Random Thoughts – The Trade Deadline Approacheth


Once the Olympics are over all that’s left for the Flames is the trade deadline and then to play out the string. The Buffalo Sabres currently lead the race to the bottom by a near insurmountable margin – they trail the Edmonton Oilers by 9 points and the Flames/Panthers by 13. No one is catching them.

It’s a two horse race for draft position in the West between the Alberta squads. Calgary has two games in hand and four more points than the Oilers. Edmonton has had a decent last 10-game stretch recently, going 5-3-2, but it is mostly a mirage – their possession numbers continue to stink and it has only been 40+ save performances from Ben Scrivens delivering them a few “W’s” recently.

Which is to say it’s unlikely the Flames will be able to fall below the Oilers this year. Which is kind of amazing given where the two teams are in their current team building paths.

– One of the reasons Calgary isn’t yet Oilers bad is their blueline. Specifically Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie. We’ve talked a lot about Mikael Backlund this year, but Brodie has very quietly established himself as a legitimate top-pairing, hard minutes option at just 23-years old.

No Flame plays more minutes at even strength than Brodie (19:57) and no defenseman starts out more often in the defensive zone. Brodie nevertheless boasts the best possession rate for blueliners on the team – ahead of even Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman, both of whom get drastically easier assignments.

Brodie’s legit. And there’s a non-trivial chance he’s going to improve.

– Related: remember the kerfuffle over the summer when I suggested a Roman Josi-like contract for Brodie and some of the mainstream media balked as if the suggestion was insane? I’m guessing that doesn’t see too outlandish to most folks now.Or at least it shouldn’t. 

Brodie is likely to finish inside the top-30 year in terms of average ice time and might cap 30-points. By the time his current bridge deal is done (after next season) I’m fairly certain he’ll be the best defender on this team – and trending upwards to boot. My guess is the salary cap will be anywhere from $72M-$75M as well.

Which is to say, he’s going to cost a pretty penny to re-sign. That may not matter to the Flames right away since they are probably going to have to struggle to make the cap floor over the next few years, but it could have implications a few years down the road once the club is ready to compete again.

– Switching gears, it feels a bit like some fans are writing off Sven Baertschi. It’s been a tough season for the 21-year old, but remember we cautioned against the common sky high expectations ’round these parts back during the summer. I figured a very suscessful season for Baertschi would be sticking as a regular in the NHL and nearing 30-points.

That didn’t happen, in part because it seems the decision makers have some issues with Sven’s habits off the ice (there are worse players than Baertschi currently skating on the Flames, which usually means the coach doesn’t think he can be a “pro” yet), but it doesn’t mean it’s time to cut bait with the lad.

Very few guys are NHLers in their 20-21 year old seasons. A lot of good-to-great NHLers go through a few bumps at this stage of their career. Baertschi’s resume prior to this year is sterling and his offensive abilities and instincts are undeniable. Give the kid some time to figure things out.

– Finally, with the trade deadline approaching, we at FlamesNation are preparing to up our coverage of Calgary’s pontetial moves as soon as Canada wins the Gold medal. If I was in the GM seat, the guys I would be putting on the auction block are:

  • Mike Cammalleri
  • Ladislav Smid
  • Chris Butler
  • Shane O’Brien (pipe dream)
  • Lee Stempniak (if he isn’t going to re-sign)

Smid and Butler probably surprise some people. With Butler near the top of the league in blocks and Smid carrying a reputation as a hard-nosed warrior-type, I think each guy’s trade value might outstrip his actual utility.

Butler has recovered somewhat from his horrendous start to the season, in part because Hartley finally separated his from O’Brien. Butler is functional if he’s paired with someone who can manage the puck, but if he has to be the anchoring guy on a pairing, that partnership sinks rapidly. He’s 27, but doesn’t seem to have meaningfully improved since he arrived in Calgary and doesn’t seem to have  much upside beyond “guy who can get in front of a lot of pucks”. If anyone offered me a top-60 pick for Butler, I’d take it.

Incredbily, Smid might be the worse player of the twi. The erstwhile Oiler seems to have gathered himself a lot of fans during his short time here in Calgary, but I’m not one of them. Smid is fearless, can seem to absorb a lot of pain and isn’t afraid to mix it up here and there, but his weaknesses easily overwhelm his strengths. Aside from O’Brien, Smid is the slowest defender on the Flames blueline. He doesn’t have any offensive upside and isn’t very good at moving the puck. If something goes wrong with Smid on the ice – a bad bounce, a poor decision – he can’t recover.

As a result, Smid has the worst possession rate of the Flames regular defenders this year. In addition, his contract stretches for another three seasons at an average of $3.6M per year. My guess is he’s a replacement level defender (at best) by the time his deal terminates in 2016-17, a year in which he’ll be owed $4M in salary.

Smid’s heart is willing, but the actual ability is lacking and he seems to be on a downward spiral. Burke should see if he can pull a Douglas Murray with some team at the deadline desperate for blueline grit and move Smid for whatever he can get. 

As for Cammalleri, I know there have been rumors of a potential contract extension with the Flames, but I don’t really see how that makes sense for either party. Cammalleri will be 32 this June and even the most optimistic estimates don’t have the Flames back in the thick of things before he’ll turn 35. This upcoming contract is Cammalleri’s last real shot at both getting paid and playing for a potential winner. Given his age, Calgary has no reason to give him the sort of money and term it should take to convince Cammalleri to stick around either – he’s therefore a much better trade asset than anything else for the club currently.

There’s going to be a lot of teams in the hunt for a playoff spot when the deadline rolls around and pretty much all of them could use a top-6 sniper type to one degree or another. Best thing for both parties is to auction him off.

  • Lordmork

    I have to say, the Smid trade ranks as one of the most disappointing ones as of late for me. Giving up two prospects, even if they were only moderate prospects, for a defender who brings as little as Smid does still feels like a mistake. Hopefully they can flip him for something.

    • BurningSensation

      Max Power, Markus Granlund, and Corban Knight made the older Horak expendable. At his age, he probably is what he is, a light scoring, defensively average F you can platoon on the 3rd and 4th lines and win a few draws. If the Oilers weren’t so completely devastated at C, I doubt he would have been asked for in the deal.

      So far I believe Roy has been every bit as good for Calgary as Brossoit has been for the Oilers, and if that portion of the trade ends up as a saw-off then the only team that actually got an NHL player in the deal is Calgary.

      I’d deal Smid for sure now that we’ve seen his footspeed issues. Outside of his problems getting around the rink, I actually quite like his attitude and game.

      I also agree that we should pray for a Doug Murray like return, but that sorta goes without saying.

      • BurningSensation

        Still, I’d rather not have the Flames toss potential useful players for subpar returns just because they deem them to expendable.

        Small deal, but not a great one for the Flames so far. However that could change if Burke is able to get something for him

        • BurningSensation

          Who is the ‘potentially useful player’ we have given up on? Horak isn’t one, and Brossoit is essentially equivalent in age and upside to the guy we got back in Roy, which means we got Smid (or whatever we trade him for) for ‘free’.

          Personally, I like ‘Free’ as far as cost of an asset goes.

          • mattyc

            Uh, seems pretty apparent Horak could certainly be a useful player. Botton six guy who can win face-offs and be defensively responsible, all at the age of 22. Seems like a decent player

            Brossoit certainly has more upside and potential than Roy. He’s an WHL champion and won the league playoff MVP. More impressive than anything Roy has on his resume.

            And how is getting Smid and his horrid contract “for free” a good thing? If Burke can’t deal that dude, that contract could be a candidate for a buyout.

          • beloch

            Honestly, Horak is plain better (both to eyes and advanced stats) than some of the rejects who have played center for the Oilers this season (e.g. Will Acton). The fact that the Oilers are apparently too stupid to use Horak doesn’t change the fact that he’s a useful piece with upside. He’s four years from peak and could still take significant steps forward, although quite possibly not with the Oilers. The Oilers are so poorly run that it wouldn’t be a surprise if they fail to resign him this summer! That being said, third and fourth line centers are something the Flames have in spades. Horak was a good piece to trade. I’m just not a fan of the return.

            Smid would probably be less awful if he were actually deployed as a sheltered third-pairing defender. Currently, he’s Calgary’s #3 shut-down guy after Gio and Brodie (Wideman and Russel face similar competition but get waaaaay cushier zone-starts). Who would play those minutes if Smid is traded? Gio and Brodie are already eating up a lot of minutes. Russel and Wideman would likely get beat up similarly to Smid. Derek Smith? Shane O’Brian? Smid’s getting a lot tough minutes because the Flames really don’t have anyone else to take them. As such, he’s probably worth more to the team than he’d net in return.

            Scarily enough, the same could be said of Butler. He’s been bad, but not terrible and is facing medium-tough minutes. The Flames’ blueline will be scary-bad if both Smid and Butler are traded and there aren’t a lot of prospects ready to step up. Burke really needs to obtain some Defenders.

          • McRib

            “He’s four years from peak and could still take significant steps forward, although quite possibly not with the Oilers. The Oilers are so poorly run that it wouldn’t be a surprise if they fail to resign him this summer!”

            Interesting comment if I had to summate a conclusion to why the Oilers are still a terrible team the first and foremost reason for me is how horrendous the player development has been the last 5+ seasons. You can’t blame the amateur scouting department they have brought in decent chips all across the board (Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Linus Omark, Alex Plante, Toni Rajala, Teemu Hartikainen, Anton Lander, Riley Nash, Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, etc. I remember watching Martin Marincin in the WHL and thinking he was a sure thing two-way Top. 4 defender with PG/Regina now playing with the big club he looks like a ghost of former self with no offensive confidence whatsover.

            It seems that every player who heads to Oklahoma City wants to get out a soon as possible… Why no love for the Sooner State?!?!? Maybe they should be replacing that coach at the AHL ranks, rather than the turnstile at the NHL Ranks (Which has been horrible for the player Development of RHN, Eberle, Hall, Yakupov as well to have no constancy and regular accountability).

          • BurningSensation

            “Interesting comment if I had to summate a conclusion to why the Oilers are still a terrible team the first and foremost reason for me is how horrendous the player development has been the last 5+ seasons.”

            I disagree. The problem isn’t in the Oiler’s talent development, it lies firmly in the talent procurement department.

            “You can’t blame the amateur scouting department they have brought in decent chips all across the board (Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Linus Omark, Alex Plante, Toni Rajala, Teemu Hartikainen, Anton Lander, Riley Nash, Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, etc.””

            MPS looks to have a decent future as a 3rd line forward with size, speed, and hands of ferroconcrete. Omark was so good he was traded to the Sabres for less than Ray Sheppard’s 1$ contract (i.e., the trade is literally for ‘nothing’ if Omark can’t stick with the team and is waived), Alex Plante has been a disaster since he was selected, and by my eye (which is both biased and poor) he can’t skate well enough to play in the pros. Toni Rajala has a strong future as a 2nd line skill forward in the Alleskesvan. Hartikainen has a KHL contract. Lander has never had offense, and hasn’t developed any. Riley Nash is barely on the Hurricanes, but might still have a future as a 4th line C with character and smarts. David Musil had suspect skating when he was drafted, and by my eye has actually gotten worse. He and Plante will make an excellent 2nd unit in the ECHL someday.

            Klefbom is actually a very interesting player. I can easily see him in a role not unlike J-Bo had with Calgary, a big, strong, fast, shutdown D-man who can log big minutes on the PK and at 5×5, but who isn’t suited to the powerplay, and doesn’t crack 40 points barring a miracle born of desperate overuse. That said, if I recall wasn’t he a first round pick? Not exactly a scouting coup to find a very good D-man in the 1st rnd.

            Yes, Hall, The Nuge, and Yak were all ‘no-brainers’ being consensus top choices in each of their years (except in the case of Hall v Seguin, but I would say that Hall is still the correct choice), but outside of them, and arguably, Eberle, the scouting and procurement department has been little short of terrible as far as producing productive NHL players.

            “I remember watching Martin Marincin in the WHL and thinking he was a sure thing two-way Top. 4 defender with PG/Regina now playing with the big club he looks like a ghost of former self with no offensive confidence whatsover.”

            I’m not sure what you are seeing, but Marincin (in a small sample size) has the best Corsi of all Oiler D-men (albeit against less than stellar Qualcomp), and is getting a progressively larger amount of ice-time as a result. No, he isn’t running the powerplay, or unleashing hell with his slapshot 5x a game, but he’s a rookie, and is still getting his game together (and he’s already better defensively than half the Oilers D). Once he adds another 10-15lbs to his frame he’ll be a legit 2nd pairing D. He would also be a counter-example to my lamenting of the Oilers scouting department – but given that he has also been ‘developed’ by the Oilers these last few years it all cancels out..

          • Parallex

            More like an easily and cheaply replaceable player. Nobody’s saying that Horak is garbage… but he’s basically Ben Street/Blair Jones and Broissoit isn’t anything special. I think Smid is better then he’s shown so far and GM’s buy guys like him on the reg so I don’t think he’ll be hard to trade should the Flames ever opt to do so.

          • Skuehler

            I can’t help but wonder what the purpose of the Roy/Broissot swap was?
            So Smid for Horak seems like a good move. Was Edmonton basically salary dumping, cause don’t they need defenseman up there? Just feels like more will come out about that deal eventually.

            I see Smid staying as he is a big anchor type that Burke likes. We need his salary. Russell/Wideman/Brodie aren’t big bodies but have tons of mobility. I think. Butler and Obrien are more replaceable. I think Smith is less of a liability as a 6.

          • BurningSensation

            As I recall the thinking was;

            – Edmonton wanted to move Smid for salary purposes so they could then do the deal for Scrivens. Out of loyalty to Smid who was presumed to prefer to stay in Alberta, they targeted the Flames.

            – Along with motivation to move Smid, they had an obvious hole in their depth chart at C, and Horak was pretty clearly the odd man out in terms of the Flames future at C, so likely the Oilers were asking for him.

            – Knowing Horak has a low ceiling and that him alone for Smid isn’t a good return, they inquired about Brossoit.

            – I’d bet that Burke consulted with his scouting department and asked how they rated the Oilers’ Roy – if they think the two are close in overall ability, Burke can figure he is getting Smid for Horak, or, to put it another way, he’s getting an NHL defenseman for an AHL forward.

            – In Edmonton’s case, they pretty clearly had a hard-on for Broissoit, motivated at least in part because he plays for the Oil Kings and all the brass see him at every home game. Given the string of goalie busts from in their own scouting department they might also have been motivated to find one from outside.

    • Parallex

      Doesn’t feel like a mistake to me. We gave up a guy who is probably a AHL/NHL tweener and the guy who was the 5th goalie on our depth chart. That’s almost nothing… and in return we got back the 5th goalie on our current depth chart and a guy whose proven he’s able to stick around as a blueliner in the NHL. As limited as Smid may be I feel that in the short-term he eats minutes and in the longterm will return more then what was given up.

  • beloch

    Smid’s contract is plain ugly for a defender that really should be third-pairing even for the Flames. If Burke can get a positive valued return for him I’ll be surprised.

    Butler seems to be playing a lot better this season than in previous seasons, but he’s still pretty awful. There aren’t a lot of teams on which he’d be an upgrade to the third pairing. However, his contract isn’t bad and ends soon. There’s a remote possibility a team with an injury decimated blue-line will want to rent him.

    Berra just put in a fine performance against Sweden. If the Swiss play him more and he continues to play well, might he not be worth trading? The Flames’ goalie-depth would look a little ugly if Ramo isn’t good to go. However, worst-case scenario is MacDonald back in net with Ortio backing him up and Abby making do with that guy they got from Edmonton and… some other guy from… somewhere. This is probably a no go if Ramo is out long-term, but Ramo in net with Ortio backing him up doesn’t look that bad. The deciding factor will probably be if Ortio is developed enough to leave the AHL. Berra will likely not be resigned, but he could be worth something if he steals a few Olympic games.

    • BurningSensation

      Any return for Smid and/or Butler would end up a net positive (assuming we aren’t taking back an obscene contract like Clarkson’s, but even then…).

      D-men, even bad d-men, are in demand at the trade deadline as playoff teams look to add depth defenders. That should play into our favour.

      The Berra question is interesting. The only downsides to making a deal involving him is are that he could still end up being a decent NHL goaltender just entering his prime, and that it gets incrementally harder to sign decent FAs if they know you are likely to just flip them as soon as they get established.

      The other issue is the one you describe, depth. Berra actually slots in well as the teams backup during the early stages of the rebuild. He’s cheap. He might get better. You can let him get blitzed some nights if you need to without worrying he’s going to pull a Roy. If he loses a bunch of games for you, oh well, you get a better pick.

      MacDonald could play a similar role for most of that, but literally has no upside that can be tapped, and has already demonstrated that he can’t stop pucks at an NHL level. Flames players might rally behind a guy they think can get better, more than they would a guy they know is never going to be any good.

      Ortio isn’t well suited to be a backup at this stage, better to give him a ton of reps at the AHL level and have him carry the ball as a #1. He’ll get a chance to unseat Ramo in the near future as it is, so there is no need to blunt his development by having him watch Ramo from the bench.

  • Michael

    The trade deadline will give us a real indication of the direction that Burke really wants to take the Flames. Other than a few caretaker moves (a couple of signings and a minor trade) we still don’t know if Burke is sticking with the traditional rebuild, or the ‘accelerated’ kind to get the team playoff competitive ASAP (the kind favored by Mr. Edwards). Under the traditional model you move players like Cammy, but you resign him if you want to go the competitive route. How he handles Cammy may give us a good look into Burkes crystal ball.

    I would sell any surplus pieces into the trade deadline, acquiring draft picks to trade at the draft. I suspect that Burke / new GM will be active in the off season, with at least one major piece coming (center / goalie) coming our way. I still think our first round pick might be in play for the right price.

  • beloch

    I’m watching the Canada-Austria game. Man is it ever bizarre not cheering for the underdog. I’d almost forgotten what it feels like to be cheering for the favorite! With the Flames (or Oilers), whenever play is in the defensive end (which is more often than not) you almost have to hold your breath because one goal could put the game out of reach. This Olympic team always seems to have goals in the bank and are certain to score more. Whenever Austria does manage to get shots on net the terror just isn’t there!

    I bet there’s a correlation between die-hard Flames fans and horror movie fans. You’ve got to love the terror.

  • Michael

    Watching the game. I definitely feel like there’s no way Kunitz should be on the “top” line. He looks lost in the offensive zone.

    He should be with Bergeron, with Jamie Benn playing with the Croz.

    Also, it’s slightly disconcerting that all of Canada’s goals seem to be scored by either Weber or Doughty…

      • BurningSensation

        Of all the guys they picked for the team, Jeff Carter was the one I was most not happy with.

        I would have VASTLY preferred Claude Giroux (and/or St Louis) to Carter.

        • beloch

          Carter has actually looked very, very good in this game, even setting his two (!!!) goals aside. Giving him more of a depth role was obviously helpful to him (he played with Crosby and Kunitz in game 1, did he not?).

          But yeah, Giroux should have been on the team. Kunitz and Nash look lost.

          • BurningSensation

            Nash and Kunitz were the other guys I was ‘disappointed’ made the team.

            Kunitz isn’t useful outside of his role as Crosby’s wingman. If he were a cartoon he’d be Scrappy-Do.

            Nash unfortunately just isn’t the dominating presence he flashed his first few years in Columbus. I like his game fine (mostly), but still would have preferred a more multi-tooled player like Giroux (or St Louis) inn his place. That said, I’d probably have picked both Kunitz and Nash ahead of Carter. I think Carter duplicates the skillset of Nash – but at a lesser level, and Kunitz is at least capable of keeping up with The Croz.

            He’s making me eat my words today though.

          • beloch

            Kunitz is actually fairly good in the neutral and defensive zones. It’s just the offensive zone where Crosby and St Louis leave him in their dust.

            I would say something similar about Carter, with the exception that he’s very, very fast. Much faster than Nash. His speed and two-way game have been huge in this game.

  • beloch

    I bet PK Subban will pot one in a lop-sided match like this one. He’ll make it something like 7-0 and then do one of his patented goal-line to goal-line goal celebrations while the rest of the team looks on in stunned silence and Canadians everywhere do double-facepalms.

    • BurningSensation

      I don’t get the Subban hate. Seriousy, I don’t get it.

      I’d rather a player have Subban’s obvious personality than J-Bo’s ultra-bland-check-him-for-a-heartbeat ‘style’.

      Bouwmeester has personality the way bald people have hair colour. Give me Subban every day.

      • beloch

        Were you watching that one night where the Flames lost to Montreal and Subban pulled one of his three-line knee-slides? I think Subban is a great player, but I’d definitely prefer blandness to antics that humiliate defeated opponents. Bouwmeester did lack personality, but he also lacked scoring for most of his tenure in Calgary. He’s playing pretty well tonight though.

      • beloch

        All of this. He can be exuberant at times, but THE GUY IS A STAR IN THE NHL. He has the right to be exited about scoring an OT winner without being eviscerated by pundits and has-beens.

        • beloch

          It’s when he celebrates meaningless goals in meaningless games that bothers me. He’s definitely gotten better, but he celebrated far too often over far too little early in his career.

          P.S. Being ridiculously good at something doesn’t give you the right to be a dick. I respect Subban’s ability, but I respect players who are both good and classy more.

          • piscera.infada

            There is a point though where sometimes (especially with youthful exuberance) confidence becomes swagger. I have no problem with it, the way I have no problem with touchdown dances in football, or perceived individualistic celebrations in basketball. The point is the love of the game, the love of the moment, and the drive to be a contributor – PK has all of that in spades. I’d take it any day. I don’t see that as being a dick, the same way I don’t see Ovechkin (especially earlier in his career) as being a dick. Could he learn to tone it down at times? Yes. But the kid’s 24 years old. Christ, he could be out at the bar every night getting completely loser drunk and picking fights. As he grows, he’ll learn when to and when not to. For now, just sit back and enjoy his mad skills.

            Re: Carter, he was a guy that I thought wouldn’t be picked, but I was happy when he was. Shoot-first, no-nonsense, straight-line player. It’s something you need in a tournament where teams are “stacked”. He has also been one of the few Canadian forwards who has been effective driving the front of the net, instead of staying on the perimeter.

          • BurningSensation

            If the ‘downside’ to Subban is that he humiliates opponents by celebrating his successes, I’ll take that downside every day.

            Does nobody remember Theo Fleury? We loved his antics when they drove Oilers crazy, and Subban is way less a prick than Theo was.

          • beloch

            It’s a little different when the prick’s on your team sticking it to the enemy, and yet again different in international play. I loved every Fleury goal celebration but would have been face-palming hard if he did that in an Olympic match that wasn’t in OT. I admit I’d probably feel different about Subban if he were a Flame.

          • BurningSensation

            Look, Glenn Anderson drove me crazy for a solid decade, but I would have absolutely killed to have him on the Flames.

            That guys like Anderson, etc., can get under people’s skin is a feature, not a bug.

  • beloch

    “Carter has got to realize that he’s going to need a quad to do anything in the modern world.” –Ron MacLean

    That’s the best Mass Effect joke I’ve ever heard in a hockey match.

  • mattyc

    Never really understood the need to go out and get Smid. Granted we didn’t end up giving up a whole lot, he doesn’t make us much better than another replacement player would, and it’s not like we’re actively trying to win anyways.

    I do think Butler is still a useful piece though. He’s a lot more mobile than Smid, and fits comfortably into the 5 D role. He looked pretty good playing with JBo, and alright playing with Russell too. As long as he isn’t saddled with the O’Brien (or Breen i guess) anchor, he’s passable. What more can you really want/expect at this stage of the rebuild?

  • Rockmorton65

    I’ve got no problem with Subban’s celebrations. As long as it’s a “caught up in the moment” thing, and not a rehearsed “production number” ala the Stamps receivers. That kind of thing is just disrespectful.

  • BurningSensation

    Focusing on the propositions you put forward as trade bait, I would agree that Ladi Smid is note likely a Flame for the balance of his career.

    I would, though, like to put a longer term view on the table for discussion.

    The Flames are looking to effect the assembly of a team that will be competing for a playoff spot perhaps not next year but definitely the year after. So lets put the current roster in that perspective with realistic return expectations. That puts players with near term contract expiries and older birth certificates immediately in play. While I like Cammalleri’s scoring, his defensive liabilities, his price tag and his age put him on the block, with anticipation of a second round draft pick and a middling prospect.

    Like Cammalleri, Stempniak does have some qualities that one might want in that he can be scorer (albeit streaky) and does finish his checks, the pending end of his contract and his age starting with a 3 also puts him in play. Unless he gets packaged with other assets, realistically expecting anything above a low second rounder would be pushing it.

    Chris Butler is a depth defenseman and is gone either by trade or contract expiry. The Flames have Sieloff and Wotherspoon who could fill the roster spot next year. What a trade would yield would, in my opinion, not be much more than a fourth or fifth rounder.

    I would try and extend Berra. I don’t think the trial by fire that he has had is long enough to be diagnostic as to whether he is an NHL goaltender, either as a starter or a backup. That makes any trade and any return a risky proposition.

    Other pending UFAs in the system, Derek Smith (age 29), Blair Jones (27), Ben Street (27) and Joey Macdonald(34) are expendable and not likely to provide much in return on the trade market. Street is a ‘tweener’, has reasonable abilities that won’t hurt you but is not a building block. There are other, younger prospects already in the system that have more upside that these names.

    Back to Smid, I would put him in the ‘keep’ category along with Glencross for the start of the 2014-15 season, as names that might be dangled for mid second through mid third round draft choices in June 2015. Big Ern (McGrattan) comes up as a UFA next year too, but figure the market for someone with his talents will be there but hard to gauge the return. And by that time, we will have a much better read, as will the rest of the league, on Ramo. He, I think, could be a solid NHL netminder, be it a starter or a backup, ranking him higher than Berra at this point.

    And for what its worth, my last comment will be that Sven Baertschi will be on the Flame roster next year, a more mature young man.

    • mattyc

      I think you’re overselling Seiloff and Wotherspoon. Both may become good players, but I think it’s unrealistic to expect them to make the jump next year. For that reason, I would keep Butler around – he’s OK, not going to be expensive to resign, and will fill a gap for another year or two while Wotherspoon and Sieloff (and Cundari and Ramage) develop. If one of those D forces the issue and outplays a veteran – that’s great, then you can worry about moving out a body. But until that happens, I don’t think you pencil an unproven player in to the roster.

      I agree with you about Baertschi. I hope he forces his way on the roster next year. Similarly, he’ll have to earn it by displacing a veteran, but that’s how it should be.

  • BurningSensation

    I also think teams will be asking about Glenx if he is healthy(but his no trade clause and hometown discount will make it hard to move him) and I also think a few teams will be asking about Hudler. Personally I’m not inclined to move either of them but that does not mean I would not if the offer was high enough.

    Going forward into next year and the second stage of the rebuild we need to have 6/7 veteran NHL forwards both to be competitive and for mentorship reasons.(also so we make the cap)Along with that we need 3/4 forwards who have taken the NHL step and are becoming real NHL forwards, 3/4 of tweeners who can play in an emergency in the NHL but can provide leadership in the AHL, and our whole host of prospects that can be shipped between the AHL and NHL as their development requires. On d we need 5/6 NHL defencemen, a couple of tweeners and the prospects that we have. Currently we have much of this in the organization, the question is how quickly Burke wants to move from rebuild back to playoff contender. We are not sure what his mandate is and until some more moves are made it will remain unclear. I’m looking forward to see the direction that he will take this team; either to cheer him or heckle him. Either way it will be interesting.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Great article. Agree with everything. I could definitely see the merit of signing Brodie long term at a bit higher cap hit back when you proposed it months ago and agreed with you then.

    Seems as though the stats guys here at FN have a way of predicting a few things: Backlund vindication, Brodie stepping up and being legit, etc.

    I think when things don’t quite go as expected it is usually because of other factors at play (outliers if you will). With young players I think there is oftentimes things going on in their personal lives outside of hockey that can really affect their play which we often times aren’t privy to.

    These are young men with lots of cash/fame thrown at them and are out on their own trying to figure life out. It can sometimes mess with their hockey game IMO and it really depends on the individual, their make-up, up-bringing, etc. as far as how they respond.

  • Parallex

    Reports that every team on the West Coast and maybe Phoenix as well are interested in him makes moving Cammi a no-brainer. If there’s a bidding war for his services, a return for him will never be better than it is now.

    • McRib

      Speaking of Phoenix, I think they’re the best destination for Cammalleri. They desperately need someone who can pot a few goals, and they have the pieces for the Flames to be interested in dealing with them (Rundblad).

  • Parallex

    I would be stone cold stunned if the Oilers were to pass us this season. But if they could, it would help us out in the draft. “My guess is the salary cap will be anywhere from $72M-$75M as well.” Some of the insiders are pegging $80-$90 million in to not too distant future. If the Flames could trade Sarich and Kotalik, they can trade O’Brien. I’m surprised Wideman isn’t on your list with his hefty contract and the fact his desire is not to be part of a rebuild. I would trade Cammy and Stempniak, try to get some return rather than let these guys walk during the off season. I would keep Hudler, Gio, Glencross, Brodie, Backlund, Baertschi and build around the last three.

    • Skuehler

      rkd: I was wondering where you heard that Wideman does not want to be part of the rebuild. If it’s true we should definitely be looking to move him.

      As I look back at the season, I recall the Wideman/Russell pairing being quite strong, they seemed to compliment each other quite well. Then Russell got hurt and then Wideman and since they have both been back they have seldom played together; it seems Hartley is trying to cover for both Smid and Butler by playing them with Russell and Wideman. I don’t know if others think this but that’s my take.

    • beloch

      Ew. Why not just re-acquire Ales Kotalik? I hear he’s available.

      If Stewart costs Sven straight-up it’s a grievous overpay. More like Stempniak and a 3rd.

      If Sven is traded, it’s for a young defenseman. And by young, I mean like Brodie’s age or younger. Someone who will still be in his prime when the Flames are competitive again, not someone who will be cresting 30 (like Stewart).

      • beloch

        Who is going to take care of Gaudreau?
        May as well get someone who can put the puck in the net.
        (not sure what side they play on)
        Please don’t say Arnold…..or Westgarth.
        Maybe Ferland……if he can stay healthy and out of jail…..


        • beloch

          WW: I doubt St L is looking to get rid of a key piece of a team that should be in the hunt for the cup, if anything they will be looking to add a player that will help them this season. As to who will protect Gaudreau you mention Ferland but what about Bouma or a Glenx. It seems that throughout his hockey career that Johnny G has used his skill and speed to protect himself. Who has been Martin StL protection or Theo’s for that matter?

    • beloch

      And Billy Arnold assists on it.

      Bill Arnold could be as useful an NHLer, though not as a scorer, as Gaudreau. He’s good in both ends of the rink and in the faceoff circle.

      And as a senior, a solid shot at being signed this summer.

  • beloch

    Yale loses 4-0 so no points for Agostino. Providence ties 2-2 and if I read the report correctly (no box score) Gilmour scores a goal and Janko with an assist. Gilles in net. Some of the NCAA websites are not as user friendly as they could be.

  • beloch

    Regarding Subban, Nobody wants to take the “personality” out of the game, but there’s a code in the NHL and Subban has clearly crossed it. He isn’t respected by his opposition and apparently not by his own coach and many of his teammates. If Subban wants an example of how to act like a pro, he should model himself after Iginla, Gretzky, Toews, Orr and many others who are light years ahead of him in talent and played with class throughout their careers.

  • In the article you talk about the progression of TJB and part of that has been his time spent with Gio. What the injuries to Gio, Wideman and Russell did was force him to play with other partners and at times he elevated both his game and some of his partners games. He also struggled at times with these other partners.

    The injuries also threw out of wack a pretty sound pairing of Russell and Wideman. I think playing with Wides helped Russells game and now he is a confident NHL defender and has now had to play with both Butler and Smid. Butler’s season has been a typical Butler season something of a roller coaster; some very good moments and some really scarey moments a lot depends on his partner. Personally I prefer him to Smid when he plays with the right partner. I’m hoping Wide’s game gets back on track after the break.

    After the NHL defencemen the organizations depth at this position is questionable. Smith is a good AHL defender and can play for an NHL team in an emergency, O’B is no longer able to play at this level and will likely be a distraction at the AHL and the sooner he can move along the better, and Breen is an AHL defender who is not even an NHL replacement. So what does that leave us in the AHL: Billins who many don’t like because of his size(he is as big as Russell)he seems to be a decent defender and is a PP quarterback and for the sake of the organization I would keep him. Cundari who had an injury plagued season and is likely only an AHL defender and I’m not sure what I would do here; a great deal depends on how good I think the young prospects will be. Wootherspoon who is becoming a decent AHL pro but who needs more work and I suspect is still a year away although I could see him getting call up duty with the flames next year. Ramage is not having a great year in the AHL but from what I’ve gleamed from the games I’ve listened to he often gets the toughest assignments. And then there is Sieloff the one with the most potential but the worst luck. As of today he has played 2 games in the AHL and something like 50 games total over the last two seasons. Even if he gets healthy and plays for the Heat in the playoffs he will need at least 1 full(healthy) season in the AHL to get ready for the NHL.

    Then if you look at the prospects you have to ask are any of them ready for the NHL and to be truthful the answer is no. Are any of them ready to be impactful players at the AHL and of that I am not sure. Kanzig, Roy, Culkin, and ???(why can’t I remember his name… not enough coffee at 7 a.m.) all might be good AHLer’s next year if they get good mentorship and and good coaching, but they are all at least two seasons away from the big club.

    The Flames will need to either sign one or two UFA’s to shore up their NHL defensive tandems or resign Butler and stay the course.

  • beloch

    Kulak is the missing name(thanks for coffee and the internet)

    As I was sitting here I decided to take a look at the Flames organization and see what is wrong with it and looked at the teams demographics. We seem to have an adequate number pf 30-32 year olds who are sound NHL players, we only have 6 NHL players between 25-29 and none of them were players we developed (although it could be argued that Butler 27 has spent as much time here as he did in Buffalo)and 5 players currently on the roster between 22-25, three that we have drafted and developed;Backs, Bouma and Brodie along with Colborne and Byron that we traded for. On the farm there are 8 and most were acquired by trade or free agency under Feaster.

    As an organization we could use a few more 25-29 year old pros and really the only way to acquire these is via trade or UFA’s. Teams are reluctant to part with good 25-29 year olds via trade unless you pay a kings ransom in younger prospects(personally not something I would do at this time)so the best option is through the UFA market this summer and next; yes you almost always overpay for these guys but at this time we have cap space. Of course we can always just wait for the young guys to develop and force them into carrying the load like in Edmonton but I’m not sure that is the model any of us want to follow.

        • I think Flames are in a real unique scenario. We are starting the rebuild with some real decent prospects coming up & a handful of young players that don’t have the 1st overall hype really starting to establish themselves as core quality. Add the fact we really really don’t have any bad contracts handicapping the team, actually the opposite, we have some real good value contracts. So I’m really torn, we all want top dollar & hope for some of the obvious UFA TDL fodder & really, only Cammi & Stemps have some real decent value possibly coming back. I know we all agree we need decent vets growing with the young players, but they can be had with $$$$ come July & we have a great ability to score some character Vets that can fit & help our rebuilding club with our cap space. Do you flip the likes of Wideman & Hudler who will get you good value & even more depending how creative you want to get & then just buy their replacements come July? I am of the mindset that that would be the way to approach this TDL. If you can get great packages for Wideman & Hudler along with a decent rental package for Cammi & Stemps, that might be the catalyst to parlay returns into some top 5 picks in 2014 & possibly 2015.

          Vets I hang on to are Gio, Stajan, GlenX & maybe Smid. We have a lot of youth we need to insert to see where we are next year & it will be a win win. Either guys like Johnny G & Arnold & Knight are going to be successful & we have a decent year to everyones unexpected delight or we have a serious shot at McDavid or Eichel. The following year I would expect the likes of Porrier & Klimchuk & Reinhart to be part of the big club equation & next wave of youth. The targets I would go after with these assets are some highend D prospects. In 2 years, our trade targets should be switching gears to start to become relative again.