Five things: Free agent stuff


1. Should they stay or should they go?

The Flames are in a position that I’m pretty sure few NHL teams have encountered in recent years: The number of meaningful contributors that need to be signed this summer is extremely small. In all, among guys who played for the big club this season, only about a dozen are free agents with expiring contracts, and the vast majority of those guys are going to shuttle back and forth between the AHL and NHL next season.

The full list of unrestricted free agents is as follows: Mike Cammalleri, Kevin Westgarth, Chris Butler, Chris Breen, and Joey MacDonald.

There are, as you might expect with a team so young, more restricted free agents to consider: TJ Galiardi, Paul Byron, Joe Colborne, Lance Bouma, Ben Hanowski, Chad Billins, Mark Cundari, and Joni Ortio.

This obviously doesn’t include other prospects, like Olivier Roy who are probably also going to get new contracts, but those are the guys with at least a few games at the NHL level this year.

It’ll be interesting to see how the team approaches each.

2. Who’s staying?

I said it last week but you have to imagine that most of the RFAs are staying, if not all of them. There’s no way any of the above-listed guys don’t get new contracts, but of that group I’m not sure you’d like to give too many all that much in the way of either term or money. Galiardi probably deserves a little bit of a raise and I’d hope he gets it for a few years. He was more or less an even possession player (49.5 percent) and has shown he can be useful without needing to be especially sheltered, which on this team is a pretty good thing to have in your back pocket.

The idea of re-signing Colborne is one I’m not entirely sure is a good one, but we can all agree it’s going to happen. He didn’t produce much of anything against some pretty soft competition, but he’s Big and he Competes and he’s a Burke guy, so he’s staying.

Joni Ortio will get another contract, one more season in the AHL, and then a chance to do something if Kari Ramo blows up. That would be the sensible management of that asset.

3. Who’s going?

I think we can all agree Mike Cammalleri is almost certainly gone the second the free agency period opens. He’s openly stated he wants to test the market, and maybe Calgary wants to overpay him, but one has to imagine this is the last chance Cammalleri has to get both decent money and a shot at the Stanley Cup. So to waste those last few years of his career in Calgary, for a team that’s not going to come close to competing for a title, seems a path which he will likely not travel down.

On the other hand, there’s Chris Butler, who shouldn’t under any circumstance be offered any sort of contract. He is, we can all agree, terrible. He plays soft competition and gets dominated by them, and provides none of the offense of a Dennis Wideman or Kris Russell which would otherwise give the Flames a reason to keep him around.

Joey MacDonald, likewise, will and should be put out to pasture. This team has a lot of problems, but goaltending depth isn’t one of them. Replace him with just about anyone you can pick up off the scrap heap this summer and that’ll be just fine for this team.

4. Who will wait and see?

There are a few guys who I think the team will probably not be in any particular hurry to sign or retain, but who would be useful overall.

Paul Byron might be the most interesting case; he put up 21 points in 47 games, which isn’t nothing one supposes, and he drove possession a little bit, which on this team is saying something. But he’s not big, and he’s not flashy, and he doesn’t overwhelm anyone, so I really do wonder what the team’s plan is. They’re not going to let him walk, but if Burke is looking to improve this roster notably by taking on a big contract (I’m not betting against this), it might be possible to see Byron tacked on as a cheap throw-in to even out money or something like that.

Lance Bouma, too, got buried in possession, but he’s only 23, and he played in 78 games, so it’s not like the team doesn’t see him as an NHLer. But how much of one, really, remains to be seen. He’s a left wing, and that’s too his benefit, but if the team wants to give his spot to, say, Sven Baertschi or Kenny Agostino instead, would you really be all that surprised? Baertschi almost certainly fits better into the club’s long-term plans, and maybe they think Agostino, a roughly equivalent player, is worthy of consideration. Wouldn’t be surprised to see options explored for Bouma either, is the point.

There are also the lower-level D to consider: Billins and Cundari and Breen. Not all of them are going to get a chance on the big club next season, not with Wideman coming back from injury (and maybe Tyler Wotherspoon on the opening-day roster to see what there is to see?) . Again, they’ll shuttle back and forth between Glens Falls — or wherever — and the big club when there’s an injury, but I don’t think there’d be a ton of weeping if they were to leave the organization.

5. Where free agent priorities should really go

Of course, a lot of this is just tidying up. Who’s staying and going is obvious, and there aren’t going to be many guys fighting for roster spots or anything like that. So what the team’s management should really be doing, I think, is concentrating on locking up some guys who are up for free agency next year (as they are likewise eligible to sign extensions starting this summer).

Mikael Backlund, lots of years and money. TJ Brodie, more of both. Probably try it with Curtis Glencross and Kari Ramo too. Not that they’ll all end up like this, but any kind of a protracted issue a la PK Subban with the team trying to save a few bucks in the short-term would be foolhardy. Spend big on the right guys. You gotta make the floor anyway.

  • MattyFranchise

    Burke alread ysaid Ortio is playing on the farm next season because he want to have him playing big minutes. Ramo deserves tobe the starter. So even though Joey Mac is not great, I could really care less if he gets a one year deal to play back-up.

    I’d agree with you on Colborne until he switched to the wing. A that point, IMO, his game took off and he’s a worthy experiment at worst with a great upside still.

    Agree on Butler, I don’t see the value in him on any level.

    Byron deserves another crack (a year ago I’d have said he’d never make it) and Bouma i perfect for the 4th line. Galiradi is a useful stop gap as well.

  • MattyFranchise

    I was on the same page with you until you started questioning Bouma and Colborne’s value to this team.

    Bouma is trending towards being a huge piece of our bottom 6 moving forward and Colborne made huge strides after switching to the wing.

    Sometimes I wonder how many games in a season one watches when this is ones general opinion of these rising youngsters..?

    • Parallex

      To be fair Bouma’s value to the team is limited. I like Bouma… have ever since he was with the Giants, one of those guys you saw in junior and knew he was going to be an NHL’er, but along with that high floor (legitimate NHL’er) comes a low ceiling (4th line winger).

      As far as Colborne goes… I dunno. The eye test said that he looked better on the wing but he looked bad as a center so is “better” actually “good” or is it just “less bad”? I’m in favor of re-upping him to better make that determination (and see how he fairs in hopefully less sheltered circumstances).

      Regardless the Flames are in an ackward phase (contractually speaking). Few open spots, lot’s of young guys knocking on the door, a need to spend to reach the cap floor. My own preference is to sign a Jagr or Heatley (Jagr by preference) AKA a guy that you can give a ton of money to on a 1 year deal without looking wasteful to casual observers next year while extending Backlund and Brodie on longterm fair value deals when the extension period opens for those two. This means sending a lot of guys that folk might be clamouring to see in the NHL (Gaudreau, #4 overall, Granlund etc. etc.) to developmental leagues.

      I expect next year to basically be a repeat of this year performance wise although I’d project the Flames to take a major step forward in the 2015-2016 season.

      • Parallex

        I agree but I would argue Bouma has a higher ceiling than a 4th line winger.

        He is already showing he can be a 4th liner but he is also contributing on the PK and can play over 10mins a night. I’d argue he could be a 3rd line guy as a ceiling and if not he looks to be a good 4th liner who can play on the PK and take a regular shift.

        We all want a 4th line that isn’t terrible so having a guy like Bouma is still important.

        He has good wheels and can dangle a bit so I consider him a staple in our bottom 6 for years if he stays healthy..

        • Parallex

          I disagree on his ceiling. Yes, he can contribute on the PK but I don’t think he can be a 3rd line forward… whenever he’s been put into the position of playing above the fourth he’s never looked good.

          The last time the Flames had an exceptional third-line was 08-09 (Glencross – Conroy/Lombardi- Moss) and I don’t think Bouma will ever be as good as any of those 4 were at the time. Elite Cup Contending Teams have exceptional scoring depth and as much as I love him Bouma just won’t be that.

          I mean the goal to shoot for ought to be to have 3rd line quality guys playing on your fourth line, 2nd line quality guys on your third, 1st line quality guys on your 2nd, and elite quality guys on your 1st. That’s pretty much impossible to get in todays NHL but it’s what you want to try to get as close to as possible and a team that’s putting Lance Bouma on it’s third line isn’t anywhere near that. Keep him on the fourth line, he can perform well there and play on the PK (thereby giving some better minutes to a more talented player).

  • redhot1

    Bouma is a guy every team needs, can play the 4th line and get the boys going with hits and blocked shots, love him. whoever wrote this article clearly hasnt seen enough games this year.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Agree with others here. You don’t let Colborne walk as an RFA. Especially when he has a lot of arrows pointing in the right direction (Big, soft hands, meaningful improvement over the course of the season). I think if he bulked up a bit more and tried playing a little more gritty, he’d be in the NHL to stay for years to come.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    I am wondering if the flames should go after kane. Much like seguin was in boston he is struggling trying to get his game going and not having trust or the orginization. I think with a change of scenery he could turn his game around, much like seguin did with dallas, obviously not a much but still. What would it take to get him?

    • Parallex

      I imagine it would take a lot. A 23 year old who you can reasonable project to be an annual 30+ goal scorer going forward? Yeah… that will take quite a haul to pry loose.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      To get him?

      I’m thinking not quite as much as it was to get Seguin, but if you look at that deal as a comparable, I’m thinking something like a Glencross or Hudler,(Loui Erikson), Granlund or Baertschi (Reilly Smith)+ maybe even another pick or prospect.

      • Parallex

        I would do glencross, baertschi and a 2nd for Kane. Some might say over payment but I for one didn’t notice that glencross was out all year I think we would be okay with out him( also heard he is unwilling to move). And Kane is a huge upgrade from Baer at this point and Kane is still a young guy. Would love to see a line of Kane Monahan and Gaudreau.

          • Parallex

            I could see Winnipeg asking that but Kane was a 4th overall pick so I couldn’t see us trading the highest pick we have ever had and a 25 goal guy in glencross for Kane. The more I think about it I would rather offer up the same package but swap glencross with hudler. I’ve liked hudler but I would rather keep glencross and his grit.

            On an unrelated note I read something the other day that said Detroit made an offer of Tatar and nyquist plus a pick for bouwmeester last year, how sweet would that trade have turned out over cundari Berra and that 1st round pick?

          • Parallex

            That’s because you’re looking at it from the Calgary perspective… from Winnipeg’s perspective they are not “rebuilding” they’re just building… trying to make the playoffs (On a limited budget) they need something that approximates Kane now and something that has a good shot at equaling or exceeding Kane later. That’s the only way that a trade makes sense for them.

  • mattyc

    What could we possibly gain by not resigning Colborne? It’s not like he’ll command a high cap hit or long-term commitment, and we don’t exactly have a ton of superior players that are overtaking him for his spot.

  • McRib

    Interesting take on Joe Colborne from everyone. Even though I fully agree that he has earned a one year contract to see if he progresses further on the wing….

    I still am not a big fan of his game for a player that is 6’5″ he has to be one of the softest player in recent memory. What 6’5″ player doesn’t go into the corners and is almost solely a perimeter player? That said Burke has said publicly that Colborne must gain 10-15 pounds of muscle this offseason so maybe he takes that to heart and it adds a much needed dimension to his game if he does he is more than replacement level because of his hands for his size (But right now he might as well be 5’11” for how skinny he is, he can’t lean on anyone).

    If he doesn’t add weight he is easily replaceable the following 2015-2016 season by a number of players Ferland, Knight, Agostino, Arnold, etc. I actually think a couple of those will give him a run this summer. Kenny Agostino really impressed me in his brief stint and if Ferland gets back to being healthy he was unreal once he got going in Abby. Also lets face it Emile Poirier is going to push for a big club roster spot as well and we know how he likes to play physical he could replace him next year if the team wants.

    I feel the same way with Paul Byron give him one more year, but lets be honest Baertschi, Granlund, Reinhart, etc could easily replace him by 2015-2016 if not earlier and have a lot more upside (Johnny Gaudreau is a lock for me to make the Flames next year so lets not even bring him up).

    • Burnward

      re Colborne..RW is about the only place available to him and thought he did okay after the switch from C.

      Agree he was certainly soft the first 2/3 of the year. However the last 15 games or so he started getting much more physical on the boards and in the corners. If he puts on 15 pounds of muscle and adds 15% more physicality he could pot 15-20 goals a year and be a good 2RW this year and 3RW long-term.

      IF Colborne can have a good year at RW then I see Poirier becoming 1RW/2RW long-term.

      This still leaves a big hole to fill for a Top 6 RW role, either with a trade or a high pick (trade up this year or draft next year?).

      Without a doubt Colborne will be re-signed and have a genuine opportunity to become a long-term part of this would be great progression to see him get 20G and 40 points this year!

      • PrairieStew

        We have been weak on RW that’s for sure, because of this do you think there is a deal we could make to get Okposo? Thoughts? He would fit nicely on our top line for sure.

        • TheoForever

          There are many “name” players who would be great to have with the Flames, whether it be Okposo or others.

          From my perspective our core focus, particularly at the Flames current stage, is to be good at the business of developing our own prospects to the point where they develop a “name” in the league to the point where we can occasionally “sell” a player at a very high price and reinvest in our development system.

          The price to “buy” a name player from another team, like Okposo or Kane etc, is usually exceedingly high. The time when its appropriate to buy is usually when your team is a contender and you are willing to forgo future opportunity (in 2-5 years) to win now or next year.

          The Flames are not at that stage. With a little more patience and continued good drafting we will see a very good team in 2-3 years.

          The one exception to “buying” a name player I could see is if it could be a centrepiece to build the rest of your core team around.

          Burke did this with Kessel. As it turned out the cost was very very high (Seguin, Hamilton?) but one can easily argue the Leafs would have continued to be in shambles for years and never made the forward progress to make the playoffs last year had he not done that deal.

          • PrairieStew

            Agree that Flames should avoid trading for a name player – at least at forward, there are plenty of prospects who need a look.

            With the RFA’s signed I see at least 2/3 of all 4 lines already in place. Monahan & Colborne; Backlund and Hudler; Stajan and Glencross; Bouma and Mcgrattan. That leaves 4 starting spots and 2 reserves taken up first by RFA’s Byron and Galiardi. This leaves 4 total spots and if I were handicapping it for next year the list would read Gaudreau, Reinhart, Knight, Arnold, Baertschi, Agostino, Van Brabant, Granlund, Hanowski, Poirier, Ferland.

            Defence is another story. Gio/Brodie is a given but it falls off fast after that. One of Wideman/Russell is half of a good second pair, but not both. Smid/Wotherspoon should remain a 3rd pairing at best. If you had to move 2 forwards from that group outside the core 8 and it got you a legitimate #3 then I would do it. I’m not convinced Breen is worth returning and hoping some other defence distinguish themselves during the AHL playoffs.

            Keep in mind the Flames will likely let 6 of the following 8 UFA’s walk ( Cammy, Westgarth, Butler, Macdonald, Smith, B Jones, Breen, Street) ONe wonders how active they will be July 1, or will they wait until late summer for bargains.

            What worries me then is with the $28 million in cap space and only 4 roster spots not filled that it will be tempting to be very active and overpay.

          • PrairieStew

            Good article. Agree with all points.

            Re Forwards…agree they’re full up with >20 players vying for 14 spots. Will be interesting to see who they let walk or package in trade.

            Re Defence…agree 3-6 needs work and we have little in the system. Other than a Top 6 RW we need good D prospects in the worst way, and will overpay for a good #3-#4 for the next 4 years till we see prospects develop.

            re FAs …agree except I believe Westgarth and Butler (if more than a 2 year deal) will be re-signed. Hopefully we’ll get a pick for trading the rights to Cammy (higher pick if he signs L-T)

          • PrairieStew

            What do you think of giving the Leafs a call on Clarkson? I have to believe he is going to rebound from that nightmare of season. I think he is an upgrade on D Jones – and is really not that much more expensive – though signed for longer. I think the Leafs might appreciate the relief and perhaps we could get a pick out of the deal as well. If they take Jones a second round, if they don’t then a first.

            If you look at the top dozen UFA defensemen in terms of ice time only 3 are under 30. One is Butler. Guy is getting $4M somewhere.

          • mattyc

            If Butler gets more than $2.5mil/yr I will be pretty surprised. I bet Flames resign him for the 1.6-2.1mil range.

            Edit: having said that… How much did Pardy get a few years ago? I guess nothing’s impossible…

          • PrairieStew

            I’m going to be in the minority (and I can’t believe I’m saying this!!!) but I’m comfortable re-signing Butler at a reasonable price. That being said, he needs to be in the 5/6 slot and no higher but he has proven himself to be a dependable defender, can be valuable on the PK and by all appearances is popular with his teammates. I have joined the masses in crucifying Butler in the past, but with a limited role and minimal minutes against the top two lines, I think he has some value.

          • Burnward

            I really, really hate this idea. There is no way Clarkson would ever be worth as much to this team as any player picked with that 1st rounder you’re somehow willing to give up for him. Moreover, his boat anchor of a contract is so long that it’ll prevent the Flames from making improvements elsewhere on the roster down the line.

            There is pretty much nothing to like about bringing in Clarkson.

          • PrairieStew

            I was suggesting that they send us a first round pick for taking the salary off their hands.

            Alternatively only a second rounder from Toronto if they took Jones from us.

          • Burnward

            Agree but….If I’m Cammy and the Flames offer me stupid money and a Stanley Cup contender offers me stupid money I know where I’m going….bye bye Flames.

          • PrairieStew

            I guess I suggested Clarkson knowing that without Cammi (likely) that this team is going to have trouble making the salary floor. Rather than go to the market and overpay just to get to the floor, why not get assets as well. Burke suggested as much leading up to the trade deadline that the Flames could be a “banker”. Make no mistake I WAS NOT suggesting Clarkson without a siginificant asset acompanying him – like Toronto’s 2015 first round pick in exchange for say, the RFA rights to David Eddy

          • PrairieStew

            I understand your point clearly. But the one exceptional ‘stupid’ contract in the NHL is Clarkson’s! It scares the heck out of me! I guess if I’m going to take it on selfishly I would want the Leafs 2015 1st overall and perhaps another high pick in that draft. Doubtful the leafs will throw away two high drafts in an exceptional draft year but you never know I guess?

            The ace up Burkes’s sleeve is certainly his cap space and the ability of the Flames ownership to spend money. If he uses it I would hope it somehow gears us towards being ablest draft McDavid or Eichel. That would be my price for Clarkson. Burke would need to be creative somehow and perhaps involve another team.

          • TheoForever

            So you were. Apparently I somehow read “we” as “they”. Derp.

            Regardless, I’m still against the idea. Clarkson’s contract might (will) interfere with signing better, younger players later on. Perhaps even a high draft pick! At least David Jones is only signed for two more years.

            Also, I think Clarkson is probably worth more in trade than Jones is even with that contract. I doubt you get Clarkson and a 2nd for just Jones.

      • PrairieStew

        Hoping that Colborne benefits from a full offseason of working with Rich Hesketh. Coach Gelinas could also take a role here – he was legendary in the fitness preparation.

  • PrairieStew

    Byron should stay and be given full opportunity to flourish in an offensive role. When he first came up, he was given only 4th line duty. He was effective PK guy, then got moved up the lineup.

    Among players who played 41 or more games his scoring rate in all situations was 3rd on the team behind only Cammaleri and Hudler. That with only 0.7 minutes per game on the PP. (By comparison Monahan averaged 2.0 min on PP per game.)

    By my view the guy was very effective at using his body to get the puck. Sure he is not going to pound anybody but I think he is smart enough. I looked at the hit stats at Extra Skater and found that he is plus guy when it came to hits as well, giving more than he took. Not surprising, but that he ranks 4th among the forwards ( McGrattan, Bouma, D Jones) is perhaps a revelation.

  • PrairieStew

    Regarding the RW depth chart next year I believe it looks something like this so far:

    DJones (if re-signed)
    Westgarth (if re-signed);

    Potentially I could see Hartley looking to try out Knight, Arnold or Ferland (leftie) at RW in much the same manner as Colborne moved from C and onto his off-wing side.

    Having said that I can easily see Hartley playing 2-3 heavies each game (incl Ferland) and splitting them up to roll 4 lines many nights in order to patrol and protect the young prospects eg. Gaudreau, Poirier, Monahan, Wotherspoon, Baertschi etc.

  • PrairieStew

    Really good article on Oilers Nation titled “Learn from Lander” by Jason Gregor about developing prospects properly.

    In it he provides detailed insight on Detroit’s development of 10+ prospects over the last 15 years or so.

    If I were to quickly summarize:

    1) no prospect should debut in the NHL until they’re 22-23

    2) support the prospects play their 2 years in the CHL plus 2 years in the AHL, possibly with a few short NHL stints

    3) European/Russian players should play 2-3 years in men’s leagues in Europe before coming over to the AHL for at least 1 year.

    4) No spots are guaranteed. Keep your young players, even those with star potential, hungry and make them earn their place on the big team with their play.

    Regarding the Flames these principles would need to be instituted over a period of 5 years or so as they have an immediate pressing need to put a competitive team on the ice.

    However worthy of note is that Sven Baertchi’s stop-and-go development is a classic case of a prospect who was not ready to play yet at the NHL level, partly due to needing to learn and work on playing a 200 foot game, partly on being a young kid and needing some time to mature up. Even at that, he still scored at a .42 ppg clip which probably wasn’t too bad considering the problems he was working through at the time.

    Sven is currently 21, turning 22 in October. It’s possible he could be ready for another shot at staying on the big team this fall.

    However if he’s not let’s hope Flames fans support him and understand that if he was in Detroit he wouldn’t even get his first shot at coming up until next year or possibly the year after.

    Baertschi has 50 point potential, possibly higher. Let’s hope he makes it as he can be an integral part of the Top 6 core!!

  • Burnward

    Alright. Who’s ghost writing for Lambert?

    Good stuff Ryan.

    Gotta keep Colborne and Bouma though.

    Never get rid of big, strong kids that are getting better and have already proven they belong in the league…unless you’re getting an asset back.

  • PrairieStew

    In my view their are 2 strategies that can be employed in the 2014/15 season that will determine the trades and type, number and quality of UFA’s to seek!

    Strategy #1….Go for playoffs in 2015/16 season. Not next season! This means maintaining status quo i.e. continue to develop young talent and continue to fill the cupboards. Retain current veteran core and selectively add veteran UFA’s to meet cap floor requirements. Continue to develop your top young talent from the 2012 and 2013 drafts as well as your recent college signings by providing AHL development and call ups on selective basis to gauge and enhance development. Ensure current identity of hard work ethic is maintained. This will again ensure a bottom 5 finish and assure a chance at drafting Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel! Both are ‘generational’ type talent that are available only ‘once in a lifetime’ type basis. Fans are happy at hard work, competitive nature and continued development of the young players. Again your end goal here is to make a serious run at the 2015/16 playoffs. The 2015/16 season would include potentially McDavid or Eichel in your starting line up and serious effort on signing high talent UFA’s and active in the trade market.

    Strategy #2…Take a serious run at the playoffs next year. Sign UFA’s, trade for veteran talent (that means giving up some of our top young talent. Rush the development of Johnnie and others! Kind of like the Darryl Sutter model, Go for it all all expense!

    My choice..option #1 !! I believe this is where Burke is taking the Flames as well.

    • Burnward

      Ditto Strategy #1…hopefully the haters/trashers are asleep..:)

      Part of the strategy would see trading one of Hudler or GlenX in a June deal to trade up to 1st rounder #5-#15 entry draft pick to get RW Tuch, or possibly the best RD available eg. Jacobs, McKeown or Mantha.

      Stajan, Hudler OR GlenX, McGrattan and Gio would be kept to provide continued guidance & leadership.

      Draisaitl/Bennett plus all other 2013 and 2014 picks play in CHL or AHL, except for

      • Burnward

        Agree…Rather than Glenny I would try to unload Wideman but that may be a problem given his contract term. If not then as you say unload Hudler/Glenny for 2015 drafts or higher positioning.

        You will not see the 2013 or 2014 picks for another 2-3 years. Development time is critical for them and in Burkes view!

        Again I stress the strategic view needs to be 1-2 years beyond the next season to initiate the moves required to develop our young talent and secure Eichel/McDavid and others in the 2015 draft which will be the strongest in NHL history.

    • Parallex


      Ditto Strategy #1…hopefully the haters/trashers are asleep..:)

      Part of the strategy would see trading one of Hudler or GlenX in a deal to trade up to #5-#15 draft pick to get RW Tuch, or possibly a late first rounder to get the best RD available (Jacobs, McKeown, Mantha).

      So come June we draft Draisaitl/Bennett, Tuch and a load of D-men with the rest of our picks.
      Then all 2012 & 2013 stay down in the CHL & AHL to develop.

      For the remainder of 2014-5 we keep Stajan, Hudler or GlenX, McGrattan and Gio for leadership and guidance. Meanwhile our current prospects have another slot (vacated by Hudler or GlenX) to use for development.

      By end of year we’re a Top 2 team in line for generational players Eichel or McDavid. Who is better positioned in the league right now..Buffalo will rebound, FLA and NYI HAVE to go up sometime(!)..our main competition will be our fine neighbours to the North and VCR who are on a fast-moving down elevator (YES!!!)

      So in 2015-16 we then have:

      – McDavid or Eichel

      – an excellent Top 6 (Monahan, Draisaitl/Bennett, Gaudreau, Baertschi, Poiier, Tuch)

      – an experienced gritty Bottom 6 (featuring 10 experienced players with various capabilities)

      This only leaves the D to work on for a #3 and #4..hopefully a couple prospects and trades will round out the D group.

      This is definitely a DREAM worth waiting for..but a realistic one!

      The table is set…Burkie are you listening???

      • PrairieStew

        Your are correct it is a dream worth waiting for,. If you have seen either Eichel or McDavid play they are Sidney Crosby + !!

        I am not suggesting the Flames throw the 2014/15 season. I am suggesting the opposite. Show me more of the hard work culture that was started in 2013/14, show me more development in the young veterans, show me patience in developing Johnnie and the other college grads, show me Draistl/Bennett developing in the CHL, show me improvement. You don’t need to neessarily show me improvement in the standings. Strategically position yourself to draft Eichel/McDavid because young players of this caliber will not be available for another 10 years. Either one of these players will drastically turn the Flames franchise around guaranteed in 2015/16!

  • TheoForever

    Adding players with very long contracts will just handicap us later. The team strategy over last 20 some years if there was one, hasn’t produced a winner. Rushing the rebuild to make the playoffs will simply end with us being back in the 9th place in the west. There is zero chance we make the playoffs next year.

    Flames have a lot of young players in the system that can easily fill the 3rd and 4th lines. We have a couple that have potential to be top 6 if we get lucky such as Poirier, Johnny, Sven, or perhaps Granlund.

    We can keep Glencross, Hudler, Stajan, McGrattan, Backlund, D.Jones as our veterans.
    Plus Colborne, Monahan, Byron/Bouma.
    That will leave 3 forward spots for the young guys, and they can be rotated all year long if needed.

    If we are competitive that’s great if not then kids get experience and we get a top 3 pick.
    We still need to make this years pick count and we need a high pick in the next draft.
    There is no way around it, this year was fun and we can suffer missing the playoffs next season as we have no choice anyway.

  • PrairieStew

    Strategy one; allow the rebuild to continue especially on the forward ranks but look to upgrade the back end with at least one UFA or trade. Both Bouma and Colborne have done enough to be resigned and quite frankly are needed for the development of the organization as they are some of the bigger bodies who bring more than size.
    However if you are going to use strategy one it is time to rethink how you deploy your forwards move away from the idea of two top lines, a third line and forth energy(grunt) line. Rather, lets realize that we do not have any ready elite forwards at this time(there are a few that I think could be. By rolling four lines you allow more players to develop complete games, you shelter kids with veteran experience rather than by hiding where they play, you reduce stress and over playing injuries,and your best players are rested for PP time or late in the game situations. These are some of my reasons for wanting to see a change of philosophy. I see the game as being roughly played as 50 minutes even strength and 10 minutes of special teams play(I’m sure some stats guy has the exact break down. I see having two lines that play @14 minute even strength, a third line playing @12 minutes and the last line @10 minutes; extra time each player earns via their ability to play either pk or pp. My lines will all be similar in basic makeup(this would allow for some easy line movement in case of injury). If you look at the palyers the Flames have under contract or RFA’s you will see a number of skilled smaller LW, a number solid two way centers and a number of larger other forwards. Ideally each line would have skill,grit and size putting pressure on the oppositions lines no rest for their forth line and no easy shifts for their top lines. If you don’t perform you sit and there is a ready replacement somewhere in the organization. Using only our current forwards and our RFA’s my lines would look something like this:

    Hudler, Monahan, Colborne ( this a line that already has chemistry; it biggest issue is grit but I actually think Monahan is slowly developing some)

    Glencross(Grit and skill when healthy), Stajan, and either Poirier/Ferland

    Johnny, Backs, Bouma

    Sven or Granlund, Knight or Arnold(I would seriously look at some of them on the rwing)and either Byron/McG/Djones.

    Now to honest I don’t know what the chemistry would look like but this is how I would approach the forwards. I have 17 that I think will compete hard for jobs and that does not include guys like Agostino. I also have not factored in anyone we might draft or trade for as this would be mere speculation.
    Trashers you may go at it but. But if you have any original ideas please share them as it would be good to have some interesting discussions.

    • PrairieStew

      Your comments are very clear around execution for the next season…good stuff! I would be interested in your high level strategy?

      For example my post above quite simply states my 2014/15 strategy will have one eye on continuing the current development and progress of my rebuild and ensuring my foundation is properly developed for the 2015/16 season while having my other eye on McDavid or Eichel as my springboard to the playoffs during the 2015/16 season and 10 years beyond!

      My basis is that finishing 18-15 place brings no value as we learned from the Sutter era. If we go for it it’s playoffs or nothing! So let’s do this properly in 2015/16 where we have a fighting chance but we need to have the right pieces in place. That must include Eichel or McDavid!

      • Parallex

        Primo: I don’t disagree with you as either McDavid or Eichel would elevate our talent pool. My strategy could very well have this team finish near the bottom of the league this year but the development of prospects would be spend up without destroying their confidence.

        For me it’s rather straight forward have a plan; which is to be competitive for the long run and I believe the cost of that will be another season like this year. There are a number of people on FN who would like to chase the playoff next year and think that by trading away our prospects or even draft picks we can get there, I’m not one of them. We can upgrade our vets and we do need vets for the rebuild via the UFA market or trading vets or the lesser prospects ( I will let other decide who they think they might be) for the 25-28 range players that we do not have i would b okay with that. But really what are we going to get for DJones, Glenx, Mcg or Hudler; not enough to put us over the top and they could be traded lter in the season if the young guys progress as we hope they might. This organization got itself into this mess by chasing the playoffs and cups and giving up draft picks, drafting poorly or not developing prospects for the better part of a decade.For the first time in years we have some real prospects and some people want to go off chasing shadows. (I know you are not one of them)

    • TheoForever

      I am certainly an advocate of rolling lines, in much the same fashion of Montreal of prior decades and which some contending teams are currently doing eg STL, LAK, SJS, BOS.

      If your 4th line has a little scoring punch and speed to go along with energy and size, and you can trust them defensively, then you have a recipe for playing them 10-12 minutes per game which takes a big load off the top players and reduces injury to endure the grind of a long season.

      I liked the look of McG, Westgarth, and Van Brabant each playing on a line and playing hard..they had a real presence which added to the games I thought. I would be in favour of doing more this year while keeping most prospects down in the minors for another year to support proper patient development like Detroit.

      Focusing on winning next year is too early for most of our prospects and we will just unnecessarily rush them, and potentially destroy them.

      The Flames played some good hockey this year, developed good culture & chemistry, and treated fans to some enjoyable games.

      I would be happy seeing more of the same this year without a pure focus on winning..let’s prepare for an upward climb from the ashes in 2015-16 instead!

  • PrairieStew

    I seriously don’t understand how you can’t see the value in keeping Bouma on this team with his shot blocking efforts and hard forechecking, and Colborne with his play after switching to the wing (as well as helping our shootout presence which had been pathetic in the previous 10 seasons prior to this year).

    I do agree with your statement on Butler though. Unless our goal is to get a top 2 pick next year. Which I would suggest we sign Butler for one more year and play him for 25 minutes a game.

  • Burnward

    Be thankful for:

    -bad goaltending

    -bad scoring droughts by Stemp and Cammi.

    -bad officiating that cost the flames points in at least 3 to 4 games.

    -bad luck with injuries (thankfully none too serious).

    Without these we would be on the outside looking in on some hi end talent in the draft……


  • Parallex

    One thing clear from this article is that the writer did not see Butler play after he wasn’t saddled with a guy like O’Brien.
    I go to most games and would agree Butler was a give away machine LAST year,but his game for the last 2/3rd of this season was very solid. In fact I’d rather have him than Wideman.

    It is amazing a guy can put himself out there as some kind of expert when it is clear he doesn’t know which end is up, and clearly hasn’t watch a Flames game in a long time.