can confirm or deny, but saw on Twitter couple days ago(can’t remember who was tweeting/retweeting), but they said that Jankowski was a lot better defensively this year compared to last, would you say that’s accurate?

    Also for everyone else who hasn’t seen it, here is Poirier’s highlights from last nights game, WATCH THAT FOURTH GOAL, DAMN THATS A NICE GOAL!!!

    • mattyc

      HOLY CRAP!!!! that Defender must have had to search the rafters for his jock, because he got UNDRESSED!

      Each of those goals was basically 100% individual effort. Seems Emile doesn’t get a lot of help with Reway out of the lineup.

    • seve927

      Jankowski’s been on the ice for 6 goals against all year. 26 games. Either Gillies is bailing him (more than others) out a lot or, yeah, it looks like he’s doing pretty well defensively.

      • Colin.S

        That’s good to hear, I very much doubt we’ll ever see Feaster’s “Best player in the draft”, but I was getting worried by sheer lack of offence that he wasn’t even going to be an NHLer. But if he is at least a strong defender maybe at worst he could be a bottom rotation forward.

  • mattyc

    To my eye Butler has played a lot better since about when Russell got hurt. Probably helps that he’s played with a better D-partner than O’Brien though…

    I maintain he’s a decent 5 D when he isn’t played with an anchor like SOB or Breen.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      A combination of hype and familiarity. Poirier was kind of an under-the-radar kind of guy, while Shinkaruk was a rather highly-rated local kid.

      I fully understand the puzzlement (and shared in it). Once I actually learned a bit about Poirier, and started watching him, it didn’t bother me any longer. At this point I’m glad we have Poirier and not Shinkaruk.

      • BurningSensation


        I thnk Poirier might be tthe steal of that draft, and if it were redone you’d see Poirier picked much higher.

        (you could say the same, maybe even more so, about Nichushkin)

    • Colin.S

      Giving him an extension takes him 100% off the trade market. If another team wants to sign him, they would trade for him as a rental and put out their own contract offer.

  • T&A4Flames

    Can’t remember if I brought this up on another thread here at FN but, does anyone else think that Wideman is being shopped?

    He’s on the 3rd pairing and if we sign Russell than do we really need him? I like Wideman and was very excited when I heard we signed him but things have changed. Gio, Brodie, Russell and Butler/Smid have been doing the lifting on the back end.

    If we retain salary, which also helps our cap for the next few years I believe, we should be able to get a good return for him shouldn’t we?

  • McRib

    Here is the gif of that Emile Poirier fourth goal last night for convenience purposes over the video already posted…

    Scoring four goals in a game not to mention unbelievable wheels.. Ya I understand leaving him off team Canada!!! **Cheap Sarcasm** I got lambasted this summer on numerous sites because I compared Emile Poirier to Corey Perry during draft year, maybe I am not as crazy as people thought… Anyone who I talk to in the Ottawa Area that watches him regularly says this kid is a homerun first line franchise player and just keeps getting better. You know the same people that recently watched Sean Monahan, Claude Giroux, etc come through towns two Major Junior Clubs, cannot wait to see him next summer in spring training.

    Red Line Reports Mocks Draft when people where saying he was a reach (TSN, NHL Central Scouting, Corey Pronman, etc) this is what Red Line was saying “…could be the biggest steal of the draft”.

  • WaIter White

    Give me a break. Hudler has been playing the softest minutes from any player not named Monahan or Shane O’Garbage. Kevin friggin Westgarth could get a bunch of assists too if he was given 20 minutes a night with offensive players against soft competition. Sure, he has some skill, but he’s no game changer. Jiri is no Olympian. Washington wouldn’t have given up Philip Forsberg for Erat if he was as bad as you all make him out to be.


  • The story on Hudler is that he supposedly told the Czech coach to go f*ck himself last year during the World Championships (or the year before?). Dunno what the issue was, but that seems to have had further fallout on his Olympic chances.

    Also, he’s softer than butter. They don’t need him.

    Why would Cammalleri re-sign in Calgary? Doesn’t he want to win a Cup? Send him to the NYR for Brassard + 1st + prospect.

  • T&A4Flames

    1. If the Czechs are in the medal round then I will say they have a good team that Jiri just wasn’t good enough to play on. We will see then comment.

    2.Sign Russell as a speedy 4 or 5 D the flames got for a fourth or fifth round pick — a steal. As for Cammy if he gets a first or second round pick — trade. If he wants to stay for a flame deal then maybe keep him but I don’t think so.

    3. no comments

    4.Sat at a flames game in California with Butler’s mother, sister and brother. Even they said he is the defenseman no one likes and should be traded. I disagreed with them and said he is okay as a 5 or 6 at times and the flames right now don’t have anyone to replace him. He does play better with more minutes and is a plenty kill D. Sign to a reasonable deal for a 5-6 until further notice.

    5.Go Ortio Go. Only one direction for him to go. He has more patience then most of us fans. He just maybe the real backup next season.