News and Notes – March 7 2014

It’s a Game Day here at FlamesNation, as the Calgary Flames host the John Tavares-less New York Islanders. It’s also Retro Night, with good music, bad fashion, sweet Retro jerseys, and a tribute to Joe Nieuwendyk – Joe’s #25 will go up to the rafters as part of the Forever a Flames program.

Now that I’m fully recovered from trade deadline day on Wednesday, I’ve got a few thoughts.

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First off, injuries. The Flames are lousy with them right now. Kevin Westgarth (concussion), Curtis Glencross (ankle), David Jones (upper body), Karri Ramo (knee), Dennis Wideman (unspecified), Jiri Hudler (upper body) and Matt Stajan (personal) are all absent, at least for the weekend. Galiardi is slated to return tonight in Hudler’s place, and the Flames have brought in Tyler Wotherspoon from Abbotsford to fill Wideman’s shoes. That’s a lot of veterans out of the line-up: the team’s #1 goalie, a veteran defenseman, and three really key forwards.

On the flip-side of all that, the Flames are dressing a TON of kids right now. Your guys under 25 look like this:

  • G Joni Ortio [22]
  • D T.J. Brodie [23]
  • D Tyler Wotherspoon [20]
  • F Mikael Backlund [24]
  • F Lance Bouma [23]
  • F Paul Byron [24]
  • F Joe Colborne [24]
  • F Markus Granlund [20]
  • F Ben Hanowski [23]
  • F Corban Knight [23]
  • F Sean Monahan [19]
  • F Max Reinhart [22]

While a lot of folks had praise for the Dimpled Dozen after Wednesday’s win over Ottawa, these guys have all been playing extremely well in Abbotsford (or Calgary) this year. And don’t underrate the impact in the locker room of having new faces playing their first games, or hunting for their first NHL goals or wins. The energy these guys can bring to each game can turn a dismal late-season tilt into something memorable.

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Of these guys, presumably Brodie, Bouma, Backlund, Colborne and Monahan are here to stay. Reto Berra’s trade to Colorado cements Ortio’s status in Calgary, as well. Wotherspoon is an emergency recall so he has to go back when Wideman recovers, but that leaves the remaining races for NHL ice-time rather wide-open. In other words, it’s audition time.

In terms of deadline moves, I’m growing to like Burke’s boldness and “line in the sand” mentality. Extending Cammalleri may make some folks nervous – and it may be partially a cap-floor move – #13 does bring some assets to the table that have value here. However, there’s also a chance that Burke dangles Cammalleri at the draft in an effort to grab assets or move up. I’m less nervous about re-signing Chris Butler, as he’s been a fine penalty-kill option and provides depth. Moreover, the Flames arguably have few options in Abbotsford that can challenge Butler for a job – Smith, Breen and Billins have been tried and found wanting. Wotherspoon’s first NHL weekend may make him an option, but considering the Flames have five guys under NHL deals for 2014-15 on the back end, they still need two more. Berra for a second is insanely great value. Stempniak for a third is basically market value (and probably what most of the Cammalleri offers were at the deadline).

In other news, the Flames made a few paper transactions on deadline day – sending down Ortio, Granlund, Knight and Reinhart so that they’re eligible to play in the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs at the end of April. Derek Smith was sent down for-reals, while the timing on Ben Hanowski’s recall means that he’s eligible, too. The Heat are razor-thin right now, but when the Flames, junior and college seasons end, they could be full of talent. Heck, they’d be pretty stacked if they just got everyone back from Calgary that they sent up. One guy that’s not eligible for the playoffs is Paul Byron, who would’ve required waivers to go down – on-paper or otherwise.

Colgate University, Boston College and Providence College all have byes into their conference quarterfinals and are off this weekend, so no Johnny Gaudreau updates this week, gang.

  • PrairieStew

    I would think that if Ramo gets healthy Ortio could go back to lead the playoff charge, I would rather see that than backing up here.
    I don’t think Chad Billins has been “tried and found wanting” 2 games not enough to see. His problem is that He is the same type of player as Russell and Brodie. I was able to see a game before Christmas when I was on the left coast and Billins was easily the best player on the ice.
    Agostino and Arnold for sure and hopefully Gaudreau will boost Heat in mid April. Culkin and Kulak on defense.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    I do think there is some merit to Burke’s line in the sand stance.

    Think about the team’s in on Cammalleri, knowing Burke’s position, expecting him to cave. I’m guessing Anaheim was one of them after missing out on Vanek. They had already moved Penner to make room for another forward.

    Didn’t happen. After the dust had settled and they realized they had missed out on a scoring forward for the playoff drive (and a proven playoff performer at that), they must have been pissed. They likely realize now that upping their offer a bit to get him would have been worth it, especially after L.A. got Gaborik. Surely they will think twice next time.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      The counterpoint to that argument, though, is that Burke already has a reputation for being a principled hard ass. And going forward (if you believe what he’s said about not wanting to be the GM of this team), Anaheim and everyone else will be dealing with a different guy in the Calgary Flames’ GM chair who will probably have his own reputation to establish.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        That’s a fair point. I guess it comes down to whether or not you believe Burke’s comment that this type of stance will be an “organizational philosophy.” Remember any trade the new GM makes still needs to go through Burke.

        As far as Gaudreau is concerned, latest news is he is leaning towards signing (guy they had on the Fan 960). I really don’t think we need to worry about him signing in my opinion. If the kid is ready for the show and can put up the points, I don’t think leaving him in College to physically develop is the answer. There’s not much you can do with that frame anyways – he can either manage at the NHL level with his size or he can’t.

    • Skuehler

      Seems like Burke painted himself into a corner and his only options were to give him away or keep him for the last few weeks of the season and gamble that he can recoup something down the road. There was a lot of talent available so we weren’t bargaining from a position of strength – not when other teams were going scorched earth this deadline.

      Of the two options he probably chose the right one, however, I think this is a big fail for him as acting GM. Either he doesn’t have a good working rapport with other GMs or he got called on his bluff. I teally like Camalerri but I don’t see the value of having him for another few weeks and then he walks away for nothing. If that Happens, Feaster looks better in hindsight. He would’ve got something back. Burke should have had a plan going into the season and not waited to play the game at the final 15mins of the deadline. If having him back next year is a positive for both sides, something should been signed long ago. Then Burke would have options. At the deadline other teams had leverage and now Cammi has leverage. I don’t see Burke getting a return for cammi at the draft where it’s picks that are sought after and overpriced, not UFAs. This chapter hasn’t been completed yet.

      As for the praise for getting a second for Berra – yes it’s a good return on a piece we don’t need going forward BUT, that deal doesn’t happen if Colorado wasn’t a motivated buyer. I don’t think teams were lined up for a chance to get him. That was a lucky opportunity that walked Burkes way, not him robbing Roy. Imagine if that unplanned deal doesn’t happen, then what do we make of the deadline??

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        Fair points, and he may have got called on his bluff. But what I am saying is that Burke may have felt that the net benefit to the organization (a 3rd now vs. a 5th at the draft for his rights as an example) was not worth the long-term ramifications of being known as a caving organization.

        After this deadline, people are now commending Feaster on his return for J-Bo. Keep in mind though that J-Bo had one more year left on his deal. There was no gun to Feaster’s head on that one, plus, like you say, the Berra return was a fluke.

      • T&A4Flames

        I think there are a lot of pissed off GM’s right now; both buyers and sellers. Some of the returns were terrible. I’m very surprised that ANA didn’t go out and grab a another scorer, Cammi or other. They have a great shot at winning this year, they have a strong and deep prospect pool and it is Selanne’s last season. They should have gone all in IMO.

        As for a return in the summer for Cammi, if Moulson and Vanek sign with here current teams, a return could easily be had. Not likely Vanek signs with MTL but everyone knows he is likely going to MIN. I also wouldn’t rule out a sign and trade. Burke certainly has the ability to be creative.

        Berra, Burke still had to stand pat and play a little game of chicken there to increase the offer. So, yea, he does deserve some credit.

        • Skuehler

          Bottom line though Burke didn’t improve the team. He got a couple picks so that creates the potential to improve the team later, but he didn’t finish. He had lots of options and flexibility but he didn’t go top shelf. That’s his job. He’s basically delegating the improvement of the team to the scouts now.

          Maybe his best move yet will be to leverage picks at the draft for something solid

          • T&A4Flames

            Sure, but we are in the long term improvement side of things so it can’t be called a complete fail.

            My biggest disappointment actually isn’t Cammi not getting dealt, but rather that we didn’t use any of our cap space to gain assets. We had 2 years t utilize that space and didn’t. This was likely our last chance since next year the cap is expected to go up and teams will be less likely to buy out/trade to create space.

          • Skuehler

            Yah you make great points for sure. I just think when Burke fired Feaster he threw down the gauntlet for himself. It’s a little suspicious that he can’t find a GM for this great opportunity and he can’t find any trading partners. Is it reasonable to expect more from such a high profile addition (Burke) than signing Stajan, bringing in Colborne/Westgarth and getting a 3rd for Stemps?

            Maybe he’s been too busy this season…

            It’s a whole lotta nothin so far for a team with ambitions of a short rebuild, an patient GM and ownership, flexibilty,etc.

            My favourite quote:
            Action is the foundational key to success

          • Purple Hazze

            I don’t think you have to be too disappointed with the fact we couldn’t utilize our cap space. If anything its an indication that teams are not willing to give up assets just to get cap relief.

            There are always other ways to get under the cap; cap space is really not the asset people make it out to be.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    No Johnny Gaudreau updates? What of all the latest chatter of him leaning towards definitely probably for sure we’ll see coming back for his senior year? Should Flames fans be more worried than before that this means he could be looking at free agency? What’s he got left to prove in College? Is he going to grow more, get bigger or more physically developed playing in BC than he would in Calgary/Abby?

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    …so if Burke can convince Cammy to sign for at least a year, is there anything in the collective bargaining agreement restricting Calgary from trying to trade him next deadline? I thought there was a clause about no trades for at least a year after signing (or is that not applicable for UFAs?)

    • Byron Bader

      I think that should be fine. I know there’s an issue with matching an RFA offer sheet and trying to trade him right away… you have to wait at least a year from the date the deal was signed (e.g., Ryan O’Reilly). But lord knows what’s in that CBA document.

  • mattyc

    A few thoughts:

    1. I think we should probably mentally prepare ourselves for a few new UFAs this summmer. As our forwards stand now when healthy:
    Stajan, Glenx, Cammalleri
    Backlund, Hudler, Jones
    Monahan, Colborne, Galiardi,
    Bouma, plugs

    No way we roll into next year with a top 6 like that (and that’s even with resigning Cammalleri). Some of the young guys have shown promise (Granlund, Byron), and we may have a player or two who can make the show next year (Gaudreau, Knight, Reinhart, Baertschi), but you can’t really bank on them making it. They should have to outplay Galiardi, Jones, etc. to make it.

    2. Re: Defense. Burke seemed very non-commital about Butler – and rightfully so IMO. He’s a 6th D, not someone you’d rush out to sign now. Having said that, if you’re not going to resign him, you need to have a better plan lined up. Likewise, I don’t think you gift a top 6 spot to a kid who’s never played in the NHL before.

    Bottom line, we shouldn’t be expecting unproven rookies to step in and keep up. They should displace a veteran.

  • mattyc

    Aside from what Calgary did or didnot do, you got to look at Vancouver trading Luongo and then getting buried by Dallas the next day. Yes, the Lack of a goalie does hurt. What a mess it must be in their locker room, wonder if they even make the playoffs.

  • mattyc

    Burke is a respected hockey man. He has built his reputation over years of good work. He has had failures for sure, but so does everyone, Ken Holland included, when you are a general manager in large hockey markets constantly under the microscope. From my recollection, he rarely loses a trade unless unforeseen circumstances occur (Kessler – 1st round picks). He is able to do this because he doesn’t cave in, like people would of wanted on Wednesday. I would rather have Cammi traded for nothing with the possibility of resigning him, then a 3rd and 5th rounder that he would of likely went for. The chances of those picks turning into NHL players is south of 10 percent. I don’t understand all the mania about this topic. If he would have traded cammi for a 2nd, stemp for a 3rd and not traded Berra, he would have received the same return that he currently has and everyone would be happy because expectations would have been met.

    Cammi is 31. I don’t buy into the idea that he can’t resign here. If the Flames can turn things around quicker than people think (see Columbus Blue jackets, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, etc) he could be a valuable veteran sniper to provide leadership and scoring touch (like a Martin Gelinas). If not, well whatever, Burke didn’t get a mid level draft pick. Big deal

  • T&A4Flames

    All of you who said that Burke got lucky in the Berre trade are (incredibly attractive and intelligent – ed.)


    (you make me laugh a lot of the time WW, but ditch the name calling. – ed.)

  • Trevy

    I agree with Ryan. There is not a whole lot of GM’s in this league that haven’t made a mistake or two, Burke included, but he does have great knowledge of the game, tells it like it is and commands respect. I for one am a fan. He is absolutely spot on that you do need a nice mixture of size and truculence. All the best teams have them, to a point. As for Cammelleri, I totally believe the other free agents bottlenecked the entire process. Plus good for him for not giving him away, he would of been crucified had he done that the same way a lot of people are crucifying him now for not trading him. Besides, why not take another shot at resigning him next season. The Flames will more than likely have to hit the cap floor and what else is out there? The small handful of big free agent tickets out there are only going to be grossly overpaid and snapped up by the more elite teams, if they have the cap space. These free agents are not going to come to a rebuilding team. After that, there’s nothing. Lastly, the two trades Burke did do, were great! Hopefully, the new GM will be a younger version of Burke 2.0!

    • Skuehler

      I don’t dislike or disrespect Burke, it’s just with his stature expectations are high. And while he didn’t make a mistake at the deadline, he also didn’t do anything to proactively improve the team as many other GMs did. It was a missed opportunity and I think there should be some accountability.

      He himself says the team as it stands isn’t good enough. Even if it’s just finding out why his hands were tied – maybe he could have foreseen the situation?

      • Trevy

        I get it, a lot of people are disappointed and I’m one of them, but when you consider that we were sellers of basically average free agents, there wasn’t much more that Burke was able to do. The rest of the Flames are basically our future and that’s what most teams were coveting, aside from our free agents. Unless there was a mind blowing deal on the table for one of our young guys, I don’t think there was much else to do. He tried to bankroll other teams bad contracts or even pony up some salary on Cammy, but nothing came about. This trade deadline was not designed for a team like the Flames to realistically build or improve the team, it was more about unloading expired contracts of those who don’t fit the bill anymore and reload properly at the draft with picks and hopefully better trade scenarios.

      • T&A4Flames

        Forsee…by using jedi mind tricks?

        Seriously though, I think Burke falls somewhere in the middle. He improved our position for the future marginally but didn’t hurt us long or short term.

        Sather on the other hand? Not sure what the hell he was thinkng.

        • Skuehler

          Well unless he has a gentleman a agreement with Cammi that he’ll resign here if he couldn’t be traded to a contender, it looks like Burke didn’t have a plan or pulse for what the market would be like. He didn’t create a lot of options for himself ahead of time. If Cammi walks I think it’s a fail overall. He got lucky with Coloroda but then again so did Feaster last year by not getting ROR. Surely there couldn’t have been TWO teams bidding up Berra.

          • T&A4Flames

            I think the idiot Canucks organization screwed everything up for everyone by declaring 1 day before that Kesler could be had. Just 1 more reason to hate them!

          • Skuehler

            Yah I get that. But blaming the logjam and waiting for others to clear it for you is a passive way to try and reach your objectives.

            The results of the deadline are out of context with their stated goals. If all we get of value from the assert we have in Cammi is an increase in respect from other GMs, um isn’t that off the board a bit? Wouldn’t Burke just bring that with him when he took the job? What can we expect in return for next years UFA assets? Goodwill? Warm feelings?

          • T&A4Flames

            Regardless of how this is argued, not moving Cammi at the DL is a risk. But like someone said earlier (maybe you), a 3rd round pick isn’t that big of a risk, but still, it is better than nothing. However one chooses to look at it.

            If Burke manages to sign and trade or move for signing rights or somehow, otherwise manages to move him for an asset greater than a 4th round, no harm no fowl. And if that asset becomes more than a 3rd, Burke looks like a genius and this arguement becomes moot.